Monthly Archives: June 2011

Home Alone

Whenever I wonder whether Mrs Tin and I are making a good job of parenting or not, I always have this benchmark to measure us against.

My own family moved house while I was on holiday.

The year was 1979, the holiday venue (irrelevant to the tale, I only mention it in case you’re curious) was Ibiza, and the chief instigator of the whole thing was our solicitor.

My parents decided in May of that year that they wanted to move. They searched around a bit and found a house (while I was away at a wedding in Birmingham, now I come to think of it) that they liked, and they struck a deal.

Having never been involved in anything legal (or indeed illegal) before, my parents knew no solicitors. I did though, the solicitor for the company I was then training with, and I got him to do the job.

I have written once before about this wonderfully strange man, Eddie Masterson. He booked into Barry’s Hotel in central Dublin for one night one night (read it again, it does make sense) and stayed there for over twelve years, using it both as a home and an office. He loved to give the impression that he was poor, wearing suits that I think he crumpled deliberately, all of which were dusted in ash from the cigarette that hung permanently from his mouth. When he wasn’t soliciting he wrote songs for a variety of Irish singers, two of which became very big hits. He played for the Jimmy Magee All-Stars, a celebrity Gaelic Football team which played fund-raising matches for a variety of charities (he once scored a headed goal in a game, which is not allowed in Gaelic Football, but because it was him the ref allowed it anyway).

Although he was about twice my age we hit it off remarkable well. One year our tiny office got as far as the semi-final of a big Inter-Business Soccer Competition (we had no trouble picking the team, there were only 11 of us working there) and he wrote a song about how we would win the trophy, about how we were unbeatable, and every verse ended with “because Tinman is the King”.

(To briefly sadden yet gladden the story, I had left the company when he died, but they rang me to tell me so I went to his funeral, both because I wanted to and because I was afraid there would be no-one else there. The church was packed, a Government minister (later to become Taoiseach, our prime minister) gave an uproariously funny eulogy, I saw two other ministers and innumerable musicians and sports stars in the congregation, and felt really proud for Eddie, and for having known him).

Anyway, he acted for my parents over the long summer months as the house was being built, but legal wheels moved slowly in Ireland in those days, and when I left for Ibiza in early October there were still many things to be sorted between us and the builder and between us and the people who were buying our house. Closing the deal was still weeks away

Or not. Apparently the day I left Eddie rang my dad. “If I get this all sorted out in a fortnight, will Tinman go to the wrong house when he gets home?”

“I suppose so,” said my Dad.

“Then watch this,” said Eddie.

There followed two weeks of astonishing solicitorship which culminated in a Friday afternoon where my parents handed over the keys of one house, received the keys to another and moved to a town ten miles away.

And at seven o’clock that Sunday morning I arrived at my house (having let the taxi go at the bottom of the road, even Eddie couldn’t have foreseen that bonus) and discovered that I had become that fairly rare creature, an orphan whose parents are still alive.

Over the time I knew him we slagged each other, played jokes on each other, told jokes to each other, but I never got close to matching what he did to me that fortnight.

Because Eddie was the King.

Hot Topics

We bloggers don’t appreciate how hard it is for WordPress to keep coming up with topic suggestions, but the cracks are beginning to show. Twice they’ve asked whether we think everything happens for a reason. They’ve asked about us having an hour to live, 20 minutes to live and forever to live. A couple of days ago they asked which drugs we preferred (sort of) and of course they have had the much maligned “dead puppies” suggestion.

