Monthly Archives: February 2012

Another Year

Blog posts may be few and far between this week because of more late nights at work (yes, I know you’re all seething at me for putting up with it but, as the Coke ad says, holidays are comin’) but I do have to mark today.

On February 28th 1981 Miss Non-Tin and I went out for the very first time.

Happy Anniversary, Mrs Tin.


Face to Face

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “illusion”…


It is widely believed that Janus, the two-faced God of Beginnings and Transitions, was male.

In fact she was female. One of her faces was that of an old lady. The other was of a girl so beautiful that she can be shown only from one angle, as her beauty is said to drive mortal men mad.

She had been banished to earth by Zeus after he tried his standard chat-up line (“sleep with me or I’ll turn you into a vole”) on her pretty face and she replied by showing him the other one, causing him to yelp aloud in a most ungodly way. The other gods, upon hearing the shriek, reckoned that he had accidentally tried to seduce a male, in a Crying Game kind of way, and that is how the misconception began.

Janus found it tough on earth, as two-faced people tend to do, constantly having to hide one face from the world. She took to wearing her a long blonde wig over her aged face while working part-time as a pole-dancer at weekends, and to wearing a scarf over her pretty face while collecting her old-age pension on Thursdays. In this way she made ends meet.

She was walking along the street one day when her blonde wig slipped to the back of her head, like a man with a comb-over on a windy day, and a photographer who was simply taking a picture of the building behind her ended up with this picture:



 No-one realised, of course, that it really was a girl with two faces, it was assumed simply to be a fortuitous optical illusion, and for years it appeared as such in magazines accompanying articles with titles like “Are You Left, Right or Pea Brained?”.

The emergence of SOPA and PIPA, though, meant that the image could no longer be used. This was a godsend to this particular god. She changed the spelling of her name to Janice, gathered up her courage and presented herself to the world via the well-known TV programme “Britain’s Got Really Weird Shit”.

She is now a household name and extremely rich, as every publisher with a self-help book about changing one’s perspective gets her to pose for the above photograph.

They often get her cousins, the Gemini twins, to pose as well, for this picture:



though they are less successful as the photo-shoots take much longer, since it’s very difficult to balance the vase between their faces and it keeps slipping.

The three of them are also very close to, and provide financial support to, their other earth-bound cousin.

Mirage, the God of Puddles Appearing On Roads In Bright Sunshine, gets very little work at all.

Score Draw

This is Miss Ugg (so called because she is wearing Ugg boots, I suppose, they’ve obviously been around a long time, rather like Donkey Jackets) who made an appearance in Thursday’s post.

My Weekly Drawing Challenge is based upon the premise that I can’t draw for toffee (nor indeed draw toffee) and someone like Miss Ugg offers an argument against that premise, with a large club to back up her argument.

Her existence, however, is due to this book:


It is filled with pages like this one:


(as an aside, as I look at that page now I am struck at how quickly, even before she has picked up her bouquet, a bride learns to stand with her hands on her hips).

The book was a Christmas present for Tingirl when she was very small. It was part of a set of three, the other two being Funny Animals and Funny Monsters, and on Saturday afternoons the Tinkids and I would sit (in a quite corner of my local pub, I have to admit, well, we don’t have a McDonalds and the little coffee shops of our town were always too busy to encourage dalliance) and they would swap the books and draw different things while I read the paper.

Then one Saturday, with Valentine’s Day approaching, I noticed this page:


with the cave girl and her mate on it, borrowed that book (one of the Tinkids had to read the paper) and (aw shucks moment coming up) I made a Valentine Card featuring Mrs Tin and I as the cave folk and with a joke obviously so feeble that I genuinely can’t remember it.

It wasn’t perfect, of course. I remember that the me had one leg the width of an elephant’s (of an elephant’s what, I know you’re all too polite to ask) and my club looked like a chicken drumstick, but it was still the best thing I have ever drawn, and that is what reminded me of it yesterday.

I shouldn’t and probably won’t use it for the Drawing Challenge, as it seems like cheating, but occasionally characters might appear to enliven a blog stripped of visual adornments by SOPA, PIPA and their European cousin, ACTA.

And if I ever write a Horror Story called the Bride of Santa I know what to do.


Last night I went to an Awards Dinner, so today I rang in sick.

Only a person who doesn’t drink could get away with that. Our company got nominated for an award, I was (to my surprise) one of the staff asked to go along to fill our allotted table of ten and I woke up this morning with stomach pains. I still got up at the right time, then thought “nah, I can’t” and went back to bed.

