Monthly Archives: December 2010

Wine, Woe and Wishes

I had intended keeping this tale of embarrassment and stupidity to myself, but since everyone in my local seems to think that it’s absolutely hilarious I may as well entertain all of you lot at my expense as well.

I think it was on Tuesday last that the rain finally fell, washing away most of the snow and ice and meaning, for the first time in almost a month, that walking was an activity less dangerous than, say, bomb disposal. We had no wine left in our house (dunno, I think it evaporates at room temperature) so I decided to go to the pub. Mrs Tin, who had a lot of chick-films that she wanted to plough her way through, declined to join me, so off I set on my own.

I did notice that at some places on the road the ice had been so thick that it hadn’t quite melted yet, so little islands of it lay here and there, as if people had cut the icing off their Christmas cake and thrown into the street. These were easily avoided, however, so I went to the pub, met some friends and had a very pleasant time. At some stage I thought of Mrs Tin, sitting at home more sober than a football fan at the Qatar World Cup, so I asked the owner did he sell wines by the bottle that I could take home to her. Since take-away wine from a pub tends to be extremely expensive, and since the owner of my local is a decent bloke, he suggested not buying the wine but simply taking some home and replacing it with something similar the next time I was in. I asked for two bottles, he put them into a paper bag, and when I was leaving I took them home with me.

It was raining quite hard when I left, so hard in fact that I put up my umbrella for the first time in weeks, and with the umbrella in one hand and the bag in the other I walked home, head down. I had just reached to end of our road, which I have mentioned before is very steep, when I stood on a little patch of ice. I shot forward onto the ground – and one of the bottles of wine broke.

I lay there for about twenty seconds, face pressed against possibly the only piece of ice left in Northern Europe, yet with rain pouring onto the back of my head. My arms and legs were spread, a line of red liquid was trickling away from my body down the hill, and all I needed was a chalk outline to have auditioned for a role (a very brief one, obviously) in CSI.

I must be honest with you all, who know so much about me, that I did seriously consider just staying lying there, forever. Eventually, though I dragged myself up and limped (my left knee is still very swollen, even now) the last fifty yards to my house. I know you’re all miles ahead of me here, but I may as well set my shame out in print. I reached the front door, juggled umbrella, bag and house-key for a couple of seconds, and dropped the other bottle of wine.

From inside the house the noise must have been deafening, and Mrs Tin rushed to the door, afraid perhaps that someone had smashed our car window, or that I fallen in through our glass front door. I told her what had happened and she said it didn’t matter, she didn’t need wine, but by now self-anger at my own stupidity had taken over from rational thought. I had wanted to bring her home wine, and I was going to bring her home wine. I set off on the half-mile walk back to the pub again.

I didn’t bother with the umbrella, I was too bloody fed-up, and those lucky enough to be in the bar when I burst through the door still laugh every time they tell yet another person about the state I was in. My hair was matted to my head and rain poured off my coat like a fountain.

There was no-one behind the counter and one brave customer said “the bar’s closed, Tinman”.

“No, it isn’t,” I growled.

“Look, it’s ten past eleven, there’s no way he’ll serve any more drink,” my friend ventured.

“He’ll fuckin’ serve me,” I said.

The owner arrived out from the back room at this point, held up a hand as if to point towards the clock, then saw the expression on my face and put it down again. Picture Jack Nicholson’s expression in The Shining, then imagine what he’d have looked like if, just as he put his face to the hole in the door, he’d been bitten on the arse by a rabid Alsatian.

“Dropped the wine,” was all I said.

Wordlessly he put two more bottles in a bag and I slouched home, safely this time. By now Mrs Tin had gone to bed, so I drank the wine myself.

There are wine-writers all over the world who are more gifted at describing wine than I am. They write things like:

Lovingly picked from the south-facing vines of this richly-soiled region, the grapes are gently pressed by the beautiful feet of nubile young maidens before being allowed to mature in oak barrels in a cool, dim cavern. The wine is decanted into hand-crafted bottles, the cork is inserted by blow-pipe and the resultant wine tastes of both fire and ice, with a nose redolent of warm sunny summer days, wortleberry and Imperial Leather soap (look, I only said they write things like this, I didn’t say it was word for word).

Anyway, there’s not a writer on earth who would have described this wine in those terms. If I were a wine writer my review would be what I believe they call fruity, and would run thus:

This wine is called CYP, it’s from Chile, and now I know how the Chilean miners disposed of their pee during their ordeal.

