Monthly Archives: August 2012

Outward Bound

When they are babies and you lift them from the cot they cling to you, tiny, chubby fists gripping the shoulders of your shirt. When they become toddlers they run to cling to your legs, head-butting you in the process in painful places. When they are afraid they need hugs from you, when they meet strangers they hide behind you, staring shyly around your knees.

But when they are playful they run away, giggling gleefully as you chase them, happy in the knowledge that you will catch them. (By running away I do not mean filling a toy suitcase with necessities such as toys, taking your toddler brother by the hand, and announcing that you are leaving home, and anyway I apparently always gave up before I got to the front gate).

They slowly move more and more away. They find schoolmates, go to parties and sleep-overs. A morning comes, a surprisingly hurtful morning, when they announce that they would rather walk into the school themselves. Eventually they go somewhere most days with friends, or reply to the question “where are you going?” with the reply “out”.

They are growing up, and growing away.

Tomorrow morning Tinson1 will leave to go to North Carolina.

It’s an exchange program with Wake Forest University, where he will take part in some Physics project to do with solar panels. He will only be gone for three months, though those three months will include a special birthday of Mrs Tin’s (the one and only mention that I will ever make of this birthday here) and his own twenty-first.

(I say, by the way, that he will be back after three months, although having seen where the College are putting him up it’s hard to see why he would).

I hope he has a wonderful time, that he meets wonderful friends with whom he will stay in touch forever. We will miss him, his cheerfulness, his earnestness, his caring and friendly manner, but we know that these qualities are the ones that will make him popular over there, and help to ensure that he has a tremendous, life-changing experience.

I’ve shown the picture below before, but it sums up today, as he strides across the sands, one heel lifted as he takes steps away, but still looking back to us, smiling.

Have a super time, son. We love you, and are, as always, more proud of you than we can say.

The Man With The Water Gun

The Tinfamily rented and watched the film Battleship this week. It’s absolutely ludicrous, and enormous fun. Anyway, it claims to be based on Hasbro Toys’ Battleship board game (which it is, just about), so I have looked up other Hasbro Toys to see what film they might make next….


M, the head of Connect 4 (an offshoot of MI6), had learned of an evil plot.

A terrorist group called Scrabble (Some Criminals, er, Really, um…  look, they were bad people, ok?), led by the evil Yahtzee, had developed a secret weapon, the Rubik Cube, and were planning to launch it into space. From there it could wipe out entire cities with jets of Play-Doh. M had called in her best agent.

Mr Potato Head.

He went to see Q (today’s story is brought to you by the letters M and Q). He collected his weaponry – all of the instruments from Operation, a Super Soaker Lightningstorm Blaster and, for some reason, the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, and off he went.

Scrabble’s headquarters were on Monopoly, a tiny island full of green windowless houses and a surprising number of hotels. Potato Head disguised himself by sticking on a moustache and removing one ear, though the brilliance of this disguise was off-set by the fact that he told everyone he met “my name is Head. Potato Head”. Therefore he was soon attacked by Yahtzee’s henchman, Furby.

There followed a trivial pursuit scene in which Furby, in Chuck the Dump Truck, chased Potato Head on My Little Pony. Potato Head was saved by the arrival of the beautiful Russian agent Tonka, who blasted Furby with a Koosh Galaxy Solar Recon Ball Launcher, which sounds like it just has to hurt.

When Tonka and Potato Head got into Scrabble’s HQ he turned his Oven up to full heat (see, Q was right all along), causing an explosion which caused everything to begin to fall apart, with a female voice intoning “T-minus twenty seconds, and counting”. As the building collapsed about them Potato Head and Yahtzee fought a furious fight which ended with Yahtzee being thrown into a pit of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Potato Head and Tonka escaped just before the island erupted in a hail of top-hats, old boots and irons. Later, they were playing Twister (ok, that’s a euphemism) when a drawing of M’s head suddenly appeared on Potato Head’s Pictionary.

“Ah, there you are, Head,” she said. “Mission accomplished?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And Yahtzee?”

Mr Potato Head smiled. “Let’s just say he’s well and truly buckaroo’d.”

Passion Comes As Standard

US hotel group Standard Hotels are running a Writing Competition:

Send us a short story inspired by these last, languid days of summer.

In these final weeks of summer, when the days are long, the sun is fat, and idleness blooms in the withering heat, we propose a challenge—something to do with those hot, restless hours. Write us a short story, no more than 1,000 words, inspired by these Dog Days—the days of affairs (think Gatsby’s blue gardens), of tragic love (think Romeo & Juliet), of erotic nights (Think Atonement), of hot hotels (think E.B. White’s This is New York), of… back to school commercials (think JC Penny). As Plath put it, “…the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”

We want you to capture this last hurrah of heat for a chance to win prizes. Use vigorous, concise, elegant prose.