By December they will be really struggling. I have obtained a list of their planned topics for that month:

1st. If you were a cat, what kind of cat-food would you eat?
2nd. Describe the socks you’re wearing right now.
3rd. Weekly Photo Challenge: Despair.
4th. Was Little Jimmy Osmond crap or what?
5th. Which of your legs is your favourite?
6th. Humor or humour? Does your blog have either?
7th. Describe a jigsaw puzzle you once made.
8th. Ear lobes. Why?
9th. Will this year ever be over?
10th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Women’s Bums (bonus: if you don’t get slapped).
11th. Bloggers are gobshites who can’t think up their own topics. Discuss loudly, after twelve cans of beer.
12th. Do you like the smell of tarmac on a hot day?
13th. Why did the fourth little piggy get no roast beef?
14th. Do you think it’s easy making up 365 topics? Well, do you?
15th. Describe your most recent haircut.
16th. Write about Pirates of the Caribbean 4 without using the words “utter” or “crap”.
17th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Hold your thumb over the lens.
18th. Were you popular at school? Why not?
19th. How big is Uruguay?
20th. Not worth a hill of beans. What does that actually mean?
21st. No-one reads what you write. You know that, don’t you?
22nd. Write about the back of your head.
23rd. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. How do you get them out?
24th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Santa (no, the real one).
25th. Oh, give me a break, you’re not seriously all here today too?
26th. Write about the worst present you got yesterday (bonus: name and write nasty things about the present-giver).
27th. Describe your left thumb.
28th. How many Star Wars movies can you name? (bonus: what does that tell you about yourself)?
29th. Just what was so wrong with the post about the dead puppies?
30th. Are you counting down the seconds to New Year as eagerly as I am? 
31st. Do you think we’re going to have a Postaday 2012? Are you mad?

Red or Blue

Do you take the red pill, or the blue one, asks WordPress. Well since they ask, I take these ones:

That‘s my daily dose of druggery. I don’t take them all together, of course, there are different ones for different times of the day. This is the first time that I’ve seen them all as one single fighting unit and I have to say even I’m impressed as to how many there are.

My various mental issues must feel like they’re in the Alamo.

Anyway, back to the baffling-looking question. Apparently the terms “red pill” and “blue pill” have, because of a choice between the two offered to a character in the film The Matrix, become symbols of the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and the sometimes painful truth of reality (red). WordPress wants to know which one I’d rather have.

I am a blogger who sometimes writes as honestly as he can about his depression, his derealisation and his often just being a pain-in-the-arse in a bad mood. But in the last six months alone I have also written about how I’d make a good president (don’t need a link, the post was only yesterday), how I once met an alien whilst walking home from the pub, and how I was interviewed for and successfully appointed to the job of God.

So I think I’ll have one of each, please. There’s still plenty of room in the pill-cup.

Who’s The Boss?

Do I think I’d make a good president/prime minister?

Oh, you want reasons?


I’m the president, I don’t have to give reasons.

But because I am a benevolent president I will offer some.

  • I don’t rush into things. You can tell this by the fact that this topic was mooted by WordPress seven suggestions ago.
  • The president usually lives in a house provided by the state. I grew up in a council house, so I know how that feels.
  • I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing, which seems to be one of the main requirements for the job, in any given country.
  • Carla Bruni seems to go for guys my height.
  • I own my own dinner jacket for attending state dinners, though I don’t know where the trousers are (since I’m married my wife is probably wearing them).
  • I would be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. Since the causes of crime are criminals that sentence is essentially tautology.
  • People wouldn’t have to bother looking for my Irish roots, since I’m Irish.
  • Ruby Tuesday would be a Bank Holiday.
  • Oh, I would make bankers work on Bank Holidays.
  • I would change Ireland’s National Anthem to the Rolling Stones song “Angie“, partly to suck up to Germany’s Angela Merkel, and partly because the song says “with no money in our coats, you can’t say we’re satisfied”.
  • I would refuse to embrace cronyism and nepotism, though Tinson2, who has done Home Economics, would be Minister for Agriculture and Food.
  • My campaign slogan would be “Yes, Tin can.” How could I lose?

Totally Unnecessary Carla Bruni Photo

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

This week’s task is a real challenge if you like to try to be a bit different.

WordPress show this picture as an example, lest there are people out here who do not know what the word means. Not only is that just a tad insulting, it also means they’ve taken pretty well the first idea that will have jumped into most heads and kept it for themselves.

It would be like me setting a “Weekly Photo Challenge: Tinman”, posting a picture of me and saying “here, beat that.”

