Monthly Archives: April 2012

Hard Times

Tinson1 started his Third Year Physics exams in Trinity College today. He isn’t home yet so I don’t know how he got on. He was unusually nervous, perhaps because it seems that there are no repeats this year. If you get above a certain score you get to go on, if you get below it then that’s it, you leave with something like a diploma, and I’d say that a person with a Diploma in Physics has as much chance as being allowed near an atom-splitter and as I’d have of being allowed to design a suspension bridge on the basis that I once owned a set of Lego.

Yesterday I told him all the things that I was told as I faced exams, that he’ll be fine, that he’s very clever, that he’s been studying all year and is bound to know more than he thinks, just at this moment, that he does.

I also told him that I remember being told all of these things myself and that they didn’t help my nerves in any way at all.

But I told him that we love him and are proud of him as a person, not as a student, and I texted him this morning to tell him all of that again, in case he really is less clever than we think he is and it didn’t sink in the first time.

When he sat in front of the first paper this morning and realised that there were things on it that he could answer I hope that he started to relax. He deserves to succeed and to continue his journey, step by step, toward doing what he really wants to do.

Best of luck today and all of this week, my son.


Another Year Older

When I published my 1,000 post a couple of months ago, I included this drawing:

Some of you were less than complimentary. Pseu reckoned it was a fuzzy fez, Viv thought it was a hairbrush, Tilly said it was a steaming dog bowl. All quite insulting and, even more annoyingly, funnier than anything I had written in the actual post.

It’s what started my Weekly Drawing Challenge, where I resolved to draw WordPress’s photo topic each week.

This is the first chance I’ve had to draw something for a second time, the first chance to see if I’m getting any better. So you can decide for yourselves whether this cake (yes, cake) is better than the last one:

Before you all get your evil commenting pens out, let me be the first to admit, now that I look more closely at it, that it does resemble the Titanic after a heavy lunch.

Anyway, why have I set myself up for a good slagging again?

Because my blog is four years old today.

Takes A Little Longer

Sidey’s Weekend theme is “Impossible”….


Jim Phelps walked into the phone booth and shut the door. There was, as he expected, an envelope and a small tape-recorder. He opened the former and turned on the latter.

“Good morning, Jim,” said the voice that he had come to know so well. “The picture in front of you is of my son. He recently sat his exams at this (Jim instinctively turned to the next photo) school. I have spoken to him about his answers and he will not do well. He said that the longest river in the world was the River Dance, he listed the major muscles of the arm as biceps, triceps and forceps, and he said that the capital of Hungary is Turkey, since he reckoned that whenever people are hungry they eat turkey.

His mother has her heart set on him becoming a doctor and with the results he will get he will not make Med School. While this is good news for potential future patients I do not want to see my wife disappointed (aw, he loves his wife, thought Jim) because when she is she hits the gin and becomes a right bitch.

The papers have not been corrected yet, and are locked away in the headmaster’s office. The sheets in your envelope contain the correct answers which I put together and which my son has copied out in his handwriting.

Your mission, Jim, should you decide to except it, it to replace the original exam papers with these ones before the headmaster corrects them on Monday morning.

As usual, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

“What does ‘disavow’ mean, exactly?” muttered Jim to himself.

“I don’t know either,” said the voice, startlingly. “Anyway, good luck, Jim. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Jim watched as the tape slowly melted. Could be worse, he thought, I could have had to eat it.


That evening he sat assembling his team. He did this by staring at a photograph of each one before selecting the ones he always chose – the guy with the flat back to his head, the guy who looked like a vampire, the sultry woman, the token black. They met, they drove to the school and they went silently about their plan. What that was is unclear, none of them ever seemed to do anything apart from Jim.


Jim was in a harness, air-swimmimg towards the headmaster’s desk when a teacher walked in and across the room toward him, because of course they were in a school and therefore there were no touch-sensors in the floor. Luckily Jim was wearing a mask which was an exact replica of the headmaster’s face, a remarkable achievement when you consider that the best that Madame Tussaud’s can do is make President Kennedy look like Captain Scarlet.

“Hello, Mister, um..” said Jim.

“What are you doing, Headmaster?” asked the teacher, who fortunately was the German teacher, Helmut Uhm (an impossible co-incidence? Yes, this is why it’s called Mission Impossible).

“Er, this is my new exercise equipment, said Jim desperately.

“I see,” said Uhm. “Well, there’s a woman outside,  not saying anything, just looking sultry. Do you know anything about her?”

“Yes, she’s here for an interview for a teaching post in, er, mime,” said Jim.

“Very well,” said Uhm, and left.

Jim tore off the headmaster mask and breast-stroked, if that’s the phrase I’m looking for, his harness over to the desk. He got out of it, as he always had to, by unbuckling himself and dropping face-first to the floor.

