Monthly Archives: March 2012

Green Party

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, St Patrick was actually Welsh and was kidnapped and sold into slavery here……  

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Patrick was awakened by the time-honoured method of a bucket of water in the face. He sat up groggily, his head still hurting from the blow which had rendered him unconscious.

“Where am I?” he asked, the time-honoured question of anyone coming to in such circumstances.

“You’re in Ireland,” said a voice.

Patrick looked out of the window of the low, dark building in which he found himself. The countryside spread bleakly before him in about forty shades of dreary green. The sky was leaden-grey. Rain was not exactly falling, but not exactly not.

“This is Ireland?” he snorted. “It’s a dank, damp, dump.”

“Says the guy from Wales,” said the voice in a Celtic brogue, which belonged to a man in an apron, Celtic brogues and his early forties.

“Good point,” said Patrick. “But what am I doing here?”

“You’ve been kidnapped, me lad. You’ve been sold to me as a slave. My name’s Sean.”

“As a slave? Doing what?”

“You’re going to run this pub for me while I’m away.”

“Away where?”

“I’ve heard tell of a magical land called Majorca, where it’s said the sun shines all day, so I’m going to try and find it. After all, as you say, this country is a dank, damp, dump.”

Patrick looked around the pub that he was apparently to run. It was a gloomy place in which gloomy men sat in gloomy silence, each with a mug of foamy, foul-smelling ale in front of them.

“What’s the pub called?” he asked.

“It’s called The Deep Depression,” said Sean, “on account of the fact that it’s in a valley.”

One of the gloomy men suddenly put one hand over one ear and emitted a “Nyyeeeeaah” sound, like bagpipes being passed through a wood-chipping machine. This turned out to be the first note of a fifty-verse song in which the man’s potato crop failed, his wife died in childbirth, his daughter went into the escort agency business and his ass went lame. The song made it clear that all of this was somehow the fault of the English.

“This place is like Hell,” said Patrick. “I can’t think of anything that would make it worse.”

He moved his foot and trod on a stick, which bit him.

“Oh,” said Sean. “It’s also full of snakes.”

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It was two months later when Sean came back. He had learned several things on his travels, such as that there was indeed a magical place called Majorca, that all-day sunshine and Irish complexions do not make a happy partnership and that Ryanlongboats charged extra if your luggage was over a certain weight (twelve ounces).

As he started down into the valley he started. The pub was now called “The Pot O’ Gold ”. As he neared it he could hear what is commonly known as a “hubbub” coming from inside.

He opened the door and stood staring at what he saw. The walls were painted bright green and were covered in harps, shillelaghs and shamrocks. Road-signs pointed to a variety of Irish towns and there were T-Shirts on sale with slogans like “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. There was a woman, a flame-haired, green-eyed beauty, serving behind the bar and tiny people in green outfits with giant green hats patrolled the room with trays.

Most amazingly, though, the pub was packed, both by males and females, both by young and old. There was chatter, banter and merry laughter.

Patrick spotted Sean and walked over and clapped him merrily on the back, never a joyous event for a man with sunburn.

“Welcome back,” said Patrick. “What do you think?”

“I’m speechless,” said Sean. “What have you done?”

“Modernised,” said Patrick. “I’ve made it a theme pub.” He motioned, and one of the little people walked over to the table. “Darby, bring my friend and me a drink,“ said Patrick. “This is Darby O’Gill,” he said to Sean. “He’s a leprechaun.”

“Don’t patronise me,” said Sean. “He’s a small boy from the village, and his name’s Kevin.”

“Yeah?” said Patrick. “Well, the tourists believe it.”

“Tourists?”

“Yes,” they come from everywhere. They want to savour the true Irish experience.”

“Sadness, drunkenness and famine?”

“No, friendliness, riverdance and the chance to kiss a stone.”

Darby/Kevin returned with two drinks. Both were jet-black, with white heads. Sean took a cautious sip. “What’s this?” he asked.

