Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sponsored Walk

Ronseal 5-year Woodstain pulled up outside his mansion, took his football kit out of his Bentley and walked into the house.

It was now two years since his name change, which was due to an inevitable progression in sport sponsorship. For many years big businesses had put money into sport and received little in return apart from their names on hoardings around the grounds. Over time big businesses became fed up with this, and began to demand more exposure for their money. It began when they put their names to actual trophies – cricket’s Gillette Cup, rugby’s Magners League, soccer’s Coca-Cola Championship. They then demanded not just advertising in stadia, but to have those stadia named after them, giving rise to such absurdities as Lansdowne Road becoming the Aviva Stadium.

Show-jumping led the way to the next stage. At first sponsors were allowed add their names to the horses’ own names, so that you got horses called Mercedes Benz Dobbin or Kleenex Neddy. Soon, though, the Dobbin or Neddy bit was dropped, and once a horse called simply Waterford Crystal competed in the 2004 Olympics the floodgates opened, and soon we had Formula One teams with names like Virgin and Red Bull. After that it was only a matter of time until some football agent, with all the greed of a, well, football agent, rang some major company and assured them that he could persuade the footballers in his care to change their names for a large cash payment, plus agent’s fee.

Cristiano Ronaldo was first, changing his name by deed poll to Pond’s Cold Cream. Penguin Books (Wayne Rooney), Gucci Handbags (Robbie Keane) and My Little Pony (John Terry) quickly followed, and soon anyone who was anyone was now someone else. As one of the most famous names in football the hero of this tale was eagerly sought after, and for a fee of ten million pounds he duly became Ronseal 5-year Woodstain. You might think that his wife would have been displeased at becoming Mrs Woodstain, but if so you didn’t pay enough attention to the ten million pounds mentioned in the previous sentence.

Besides, when you’re Victoria Beckham you’ve been called a lot worse.

The football artist formerly known as David Beckham quickly adapted to his new persona. Indeed, these days he could hardly remember his own name, though in fairness this was not a new state of affairs.

Ronseal entered his house and saw his three sons playing in the garden. Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz were now Snap, Crackle and Pop, which they were still young enough to think was really cool. When they got older having such names might not be as much fun, as Moon Unit Zappa would be keen to tell them.

The boys looked up, saw their dad and waved to him, and he waved back with his right hand, Maltesers. The really top stars had found that they could command cash not just for renaming themselves, but also for naming parts of their body. Ronseal’s legs, for instance, were now called Toilet Duck and Maynard’s Wine Gums.

Part of him was also called Viagra, which part we shall not say.

Ronseal settled into his favourite armchair and reflected that his life was good. As a name Ronseal 5-year Woodstain was a bit unwieldy, but most people shortened it to Ron. He had never thought of himself as a Ron, but there are worse diminutives. Thierry Henry, for example, was now Vagisil Feminine Moisturiser, and it was rumoured that he no longer left his house.

All in all, Ronseal was happy with his lot. In fact he reckoned he was probably the happiest footballer in England.

Or iPad, as it was now known.

Birthday Girl

Mrs Tin is mentioned quite a lot in these annals, but very few posts are actually about her.

This is because she is a very private person. I used to think I was quite a private person until I found myself telling the whole world via the internet that I have mental problems, but she genuinely is.

Therefore she would be quite mortified if I told everyone that today is her birthday, and quite murderous if I mentioned how old she might be (I’ve think I’ve given the impression there that it might be some signifcant round number, but it isn’t).

So, very briefly, today IS her birthday, and she is much younger than me.

Happy Birthday, Mrs Tin


Tinman x

Bad Dad

Every now and then I use this blog to drag up some incident from the past that I’m not very proud of, then declare my shame to the entire world.

I think this process is known as exorcising one’s demons. In my case it feels more like exercising them, in that it lets them out into the sunlight, gives them a brisk workout and then sends them back, invigorated, into the dark recesses of my mind, from whence they can creep out into my dreams and whisper “boo”.

Anyway, yesterday’s post about Tinson1 sleeping through the night has re-awakened memories of one such dark event. To prepare you for the awfulness that is to follow, let me tell you that this post is called Bad Dad simply because there isn’t room for the real title, which should be The Night I Punched My Baby Son In The Face.

