Monthly Archives: June 2012

Being Kind

It’s been a busy couple of days. I’ve spent a day being silent (easier than I thought, and oddly relaxing), spent that evening watching Ireland play Croatia, and so being pretty silent yet again, spent the following day at work talking about being silent, and about Ireland playing Croatia, then spent yesterday morning at the dentist, talking about Ireland playing Croatia with my mouth wide open (“I haw ee ere hit”).

Along with all of this I have to practice the final mindfulness exercise before tomorrow’s last class. This one is called “Loving Kindness”. I have to select four people and then think positively about them. One must be me (no problem there, I’m gorgeous), one must be a close friend, one must be someone I see regularly but don’t know (I’ve a picked a man who sits quietly reading on my bus, I’m hoping it’s not this that he’s reading) and someone who gets on my nerves. For this I’ve picked another guy off my bus, a man my age who barges past everyone at the stop in the evening to be first on and who once, when sitting behind me, sneezed on the back of my head. I’ve to think about all four of us individually and then together, thinking kind thoughts towards us all.

I’ve just tried it.

I should have picked someone who gets on my nerves less.

Two Wheels Good

Sidey’s Weekend Theme (yes, it’s Monday, but I’d to keep quiet all day yesterday) is “A Bicycle Made For Two, Or One”…

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It was a bicycle made for two.

His job was to hold the handlebars, controlling the direction in which they would travel. He also got to pedal furiously, and to ring his bell. It was a typical bicycle bell, which meant that it had an audible radius of about one foot, but that didn’t stop him ringing it incessantly.

The job of his co-cyclist, his Dad, was to hold on to the back of the bike and push as fast as he could.

This was not his only task. It was also his job to shout off approaching dogs, to apologise to people forced to leap from the footpath, and to rap his shins sharply against the back wheel whenever his son suddenly applied the brakes without warning.

He also fixed pumptures, so called, presumably, because they involved pumping up the tires. In Formula 1 terms he was the talent, and Dad was the mechanics.

On Sunday mornings they would take the bicycle to the park, and they had such fun together, he roaring with joy at the sheer speed at which they would travel, his dad wheezing with breathlessness at the sheer speed at which they would travel. They were a team.

They hadn’t always done this. Once he had had a bicycle made for one. It was the same bike, but with tiny wheels attached at the sides. But in time he felt that it was a bit like the Batmobile having L-plates. Dad the mechanic had removed the tiny wheels because he was too grown up for it, though not too grown up to propel himself alone. He had a feeling that Dad pushing was cheating, but if Fred Flintstone could power his car with his feet then why couldn’t he power his bike with his dad’s.

On this morning they was going really fast. “Keep going, Dad!” he shouted.

There was no reply, not even the gasped-out “I am” that normally accompanied such exhortations. He looked back over his shoulder.

His dad was standing about twenty yards behind him, with a smile on his face like an upturned mudguard..

He wobbled, he wibbled, then put his head down and pedalled, really pedalled, harder than he’d ever done before. The bicycle straightened out, and he was cycling. If he thought that he roared with joy before, it was nothing compared to the visceral yell of delight with which he travelled now, right up to the ornamental lake where he applied the brakes, showering startled ducks with small bits of gravel.

It was a bicycle made for one again.

In The Pink

Last summer former Builder turned Property Developer Mick Wallace stood as an Independent in our General Election. He freely admitted that he owed huge sums of money to the banks and that he had little hope of ever being able to repay them, and the people of Wexford, admiring his honesty, elected him to represent them.

Once in the Dáil he joined with 15 like-minded Independents to form a Technical Group (by having seven or more members they have full speaking rights), and he goes there in his trademark pink shirt and denim jeans to vote with them against absolutely everything, and to behave like a schoolboy pulling pig-tails.

This week it was discovered that while still in the business of building and selling apartments he deliberately understated the amount of tax he owed on his VAT Returns by €1.4 million, to “try to save his company”, and that he has agreed with Revenue that he owes them €2 million, but says that, since the company through which he did all of this is insolvent, the money will never be paid…. 

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The poor peasants were getting poorer.

They were sorely taxed by the reign of King Enda the Ginger, who was taxing them sorely.

“A Household Charge,” he would decree one day. “Water Rates,” he would order the next. Every day a new tax, and every day aimed at the peasants, never at people who might be better able to bear the burden – the rich, for instance.