And of course I’d to buy four bottles of wine to replace this gunk.

So there’s my tale of wine and woe. And the wishes?

Well, they’re for all of you. I wish all of you all the very best for 2011. Thank you all for reading, thank you all for commenting, thank you all for caring.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Tin x

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Nothing Left, Right

Now that Christmas is over we are left with the perennial problem of what to do with the leftovers.

Back in the Middle Ages many of these problems were solved due to sieges. A ham dropped from the top of a castle could knock five or six invaders off a ladder into the moat below, while on the other side a flaming Christmas pudding fired out of a catapult over the ramparts could cause untold damage to those within the castle itself, especially if you were the one unlucky enough to be hit by the sprig of holly.

In these supposedly more enlightened times we are not allowed use food as weaponry, so we have to be a bit more inventive. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Turkey. Why did you buy one so big? Did you expect the Plymouth Argyle Football Team’s bus to break down outside your house, and that you’d have to feed them all? (Why Plymouth Argyle? Well, they’re reading out the football scores on the TV at the moment and I decided I’d put in whatever team was read out next). Anyway, the turkey is crouched there, still the size of Garfield, glaring scornfully at you. You could, of course, simply cut slices off and eat them cold, but remember that the most dreadful suffering known to man, that off trying to come off drugs or cigarettes, is referred to as “cold turkey”, and I can’t regard that as a ringing endorsement. Many and varied will be the recipes that you will employ over the coming days as you try to serve turkey in a variety of different guises. Turkey soup, turkey curry, turkey bolognese, turkey smoothies, turkey ice cream, turkey crispie cakes, turkey candy floss, it doesn’t matter what you try, your kids will know that it’s turkey and will beg to be fed something else.

My own suggestion is Turkey Wellington. Put on your boots, walk down to the beach and hurl the turkey as far out into the sea as you can.

Ham. Succulent and juicy on Christmas Day, it’s now as hard and joyless as Ryvita, and is the weight of a VW Beetle. Bring it to Oxygen next year to keep your tent from blowing away.

Gibblets. Seriously, what were you thinking? Stuff put into a plastic bag and stuck up a turkey’s bum. And you’re surprised that there’s some left over? Sneak them into a litter bin when you’re out at midnight putting your bottles into the bottle bank (We all go to the bottle bank at midnight, none of us want our neighbours to see that we’ve got through seventeen bottles of wine in four days).

I realise of course that many of you may have had a goose. If you did, well done, but we’re not here to talk about your love life.

The trimmings are simple enough. Cranberry sauce makes a very good wasp-trap in summer. That pink goo that goes on the top of prawn cocktail is a good replacement for L’Oreal moisturiser, if you’re suffering the January Blues and feel that you’re not actually worth it. Stuffing, once it’s gone hard, is useful for gritting your driveway. Brandy butter is an effective hair-gel, especially if you’re going for the Jedward look. Corn-on-the-cob, if planted in your back garden, will grow into a beanstalk with the Jolly Green Giant at the top.

And what of sprouts? You bought a string bag with two hundred of them in it, even though you knew that each member of your family would eat only one. Now you’ve to get rid of the rest, and they don’t have the kind of taste that is easily hidden. You could sneak one sliver into that foaming stuff that Dr Jekyll used to drink when he wanted to become Mr Hyde, and half-way through he’d stop and say “hang on, I think there’s sprouts in this”.

So you’ll have to employ some lateral thinking, and don’t use them as food at all. Next time you go paintballing slip one or two of them into your gun. Anyone you shoot is going to look like a green-blooded Vulcan. Squash one onto a footpath and when someone walks by howl in anguish and accuse them of treading on your frog. If you have very religious neighbours keeping bouncing some off their roof and tell them God is punishing us with a plague of snot. Stick one into the exhaust pipe of another neighbour and watch him shoot the head off his garden gnome when he starts his car. Send two of them to the FBI with a ransom note saying “we want two million or next time you get one of the Hulk’s fingers”.

See, there are lots of things you can do with sprouts. Just as long as you don’t have to eat them.