Here goes…(sigh)…

When Tinson1 was about six weeks old he had a really bad cold. On nights when he was really uncomfortable with it we would put him in bed between us, on the basis that that helped in some way that I can’t remember.

So, did I punch him accidentally in my sleep? No, because that would be understandable, and forgiveable (Mrs Tin once dreamt that he was falling out of his cot, threw out her hands to save him, and punched me hard in my sleeping face. That’s her story, anyway).

What happened was this. I’d had to go out to some meeting or other one evening and returned home to find the house in total darkness, indicating that both Mrs Tin and Tinson1 were asleep. To have turned on any light in the house would have incurred what might euphemistically be described as wifely displeasure, so I crept about the bathroom and then entered the bedroom in the dark. It was then that a problem occurred to me.

I had no way of knowing whether Tinson1 was in the bed or not. I might easily get in on top of him.

By now his cold was almost gone, so there was no wheezing or snuffling to give me any sort of hint. In the end I decided to reach into his cot at the foot of our bed to see if I could feel him.

In Die Hard 2 the baddies lure a plane to its doom by making its pilot believe that it’s 200 feet higher than it actually is, so that when it hits the runway it’s still travelling too fast. Something similar is what happened in my case. In banker’s-soul blackness it’s impossible to judge distance, I thought the cot was much lower than it actually was, my hand was still travelling too fast as it reached it, and I Punched My Baby Son In The Face.

If you’re not aghast at this stage, prepare to be aghasted. What I did next was what any grown man, master of his own domain, would do. I ran.

I raced to the front door of our bungalow, stepped outside and stood there. Through our glass door I could hear Tinson1 start to cry sleepily, then heard Mrs Tin talking to him even more sleepily. I opened the door and walked in.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m home. How long has he been awake?”

“He’s just woken up,” said Mrs Tin.

“Here, you go back to sleep, I’ll look after him,” I said, in a desperate attempt to redeem myself in the eyes of God and so save myself from Hell. So I spent an hour or so rocking Tinson1, murmuring new-parent crap like “musha, little diddums, hush now,” while he looked at me with what looked to my guilty eyes like suspicion, though it was probably just wind.

And there we have it. I did tell them both this story, many many years later. And they both laughed.


Sleeping Through

One of the phrases beloved of new parents is the phrase “sleeping through”.

I well remember it, even though it seems like a million years ago. It and two other phrases cropped up in every conversation, with everybody, since our new-born child was the only thing we were interested in conversing about. The other two were “settle” (“how long does it take him to settle?”) and “lift him” (“we only have to lift him about twice during the night”).

“Sleepingthrough” was a magical and at times it seemed mythical state, like Neverland or Narnia, or Level 4 on our Company Career Path (sorry, quick bitch about work there). Whenever Tinson1 arrived at the state of Sleepingthrough there would be joy, bliss and celebration within the Tinhouse, as we would at last be able sleep all night ourselves, and wouldn’t fall asleep leaning against bus shelters (I actually did this, and woke up to find my bus had gone).

(I have just re-read the previous paragraph, and feel I must make just one comment. When Sleepingthrough occurs you do indeed get a full night’s sleep, but not on the first night. On the first night both of you lie awake terrified, wondering why he hasn’t woken. You continually creep up to his cot and lean in as near to him as possible, trying to ensure that you can hear him breathe. Eventually you poke him awake just to be sure).

Anyway, sleeping through is a Good Thing when it happens to new-born babies. With 52-year old men, not so much.

I got home from work yesterday at about six. I went into the bedroom to change, lay down on the bed for a few seconds, and woke up this morning. No brilliant post, no delicious dinner (hi Mrs Tin, if you’re reading), no meaningful bonding with the Tinkids (“How are things?” “Fine.” How was your day?” “Fine.” “How was school?” “Fine.”). Just twelve hours of what was basically one step down from unconsciousness. Not only that, I actually had to be woken by my alarm this morning, which almost never happens.

I didn’t sleep flat on my back with my fists up beside my ears, and my legs forming a diamond shape with the soles of my feet resting against each other. Other than that, though, I slept like a baby.

Loud and Proud

Ok, I’ve got it done.

