Monthly Archives: November 2010

True Royalty

There are many types of princess.

Some, like Caroline of Monaco, are born into it. Others, like Caroline’s own mother, or Lady Diana, fall into princessness via their beauty and the desire of some princes to marry someone who is not their second cousin, in an attempt to limit the number of toes that their children have.

Some princesses are brave and resourceful, joining with Luke Skywalker to fight the forces of evil. Others are girlish and swoony, and so dumb that they will eat an apple given to them by a little old lady no matter how often the dwarves tell them not to.

A true princess, though, is rarely one who wears a tiara. A true princess does not sleep on a hundred mattresses (though it would certainly keep the boys away, well done that dad). A true princess does not wear slippers made of glass, kiss frogs or throw her long hair out of the window. A true princess does not spend all her time trying to guess someone’s real name (although that particular one would have loved bloggers). A true princess does not fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years, though it might feel that way when you’re trying to get her up for school in the morning.

A true princess is funny, and kind, and earnest. A true princess has deep, deep friendships with other princess-like creatures. A true princess stands fearlessly in front of an audience at her drama school’s end of term show,as happened last Saturday, and passionately delivers the monologue from Stardust, this one:

You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say is… I think I love you. Is this love? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.

Tingirl is 14 today. She may never rule a kingdom, but she will always rule her dad’s heart.

The Weather Outside

Once upon a time Bing Crosby started dreaming of a White Christmas, and since in doing so he created the biggest selling song of all time I can only assume that other people share this dream.

It is one of the great examples of being careful what you wish for. A White Christmas does not just consist of watching the treetops glisten and listening to hear sleighheehaybells in the snow. The reality is people falling and breaking limbs, elderly people being unable to leave their homes, the weight of snow bringing down wires so that people have no light, heat or means of cooking. It means being unable to visit or be visited by relatives, which shows that it is not all bad.

I don’t ever remember it snowing like this in November before. As I write this it’s freezing outside, the path out of our estate (our road is fairly steeply sloped) is treacherous, I had get up half an hour earlier this morning to walk all the way to the train station on icy paths because my bus couldn’t get over the big hill between Bray and Greystones, and I’m not sure how I’m going to get home this evening. And apparently we’ve a whole week of this to enjoy.

But sometime next summer I’ll come across this

picture of my back garden and will be struck by how beautiful it is.

Question Time

I haven’t written anything this week because I had to set questions for a quiz which took place on Friday night.

The quiz was for the Parents Association of the Greystones Educate Together school that Mrs Tin is on the Management Committee of. I did the questions for them way back when they were just starting out, and agreed to do them again this time, even though I wasn’t going to able to go, since our office Christmas Party was on that night.

So each evening last week was taken up with googling, newspaper scouring and photo-cutting-out before I was finally able to send Mrs Tin off with something I was happy with. Because I have a weird and twisted mind (no shit, I hear you say) I included at least one question about each of the countries in which I have readers (NZ, Oz, Holland, India, UK, plus what’s the state capitol of Louisiana). I put in a question about Brooklyn simply because I knew the quizmaster was from there, and a question about Dora the Explorer because of a private joke between Mrs Tin and her friends.

And I put in some odd stuff. One question, for instance, asked simply “how long has it been since you took your love away?” The last round was all about things that happened this week, and the very last question was “who won the seat in the Donegal South by-election today?” even though the result wasn’t known until an hour before the quiz was to start (I put the favourite down as the answer and then told Mrs Tin to check it on the TV last thing before she left the house).

And I had a round which we decided to call the “Say What You See” round. For example the teams told that this

is a former US President, which it is: it’s Ronnie Raygun (the one below it, which you can only partly see, is footballer Pole Gas Coin).

Those of you not from here will never have heard of Kerry politician Jackie Healy Rae, but having portrayed him thus

I will forever think of him now as Jackie Wheelie Ray, and hope that all the contestants will too.