Twaz the Night After…


Good old Tinceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
When the snow lay all about
Deep and crisp and even
He swore words like “poot” and “darn” and
even “sticks of fiddle”
When he saw to his delight
Rain began to pi-hid-le.
He saw snowmen melt away
In the local par-ark
Like those Nazis melted
in “The Raiders of the Lost Ark”
He went out and brought some bread
Milk and and sparkling water
Till today the shops had seemed
As far away as Mor-hor-dor.
He went to his local pub
Once he’d stocked his larder
Cos he’s hadn’t been outside
So he needed lager.
Well, Guinness really, but that rhymes,
And that seems to matter
When you write a post that’s
in Iambic penta-ma-hat-er.
A game was on the TV set,
Tottenham versus Villa
Lots of chances, lots of goals,
Really was a thriller.
Spurs’goals came through Van Der Vaart
Godsend to a blogger
Coz the jokes are far too much
I just didn’t boh-hoh-ther.
Though it still may freeze again
And the ice might harden
I’m just thrilled that that I have seen
Green grass in my garden.
Every day is one day more
Closer to the summer.
Never will we moan again
If it’s fairly duh-hell-er.

Pipe and Slippers

It was silent in the sitting-room apart from the ticking of the old grandfather clock that had stood there virtually since time itself began. The woman rocking gently in the rocking-chair by the fireplace looked up at the clock, put down her knitting and smiled. Her husband would be home from work soon.

He would be cranky, he would be chilled to the bone, and he would be very,very tired.

And with good reason. In the space of just one night he would have visited every child on the planet, distributing gifts. And if you think that’s tough, keep in mind that he’d have been shot at by jet-fighters as a UFO. He’d have had to swerve around that bloody flying snowman singing “Walking in the Air” in a high falsetto (his voice wasn’t surprising really, Santa himself always felt especially cold around the groinal area at that altitude, and he didn’t even have snowballs).

Worst of all he’d have been forcibly reminded yet again that if your preferred mode of transport is to ride on a sleigh behind eight reindeer travelling at terrifying speed, you’re going to end up spending a lot of time wiping shit off your face.

It had been a tough year. The news that Tiger Woods had feet of clay but other, firmer parts had meant that Santa had been left with four million copies of the “Tiger Woods PGA 2011” video game. Always a man able to spot a craze in its earliest days he’d had his elves make fifty million vuvuzelas, but then every sports venue on the planet had banned them. And even his staple stocking-filler, the game of Monopoly, had died in popularity, since in every house the winner would be turned on by the other players, who would refer to him as “a greedy, crooked money-grabbing developer bollocks”, even if the winner was the four-year old baby of the family.

But they had found replacements, just as they always had in the past. The invention of the X-Box Kinect, the fact that Take That had re-formed and released an album, the new “Mary Byrne” Barbie (essentially, Barbie in a Tesco uniform) meant that Santa had left with a selection of toys that would satisfy every child.

Mrs Claus put his dinner in the oven to heat (since they did live at the North Pole, their dinner was venison, but they managed to keep this very, very quiet) and moved his pipe and slippers nearer to the fire. She had already gone carefully through the TV schedules to make sure they didn’t end up watching one of those films that suggested that her husband didn’t exist, since they depressed him, or one of those ones where someone accidentally knocks him out and has to do his job for him, since they just made him snort in derision.

She still had occasional nightmares about the year when he sat staring in open-mouthed horror at Bad Santa. If you’re reading this, Billy Bob Thornton, well, that’s why you’ve got coal in your stocking ever since (I don’t just mean for Christmas, either, every morning when Billy Bob puts on his socks he finds coal in them).

She glanced again at the clock. Nearly time now. It wasn’t always easy being Mrs Claus. She’d abandoned her own career plans at be a Fairy Godmother to live with him in a place so miles from anywhere that there were no poor scullery-maids to help, and no pumpkins or mice to transform (she did once win the TransSiberia Sled Race with an entry she made from a Christmas pudding and four penguins, but that was just to prove to herself that she still could). Her husband’s job meant he travelled a lot. Some of the girl-elves were really hot. She had to lie to all her friends about what he worked at (she told them he sold timeshare in igloos). And although they’d been married and shared a bedroom for literally centuries now she still found something vaguely creepy about the fact that he could see her when she was sleeping, and knew when she was awake.

And any second now he’d fall in the front door, drop soot-covered clothing onto their white polar-bear skin rug, and slump grumpily onto the couch.  But she would bring those pipe and slippers, she’d listen sympathetically to his grumblings about narrow chimneys, the loudness of church-bells if they ring just as you happen to be passing at steeple level, and about how the traditional bottle of Guinness had been replaced in many houses this year by a glass of Lidl sherry.