Then one day, as Enda the Ginger sat at his desk plotting a Poverty Tax (a tax on having no money) a shadow loomed over him.

He looked up. There stood a giant of a man, his long locks flowing, his family tartan gleaming pinkly.

“I am Wallace,” he said, “the Knaveheart.”

The Ginger looked at the motley assembly behind Wallace – Ming the Dope, Ross the Undecided, Others the Unmemorable.

“And who are these?” he asked

“These are my Technical Group,” said Knaveheart.

“I see,” said Enda. “And you number how many?”

“Four-hundred-and Thirty-two,” said Knaveheart, because counting was not his strongest talent.

“Sixteen,” admitted Ming.

“And what is it you want?” asked the Ginger.

“We want you to stop taxing the peasants,” said Knaveheart.

“But I need money to run the country,” said the Ginger. “We used to get lots from Builders, but that has stopped.”

Knaveheart went momentarily as pink as his shirt. “Well, you’ll not take anymore from the peasants,” he said.

“Stop simply telling me what not to do,” said the Ginger. “Suggest an alternative.”

“Don’t have to,” said Knaveheart. “I’m not the Government.”

For many months Knaveheart and his warriors heckled, harried and hassled, making merry at the Government’s expense, and come to think of it at the expense of the peasants too. But Knaveheart was troubled, because he held a deep secret. Whilst still in the Guild of Builders he had acted like a modern-day Robin Hood, robbing from Revenue and giving it to himself.

Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to say Robin Hood, I meant Al Capone.

And one day Enda the Ginger’s henchman, Tax the Feckers, found out about this and came calling. Knaveheart bravely tried to flee. He ran rings around the tax-laws, he hid behind a company, yet there was no escape.

Finally, in the very week that he was to travel to far-off Poland to watch the peasants play football, paying for this trip with, well, money, he found himself trapped. He looked around and found that the Technical Group had scattered wisely in all directions. He stood alone before Enda the Ginger .

“You owe us two million euro,” said King Enda. “Hand it over.”

In reply Knaveheart turned his back, bent over, and flipped up his pink shirt to reveal the ultimate in insults – the Builder’s Butt-cleavage.

“How dare you!” roared Enda. “You cannot moon the King!”

“I wasn’t mooning you,” said Knaveheart. “I was mooning the peasants.”

Quiet Reflection

About 18 months ago I told the tale of the VonTrappist monks, an Order who kept a vow of silence about all things to do with The Sound Of Music.

God has a way of remembering things like that, and making sure that they come back to bite you in the arse, or at least land upon your head in a plague of frogs.

The all-day part of my Mindfulness course takes place on Sunday, and at last night’s session we learned that it will be conducted in silence.

The teacher will be talking, but the rest of us must stay silent even during lunch, which we all have to eat together. We have all agreed that none of us are bringing anything like crisps, as this might start fits of giggling, which are not allowed either.

I have to say that I am looking forward to it immensely, although if I spill my tea into my lap I will have to mindfully accept it, leaving my crotch to scream internal expletives on my behalf.

I will be like Caine from the Kung Fu series, although without the ability to fight in slow motion.

Simply The (Second) Best

Mrs Tin arrived home yesterday proudly wearing the medal that she and all of the other participants received for running in the Women’s Mini Marathon. This started a discussion as to who in the family has most medals. Someone would boast of a medal from the Three-Legged Race at the School Sports Day, someone else would see their medal and raise them an Egg-and-Spoon Race medal from two years earlier, Mrs Tin was forced to play the card of her Cup-Winner’s medal from the days when she played cricket.

I sat listening, unwilling to blow my own trumpet, because I don’t own a trumpet. But rivalry is a fundamental part of Tinhouse life, and eventually I felt obliged to mention all of my soccer trophies.

For someone who was a fairly average footballer I have an array of these that make me look like an Irish Ronaldo (O’Ronald, perhaps). A couple were won in those five-or-six-a-side competitions that they play in resorts in Ibiza or Majorca on blazingly hot afternoons, where simply being less hungover than the other teams will generally get you at least as far as the semi-final. Back in Ireland I seemed to be lucky in that every team I ever played for had at least one truly outstanding player who would single-handedly drag us through game after game.