So that’s that. In conclusion though I’d like to defend the boringness of this post’s title. I tried to think up a more clever one, but there is an Irish phrase “Ask Me Bollix” which I hadn’t got the nerve to use, but which unfortunately drove all other ideas out of my head.

All I Want for Christmas

I am off work today and tomorrow. Normally this would be an occasion for glee, but not this time, because of the reason.

I have just come back from the dentist, where I have had two teeth taken out.

They are not, despite the post title, my two front teeth. They are around the side, quite near the back, but if I smile and lift my head to a certain point, and if you happen for some reason to be staring into my mouth rather than my eyes, and if you have really good eyesight, then there is a small chance that you will see the gap, and that’s a big enough blow to my vanity to cause me to skulk at home for the two days. I am hiding from my workmates, and this evening I am going to hide from the Tinkids by fleeing to the pub, where I will be in the company of other old men who have more fingers than teeth.

For the Tinface is a thing of beauty, and this blemish is the worst thing to happen to the world of aesthetics since Venus de Milo’s arms dropped off.

Of course all will end well. Just as the Wizard of Oz itself has recently been digitally remastered (I think that means they’ve re-coloured it in using finger-paints) the Tinface too will be quickly restored. Even as I type tooth fairies are constructing a bridge to, well, bridge the gap and tomorrow afternoon it will be fitted and I will again have a face that makes George Clooney look like Walter Matthau.

But that’s tomorrow. Today I’m just sitting here feeling miserable.

And thucking thoup through a thraw.

Some Words of Norman Wisdom

In the beginning came the Vikings.

They came to Ireland in their longboats and longcoats and tried to take us over. They failed, fled back to the lands of fjords and abba, and no longer exist.

Next came the Normans. A load of people with names like Richard FitzRichard and Percy de Courcey arrived armed with Strongbow cider and had a go at running our country. They too are gone, vanished from the planet, remembered only in the occasional use of Norman as a first name for children who then face a life of slagging at school.

The English came next, and here the thread of my theme starts to unravel a bit since it is hard to claim that they no longer exist, especially since they are playing cricket on my TV at the moment. They have, however, lost their empire and find hilarious ways to get knocked out of the World Cup, so the central plank of my argument is still sound, and it is this.

We are the geographical equivalent of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Anyone who tries to enter us (er, I may come back to re-word that sentence later), pillage us or take our assets ends up cursed.

The EU have had a half-hearted go at ruling us from afar by bombarding us with treaties which we calmly bat back at them. In reprisal we invade their resorts with stag parties, people who drink while their kids fall into the pool and something known as the craic. We are destroying their currency right now, without even trying very hard.

The IMF are here now. Like Indiana Jones they have slipped in through a series of traps and spears (their route from the airport took them through the inner city) and intend to plunder what little cash we have left, take away our quangoes and put us on display for all the world to wonder at (mostly wondering “how the fuck did they lose so much money?”).

Good luck with that.

They should reflect that there was another organisation called the IMF, that the Mission Impossible group were actually known as the Impossible Missions Force, and IMF was printed on the folder out of which Jim used to take the pictures of his team (why did he have to do that, by the way, just how bad was his memory?). The current IMF may well come to find that this is an impossible mission, that within five years they will leave with their bailout between their legs, fleeing in terror from our brazen political lying, our brass-necked sense of entitlement and our relentless freckles.

The infiltrators of King Tut’s tomb met the curse of the Egyptian mummy. Wait till the IMF meet the Irish mammy.

Not Long to Go

Everyone is familiar with the American phrase “Have a Nice Day”.

It is generally used by retail assistants as you are leaving their store, and for some reason drives some people mad. They seem to think that it is false, that they don’t really mean it, some even say they’re only doing it to make you buy stuff.