Unable to take not hearing properly anymore, nor the pressure in my head which felt as if someone was using a bicycle-pump on my ear, I headed off this morning to a clinic near the office. I filled in a registration form (no, I don’t have any STDs, thank you for asking) and was admitted to see a really nice doctor. He chided me gently about my attempts at self-help (apparently I had the same effect on my ear-wax that a pipe-smoker has when he tamps down his tobacco) then got out his machine and gave it socks.

And now I can hear again. I can hear the chatter around the office. I can hear when people say hello to me. I can hear the really irritating truck that’s been parked outside the window for half an hour with its engine running. I can hear the mermaids singing, each to each.

Mind you, I think the last one is just because I’m mental.

Hear, Hear

My left ear is completely blocked.

When you’ve a readership as far-flung as mine that’s a fairly brave sentence. The belief that people thousands of miles away will find this information in any way interesting speaks of enormous self-confidence, and enormous self-confidence is not high on the list of Tin-traits. The fact is, though, that it’s so disorientating and uncomfortable that I can’t think of anything else, so if I don’t tell you all about it then there won’t be a post today. These posts don’t write themselves, you know, although I’m well aware that they sometimes look as if they do.

Anyway, our story starts on Friday, when I began to feel a slightly distant, echoey effect in that ear. By yesterday morning I could hear only a muffled semi-silence, and when you’re derealised and only barely experiencing stuff at the best of times, then if on top of that you can’t hear you might as well move home into a sensory deprivation tank.

Clearly then something had to be done, but my motto is why try something when you can try everything. I tried swallowing really hard, which had no effect. I held my nose and blew forcefully, which did have some effect in that it made me really dizzy for about ten seconds. I put in ear-drops and lay on my right side watching TV sideways (Australia beat South Africa in rugby, which I was very impressed with because on my telly they were playing up a hill that was practically vertical). Finally I had a shower and stood with my head tilted directly under the stream.

As with most self-doctoring, I’ve succeeded. I’ve succeeded in making it much, much worse. I’m half-watching the cricket at the moment (what, Tinman? Quit that and give this your full attention) and I’ve just checked the volume. I normally watch TV with the volume set at 8 or 9. Right now it’s on 32. If things don’t get better soon I’m going to have to go to the doctor to get it unblocked.

I’ve had this done a couple of times before, and as an experience it’s almost worth the 50 euro doctor’s fee. What happens is that she gives me a towel and a kidney-shaped dish, which she tells me to hold beneath my left ear. She then produces something that looks like an electric toothbrush, though the size of one that a dinosaur might use. She turns it on, water floods through it, the brushes rotate at the speed of light, and it feels like what I’ve always imagined colonic irrigation feels like (and I will continue to have to imagine what colonic irrigation feels like, since there is no way that I’m ever actually going to get it done). The phrase “in one ear and out the other” is then proven to be physically impossible, since if this doesn’t cause a jet of water to shoot cartoon-like out of my right ear then nothing ever will. The overall sensation is like sticking your head into a car wash.

I won’t describe to you, gentle reader, the stuff that is accumulated in the bowl when she’s finished. What I will describe, though, is the effect it has on my hearing. It’s only after this procedure that you realise how muted our hearing is at the best of times. The first time I had it done I was astonished during the drive home. I could hear the car-seat creak beneath me whenever I moved my leg to change gear. I could hear each lamp-post whish by (no, it wasn’t the lamp-posts that were moving, you know what I mean).

Eventually, the sensation eases and life returns to normal, which is just as well. For a couple of days I felt like Bruce Almighty when he could hear the prayers of absolutely everyone in the world. I could hear everything, and our brains aren’t really equipped to handle so much sensation. I felt quite overwhelmed.

Just normal hearing will do fine, thanks very much.

Naughty Step Again

Once again we Irish have been very, very bold.

Following this week’s kidnapping of a bank official’s wife and the subsequent robbery from the AIB branch where he worked, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern suggested charges for customers withdrawing cash at ATMs, as it’s for this reason that banks have to carry so much money. While he later backed down about the charges, he did insist that we should move more towards a cashless society.