But I have come up with this idea:

It’s a picture of this post, taken just before I put in this picture of this post.

Look at it carefully, or ignore it and look at the post instead.

You will notice that I have not inserted brackets into a single sentence.

“Ah,” I hear you say, “now that is refreshing.”

Sunshine On My Shoulders

So, this is my second week of Six Word Saturday:

Lazin’ on a sunny afternoon……..,me.

Um, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

What’s important, though, is this:

The weather has been dreadful here in Ireland so far this month, with yesterday evening featuring a downpour so torrential that anyone who went to work without a coat or umbrella got absolutely soaked on the way home.

Trust me on this.

But this afternoon is glorious (this morning may well have been too, you’ll have to ask someone who didn’t stay up till three a.m. watching Glastonbury) and I am ignoring the Formula 1 qualifying on the TV indoors, ignoring the cricket, ignoring, rather ironically, Glastonbury. Instead I’m writing this post outdoors and co-incidentally Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has just come on my iPod, which is always set on shuffle (the piece it’s playing is “Autumn”, not “Summer”, since even co-incidences aren’t perfect).

If I’m honest blogging in the sunshine has it’s drawbacks – I can barely see the screen (I typed barley there and didn’t notice for ages) and because I’m looking down at the keyboard the top of my head is getting more sun than my face, but after weeks of being stuck indoors at weekends I don’t care.

By the way I’m not sure what the white stuff is on the chair at the other side of the table in the photo.

If it’s bird-poo then it means that a dragon has flown over our house at some time.

 (For more Six Word Saturday posts,go here:)

You WILL Say Hi

As a co-incidental follow-up to yesterday’s post, we were in the kitchen this morning and there were quite a few of us milling around the kettle. I was facing away from it when one of the guys tapped me on the shoulder. There was another bloke standing beside him who was definitely new, since he was wearing a French-type beret and you don’t forget something like that. The guy I did know pointed to me and said “him”

The beret’d person held his hand out towards me. I grasped it firmly. “Tinman,” I said.

“Er, I’m Sean,” he replied (can’t be bothered making up a name for him), “but I actually just wanted the tea-bag canister that you’re holding.”

Again, I have made a connection, whether Sean wanted one or not.

HR Puff and Stuff

The title will baffle all but a few of my readers (and they are few enough to begin with), but this is a post about work.

I really like the company I work for, but parts of the way that it’s run are just plain nuts, with many of the ideas based on practices carried out in the bigger corporations around the world, despite the fact that many of these corporations have been proven over the last few years to have been built on foundations of sand.

We don’t yet have a corporate song that we all gather and sing each morning, but it can only be a matter of time (and to my shame, if they have a competition to write it and offer a prize I’m going to have a go).

One of the things we do have is called the “Quarterly Rhythm”. This means that we have quarterly goals, a quarterly staff survey, a quarterly staff briefing, get assessed quarterly by our managers, get assessed quarterly by our peers (!), and a possible quarterly “profit share” payment if the company has done well.

We all have to do a quarterly self-assessment, by far the most hateful of our company’s procedures – as A Frend commented when I mentioned this here before, self-assessment was used by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

And we have a quarterly theme, a scheme which means we try to improve some particular thing in the company for three months and then forget about it totally in order to concentrate on the next theme.

Because we have so many new people joining at the moment this quarter’s theme is “Making Connections”, as part of which we all have to try to get to know each other a bit better. We’re supposed to say hello as we pass each other, introduce ourselves to new people (I’ve tried it, it usually turns out that they’ve worked here for a year and get quite offended, but all young people look the same to me), stuff like that.

To egg us on HR have put little posters up around the office. There is this really cool “Come Together one:

..though of course the guy on the left should really have his guitar the other way round (right, Patti?).