I’ve never thought was true. I’ve always found US sales staff to be absolutely charming, and have no problem with them saying “Have a Nice Day” (you can almost hear the capitals). Since they say it as you’re leaving the store it’s hard to see how they’re only doing it to make you buy anything. Besides, it’s only a longer version of “Good Day”, or even “Goodbye”. It may by now have become a cliché, uttered automatically without any thought as to its meaning, but is it any different to putting “Kind Regards” at the end of an email?

When I’m leaving my local the barman invariably says “good night, safe home”. It would never occur to me to think “bet he doesn’t mean that, he probably wouldn’t care if I got knocked down on the way home, he’s only saying it so I’ll come back another time (in which case he needn’t bother, I’d come back even if he told me to Get Stuffed as I was leaving)”.

The reason I bring this up today is that I’ve just returned to the office from Tie Rack (don’t ask), and when I finished my transaction I said “thank you, goodbye,” and the lovely Eastern European girl replied “have a nice life”.

I hadn’t ever heard this before, but it  is also pleasant. Sometimes Irish speakers will say “fáilte romhat” (welcome) and sometimes they will say “céad míle fáilte”, which means “ten thousand welcomes”. Have a Nice Life works on the same principle, sometimes wishing someone has one Nice Day is just not enough.

The only problem is that if you’ve had as many heart problems, mental problems, blackout problems as I’ve had, you start to get a bit paranoid. Perhaps she looked at me and felt “Have a Nice Day” and “Have a Nice Life” in my case meant pretty much the same thing. Does she know something I don’t?

That’s it. Post over.

Yours faithfully (huh?),


Morning Passes

On my way from the bus stop to my office each morning I pass a small coffee shop. It’s one of the many who have catered for smokers by placing a couple of tables & chairs in a small corral outside, and these mornings there are small heaters above these tables.

A while ago I noticed that on most mornings there was a gentleman sitting there drinking coffee, a man a few years older than me, always impeccably dressed and wearing one of those hats that I don’t know the name of, one that is somewhere between a trilby and a fedora (as I said here recently, I don’t do hattitude). He too must have noticed that I passed him regularly (can’t help it, I’m gorgeous) because after a few weeks we started to acknowledge each other with a brief nod. Then we moved on to raising one hand and smiling as I’d pass by, and these days give each other a loud, cheerful “good morning”.

After greeting him each morning there’s a slight skip to my step, a feeling of well-being in my blood, a song in my heart (well, a muttered hum at least, it is 7.30 a.m after all).

I don’t know much about him. I don’t even know his name. But this virtual stranger makes each day a little bit happier, and I hope that I do the same for him.

It’s a bit like blogging.

Nearly Clever

I had to ring a Software Support Centre this morning, since one of our programs was broken.

The first thing to impress upon you all – and regular readers will not believe this – is that for once I wasn’t the person who broke it. I have written before about my computer illiteracy, about the number of times I’ve heard a support person say “well, I’ve never seen anyone do that before, I didn’t think it was possible”, about the fact that the Amish know more about IT than I do.

If “upskilling” were a real word (and sadly, I believe that it is) then computer upskilling for me would be the ability to find the Caps Lock button without my eyes darting frantically about the keyboard like a pigeon looking for a worm.

But this time I had nothing to do with it, the girl who does our invoicing tried to create a customer called “Uniphar”. Whatever she did, when she was finished if one keyed in “Uniphar” the customer Uniphar did indeed appear on the screen, but so did 22 other customers, all called Cork County Council. Meanwhile, keying in “Cork County Council”, who are a long standing customer, gave no results at all. I have always liked this girl but now like her more than ever, since I’m beginning to suspect that we might be related.

Anyway, she was off today so somehow I got the job of ringing for help, and got a lovely-sounding Indian girl called Arin (if you’re reading this, Sage, she was absolutely brilliant). She took my call and didn’t yelp in terror when I gave her my name so she’s possibly too young to have heard of me, or else believes that I am a myth, a story made up to frighten new support engineers. She patiently and knowledgably took me through the problem, tried a couple of solutions, and eventually said “sorry, I’ll have to use remote access”.