The five winners will be published in a compendium & placed in all Standard Hotel guest rooms, the Warby Parker HQ Showroom & the Warby Parker Readeries in Miami & LA.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 3 night stay at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach over Miami Book Fair in November (Excludes incidentals) or at a preferred Standard in LA or NY (Subject to availability. Excludes incidentals).

Don’t bothering entering, by the way, I reckon I’ve got it sown up….


They met, as always, in the lobby of the fabulous five-star Standard Hotel. She slipped languidly into the comfortable chaise-longue beside him, resting against cushions as fat as the sun. He put away the book of elegant prose he’d been reading and stood up. They walked across the roomy lobby to the bar, past a bell-jar-shaped bowl full of Idleness Blooms, the flower that grew exclusively in the blue gardens of that region.

After a cool, restful drink to while away a hot, restless hour they took an elevator to the 32nd floor. They were in Spratville, Iowa, (pop 235) and the next tallest erection was the two-storey JC Penney, but the Standard Hotel is always the most impressive building in any town.

They had been meeting there every Tuesday for two months now, ever since the Miss Iowa Pageant. He had been a judge, she had been one of the Contestants. Mums.

Oh, sorry, that should read “she had been one of the contestants’ Mums”.

They had fallen into conversation. She had been impressed by his knowledge of Sylvia Plath, Scott Fitzgerald and E.B.White, whoever he is, and he had been impressed by the size of her boobs. And so, all through this long, steamy summer they had spent long, steamy afternoons together, sitting chatting in the excellent sauna of the Standard Hotel.

But now it was almost autumn fall, and they would have to part – she back to school-book hunting, soccer-momming and part-time blackjack-dealing in the spacious Standard Hotel Casino, and he back to the Supreme Court since, as I think I’ve mentioned, he was a judge. This would be their last afternoon together, and they planned to turn it into an erotic night, since otherwise the whole summer would simply have been an odd, uneven time, which isn’t even an affair, it’s just tautology.

As she sat on the balcony, like a Juliet, reading the superb Compendium which is placed in all Standard Hotel guest rooms, he came out of the bathroom, towelling his hair and wearing the fluffy white bathrobe and weird flippy-floppy slippers that are provided to all guests. She felt nervous now. She wondered would he be vigorous. She hoped he wouldn’t be concise. She wondered would she be expected to include incidentals. She wondered what “dog days” meant, and hoped that she would never find out.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

She just nodded in reply. She could think of no prose elegant enough for such a moment.

Afterwards she felt special, just as she would if, say, she had won a competition run by the splendid Standard Hotels. I’m just saying.

Daily Post Challenge: The Sound Of Blogging




(*Deep, soul-felt, bottom-of-the-depths-of-the-abyss-of-the-pit-of-the-stomach sigh*)

“What are you doing?”


“Is that all? You sounded like you had constipation.”

“In a sense I have. I have constipation of the mind.”

“Is that the kind of tripe you write on your blog?”

“No. Well, sometimes.”

“What did you write about yesterday?”

“About how Rome became a city.”

“Oh, I didn’t realise you did interesting stuff.”


“Er, I meant, factual stuff. How did it become a city?”

“I don’t really know. I just made it up.”

“I see.”

(*Longer silence*)

“What are you doing today?”

“Going to visit my friend Claire in hospital. Do you want to come with me?”

“I can’t. I’m working.”

“That’s not working. That’s blogging.”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“I could say it louder.”

“What happened to her?”

“She bought a treadmill to help her get fit, and she fell off it and broke her ankle.”


“You’re not writing about that, are you?”

“Er, no.” (*Silence*)

“What does that Daily Post crowd suggest you write about this week?”

“The Sound of Blogging.”

“Good luck with that.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

Again, man-without-camera meets photo-challenge without fear…


Once upon a time Rome was just a tiny village, and the Romans were a simple folk, holding toga-parties, making sparkling candles and growing pasta. Then a far-sighted village leader called Nero renamed the area Urbi et Orbi, meaning “the city and its satellite towns”, and urban life as we know it began.

The Romans quickly embraced the snobbery involved in living in the biggest place around, referring to those that lived outside the city as Sub-urban. You would think that the out-of-towners would take umbrage at such insults and stay well clear of the place. Far from it, they went right to it. In time all roads led to Rome, or at least to the giant roundabout just outside it (it is where the term “spaghetti junction” comes from).

