Monthly Archives: October 2010

Sound Tracks

A friend was telling us in the pub last night about a programme he saw about Buddy Holly. Apparently shortly before his death Buddy saw the film “The Searchers” in which John Wayne several times says “that’ll be the day” and this inspired the title of his next song. So what would have happened if he hadn’t died? Picture this TV ad…

“To celebrate his 55 years in the business, K-Tel Records presents “Story, Bud”, the definitive collection of Buddy Holly songs. This 22-CD set, which is not available in shops, features all his greatest hits, including “Lunch is for Wimps”, “Precious, My Precious”, “Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day”, “We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat” and of course the massive Number One, “You Were Only Supposed to Blow the Bloody Doors Off”.

Buy this collection today and we’ll throw in the DVD of Elvis (yes, he’s still alive too) Presley’s 90th Birthday Concert, where the now 42-stone singer tries to repeat his famous pelvis wiggle.

Yes, you too can own a copy of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”.”

Out on Parole

I’ve been released for the weekend on compassionate grounds (there were no tea bags left), so have the chance to return briefly to blogging before resuming my 13-hour days on Monday.

So, what to write about?

I could bitch about my week at work, except that the number of times that I’d have to use the word “fuck” would cause Spellcheck to melt.

I could tell you what the Tinkids have been up to, except that I don’t know.

I could write about Mrs Tin, except that she doesn’t like me to.

So I’ve decided to discuss the news issues of the week, like a grown-up blog. The only problem is that I haven’t seen the news.

Not to worry, I’ve been around long enough to know that the news rarely changes. Here is a summary of what I’m sure happened while I’ve been away:

  • Economists have written that Ireland’s economy may not now recover until 2146. The papers are full of gloom because of this, forgetting that these are the same economists who used to say that our boom will go on forever, in other words a collection of twitwits whose predictions are as reliable as those guys who predict every year that we will have a great summer because frogs spent the winter months facing east instead of west.
  • Having at various times blamed Lehman Brothers, the downturn in the world economy and selfish tax exiles for our current plight (i.e., everyone but themselves), our government have now said that it is the fault of the Vikings, who fecked off backed to Scandinavia in the 11th century instead of staying here to develop a vibrant longboat-building industry.
  • World Charades Cup (yes, of course there’s such a thing) reigning champion Johan Stavinsky has lost his crown after he sprained his left wrist the day before the final, in which he had to appear wearing a sling. His attempts at miming “it’s a film”, “it’s a book” and “it’s a play” were interpreted by the audience as “it’s a fishing-rod”, “it’s a plate” and “it’s a windscreen wiper”, and his attempt at “first word – the” was continuously guessed at as “first word – one”. He was asked afterwards what he thought of the organisers who refused to allow him a couple of days to recover, and his mime of “wankers” was unfortunately all too easily readable.
  • Just how poor we are regarded as being by the rest of the world is illustrated by the fact that Madonna has enquired about adopting Irish children (by the way, Madge, I’ve a selection of three, and am open to any reasonable offer).
  • Scientists have determined that dolphins are not really cleverer than humans, since they wear permanent inane grins and will clap at anything. They also point out that a dolphin can’t breathe if you cover its hole. At least we can put on trousers without suffocating.
  • Chilean miner Enrico Pablo Morales (I can’t be bothered to look up one of their real names) has said they have much to be grateful for. “At leest wee are freee now,” he said. “Over in Dubleen a man called Teenman is steel trapped in hees offeece.”

Class Act

Opera. BBC Radio 4. Fine wines. Booker Prize-winning novels. Films with sub-titles. Anything that ends in “ology”. Free jazz. Skiing holidays. Documentaries. Political debates. Coen Brothers films. Rotary Club membership. Book readings. Poetry readings. Palm readings (purely so one can mock later at dinner parties). Dinner Parties. Golf. Performance Art. The “Director’s Cut” of any film. Show-jumping. An investment portfolio. Bridge. Bach’s Cello Concerto as a ringtone. Knowing what Pilates even are. Being introduced to someone called Dick and not feeling the urge to laugh.