I impressed myself by knowing what this means, it means that she gets to see my screen and even to move my cursor around the screen, clicking at my icons, which is not unfortunately as much fun as it sounds. She linked up (I had to press things at my end too, I was like her deputy) and asked could she take a back-up. I said yes, so she clicked Backup (even I knew that was right) and a suggested back-up location appeared on the screen.

“Is that on the hard drive or on a network?” she asked. I had a split second of panic and then realised that I knew the answer.

“It’s on a network,” I said proudly.

I can well imagine those of you who’ve known me for a long time hugging yourselves in joy as you read this, calling out to friends and loved ones “guess what, Tinman knows stuff about computers.” Well, I was thrilled too, I was carrying on a conversation with a highly-skilled IT expert without embarrassing myself by doing or saying anything stupid. If I wasn’t quite as far as Ept, I was certainly no longer Inept.

I was practically preening myself as she brought up the list of customers and asked which one she was to fix.

“That one,” I said.

Pointing at the screen. With my finger.

Damn, I’d been so close.

Straight Ahead

I’ve been in denial for the past month as morning after morning became colder and colder, but the hard white frost on our road yesterday morning finally killed my optimism (along, possibly, with some of our plants – my knowledge of botany is somewhat sketchy).

From thousands of miles away I can actually hear Laughykate smirking as I admit it – it’s winter. Worse than that, I’ve had to de-hibernate my most loathed item of clothing – my sock hat.

I don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, since my knowledge of millinery makes my knowledge of botany look Einsteinish, but you all know what I mean – that strange wool concoction that makes you look as if you have no ears and no forehead. When we were kids my brother and I called them “Benny-from-Crossroads Hats”, since that character from that TV show was the only person we knew who wore one. Perhaps that explains my revulsion,  since if you were a wannabe then Benny from Crossroads was not who you’d want to be. For those of you too young to remember (i.e., all of you) Benny was, er, a simple soul (think Rainman, but without the sudden flashes of genius), and the idea of looking anything like him would not appeal to any child, since it could lead to an outbreak of schoolyard humour, and a child can suffer no greater affliction.

For years I’ve kept my head warm with, well, my hair, since otherwise what is it for. Over time, though, my hair has dwindled like our economy and global warming has made our winters colder (nah, me neither), and the savagery of last winter finally forced me into one of those Great Outdoors shops which seem to stock only raingear and warm clothing, hinting perhaps that life in the Great Outdoors is not really all that great. Since then I’ve swallowed my pride and worn my hat, although to be honest I’d rather have swallowed the hat.

It has a small label on its outside which says “Thinsulate Insulation” and therein lies the nub of todays’ post, since yet again I have found proof that I am seriously mental. This morning at 6.40 at the bus stop, in almost total darkness, I found myself trying to use the plastic bus shelter as a mirror, making sure that the “Thinsulate” label was right in the middle at the front.

Because although I’m wearing what is essentially a woolly head-condom, something that makes me look like R2D2 (and when you’re as short as I am, you’ve trouble not looking like R2D2 at the best of times), apparently my subconscious believes that the really important thing is that the label not be off to the side, or at the back.

Because then I’d look like an idiot.

Baby Steps

  • Turn on computer.
  • Start typing – anything will do.
  • Forget about how tired you are, how overworked you are, how sick you are of computers by the time you finish work each day.
  • Resolve that you will not moan this time about how tired you are, how overworked you are or how sick you are of computers by the time you finish work each day, because you run the risk of becoming typecast.
  • Reflect that if “typecast” means typing at the speed of a man with one arm in a sling, then you’ve been typecast pretty well since you first touched a keyboard.
  • Ignore this reflection and return to typing.
  • Save post and hit “publish”.
  • Read it over.

It’s dull, it’s pointless, it tells no story and it contains no funny jokes whatsoever.

I’m back.