“No-one could drink that awful ale,” said Patrick, “so I invented this. I call it Guinness, from a Welsh word meaning ‘don’t be anywhere near me when I fart’.”

As they sat and drank singing started, but this was not the whiny solo effort of two months earlier. The same man began it, but others joined in, basses, tenors and baritones, rich voices somehow redolent of welcoming hillsides and deep mines. Their song was of eyes that were smiling, of their wonderful mammy and of something called touralouraloura, yet there was also a hint of sadness over a colleen who would not requite their love, and the song made it clear that this was somehow the fault of the English.

“They’re the Hill of Tara Male Voice Choir,” said Patrick when they’d finished, with a tear in his eye.

The barmaid came over and kissed Patrick (well, he was now Irish) on the cheek.

“He’s saved the pub, he’s made Ireland famous and he’s got rid of the snakes,” she said, gazing lovingly at him. “He should be made a saint.”

Patrick wrapped an arm around her waist, then turned and winked at Sean.

“Perhaps,” he said, “but as my friend Augustine says, ‘not yet’.”

“You got rid of the snakes?” gasped Sean.

“Yeah, I chased them out into the sea,” said Patrick. “I think I’ve invented eels.”

“How did you manage it?”

“I mowed the grass,” said Patrick. “I don’t know why no-one thought of that before.”

What It Says On The Tin

As St Patrick’s Day approaches and I struggle to think of something to write to celebrate the occasion (don’t hold your breath, I’ve still got nothing) I recall that he was in fact Welsh and was kidnapped and brought to Ireland. At school we were taught that his kidnapper was a character called (I am not making this up) Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Naming was obviously simpler in those days. The guy was called Niall, he had nine hostages, problem solved, although one wonders what happened as the hostage negotiations progressed and he freed a hostage every hour or so, starting with the pregnant woman (there is always a pregnant woman in every hostage situation). I wonder did he amend his name accordingly each time, finally ending up as Niall the Don’t Shoot, I’m Coming Out Now.

The principle has been followed by such notables as Vlad the Impaler, Postman Pat, Dora the Explorer and Joan of Arc (she had a degree in trigonometry). But over time the process has become diluted. Margaret Thatcher never thatched. Gary Cooper did not coop. Pat Butcher never butched (no, stop it). I’m betting that JK Rowling doesn’t rowl, and that Justin Bieber doesn’t bieb.

Arnold Schwarzenegger. What can I say?

So over time names have come to tell us less and less about what their owner actually does.

Just ask Ed Balls.

(PS: I am giving myself a special clap on the back for not mentioning Dick Van Dyke at any stage during this post).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Distorted

There is a lot of glass in our house. This is the front door:

These are the doors into the sitting room from the hallway:

This is the window that separates the sitting room from the kitchen:

I am thinking of entering that one for the Turner prize.

You will notice a theme here. The original occupants of this house obviously had a thing (though one shudders to think what shape that thing might have been) for distorted glass.

Perhaps they were junkies who could no longer afford mind-bending drugs and decided to get their house to do it for them.

We have grown used to it over the years (though you do occasionally find yourself talking to someone in the next room and then finding that they are not in fact in there).

And we have actually added to it with this:

It’s called a glass brick, on the side of the kitchen that has no windows (because if there were we’d be able to see into next door’s back garden). It was Mrs Tin’s idea, the builder who put it in had never heard of it, and it shines light into a dark corner.

And this is distorted sunlight shining through it early this morning:

I think it’s beautiful.

Chateau du Gateau

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “let them eat cake”…..

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“No bread?” asked Marie-Antoinette.

“No, Madame,” said Madeleine, her maid. “Pas de pain.”

“Then let them eat cake,” said Marie, a woman with a name far too long to type throughout an entire story.

There was an embarrassed silence in the Court of Versailles. Eventually Madeleine spoke again.

“They have no cake either, Madame,” she mumbled.

“Why?” asked Marie. “Have they eaten it all?”

“No, Madame,” said Madeleine, to whom a career move was beginning to look like a very good idea. “They cannot afford it.”