The biggest and most impressive of my trophies, though, is one a massively gaudy thing about two feet tall, which I bloody well can’t find just when I wanted to show it to you all. I remember the day well, and am horrified by the fact that it was in 1982, thirty years ago. I remember that I was captain of our team, which is why I still have the trophy. I remember that Mrs Tin and the other girlfriends (WAGs I suppose you’d call them now, though I wouldn’t dare, since I still know quite a lot of them) made pom-poms, learned songs, wore short skirts and acted as cheerleaders (the Tinkids will one day realise that battiness runs deep in their genes, and not just from their father’s side). I remember that the final score was one-nil.

To the others.

Many of our team blamed our goalkeeper for our defeat, reckoning that if only he’d found time to run the length of the field and score a couple of goals in between diving around saving thirty-nine of the forty attempts at goal that the opposition rained in at him from all angles then we’d have won.

There was a booze-up for both teams in a pub afterwards, and the winners displayed the trophy proudly on a table in the middle of the room. Someone on our team suggested it would be funny to take it and hide it, my car was nearest, so trophy was put in my boot.

And funny it might have been if we’d given it back after an hour. Or even two. Even after I’d driven home with it the situation could still have been rescued if I’d returned it the following day, but I chickened out, and by the time the team met again the following Thursday we all agreed that it was now too late. So we kept it, the other team simply believed they’d left it behind in the pub and the incident faded into ancient history.

There is a plaintive phrase often heard in sport. England came out with it after Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup. The US basketball team came out with it after their last-second defeat to the USSR in the 1972 Olympics. We Irish came out when it when Thierry Henry handled the ball twice on the way to setting up the French goal that put us out of the last World Cup. But no-one can say it as truthfully as the football team of Dublin North can.

They wuz robbed.

The Long-Distance Runner

The photo above is of Mrs Tin’s race number, which in a couple of hours time she will be wearing in the Dublin Womens’ Mini Marathon.

Mrs Tin is entering unknown territory here, not just because she rarely goes into Dublin. She has not done this before and at this moment (and she has no idea that I am writing about her, by the way) she is terrified. To make matters worse she has the most awful cold, not I am sure the best condition in which to take on such an event.

Many women will be entering hoping to beat last year’s time, or to set a personal best. Mrs Tin has neither of these ambitions. She is not hoping to finish higher than her race number, or to be home in time to watch the race on the six o’clock news. She would quite like it, though, if she isn’t overtaken by my stepmother at some stage.

It may seem as if I am making fun her here but believe me I am not. While I am spending the afternoon practising my mindfulness (sitting on my arse), reading my book (sitting on my arse) and writing this post (talking through my arse) she will be out in the sunshine (of course it’s back for today, just for the race, it’s like the way it always comes out on the first day of your exams) pounding the streets of Dublin in order to raise money for Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

So this is a post full of admiration, and pride, and love. I’ve seen coverage of the event on the TV, thousands of women of all ages, running, jogging or walking the course, united in the sheer, carefree, uninhibited sense of fun that women together are so good at. I think she’ll get caught up in all of that and will arrive home elated and thrilled with herself.

I hope so, she deserves it.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

The rules for this week’s challenge are simple. WordPress tell us that we can post any picture we like, so long as it is taken today.

Think of the possibilities. A butterfly on a leaf. A bee hovering over a flower. A vapour trail in the sky. A dog-turd on the street. There’s a whole world out there, just waiting to be captured forever on film.

It can keep waiting, though, because the weather is like this:

That picture was taken when the rain wasn’t blowing onto the window. This one was taken when it was:

You know you live in a wet country when (a) you keep a lifeboat in your back garden and (b) it’s full of water.

So I’ve had to look indoors, and have opted for this:

It’s what we use to wax our turtles, before we turn them upside down and play Curling with them, sweeping frantically in front of them as they slide across our wooden floor towards the jack, a reluctant Tinkid.

And why, out of all of the items (and there are millions of them, believe me) in our house have I chosen this one?

I just reckon it’s my only chance. I can’t see them ever having a “Weekly Photo Challenge: Kitchen Supplies”.

We’ll Paris Have Always

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “once upon a place, in a time long, long ago”….

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The Tardis appeared slowly out of nothingness, in a blare of sound like an asthmatic cheetah. Doctor Who turned to Amy Pond, who was his companion because of the valuable help that she gave him, and not at all just because she was a pretty girl.