An interest in or appreciation of at least half of the above are considered marks of an educated, contemplative, well-rounded personality.

People with such personalities may feel genetically smug when meeting, say a family who like The Apprentice, Big Brother and Doctor Who, a family who prefer shopping in Tesco to sitting at Tosca, prefer eating pizzas to visiting piazzas, prefer Die Hard to Die Fledermaus. The kind of family that says “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like, and what I don’t like is art.”

You may feel that I am deliberately dumbing down the Tinfamily for comic effect, that we are not really as unclassy as that. I’d love to agree with you, but that would mean denying the evidence of this photograph:

Yes, that is the Tincar and yes, those are pink furry dice hanging from the mirror. Tinson2 won them in an amusement arcade playing, rather bizarrely, Deal or No Deal.

Most 15-year olds would have been disgusted and embarrassed at winning such a lame prize in front of his mates. It tells you everything you need to know about our family that Tinson2 was thrilled, knowing full well that we, like he, would love the joke and would rush to put them up in the car.

We don’t actually have three plaster ducks flying up the wall in our sitting room, sorry, lounge, but if any of the Tinkids ever wins a set we certainly will have.

Damned Lies

Tomorrow is the first World Statistics Day. On the World Statistics Day website, in reply to their rhetorical question “Why a World Statistics Day?” (actually, it’s not that rhetorical, why indeed), they say:

“The celebration of the World Statistics Day will acknowledge the service provided by the global statistical system at national and international level, and hope to help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics. It serves as an advocacy tool to further support the work of statisticians across different settings, cultures, and domains.”

Anyway, since I have nothing else to write about think this is a very important event, I’ve compiled some statistics of my own:

  • 100% of the authors of this blog thought the phrase “advocacy tool” was a derogatory term for lawyers.
  • World Statistics Day makes up just 0.27% of the number of days in the year, but thanks to the statistical error allowance of plus or minus 3 per cent, it could in fact last for twelve days. Or never have taken place at all.
  • This allowance for a margin of error is unique to statisticians. It does not apply, for example, to chefs weighing ingredients, shopkeepers giving change or Doctor Frankenstein calculating how much lightning to allow to strike the creature.
  • Sixty per cent of statistical reports will end with the phrase “since records began”.
  • Our own Central Statistics Office will celebrate tomorrow by launching a new annual award, the John Hooper Medal for Statistics. This is proof that you can be a winner, yet a loser, at the same time.
  • 90% of statisticians think that last joke was average. Mean, in fact.
  • The phrase “a woman’s Vital Statistics”, when you think about it, means absolutely nothing. Vital to who? Sexist rubbish.
  • Boobs are nice, mind.
  • The average height of man has increased by three inches since the 19th century. My ancestors must have been dwarves.
  • It is well known that you’ve more chance of being hit by a bus than winning the Lottery. This is because the Lottery only comes along a couple of times a week whereas – wait, I haven’t thought this through properly.
  • If you think the Average Rainfall Figures for Ireland sound suspiciously low, you must remember that over half of the country is indoors.
  • If you put a million monkeys in a room with a million typewriters, the noise would be feckin’ awful.
  • The Department of Health reckon we all eat too much. They have a pie-chart to prove it.
  • There are five billion people in the world. Just think, if each of them gave just one euro to Ireland, then – er, we’d still owe €45 billion.
  • There are, as I say, five billion people in the world. I have about twelve readers. That’s an awful lot of noughts to the right of the decimal place.

That puts me in my place.

Father and Son

My dad rang last night. We had a long conversation ranging from how to do the cryptic crossword to how crap our respective football teams are (I found I’d typed “carp” there instead of “crap” and was very tempted to leave it, my team stink like old fish).

He is planning quite seriously to move to Florida, so we discussed how that was going, and I mentioned that I have a friend in Louisiana (I mentioned it because I reckon the two states are quite close, Rose, apologies if they’re thousands of miles apart) who I’d first come in contact with when she asked me questions about pacemakers. Even as I said it I realised that I had left myself open to just one question, and he duly asked how a girl in Louisiana would know that I had a pacemaker.