There was a champagne reception for an hour when we arrived, four bottles of wine on our table when we sat down to dinner and the bar was still open when I left at 12.30, and if I’d had even one drink I’d have forced myself into work this morning even if it meant throwing up on the bus driver. Nobody wants to be the bloke who misses work because he was drinking at a do the night before, it’s the career-development equivalent of photo-copying your bum.

Whereas when the guy who drank water all night rings in sick, muttering about the warm feta cheese starter (I really don’t know why I ate it, I can’t stand stuff like that) then everyone says “aw, poor him, he must be feeling really terrible”.

I’ve slept most of the day and when I woke up the pain was pretty much gone. So I was given chicken soup.

All women are born knowing of the restorative properties of chicken soup. Miss Ugg the cavegirl

knew it. Ma Walton knew it. Mrs Tin knows it.

So I was force-fed loving offered chicken soup. Now I have stomach pains again.

I have discovered that long gigantic belches help to relieve the pain. I have also discovered that I am not to do that again.

It’s going to be a long evening.

Claiming Seniority

A group called The Book People regularly leave a selection of books into our office. These vary in their catchment age – for example, this month’s includes a box-set of all of the Beatrix Potter books, while also including a book called “Can’t Be Arsed”, a list of 101 things not to bother doing before you die (No 28 is “Get a Tattoo”, by the way). The books are cheaper than in the shops, you tick the one you want and a couple of weeks later it is delivered.

This month they offer this book:

Which it could be argued is fair enough, perhaps some of us would like to teach our granny how to email or how to accidentally order 2500 boxes of paper online (I’ve done that, they asked how much paper I wanted, which was a box of 5 reams at 500 sheets per ream, so I put in 2500 and would still be paying for them today were it not for the fact that the company had to ring me to tell me that they didn’t have that number of boxes in all their stores put together).

Anyway, this post comes about because of this part of the cover:

It seems that I am a senior.

Not only that, but I’ve been one for over four years now. Had I not been clutching tightly to my Zimmer frame when I read this I’d have fallen down in shock.

I do not regard myself as a senior. I am not reading retirement home brochures, buying boxes of denture cream (2500 at a time, if I do it online) or bemoaning the fact that pop music these days is shite, even though it is.

I have never been on a cruise. I do not like Tony Bennett. I do not own a cardigan.

The fact that I’ve had to pause this rant for a sit-down and a nice cup of tea is due to the fact thatI like tea. And sitting down.

I still see myself as young, vibrant and (Grannymar will back me up on this) hot.

Apparently I’m not, and it’s not just me. Stephen Fry, Sharon Stone and Donny Osmond (four days older than me, sadly I actually know that) are all seniors. While Gillian Anderson isn’t , David Duchovny is (sorry Mulder, but the truth is out there). The list is endless, and astonishing. Antonio Banderas. Enya. Eddie Murphy. Meg Ryan. All four members of U2, even Larry Mullen. Michael J Fox, who still looks younger than any of my children. Heather Locklear.
Linford Christie. Every bit of him.

I wrote about Madonna a few days ago. According to the authors of this book she too is a senior.

I wouldn’t like to be the one who tells her.

Spirit Leveller

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “My First…”


I haven’t always haunted this castle.

There’s a pecking order and I’ve had to work my way up to here. In my time I’ve haunted a garden shed, a phone box, a puddle, the cafe of Waterford’s branch of Marks and Spencer and the “Goods to Declare” corridor at Knock Airport.

My first ever haunting was in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Clonakilty. I walked in through the front door (literally), made a few objects fly about the kitchen and slammed a couple of doors, though annoyingly I’d had to open them first.

There was silence. It is a tradition that we do most of our haunting after midnight, which unfortunately coincides with people being asleep. I sighed (eerily) and glided upstairs. I was faced with a rectangle of closed doors, chose one and passed through it.

In the room was a little girl of about nine, sitting upright in bed holding a pink toy rabbit. I felt bad that my first haunting would be a small child, but I had to do my job.

“Boo,” I said.

Even I knew it was feeble. The girl gave me a look of utter scorn. I’d swear the rabbit gave me a look of utter scorn.

“I’m not afraid of you,” she said, “because there’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“Then you’re talking to yourself,” I pointed out.

She considered this gravely.

“Ok,” she said, “then you are a ghost. But you’re rubbish.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Ghosts don’t say ‘boo’”, she said.