“Seriously?” asked Marie. “The patisseries must be raking in the dough.” She waited for a second for the laugh, and when none came she carried on. “Mais how can this be? We are the home of cake – meringues, éclairs, soufflés, profiteroles … ”

“… Swiss roll,” said Madeleine, before she could stop herself.

The Queen gave her a withering look.

“The people are very poor, Madame,” continued the maid bravely. “They are reduced to eating horse and snails. Some even eat the legs of frogs.”

“Really? What happens to the rest of the frog?”

“Green Chartreuse,” said the maid. “Twenty frogs and a liquidiser, and Bob’s ton oncle.”

“Mon Dieu,” said Marie. “What does it taste like?”

“Like liquidised frog,” admitted Madeleine.

“My poor subjects,” declared Marie. “We must help them. We shall get Petitfours, the royal baker, to hand out cakes to the people. I shall be their – ”

“Queen of Tarts?” suggested Madeleine.

To her surprise the Queen blushed. “There’s no truth in those rumours,” she snapped. “I did not sleep my way up to this job.” Which is true, she thought to herself, there was very little sleeping involved.

“Er, I meant Queen of Hearts,” said Madeleine.

“Indeed,” said Marie. “I will be like that Queen in the Alice story. What was it her catchphrase was?”

From outside there came a growing noise, like a mob approaching.

“I remember!” said the Queen. “It was “off with her head!”.

Madeleine looked out of the window and sighed deeply. “Ain’t that la vérité,” she muttered.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast

There are advantages to not drinking anything at all on a Saturday night. There are also advantages, although I admit these are fewer, to working such long hours that you find yourself with odd sleep patterns. Among these advantages (well, ok, the only one) is that you very occasionally find yourself getting up at 6.47 on a beautiful Sunday morning.

6.47 on a Sunday morning is a time that I had previously believed to be a myth, like the time of King Arthur, the time of one million years BC when dinosaurs shared the earth with Racquel Welch (I’m sure that SOFA will understand that I just have to show a picture of her, I wouldn’t be a bloke if I didn’t) or the time when men thought that long hair and platform shoes were cool (there is no photographic evidence that I am aware of that proves that I was ever such a person).

There is such a time, though, and on a morning as lovely as this it is a time when the sun begins to creep up over the top of our house, giving us a picture like this:

As it moves around to our front of our house we get a scene from our front door like this:

And as it begins to shine into our sitting room we get a picture like this:

So that’s my attempt at showing the contrast between sunshine and shade. I hope you enjoyed it.

Now, since I’ve been up for five hours and it’s only just noon, I might go for a snooze in front of the TV.

Still Here

I know that some of you get notified whenever I publish a new post.

I am not sure how this works. Perhaps an email pops up saying “I bring you glad tidings of great joy”. Perhaps your computer bursts into the”Hallelujah Chorus”. Perhaps it delivers its message and then self-destructs after five seconds.

Anyway, to those of you who have rushed here with bated breath (and indeed to those who are here thinking “oh God, what has the gobshite written this time”) I’d just like to say that I’m not (a) sick, (b) dead or (c) in prison, and shame on any of you who thought that (c) was even a possibility (they’ll never find the money, or even know that I’ve stolen it, it really was the perfect crime).

I just needed some time off, from pretty well everything, and I’m back now.

So today’s post is an explanation for you, but also an education for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had to write it down before, but if anyone had ever asked me “do you know how to spell ‘Hallelujah’?” I’d have confidently replied that I did.

And now, after four attempts and the eventual help of Google, I do.

Weekly Drawing Challenge: Indulge

I’m a week behind with this challenge. I could (so I will) use work as an excuse, but in fact I couldn’t really think of anything.

I could have gone for this:

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But I realise that to at least one of my readers this is not an indulgence, but the very top of the food pyramid, so I’m not going to, though as least it give the excuse to buy a packet of Maltesers, which then of course had to be eaten, lest they go stale.