Tourists (from the Latin (ok, Spanish) word “torreste”, meaning “thick as bull-shit”) turned up in droves during the summer months of Julius, Augustus and Septembus. Although there was only one street, the Appian Way, they would hire a taxi-chariot to drive them its length, so as to hear from the driver how terrible things were, and how it was all the fault of the Goths, Huns and Vandals, coming along and taking all our jobs.

They gaped at the Seven Hills as if they’d never seen scenery before, marvelled at chariot races as if they’d never seen a horse-and-cart before, and gasped at lions as if they’d never, well, ok, that part was fair enough.

They bought overpriced laurel-leaf hats with ” a souvenir of Rome” written upon them, gazed at statues of men with impressive muscles and unimpressive other bits, and actually (and even the Romans couldn’t believe their luck here) threw away their money into a fountain.

The highlight of their trip was when they got to stare in awe at Rome’s only big building, the Coliseum.

Though in fairness, it was in much better condition back then.

That’s The Wonder Of Them

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “the 7 wonders of my world”. This gives me a chance to show off my knowledge, and to tell you all that there were in fact Fourteen Wonders of The Ancient World, and these are the seven that everyone had forgotten about.

The Ice-Cream Van at Giza. No sooner had the Pyramid gone up than an ice-cream van appeared beside it. The ice-cream cone is believed to be based upon the shape of the pyramid, and the flake in the 99 is proof that the pyramids originally had chimneys.

The Humming Dahlias of Constantinople. The breeze blowing through the petals would produce a high-pitched humming, which set the teeth of the Constantinoplininans on edge, and which drove their dogs mental. They were cultivated by the gardener Bouzouki, and the sound that they made has been passed down from generation to generation of his family.

The Interpretive Centre of Tarlana. Since Tarlana is a small oasis in the middle of the Gobi Desert consisting of one tree and a puddle (and an ice-cream van), the wonder is what exactly the Centre interprets.

The Egyptian Karma Sutra. A book of suggested, er, positions for a race who could, as we’ve seen from the drawings, move in only two dimensions, filled with astonishing flights of ingenuity and inventiveness. Scholars of the book (and believe me, there are many) say that positions 2, 17 and 105 are really good, that 29 gives you back spasms and that position 43 is only possible if you can unscrew one of your legs

The Railway Station at Thessalonika. Described by Plato as “a building ahead of its time” and since trains would not be invented for over 2,000 years it’s certainly hard to argue with that.

The Giant Horse-Poo of Troy. Lovingly (perhaps disturbingly lovingly) crafted, this was left on the ground behind the giant horse, proof of the thoroughness of the Greek designers.

The Steroid Bottle of Olympia. Proof, sadly, that for as long as there has been athletics there have been drug cheats. No-one knows who the cheat was at those first Olympics, but suspicion centres on Pectoralus, who won the javelin with a throw of one-and-a-quarter miles.

Hand Relief Again

I have never re-blogged an old post before, but since I seem to have sprained my left wrist in my sleep I can’t really type anything (it’s taken four minutes already just to get to here), so here is a post called Hand Relief, that  I wrote the last time I hurt my wrist….


Today’s post starts with a plea for sympathy, which I have a feeling I’m not going to get.

I think I have Repetitive Strain Injury in my right hand.

Already I can sense the giggling bubbling out across the internet, as my virtual friends treat this news with the same ribald hilarity as my pubmates did. I have received a number of suggestions in my local as to what might have caused this, and to say that there is a recurring theme to these suggestions is putting it mildly.

I have pointed out to them that I am not, in fact, a fourteen-year old schoolboy, and that there are a number of activities that could cause such an injury, such as sword-fencing, bell-ringing or staking vampires through the heart. They in turn have pointed out that I don’t actually take part in any of those activities, and I in turn have pointed out oh, shut up.

I think that I actually got it at work from using the mouse so much, since whenever I put my hand on the mouse now the pain seems to sit around my hand like a glove. I (*sigh*) shook it off at first, but the pain is becoming more consistent, and now I’m finding it hard to grip things (oh come on).

In an attempt to ease the pain in my hand (hence the post title, of course) I decided to use Voltarol Gel, the one that’s used in the Tinhouse whenever we have muscle pains. The tube that we had was empty (but had been carefully put back in the cupboard by whoever used it last), so I went to the pharmacy to buy a new one.