One just has a picture of a post-it with “hello” written on it, but it‘s not in a part of the office where I can take a picture of it without being seen, and I don‘t want a reputation as a looner (says the guy who spent six weeks at work with his hair dyed blue). My personal favourite is this one:

It’s in the kitchen area, and one lunchtime while just GoldenEyes and were eating there I got up and stood in that pose for about a minute or so. The area is U shaped, open at one end.

One of the sales guys appeared from the left, glancing in briefly as he sped by to wherever it is that sales people go. He vanished stage right, then we heard his footsteps stop, and in classic sit-com fashion his head appeared back into view, followed by the rest of him walking backwards. He stared at me, I nodded up toward the poster, he shook his head and carried on.

I think I made a connection.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Worn

This week’s photo challenge is “Worn”.
The simplest option is clothing. For example, these are my favourite jeans:

Their main flaw is that at this time of the year I can only wear them indoors. I wore them outdoors while reading in the garden the one sunny day last summer and got sunburnt on one knee.

They are not the only worn clothing I have. I have a favourite jumper with a hole in one sleeve with which Mrs Tin and I used to play toss-out tennis, meaning she would put it in the bin and I would take it out again. We finally reached an agreement whereby she would stop throwing it out if I would stop wearing it.

I know that’s a compromise, but I have a troubled feeling that I have lost somehow.

And like most people not all of my underwear could be called “brand spanking new” (what exactly does that phrase mean, by the way, and would newer underwear help me to find out?). Some of it has been around, and around me, for quite a while now.

You are all going to have to take my word for that, mind you. I am not posting a picture of myself in my underwear, I’ve seen what happened to Anthony Weiner, though I would have the slight advantage that my name is not quite as easy to make below-the-belt jokes about (what was he thinking, did he not get a hard enough time at school?).

So I’m rambling off in this direction. There are two TV’s in the Tinhouse, one in the kitchen on which Mrs Tin watches occasional daytime stuff or, as in last Sunday’s case, an entire day from “Waltons Weekend” on one of those strange channels that show stuff like Diagnosis Murder and Touched by an Angel and survive on the revenue from just two adverts an hour. The other one is in the sitting room, where the Tinkids spend the early evening switching between Scrubs, My Name Is Earl and Two and a Half Men. The later part of the evening features me flicking around sports channels (at one time last Sunday I was watching football, Formula 1 and cricket all at the same time).

Anyway, these are the remote controls of the two TV’s:

It’s not hard to figure out which is which. After all, if you’re going to watch the Waltons all day you only need to press one button, first thing in the morning.

Same As Usual

Today I’d to go to the hospital so my pacemaker could get its half-yearly check-up.

As usual I stood up from my desk mid-morning and announced where I was going, and as usual the management said that’s fine, take your time, hope it all goes well. When you’ve a history of blacking out and toppling over spectacularly and messily in your office, and when a device has then been found to stop that happening then most companies will be pretty keen to let you go to whatever check-ups are necessary to ensure that the device keeps devicing.

As usual I turned up, was hooked up, and a pretty young woman played with my heart, turning the pacemaker up and down, raising and lowering my heartbeat to see what will happen. You don’t even have to take your top off, you lie on the bed fully clothed, shoes and all, and to be honest it’s hard not to feel a bit like Frankenstein’s monster.

A little machine chattered out a ribbon of paper with data on it (surely it’s called “ticker tape”, if it isn’t it should be) and she informed me that all was well, that once again it’s actually very rarely that it has to turn on.

As usual she noted that I have opted to have its thrice daily battery check turned off, as usual she asked was I sure, and as usual I said yes, it used to hurt each time it turned on and used to make all the muscles around it go into spasm for about an hour afterwards.

And that was that. The whole thing took less than eight minutes.

I used to hear about pacemakers, associating them always with overweight people in their mid-70s, and how they were a sign of heart problems, and about how they meant you couldn’t go through the X-ray machine at airports, and how they could explode at altitude (that’s ok, I’m only five foot five) and I used to imagine that life with one must be a real drag.

And now I can sit on the bus wearing mine, start four paragraphs with “as usual” and reflect on how routine it has all become for me.

It’s amazing how we all adjust to stuff.