This is what I have settled on:

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Now you have to remember that this is me that you’re dealing with. In Tinman’s drawing world if it looks like a duck and is the colour of a duck, then it’s probably Sydney Opera House.

So although I know that you are wondering why I have drawn Lionel Richie (and I have to admit that the resemblance is uncanny) you have to remember that the one thing you can sure of is that this is not a picture of Lionel Richie.

If it’s he you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

No, it’s a woman wearing a mud-pack, with a slice of cucumber upon each eye.

Let’s be honest, it is not the fairer sex at their most fair. Men whose ultimate fantasy involves women mud-wrestling recoil in horror if the same mud is applied to a woman’s face, with a vegetable garnish.

What happens to the cucumber afterwards? Please tell me that you don’t eat it.

Upwards and Onwards

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “yuppie”…

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“Dad,” asked Meg, looking up from her homework, “were you ever a Yuppie?”

Her Dad smiled and sat upright in his chair. Her older siblings, Laura and Ron, sighed and slumped down in theirs. “Here we go,” muttered Ron.

“I was indeed,” said Dad proudly. “What would you like to know?”

“It’s for my civics homework,”said Meg. “I’ve to write about how Yuppies destroyed the social fabric of civilisation.”

There was a snigger from Ron’s chair. Dad looked astounded.

“We didn’t destroy the world, we made it”, he said.

“What, the place it is today?” asked Ron. “Well, well done, it’s just wonderful. Not.”

He had a point. Since a consortium comprising the World Bank, the IMF and, for some reason, Beyoncé had stepped in to calm Europe’s finances things had been tough. There were taxes on daisies, bath bubbles and freckles. There were charges for singing along to the radio in your car, scratching your left ear-lobe and watching westerns. You needed a licence to own a computer.

You also needed a licence not to own one, and this licence could only be obtained online.

“We didn’t do this,” said Dad. “This was the Noughties lot.”

“Were they Yuppies too?”

“No,” said Dad. “They were Bailed Out Obnoxious Bankers. We were the Golden Generation. I rose from being a simple Barrow-boy -”

“There’s no such thing,” said Laura, “and there hasn’t been since Molly Malone cried cockles and mussels, alive alive-oh.”

“Well, I was born in Barrow,” said Dad.

“Really?” said Meg. “Mum said our family have been from Surrey for generations.”

“Yes, she likes to pretend that,” said Dad. “Anyway, I worked in the City -”

“- where you got “Lunch is for Wimps” tattooed on your arse,” muttered Ron.

Dad looked stunned. “How do you know that?” he asked. It was Ron and Laura’s turn to look stunned.

“As I said, I worked in the City and the world was my oyster. In fact, I ate oysters. I drank champagne after work. I went skiing in the winter and sunning in the summer. I drove a Ferrari.”

“What?” asked Meg. “Where did Mum sit?”

“No, not the Formula One car,” said Dad. “Ferrari used to make a small sports car. They don’t bother anymore.”

“Because of the recession?” asked Meg.

“Because of speed bumps,” said Laura. “They couldn’t get over them.”

“Look at what we gave to the world,” said Dad. “Before us there was only one TV in each house. There was such thing as a wine bar. Nobody ever went to a gym. There were no mobile phones.”

Meg’s mouth opened wide in horror. “Then why did it all end?”

“It was ruined by do-gooders and socialists,” said Dad. “They kept rabbiting on about something called ‘social justice’.They wanted more hospitals and more schools. They wanted more money for the poor.”

“Were there no workhouses?” asked Laura sarcastically.

“Of course not,” said Dad. “Some Labour government shut them all down.”

Laura opened her mouth, then decided not to bother.

“It was the greatest era of all time,” said Dad. “That’s why you were all named after it. Ron, you were called after Ronald Reagan. Meg, your full name, Margaret, is after Mrs Thatcher.”

“And what about me?” asked Laura.

“Laura Ashley,” said Dad.

“What?” said Laura. “I’m named after wallpaper?”

Dad shrugged. “You should count yourself lucky,” he said. “Your mum wanted to call you Gucci.”