“You said you wanted to visit the first London Olympics, Pond,” he said, “well, prepare to be impressed”.

He threw open the door dramatically. The two of them stared at the Statue of Liberty.

“I am impressed,” said Amy. “I never realised the Olympic Torch was that big.”

The Doctor ran back to the controls. Where he had clearly set the time for 1948, it now read “quarter to Cork”.

“Something’s wrong with the space-time continuum,” said the Doctor. “We have to fix it.”

“Why?” asked Amy.

“Because otherwise it will cause the end of the entire universe.”

“Again?” said Amy. “How come we always end up having to save the entire universe? It’d be nice sometimes if all we had to do is rescue a cat up a tree. Less pressure, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes, but not as much fun,” said the Doctor. “Come on.”

They stepped outside. The Doctor switched on his Sonic Screwdriver, a device which could seemingly do everything from opening doors to ironing socks, the galactic equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. He stared thoughtfully at its readings.

“There is an alien life force around here somewhere,” he said, then looked up from the Screwdriver towards  Amy, who was leaning against the side of the identical police-box that was standing beside theirs. “No shit,” she said.

The Doctor opened the door of the other Tardis (using his Sonic Screwdriver, of course) and they went inside. The layout was much like theirs, only all of the equipment looked brand new, and a child of about five was looking at them.

“I was afraid of this,” said the Doctor. “He’s a Place Lord.”

“A what?”

“In the same way that we Time Lords control the movement of time, the Place Lords control the movement of place. Where we have Past, Present and Future, they have There, Here and, er, There.”

“But he’s only about five,” said Amy.

“Actually, I am nine-hundred and seven, I’m not a child.”

“They call him the Doctor,” said Amy. “What do they call you?”

“They call me the Child,” admitted the child. “I look like this because we don’t move in time, which is why everything in here looks so new. Our Tardis is younger on the inside than on the outside. Dorian Grey used to stay here. Tom Jones does now.”

“Whereas we move from one place to the other, using time to get there,” said the Doctor, “they simply move one place to the other, cutting out time altogether.”

“You mean like -”

“Don’t say ‘beam me up, Scotty’,” said the Doctor and the Child together. “We real space-beings hate all that science-fiction tripe.”

“It sounds good, though,” said Amy. “Look at the way he’s just moved New York to London.”

“It is good,” said the Doctor, “so long as he moved London somewhere else first.”

Amy thought about this. “Why are you here?” she asked the Child.

“We have decided to move our world here,” said the Child. The Doctor gasped.

“Let me guess,” said Amy.”This would cause the end of the universe.”

“Only in your time,” smiled the Child.

“I won’t let you get away with this,” said the Doctor. He drew his Sonic Screwdriver, the Child drew his, and a duel ensued which looked like a really crap version of a lightsabre fight.

Amy sighed, went to the controls, pulled some levers, hit some buttons and jammed her Tesco Clubcard into a slot. The Child’s Tardis vanished, leaving Amy and the Doctor standing in the street.

“Where did you send him?” asked the Doctor.

“Ikea,” said Amy. “There’s enough room for his whole planet, and they’ll never be able to find their way out.”

The Doctor grinned, they went into their own Tardis and he fired it up.

“Where are we going now?” asked Amy.

“We’ve had enough fun for one day,” said the Doctor. “We’re going to rescue a cat up a tree.”

 

The Spotless Mind

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I have discovered over recent days that I have a readership that I never knew about.

Members of my family including my dad, my brother and my niece have started reading the blog, and while they probably don’t hang on my every word, at least they don’t hang the posts on a nail as toilet paper, though this may simply be because we no longer have outdoor loos in Ireland (you should all come here, we have street-lighting and stuff as well).

They have also told friends, who have told friends, who have told friends.

Using the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, Barrack Obama should be a keen fan by about next Tuesday.

Needless to say I am thrilled by this. And needless to say my brain has frozen, and not in a whole-tub-of-ice-cream-in-one-go type of way.

I am conscious that the friends told by the friends told by the friends will come here, see that I have started skipping days and that on the days that I do write I write riveting articles about my eyesight, and that I may soon be reduced to writing eye-catching articles about rivets.

Using the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, by about next Tuesday Barrack Obama will think that I am an idiot.