And in time he’d calm down. He’d tell her of the smile that would spread across the face of some sleeping child as her arm reached around the doll she’d asked for. He’d tell her of the heartwarming letters from children asking him to make sure he gave them less and poorer children more this year. He’d grin as he related how he crept into the house of the person who wrote the Mr Blobby Christmas No 1 and filled his turkey with Marmite. Soon the first “ho, ho, ho” would escape from his lips, soon his little round belly would shake when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly. Soon he’d be her own, wonderful man again.

Her husband brought joy all around the world. She loved him very much.

Tis the Night…

Just a few hours left now.

I’ve learnt a lot this extraordinary, snowbound hell of a Christmas. I’ve learnt, for example, that it is possible to go Christmas shopping without a car. Yesterday Mrs Tin, Tinson1 and I headed off to Tesco armed with nothing more than a lot of Bag-for-Life bags and a grim determination, and arrived home with everything we need.

I’ve learnt that the backpack that I take to work every morning is the perfect size for fitting a turkey into. I’ve also learnt that a turkey in your backpack is a lot heavier that you’d expect.

I’ve learnt that a lot of the things we used to think we need we don’t actually need (sad story, here. Tingirl and I discussed how we could happily live  without sprouts, and I said ” and also those chip-shaped things on your plate that you think are going to be chips but disappointingly turn out to be some sort of parsnip yoke”, and Tingirl said “ugh, yes, I know exactly what you mean”, and Mrs Tin sadly said “well, this is all news to me”, so I hope she realises that everything else she cooks is gorgeous).

I’ve learnt that there’s a lot less pressure when the weather is shite, that you can just say to the kids “sorry, we didn’t get to buy so-and-so”. knowing that they’ll understand.

I’ve learnt just five minutes ago that no matter how great the boots you buy and no matter how careful you are it is still possible to land violently on your back when walking down a hill.

And I’ve been reminded that traditions built with your children will never die out, no matter how old they get. Tinson1 and I went to the pub this morning, as we have done every year since he was eight, to wrap presents from him to his mum and his younger brother and sister. We will leave out a can of Guinness, a mince pie and a carrot by the chimney tonight, though the kids know full well that it is me who has to get through them all. And we will all gather in Tingirl’s room just before they all go to bed, and I will read “The Night Before Christmas”, and we will all chant the last line “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night”, just as we have don every year since we became a family instead of just a couple.

For all those reasons, today is my Christmas. Tomorrow is just a day of eating and drinking, but today is a day in which I have built traditions and memories that I hope they will never forget.

And to you, all my dear blogging friends, I offer you this. I sometimes look up a website called amazingjokes.com, and occasionally they don’t tell a joke, they do stuff like reporting silliest answers ever given on an insurance form or something like that. Months ago they printed a list of answers given by small children when asked what love is. My very favourite was by a 4-year old girl called Tracy who said “love is what makes you smile when you’re tired” (and I’ve kept that in my head so many times over the last few months), but the reason I mention it now is because some 7-year old called Bobby (may he live in happiness forever), said:

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

Have a lovely day tomorrow, all my friends.

Lots of love

Tin xx

Randm Wurdz

While trying to order tickets online as a Christmas present (can’t say for whom, the walls have ears, or at least laptops) I eventually reached that stage where you have to copy a word that’s on the screen, in order to prove that you’re not a robot.

Since I can’t imagine many robots going, say, to a Tommy Tiernan show and intoning “ha, ha, ha” at the funny bits I’m not quite sure what the point of this is, but the reason that I mention it is that the word I had to type was “shema”.

Surely that’s a real word. It simply means the mother of a baby girl, rather than a boy, in which case she’s a “hema” (if she’s just had triplets she’s a”listen-buddy-you’re-getting-the-snip-right-now-today-or I’m-doing-it-myself,-they-don’t-call-them-pruning-shears-for-nothing-you-know-ma”).

This got me thinking. Maybe all the words that appear really are real but obscure words, so in the interests of research I went back onto the website, kept hitting the refresh button (I think I may have accidentally bought 500 tickets to Bon Jovi, by the way) and came up with the following words for which I am suggesting the attached meanings.