I’ve noticed a welcome development in my local pharmacy recently that, if you order some well-known product, they will offer a similar generic product that’s cheaper. This is what happened when I asked for the Voltarol, so now I have a tube of this:

Now, I’m full of praise for companies making generic products cheaper by cutting costs, but I have to say that had just a teeny amount of money been spent on branding or market research they might not have come up with the name above.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve to rub it in three times a day. We might as well continue the theme the whole way through.

Thank you all for your concern.

Shining Bright

At our Writers Group last night we got the prompt “The Brightest Sunflower: A Painting”. Some of the group didn’t fancy that so we were given the option “The Memorial Hall”. Some of the group didn’t fancy that so we were given the option “A Dog On The Terrace”. I mention the last two simply to explain one line …


He’d put everything into that painting.

The sunflower shone brighter than the sun, and flowered flowerier than a flower. It was because of sentences like that last one that he’d taken up art instead of writing. It was going to be his masterpiece, better even than his other paintings, “The Memorial Hall” and “A Dog On The Terrace”.

And then some Dutch loony had cut off his ear, and instantly became more famous than he was. To make things worse he’d then killed himself, ironically making himself immortal.

Van Gogh’s painting sucked. It was flowers in a jar, big deal, it was the kind of thing you do in the first week of an adult night course. He might as well have gone the whole clichéd hog and painted a bowl of fruit. Whereas his sunflower stood in a field of red poppies, a statement about being different, about feeling isolated, about having run out of yellow paint. It should have been recognised as one of the world’s great creations of beauty, along with Ode to a Nightingale, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and the Statue of Venus, at least before her arms fell off.

Instead it had been bought for twelve guilders by a man called Van Cruyff and now stood in the window of Van Cruyff”s Sunflower Seed Store, above the slogan “Your paarot Polly njeeds these seeds”.

After a few months of brooding and drinking Dutch lager (the alcoholic equivalent of being hit by a clog) he had returned again to painting. He had decided to go into portraiture, and had painted a picture of a girl, a beautiful young girl with an enigmatic smile and no eyebrows.

The Mona Lena was going to make him famous.


When You’re Spoken To

The Daily Post’s  Weekly Writing Challenge for this week’s is called “Listen To The Voices In Your Head”. This sounds interesting, but when you read the actual challenge it seems to be something about grammar.

Sadly, none of the voices in my head have any opinion on grammar. To them a Split Infinitive is something that happens in Star Trek, Present Tense is a feeling you get when given socks on Christmas Morning and a Dangling Participle is something you really should have a doctor take a look at.

But I have, as instructed, listened to the voices, and here is who they are and what they are up to at the moment:

Optimistic Me, who is thinking “cheer up, it might never happen”.

Pessimistic Me, who is thinking “Oh God, it might never happen”.

Doe Ray Me, who is always singing some song or other at the back of my mind. At the moment it’s the Theme Music from The Jetsons.

Super-size Me, who is wishing that I could be a bit taller.

Nakato Me, who wants me to watch Die Hard again.

Oh Dearie Me, who would like to apologise for that last joke.

Please Please Me. Don’t ask.

Can’t Get Me Out Of My Head, who is thinking about Kylie.



Sorry, for a minute there we were all thinking about Kylie.

There is also:

My Black Dog, who is asleep at the moment, so let’s not wake him.

My Inner Child, who at the moment is scribbling on the inside of my skull with a crayon.

My Inner Muse, who is wondering how she got stuck with me instead of someone like Keats.

My Inner Tube, who thinks I’m a bicycle tyre.

Meg, a mother of five from West Cork, who keeps telling me to eat my greens. I think she’s just here on holiday.

My Inner Child’s Imaginary Friend, which is just a teeny bit worrying.

and finally, It’s Time To Come In For Your Tea Me, who is thinking that this post has gone on long enough.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

In which a man with no camera takes on the WordPress Photo Challenge anyway…


“I  believe you’re on holiday this week, Tinman?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“So, what are you doing? Crossing the Alps with hundreds of elephants? Diving for treasure on  a sunken wreck in the Caribbean? Going over Niagara Falls in a barrel?”

“Watching the rain through the window of a house in Greystones.”

“Ah, you’re having a staycation.”

“A what?”

“It’s a Word Merge. It’s like Brangelina, or brunch, or Mensa.”


“Marks and Spensa.”

“Er, I don’t think -”

“Well, ‘staycation’ is like that. It’s short for ‘staying at home for your vacation’.  It’s for people who are on holiday, but too poor to go anywhere – no offence, Tinman.”

“Er, none taken, I suppose.”

“It’s a really cool word.”

“No it isn’t. It’s shitiful.”