Monthly Archives: July 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

One man with a broken camera and a refusal to accept that this means the Weekly Photo Challenge no longer applies to him…


One of the oddest, and least challenged, things about science is that paleontologists can find one solitary bone and from it deduce what a dinosaur looked like.

The principle is as daft as finding one blonde hair and deducing the existence of Scarlet Johansson, and the fact that Scarlet Johansson does exist in no way weakens that argument.

These paleontologists would have us believe that all dinosaurs were ferocious, angry, million-toothed creatures, without having any evidence to back this theory up, such as for example a cave-drawing of one of them hanging out of a very tall building.

The human psyche disagrees, dredging up deep communal memories that none of us even know are there. So when someone was asked to design a dinosaur for TV, these memories forced their way into his subconscious mind and he invented Barney, because the T. Rex was in fact furry, gentle and friendly. And purple.

Other inventors have been unknowingly inspired by similarly harmless creatures. The child’s kite recalls the gentle Pterodactyl, dancing on the breeze. The mammoth sparked the idea of the 84 bus, slowly and meanderingly rambling about its unhurried business. The Velociraptor, a creature with a wide head and just one front leg, is evoked by a tricycle.

The friendliest of all was the Sabre-tooth Tigger.

All of these creatures frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee (now Boise, Idaho). Sadly many of them perished during our first attempt at inventing fire, a procedure involving a flint, some straw and some sticks of what turned out to be gelignite. The resulting crater was so large that to this day it is mistaken as a meteorite strike. The ice-age saw to the rest of them, as we sheared them to make coats for ourselves, there being no anti-fur campaigners about then.

Scientists will scoff at this, saying that humans were not around at the same time as the dinosaurs, to which I would reply well then who buried the bones. We were of course there, meddling with the balance of nature and causing havoc, just as we do today. The men were strong and carried a big club, which is why we now have the game of cricket. The women looked liked Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC.

The ancient memory of that is how someone created Barbie.


Water Babies

As the Olympics have started (I am Official Stud-muffin to the 2012 Games – well, jointly with Beckham) we were given three sports photos to choose from as our prompt at Saturday’s Inkslingers Workshop. This is the one I chose…



In most respects they were like all of the other teams – identical goggles identical clothes-pegs on their nose, identical teeth-filled, almost manically cheerful smiles. If all the Osmonds in all the towns in all the world had simultaneously been asked to say “cheese” you wouldn’t have seem gleaming toothy whiteness like that.

They did the same moves as all the rest, heads popping-up and turning at the same time like a group of children hearing an ice-cream van. They hovered with arms and legs at unbelievable angles, their legs in particular in positions that made men cross theirs uncomfortably as childhood memories of crashing onto bicycle crossbars were awakened.

But they were better than the others. In a sport where there are only three basic moves – wave, swim or impersonate a starfish, you have to do something different to stand out.

The photo that appeared in the papers the following day showed the in all their remarkable synchronicity, but had one major flaw. It was printed upside down.

The Band of Angels’ Olympic Synchronised Swimming Olympic Team won the gold by performing their routine dancing on the water.

All Dressed Up

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “variations on a theme”…


The huge front door creaked eerily as it opened.

There was nothing they could do about it, the doors of large castles are made to creak, and no amount of oiling will stop that.

Apart from that, though, everything was perfect at Morticia Addams’ Halloween party.

There were games. There was musical chairs, in which you fought each other for the privilege of sitting on a chair, and if you lost you made made to go and sit down, on a chair.   There was bobbing-for-apples, a strange game in which you inhaled water while attempting to pick up a piece of fruit you didn’t want. In another game a similar piece of fruit, now covered in toffee, swung on a piece of string and struck you violently in the face.

The room was brightly-lit and free of spider-webs. There was Beach Boys music playing. Everything was totally unspooky, and that was the whole point.

Morticia Addams throwing a themed-party for her fellow monsters. They had all had to come as humans.

She’d been too busy preparing the party to really pick an outfit, so she’d simply put on a pair of round glasses and was now Ozzy Osbourne.

Her husband Gomez played Clark Gable, which she felt was cheating since he looked like him anyway. She had pointed this out and he had said “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”. In reply she had turned him briefly into a handbag, because women always win arguments.

The other guests had made more of an effort, though some of them had been limited by their own appearance. The Mummy had come as Mr Bump, and in fairness there was little else he could have done. And the many, many ghosts had merely been able to tie-dye their sheets but had shown great inventiveness. One now represented the garish colours that humans wore playing golf, another the national flag of Burundi, another the Shroud of Turin.