I took a deep breath and told him I had a blog.

I told him quite a lot about it, about how I sometimes write about the heart op/pacemaker situation, sometimes about my family, and sometimes just creative stuff. I explained about how people use blognames, and how mine is Tinman, and why.

I’m glad I told him about it. I hope he comes looking, though I didn’t mention Worth Doing Badly so he may not find it. I think he’ll enjoy it, I know he’ll like the hopefully-funny stuff, since he gave me his sense of humour, and it’s the best gift any dad could ever have given anyone. I know he’ll be proud of me, and delighted that I am writing at all, since he knows I’ve always loved doing it.

But there is of course an elephant in the room, and the fact that I can see an elephant in my room at all hints at just what it is. When I mentioned the various topics that I write about I didn’t mention depression, or derealisation. I know he knows that I had a really bad time about nine years ago, but I’ve kept the stuff that’s happened more recently to myself, since I’ve you lot to whinge to, lucky readers.

So if he reads this he’ll discover that his first-born son, apple of his eye, heir to his throne (he’s leaving me his toilet) is mental.

This may not in fact surprise him. But he will back me and support me, as he did when I was in hospital and he came to visit every day, though he lives quite a distance away. In short, I’m glad I’ve told him, and I’m sorry I’ve waited so long. But as it happens this is my 600th post, and it would be a very nice place for him to start.

If you read this, Dad, you’re very welcome.

Ice Maidens

When I was a teenage boy I was terrified of teenage girls.

Whenever I was in close proximity to one (or, more likely, a group, they congregated in covens) I could feel my face grow uglier, my spots grow bigger, my clothes grow uncooler. If one of them spoke to me I would mumble some reply, normally making fun of myself, in a semi-broken voice that would change pitch by two octaves in mid-sentence, making me sound like a hyena crossed with a donkey. All of us boys knew that we were shapeless lumps of shambling idiocy, whilst the girls our age were beautiful visions of cool sophistication.

When I got older, of course, I realised that this wasn’t true, that the girls were just as terrified and unsure of themselves as we were. The only difference is that while we were hiding behind a mask of shoving each other, playing air guitar and farting as loudly as possible, the girls were hiding behind a mask of liberally applied make-up and cold disdain.

How much easier our teen years would have been if each gender had realised this about the other.

Anyway, why drag these old (very old, unfortunately, when I was last a teenage boy Capricorn One was in the cinema and Yes Sir I Can Boogie was in the charts, and I realise sadly that most of you will have heard of neither) humiliations out into the public domain? Well, Tingirl (14 next month) had a friend stay over last night. When I got up this morning they were in the sitting room watching TV. As I walked through two heads turned toward me in perfect unison, stared at me expressionlessly for about one second, then turned in unison back to the TV. And for that one second I once again felt stripped to my soul, dismissed and two feet tall, all at the same time.

I pity the teenage boys of our town.

Sleepy Head

Because I get into work first most mornings, people think that I’m a morning person.

I most certainly am not. During my teens, twenties and even thirties I stayed up late, never ever going to bed before midnight whether I’d work next day or not. I was not just a night owl, I went to bed to the sound of night owls waking after six hours sound sleep.

And since I am at heart a night owl I cannot also be a morning person, since someone who is both is so ridiculously alive that normal people should be allowed stone him in the street. I think I get up so early precisely because I’m not a morning person, because I’m afraid, not just of sleeping it out, but of sleeping it in, out, in, out and sleeping it all about. Because I have this inner fear of waking late one Tuesday morning to find that it’s actually Thursday afternoon, my mind forces me awake, most mornings just before my alarm has gone off.