“Woooh?” I ventured.

“No, it’s “Oooowaahooaahhh!’ said the girl, with startling ferocity. She’d have made a great ghost, were it not for the fact that she was alive.

“Why are you here?” she asked. “Were you horribly murdered?”

“No,” I admitted. “I died from an attack of gout, and it’s very hard to haunt your own foot.”

“And why are you wearing ordinary clothes? You’re supposed to wear a sheet.”

“Is that so?” I said snootily. “Scooby Doo is not a documentary, you know.”

“You’re not very nice” she said. “I want a proper ghost, like a mummy, or a pirate, or a lady in black who came to a tragic end.”

“Well, this isn’t exactly what I wanted either,” I said. “I was expecting something along the lines of Jennifer Love Hewitt.” (In something diaphanous and revealing, I thought to myself, I don’t know how the woman doesn’t get pneumonia).

“Ghost Whisperer isn’t a documentary, you know,” she said.

“Look, I didn’t come here to get involved in a slanging match (which I’m losing badly, I thought), I came here to scare people.”

“Pity,” she said. “You’d have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for this pesky kid.”

I knew when I was beaten. “Ok, I’m off,” I said. “Goodbye, little girl.”

“My name’s Sarah,” she said, “and this-” she waved the rabbit – “is Mr Wrinkly-Nose.”

“Goodbye, Sarah, goodbye, Mr Wrinkly-Nose. And woooh.” I drifted towards the door.

“Wait!” she said. “You haven’t told me your name.”

I’d been dreading this bit. “My name’s Jasper,” I muttered.

She burst into giggles. I sighed (eerily) and exited haughtily through a wall.

It is not widely known that ghosts are bound to the earth, which is why they don’t sink through the floor. Therefore a ghost walking through the exterior wall of an upstairs bedroom will drop twenty feet into a rose-bush.

Trust me on this.

I slunk away with my head in my hands, though not in the headless horseman meaning of that phrase. I could still hear her laughing “Jasper the Unfriendly Ghost!” as I left.

I’ve improved over time, of course. Tonight I’ve just watched a group of people run screaming from my castle, terrified by a suit of armour that suddenly raised its visor, a chandelier the candles of which flickered off and on to the inaudible beat of “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim and a portrait whose eyes followed them around the room by moving off the portrait and following them around the room.

But it’s on nights like this, when I’m feeling really smug about myself, that I think back to that first night and how badly it all went.

It haunts me still.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

Last summer WordPress had the topic “Up” as their photo challenge. I showed this picture, taken from the balcony of our office

justifying it by pointing out that I was the one who was “up”, looking down.

You can guess what’s coming, can’t you…



Someday they’re going to pick “Sideways”, and I’m going to have to break into the building across the road.

Weekly Drawing Challenge: Down

The picture shown to illustrate this week’s Photo Challenge was one taken downwards at a pair of feet, so I think they are talking about the opposite to “up”. Going down (sorry) this route might have led to a picture of a hole


or  perhaps a banana skin:


But as in the old joke, or “that hoary old chestnut”


as such jokes are often called, here is another meaning to the word:


Q. How do you get down off an elephant?


A. You don’t, you get down off a duck.



Ok, you can’t actually get down from a plastic bath-duck but I don’t have a real duck in the room with me at the moment. And the elephant in the room is that I don’t have an elephant in the room either, which is why my effort looks like a pig wearing a snorkel.

But I’m not going to get down (even sorrier) about it. I won’t be like the horse in the even older joke who walks into a bar and the barman says “Why the long face?”


B’dum tish.

What Will My Present Bring, I Wonder

She walked into the tent, urged on by her giggling friends. She sat at a table which was bare except for a small glass globe. Its outside was opaque, almost certainly painted so, but Claire felt certain that inside was a model of some famous landmark like the Eiffel Tower, which would find itself in the midst of a violent snowstorm if she shook the globe.

A curtain at the back of the tent was dramatically pushed aside to reveal a woman clad in Morticia-black long hair, a long flowery dress, bangles, exotic perfume and extreme stereotypism.

“You haff come to have your fortune told?” she said.

“Er, yes, please,” said Claire. “Claire and the Clairvoyant, eh?”

This joke was intended to break the ice. Judging by the frosty look on the other woman’s face it hadn’t worked.

The Clairvoyant sat down opposite Claire, putting a teacup on the table. There was silence.