Among the rest Count Dracula, by combing his hair forward and clutching his cloak around him, made an excellent Professor Snape. Doctor Frankenstein had gelled his hair into wild shapes and come as Alfred Einstein, while a grey-bun wig and a walking stick had transformed his assistant Igor into Grandma Walton. And everyone admired his Monster’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, though the Monster hadn’t in fact known that the party was fancy-dress.

The Headless Horseman had jammed his head onto his shoulders, jammed a stetson onto his head, and come as John Wayne. The Bride of Dracula, in the revealing white night-dress in which she’d been involuntarily wed, had come as Marilyn Monroe standing over the air-vent.

The Invisible Man had come as Cardinal Richelieu, although obviously you had to take his word for that.

Macbeth’s three witches, thanks to tight-fitting mini-skirts and some spells to rid themselves of their warts, did an astonishing impression of the Supremes.

Christopher Lee had come as Peter Cushing. Lee was not, of course, a monster, but had appeared in so many horror films that they had invited him as a special guest.

The only awkward moment was provided by Thing, the Addams Family pet hand. He had clenched himself into a fist, stuck out his middle finger, and put a tiny mortar-board on it. For this he had been sent to bed.

No-one likes a Clever-Dick.

In The Swim Again

Just because something is a good idea once, that doesn’t mean that it will be the next time.

I got up this morning at seven, and no sooner was I in the kitchen than I realised that my headache was back again.

Well, swimming in the sea had helped last Thursday, so why not try it again?

Because (and I now know this by the empirical method) there is a big difference between swimming at eleven on a sunny Thursday morning and swimming at eight on a cloudy Saturday one.

There are upsides. The beach was almost deserted, apart from a couple of people walking their dogs, occasionally throwing sticks into the water for them to fetch (dogs really, really will do anything for love, including that). I was the only person swimming. At that time of the morning I was probably the only person swimming along the entire east coast.

Admittedly the swim itself was just as pleasant as it was the first time. Again I swam for a while, sat just within the water’s edge for a while, then swam again. Again I felt exhilarated as I came out.

But on Thursday last the sun warmed me as I dried myself and dressed. This time a sharp cool breeze made me shiver and played modesty-threatening games with my strategically-worn towel (I was afraid that that the sudden appearance of a bare arse might be a welcome diversion to a dog that has been forced to spend its morning retrieving sticks from cold water).

What was needed was a hot shower when I got home, but since no-one else was awake I couldn’t turn it on, so I sat wearing two t-shirts and a hoodie in front of the TV, watching as the cup of tea that I was clasping slowly turned my two index fingers from white to a normal hue.

I wasn’t shivering, I was actually shuddering, as I proved to myself when I poured my tea down my neck. I realise that there are two ways of looking at that sentence, and it is the external one that I mean.

I had turned on the TV because this, of course, is the first morning of the Olympics. I watched some rowing, some cycling and then they put on the swimming.

I scornfully watched what are supposed to be the world’s greatest exponents of this art go about their well-paid business. Some of them wore a second, rubber, skin. Even those who didn’t wore trunks that looked far better insulated than mine. They all wore little plastic tea-cosies to keep their heads warm.

None of them stubbed their toes on hard sharp stones. None of them got slapped in the face by seaweed. None of them turned their heads to breathe and swallowed an unexpected wave of salt-water. None of them fell into the hidden drop which is about ten feet into the water on Greystones beach.

Oh, and the pool was heated.


Going Swimmingly

I am not at work today.

Since about last Friday I have had a headache that I just cannot shake off. I have been able to stun it into submission with paracetamol, but it struggles up after about two hours and comes back, nagging me from inside with its dull ache.

Yesterday at work I just got fed up with it, didn’t feel that I should take yet more tablets and so I just came home and lay down in  a dark room. I woke at work time this morning, realised that it was still there and so took today off too.

It seems to be coming from tension in my neck and upper shoulders. I have an exercise where I hold my left hand above my right ear and pull my head over to the right, and then vice versa. For the last few days I’ve only been able to move it a couple of inches.

One fairly obvious answer would be to go for a swim in our local leisure centre, but I am not comfortable exposing my torso to other people. It has three visible  though unattached scars, as though I was attacked by Zorro when he was drunk, and the pacemaker is a visible lump which makes me look like a cartoon character who has swallowed a tennis ball.

I was bemoaning these issues to Mrs Tin when she said “why not swim in the sea”. It turns out that she was only joking, but should have learnt by now not to do that. I sat in the garden in the sunshine, thought about it for a while, then came back into the kitchen and announced that I was going for it.