A non-morning person in the morning is like a non-drinker faced with a yard-of-ale, or a non-intellectual faced with Ulysses, a confused and tortured soul. He wanders into his bathroom, switches on the light without remembering to shut his eyes first, and is jolted by the sound of his pupils hitting the back of his skull. He can’t remember whether the toilet handle goes down or up, can’t remember whether the toilet seat goes down or up (ok, he leaves it up, but that’s just instinct). He can’t remember which way to turn the the shower control to make the water hot (and, though there are only two possible directions, it’s astonishing how often he will choose wrong). He stares at his toothbrush as if it’s a Swiss Army knife, baffled by the fact that it has two ends and having to guess wildly at which end to apply the toothpaste. That’s if he can figure out which of the tubes and jars actually contain toothpaste (important Tinfact: even if you live completely alone, there will always be at least eight jars in your bathroom that you have no recollection of buying, nor any idea what they’re for). It’s important that he gets this right, as a man who cleans his teeth with Sudocream will find that the taste lingers, possibly until the end of time.

He has learned by long experience to wear t-shirts rather pyjama-tops to bed because at that time of the morning he has as much chance of getting a button open as he has of twisting off one of his nipples while wearing boxing gloves.

He will also have learned to leave out his clothes at the end of his bed the night before as he cannot turn on the bedroom light, since his wife is also not a morning person. Trust me on this.

Thus when he leaps springs falls face first out of bed all he has to do it grab the pile of clothes, pick two shoes off the floor and carry them all into the bathroom. How hard can it be?

Well, as this picture from this morning will tell you, harder than you’d think.


I’ve never been a great fan of fish.

I don’t mean that I’m averse to them as pets. Just as there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England, there is one corner of the Tingarden that is forever Fishland, final resting place of a series of watery pets who briefly shared our home, swimming around their tank trying to figure out why there was a small castle in it.

No, I mean that I’m not wild about eating fish. Apart from the fact that it smells of, well, fish, it is full of bones. Mean nasty little ones that get caught between your teeth, vicious needle-like ones that force themselves into the top of your gum, big ugly feckers that get caught in your throat. Fish is food that fights back, and I’ve never found that the taste is worth the trouble.

Remember, no-one has ever choked on a McNugget bone.

The widespread belief that fish makes you brainier is one of the great triumphs of clever marketing, since all evidence suggests that fish themselves have no brains at all. All that most people know about marine psychology is that goldfish have a three-second attention span, though in fairness I would question how scientists actually know this.

Mrs Tin, though, is an enthusiastic fish-eater and never gives up trying to convert me. So it was that yesterday I heard the familiar dreaded sound of fish hitting frying-pan, that hissing sound that always reminds me of listening to my grandad’s old 78s. I sighed and moved towards the cooker, trying to establish which branch, if that’s the right word, of the fish family I was to be subjected to.

The fish spat in my eye.

Ok, it didn’t, a spurt of fat or oil or whatever it is fish is cooked in leapt out of the pan, but the stinging, smarting, eye-watering effect was the same.

I’d like to stress at this point how concerned Mrs Tin was about my well-being. I’d like to, but I can’t, because once she established that I wasn’t actually blind she just fell about laughing.

We have a saying here when something is moderately good: “well, it’s better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish.”

Well believe me, having a fish spit at you isn’t.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Tinson2 did indeed find a Work Experience job and it does indeed involve him calling into the pub.

He is not being used for entrapment purposes, however, he is simply working in my local.

And he organised it all himself. He was in the car with Mrs Tin and Tingirl last week, they were passing my local and he said “stop here, I’m going in to ask them will they give me work experience.” He came back out so quickly that the girls assumed he’d been told no, but in fact the owner, once he’d said he was Tinson1’s brother, told him to come in yesterday morning at 10.30.

He worked there until two. They got him to sweep outside the front, and then put out the tables, chairs and ashtrays (ever since the smoking ban was introduced here all pubs and cafes put tables and chairs outside for smokers, making us look like Paris, though without the sunshine. Or the warmth. Or the lack of a howling wind). Then they set him to washing all the glasses. He emerged thrilled with himself, and set off happily again this morning.

The two weeks will be an important learning experience for him, getting himself up and in on time, learning to take instructions, learning to work carefully and diligently for as long as he’s there.

It’s part of him growing up, and all I can say is fair play to my local’s owner for letting him do it.