“You are supposed to cross my palm with seelver,” hinted the Claivoyant. “Twenty Euro, please.”

Claire handed over the blue-coloured note. “That’s not exactly silver,” she pointed out.

The Clairvoyant indicated the snow-globe. “You theenk that’s a real crystal ball?” she said. “Times moof on.” She took Claire’s hand and studied it.

“You painted your fingernails ziss morning,” she said.

“Er, yes,” said Claire. The other woman nodded in satisfaction, as if she had done something difficult. “You haff met someone with the initials M.Z.”

“That’s true,” admitted Claire, “because it says ‘Madame Zalinski, Fortune Teller’ on the sign outside.”

“You haff travelled a great distance.”

“This Fair is ten miles from the nearest town,” pointed out Claire. “That’s not rocket science.”

“Madame Zalinski does not meddle with the science of rockets. She does only the telling of fore.”

Claire’s brow furrowed as she grappled with this sentence. “You are confused at present,” ventured Madame Zalinski.

Before Claire could say anything there was a loud ringing. “The Spirits haff sounded the Bell Of Completeness,” said Madame Zalinski. “Your time is up.”

“That was an alarm clock,” snapped Claire, “and you haven’t told me anything about my future yet.”

The two women glared at each other. Madame Zalinski could see trouble in her own future if she didn’t give in. She lifted the teacup and dropped the accent. “No wonder your teacher Miss Gilhooly said you were precocious. Very well, let’s see what the tea-leaves say.”

Claire could see that there was only a tea-bag in the cup, but was too stunned by the reference to her teacher to complain. “How could you know that?” she gasped.

Madame Zalinski smiled. “Look, I have all these crap props because I’m only starting out at this but I do actually know what I’m doing. Now,” she said, “you will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger. Oh wait, he’ll be a traffic cop and you’ll have been speeding, let’s forget about him. That gym you’ve just paid a year’s membership for is going to close down in four months time. You’ll become best friends with a girl called Jean Byrne – gosh, I didn’t see that coming, because that’s me. You’ll marry someone with the letter ‘e’ in his name somewhere, it’s no fun if I tell you more than that. You’ll have babies when you’re 31, 33, 35 and 36 (“!” said Claire). Oh, and 42. You will develop an allergy to asparagus. Your husband will run off with – shit, sorry, I should have read the whole of that sentence before I said it aloud. Never mind, you’ll meet another tall, dark, handsome stranger and – wow, Claire, you cougar, you! You will live to a ripe old age and at your 90th birthday party I will get them to play “Grapefruit Moon” by Tom Waits, because it will be your favourite song, just as it is now.”

Claire was awestuck. “That was amazing, Madame – er, Jean. But why do you do it that way – spend ages telling people what they already know and then rush the prediction bit at the end?”

“Force of habit,” said Jean. “I used to read the weather forecast on TV.”

Outside The Kitchen At Parties

Tinson1 and his class were yesterday given details of the graduation ceremony that they will enjoy next year, an oddly optimistic move considering they have yet to face exams both this year and next.

Anyway, on the day he will turn up, looking like the Hogwarts’ Master of the Dark Arts in his mortar board and cloak, in the Great Hall of Trinity College. We will watch proudly as his name is read out in Latin (Tinsonnus Maximus) and he is presented with a piece of rolled-up parchment in a red ribbon, informing the world that he now has a degree in Physics and therefore officially has the ability to calculate the density of a black hole, invent warp drive and switch off the Large Hadron Collider if he‘s the last one leaving the lab in the evenings.

When the formalities (formalitae) are over there will be a reception in the class’s own Science Block where there will be refreshments (vino veritas) and music (pro bono), and it is here that I reach the point of today’s post. It seems that a sign at the entrance of this building informs All Ye Who Would Enter Here that since there are experiments going on all the time there are a number of strong magnetic fields emanating from the labs, and that anyone with a pacemaker should basically feckius off.

It looks as if I will have to settle for sitting outside, with the occasional cocktail sausage or pineapple-and-cheese-on-a-stick being passed out to me through a window.

Since I know little about Physics (ignoramus) I’m not sure what might happen if I went in anyway. Perhaps I would stick to the ceiling. Perhaps all of the walls would act as repelling magnets and I would be pinned by an invisible force to the very centre of the room, well away from the champagne. Perhaps (a long shot probably, though I have the same hope if I’m ever struck by lightning) I would develop superpowers.

Or perhaps I might simply explode.

Tinito ergo boom, in fact.