And I did. I walked down our beach (an uncomforable experience, there is a reason why our town is called Greystones and not Goldensands), left my clothes and towel in a little pile (the disadvantages I mentioned above were advantages here, when you have three scars and a tattoo no-one is going to steal your stuff) and strode manfully in.

It was cold, I can’t deny that, and I am sorry that I premiered the made-up word “Numbits” in yesterday’s post since it has a far more relevant place in today’s, but it was great. I swam for a few strokes, let waves fall over me, went and sat on the beach just at the water-line, so that the water would lap over and under my legs, and then did it all again.

At one stage the pockets of my shorts filled with air and I remembered that the Tinfamily, on holidays in Majorca or Malta long ago, used to refer to these as “side-butts”, thus adding nostalgia to an already fun experience.

I’ve been home about an hour now and have already eaten a bowl of strawberries with custard, three Jaffa cakes and a tomato-filled bagel. I am still starving.

And my neck is slightly better, I can roll it from side-to-side now without getting that sound as if a platoon of soldiers is marching on gravel.

It’s 1.20 now and I have an afternoon stretching in front of me that consists of blogging in the sun, reading in the sun and snoozing in the sun. If you’re going to pick a day to be sick, then try and pick a lovely one.

I’ll be back at work tomorrow, hopefully far browner than when I left there yesterday. I hope they understand.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Another week in which a man whose camera-phone is no longer working refuses to accept that the Weekly Photo Challenge might not be for him…


pic via chefjeffjeff

Some of you will remember the comic the Beano, and will remember the Numskulls, a group of tiny boffins who ran the various Departments of someone’s head. We thought of them simply as a cartoon strip for the entertainment of children, but suppose they really exist? It’s no sillier than the idea that all of our thoughts, emotions and intelligence come from electrical impulses, and that our personality depends whether we are left-brained rather than right.

Perhaps they have been with you since the second you were born and gave that first cry, when the Mouth Department cranked open its double doors and blew loudly into a set of bagpipes.

Since then they have yanked out your first tooth, applied curlers to your first lock of hair, produced the dribble to smear over your first toy.

They have learned with you, the Brain Department trying to make sense of Periodic Tables, Venn diagrams and the plume of ma tante. A lesson on the facts of life filled with them with horror on behalf of the Numbits further down.

They clear specks of dust from your eyes by pouring buckets of water out of your pupils, washing the windows of your soul. They use laughing-gas to make you laugh, sleeping-gas to make you sleep, and marsh-gas to make you fart.

They make ear-wax, though heaven knows why, perhaps they have shares in the cotton-bud industry.

In other words they ensure the smooth running of your ears, your eyes, your brain.

They ensure the running of your nose, too, by trickling treacle down it. If they are feeling especially mischievous they will roll their floor-sweepings into a round ball, dust it with gunpowder, ram it into the torpedo-tube of your nostril, and ignite it.

When you are asleep the Forehead Department sneaks out to paint wrinkles on your forehead.

When you are hungover they get hungover too, so they take it out on you. The Mouth Department rolls out a carpet along your tongue, the Ear Department turns its controls up full so that every sound is as loud as thunder, while the Brain Department bangs on the inside of your skull with a large wooden mallet.

You often hear the expression “playing with someone‘s head“. Perhaps that’s what the Numskulls are doing with ours.


A Chink In Your Armour

It’s Monday evening and you are on the bus home. You’ve had a good time at work, you’ve laughed with your friends, dealt competently with your job and have walked to the bus stop in glorious, about-time-July’s-nearly-over-sunshine.

You have a post written (it’s not that good, forget about that part) and are going to transfer it from Word onto your blog as soon as you get home.

It’s been a good day.

Then something, just one thing, one tiny insignificant moment of your day creeps under the tent of your content like a wasp under the tent of, well, a camper. It stings.

The tiny incident – a look, a word, even a silence, becomes less tiny. It becomes a slight, or a threat, a problem. You are now in trouble.

You invent scenarios that will never happen, could never happen. In your head you carry on full conversations in which you are angered, or disappointed, or just plain hurt. Or you provoke these in the other person.

You know this is all rubbish. You try to think positively, to use common sense, you tell yourself to stop being a horrendous gobshite, but it’s too late. A black cloud now covers the sunshine of the real world.

It’s no longer a good day.

You reach home. You don’t bother with the blog-post, you don’t bother with your dinner, you go to bed. It is six-thirty in the evening.

It’s Tuesday evening now, and I am on the bus home. Today there was no slight, threat or problem. There was no rabidly offensive conversation. There was another day like Monday was, remarkably unremarkable.

You, my friends who come here, sometimes wonder at my imagination. It does indeed take me to the most amazing, fun-filled places, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

But sometimes it’s a real pain in the arse.