  • Torzit . A cruel jibe, tomenting someone about their acne.
  • Prinal. A quick peek into the next urinal at your neighbour’s, er, package.
  • Bersetu. A tantrum thrown by the leading lady in a ballet.
  • Burierse. The act of falling into snow or water up to your waist.
  • Slogomic. The new economics, we work harder & harder for absolutely nothing.
  • Stizedro. Pancho Villa’s middle name.
  • Wishi. A raw fish with a wishy-washy, almost non-existent taste. Also known as sushi.
  • Ovirri. A chain of Gynecology Clinics in Finland.
  • Myinsah. An army phrase, meaning “am I doing this correctly?”. It is believed to have originated during the desert campaign in WW11, when men were men and women were miles away.
  • Spleje. That white splotch that’s left across your windscreen after you’ve hit a fly.
  • HELYSG. An adverting slogan in a campaign for vegetables that was never used. The letters stood for “Hey, Eat Lettuce, You’ll Shit Green!”
  • Holdp. A bizarre armed robbery in which the only thing stolen is a letter “U”.

And finally, Barmium. A new type of drug they’ve put Tinman on which both calms him and makes him come up with rubbish like this.

Let It Go, Let It Go, Let it Go

The first few days were picturesque.

The next few were conversation-starting as one swapped horror stories of journeys to or from work. The  following few were community-building as people pushed stuck cars, swept footpaths, helped the elderly with their shopping. Now it’s just a pain in the arse, regardless of whether you keep falling on yours or not.

I left my office yesterday at 4.45 and arrived home at ten past ten. I live 19 miles from my office, and this is the 21st Century. Ugg the Caveman, before he invented the wheel, could have travelled quicker pushing his cart on its four coaster-shaped appendages. Lot and his family could have travelled quicker, even while carrying Mrs Lot after her unfortunate glance over her shoulder. Moby Dick could travelled quicker, even if it was stranded on land like a, like a, like a beached whale.

And don’t tell me it’s because it’s winter. The Ice-Age travelled quicker than we did, and winter was pretty well when it did most of its travelling.

Students of flora and fauna must find the whole thing fascinating. Summer brings out strawberries, wasps and women in bikinis. Winter brings out snowdrops, polar bears (no, I know not here, but give it a few years) and gobshites-who-hate-driving-in-snow-but-do-it-anyway.

My bus left Dublin at five yesterday and eventually had to abandon us five miles from Greystones at 8.25. A bus is heavy enough and has large enough wheels to drive through the snow, and there is a Bus-Only lane virtually the whole way, so it should have been a piece of piss. Unfortunately the sudden onset of winter (in fairness, it’s not surprising people don’t expect it, it only comes once very four seasons) means a certain type of self-centred cretin will decide that the rules of the road do not apply in bad weather and will drive in said Bus-Only lane, at a speed which suggests that the lane itself is a piece of piss, which has frozen solid. The cretin will, of course, put on his hazard lights, so that’s ok then.

At each junction cars will drive out in front of the bus rather than have to stop and try and start again. The fact that the bus that they’ve planted themselves in front of might have problems of its own stopping, but might instead crush their car like a steamroller crushing Wile E Coyote does not seem to occur to them.

Had the road ahead been at clear as it should have been then we’d have reached Windgates hill between Bray and Greystones  long before it became impassable. Instead we spent three hours behind people who Bambi on ice would have laughed at. Indeed, had Bambi on ice been wearing fish as flip-flops and riding a pogo-stick, he would still have laughed at them. By the time they’d all crawled off the road into their hopefully slippery driveways (may their chrysanthemums be crushed) the hill (it has the same gradient, by the way, as the side of the Empire State Building) was closed to traffic. On the first Monday of this Ice Age (was it really only November 29th?) I’d walked home from Windgates, but that was from the top. This time I was starting from the bottom on the Bray side, a fine, bracing five-mile walk. I must gleefully report that community spirit still survives, as half way down the Greystones side I was saved by an angel in a wingéd chariot, cleverly taking human shape as an old man in glasses and a fifteen year-old Micra, who drove me the rest of the way home.

Today saw me travel by train. The first one this morning broke down and we’d to change train, and the one I came home on this evening was so crowded that I enjoyed endured intimacies that I haven’t felt since my disco days.

So all in all, I’m fed up with it.

You’ll notice I’ve turned off the bloody snow on the blog. Somehow it just didn’t seem funny anymore.