In short, bank robberies are our fault, because we selfish feckers want access to our money. The government, to be fair to them, are doing their best to change this situation by taxing us and running our economy in such a way that we have less and less money to want access to, but still we demand what little we have, forcing the poor banks to stock money instead of carrying out proper banking functions, such as refusing credit, paying themselves bonuses and trying to find ways around the salary cap imposed on their chief executive.

Now many people would claim that the ever-increasing crime rate might be due to a police force that’s too small and under-resourced, or to backlogs in the court system, or to the revolving door system of prisons, because there are too few of them. These people might suggest that the blame lies at the feet of someone who could remedy some of those problems – a Minister for Justice, for example.

The sheer cynicism of these people is typical of what makes Ireland grate instead of great. Mr Ahern is a political and intellectual colossus. Admittedly he has not yet got to grips with the problems of drug-wars, increased paramilitary activity and a growing knife-culture, but he has brought in an inspired piece of legislation which means that grown men and women cannot buy a bottle of wine at a minute past ten on a Saturday night. If Dermo says we’re not worthy then worthy is what we are not, and if that phrase seems a little unwieldy then a shit is what I do not give.

Besides, he has a point. Housebreaking would not take place if we didn’t insist on filling our homes with TVs, laptops and small amounts of jewellery. Car theft would not happen if we didn’t all have cars. Muggings would not occur if it weren’t for our ridiculous insistence on walking the streets in broad daylight.

And what about political corruption? What about the procession of politicians, many of them from Mr A’s own party, who have been caught fiddling expenses, or committing slander, or spending money raised to help their sick friend, or presenting laughable evidence to a tribunal to explain their uxexplainable cash lodgements? Is that not the fault of the politicians themselves?

Mr Ahern would say no. He’d say that’s our fault too. And he’d be right.

We voted for them.

Looks Like Rain

As the year moves inexorably on daytime decreases each, er, day by two minutes at either end, like a balloon slowly deflating. As a result I am no longer waking to bright sunlight. I’m getting up in that half-light which at the end of the day is known as twilight, and I’ve just realised that I haven’t a clue what it’s called at the beginning.

If you do have to get up during morningdusk (sure that’ll do), then one of the nice things about it (ok, the only nice thing about it) is that you get to see the sun rise. This morning’s effort was glorious, a red-orange ball between layers of pink, like a cherry in a sponge cake. This, of course, reminded me of the old saying “Red sky at night/shepherd’s delight/red sky at morning/shepherd’s warning”, and reawakened in my early-morning mind questions which I’ve had about these couplets since childhood.

No matter how young you are you know that weather forecasts are rubbish. I think it’s part of the species psyche, like salmon finding their way home to breed (brood? spawn?), or birds knowing to fly south for the winter, that we all know from birth that once a pretty girl appears on the TV in front of a map of one’s country, then the words to come will be total shite. And these people have access to satellite technology, computer-generated swirly movements, and the ability to check Twitter to see if the guy who predicts the weather by watching which way frogs are facing agrees with them.

Why then did shepherds place such faith in the colour of the sky? As I write this it’s a gloriously sunny afternoon, whereas the sunrise so movingly described above would have led one (if one tended sheep for a living) to expect what we Irish refer to as shitloads of rain. Why did shepherds stare at the evening sky, notice that it was red (the shed in the next field coud have been on fire for all they knew) and immediately start to prance about in delight?

And even as a child I found the word ‘delight’ a bit extreme. I do realise that they had to find something that rhymed with ‘night’, but surely ‘shepherd’s all right’ would have done. The idea that shepherds are “delighted” simply by the fact that tomorrow may be dry marks them down as people who are Very Easily Pleased, people who have no need to brighten up their lives with, say, ale, or wooing, or shepherds pie. It’s just as well that package-holidays hadn’t been invented back when this saying was coined – by the fourth day in Tenerife the shepherds would have spontaneously combusted with joy.

I also found it strange that the saying applies only to shepherds, as if they are the only people who worry about getting wet. What about postmen, or the people who watch Hurling at the uncovered Hill-16 end at Croke Park, or the guys who stand on the street all day with a sign pointing towards Tania’s Hair Emporium? Do they not fret about the coming day’s climate?

I think it should be updated. “Red sky at night/lollipop lady’s delight”. Sounds better, doesn’t it?