He opened the desk-drawer, which was full of confiscated items including a catapult, a copy of Playboy and the plans to a secret US missile system. Still, these were not his problem. Underneath all of them he found the exam papers, flicked through them to the one he wanted and replaced it with the new set.

As he was putting the sheets back he happened to notice one of the answers. The longest river in the world was now the River Phoenix.

As Jim left he reflected that the voice on the tape would not be the voice on the tape if he’d been clever enough to be a doctor.

Jim could do many things, but combating inherited dumbness – well, that was impossible.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

Our blogmate Speccy has already pointed out that this is not the best week to have “Sun” as a topic here in Ireland (thanks to a strong wind it was actually raining inside our bus-shelter yesterday morning).

(By the way, in her post that I’ve linked to above she has a link to a post of mine, so it is possible that I’ve now created some sort of blog black-hole that will swallow the whole world, but to be honest the weather’s so shite that I don’t care).

I do have this picture

which I took for the topic “Through” last month, and then couldn’t think up anything to say about it. It’s the sun setting as seen through the plant which GoldenEyes and I bought the day we moved into our new office.

And I had reckoned that it would have to do (not that it’s bad, I’m very proud of it, it’s just that it wasn’t actually taken for this particular challenge) until this morning while I was having breakfast in the kitchen, and I saw this:

It’s the sun reflecting off the back window of our neighbour’s house.

So there you go, a picture of the sun without the sun actually in it.

Just like Speccy’s picture, in fact.

A Vote of Confidence

If you ever feel that your blog is actually quite good, that you’re entertaining people all over the world and that you write articles that are stimulating and interesting, then let me tell you that it’s a bit disillusioning discovering that one of the searches that brought someone to your blog this week was “zzzz”.

Apparently I am the internet equivalent of a nice bedtime mug of cocoa.

Weekly Drawing Challenge: Sun

This week’s challenge is hardly worthy of the name. Even I, with all the drawing ability of a broken magnet, can draw the sun:

Yes, it is the sun, and no, it’s not a World War 11 sea-mine.

The sun, of course, features in a number of  songs. For example, there is The Sun Has Got His Hat On:

There is Lucky Old Sun:

And the Beatles’ Abbey Road has not one, but two sun-songs – Sun King:

and Here Comes The Sun:

Ok, I have to admit that last one looks more like road-kill.

Anyway, I’ve decided to do something slightly different. In tribute (kind of) to the most famous newspaper in Ireland and in the UK, a Rupert Murdoch owned publication notorious for its sensationalism and catchy headlines, I offer this picture:



I call it Lying In The Sun.

Troubled Water

There is currently a debate taking place in Ireland about the introduction of water charges (“debate” is an old Irish word meaning yelling insults at the other side without recourse to facts, statistics or evidence). There are those who believe that charging for water will encourage conservation, while others ask why, in one of the dreariest, wettest countries in Europe, we should pay for something that you can find literally lying on the street.

The government have not helped by telling us (all in the space of a week) (a) that we will have to pay for the meter, though not for its installation; (b) that we will have to pay for both the meter and the installation; (c) that the charge for the meter will be €40 per year for 20 years, which is about eight times the cost of an actual meter; (d) that they have no idea how much the charges for the actual water will be, and are refusing even to make an estimate; and (e) that we’re to shut up asking questions, we’re starting to get on their nerves.

It is believed that each household will have a certain free allowance based upon the size of the dwelling (not sure how that’s relevant, unless we plan to flood all of our rooms once a year) and the number of occupants therein.

By this stage this is starting to look a bit like a serious, grown-up blog, so I would like raise a few serious, grown-up points.

There are presently five people living in the Tinhouse, so presumably at the beginning of the year we will get an allowance for these five people. What happens when Tinson1, as he is determined to do as soon as he graduates, leaves the country? Do we have to report this fact to the Water Police (motto: “To Serve You Shower”) or do we get to gleefully use the rest of the yearly allowance by standing under a garden hose and pretending that we’re Gene Kelly standing under the broken gutter?

Or perhaps we could sell our excess to other, less fortunate people, say a young couple who have a baby on January 2nd, just too late to qualify for the additional ration.

Mention of babies raises another point which doesn’t seem to have been considered – the age of each occupant. A new-born baby, for instance, needs a huge amount of water.

First of all, as I recall there always has to be a supply of cooled-boiled-water, though I have to admit that I can’t remember why.

A new-born has to be bathed every day. At least five babygros per day will go into the washing machine, along with the astonishing number of articles of his parents’ clothing that he has managed to cover in baby-sick.

Yet by the time the same child is three he will need almost no water at all, as he will drink only Sunny Delight and will be washed by spittle applied via his mother’s handkerchief. A bowlful of water each week for his pet goldfish (and the occasional toilet-flush as each one is literally buried at sea) will be all that is required.

I offer these insights to the government, but to be quite honest I don’t think they’ll listen, so I’m just going to wash my hands of them.

If I can afford it.