Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mr Warren’s Profession

Last night was not easy for the Easter Bunny. It never is.

He has spent the year, as he always does,  selflessly and elflessly making chocolate egg after chocolate egg. Some he places in mugs, possibly due to misunderstanding what the phrase “a mug of chocolate” actually means.  Some, usually bought by boyfriends during their first year of courtship, are the size of an unexploded WWII bomb.  Some are in the shape of rabbits, like some weird voodoo-doll of himself.

All of them contain about the same amount of actual chocolate as one Cadbury’s Button.

He has to predict coming trends, like a toy-store manager organising his Christmas stock in February, so that he can have Harry Potter/Shrek/Lincoln packaging available upon demand. And last night, just as darkness fell in the Far East, he began his journey. He has no sleigh, and no reindeer to pull one even if he had. He literally has to hop it.

It’s a tight schedule, keeping just ahead of sunrise right across the world, but he usually keeps in time, at least until one o’clock in the morning.

Then the clock goes forward. Santa doesn’t have to deal with crap like this.

After that he has to go like the clappers, and not in the way that that phrase is usually associated with rabbits.

And he always gets it done. Eggs are left at the foot of beds, in gardens for Egg Hunts, under sleeping hens just to startle farmers.

And after all of this effort, half of the children in the world do not believe in him.

This is quite galling. But, as he sat in his warren this morning sipping his breakfast time carrot-juice and looking forward to a long afternoon’s snooze in front of the football (it’s Aston Villa v Liverpool, it won’t be hard) he reflected that life could be worse.

He might not be as popular as Santa, but at least he is better known than the Halloween Gerbil, who delivers pumpkins, the Spring Equinox Parrot, who delivers springs (no, I don’t know why either), and the June Bank Holiday Aardvark, who delivers rain.

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Floating Liquid Natural Gas

“Floating Liquid Natural Gas is the technology of the future”. That was the prompt for our Inkslingers Writers Group this week, the idea being to get us to write about something we knew absolutely about. Unfortunately, no matter what the topic my mind seems to march determinedly off in the most schoolboyish direction …

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Natural gas is drilled deep underground, piped through pipes (what else?) and brought in from the sea, in a shell apparently, though I may not have been listening properly to that part.

This is a complete waste of time and, ironically, energy. Truly Natural Gas is not all around us, it is inside us. We each literally have it within us to be practically energy self-sufficient.

If harnessed correctly the burp after a Coke could charge an iPhone. A plate of cucumber could run your hairdryer. A quickly-drunk can of lager could power a vacuum cleaner.

Floating Liquid Natural Gas is simply Truly Natural Gas harvested into something such as a bottle with a cork stopper (but not a helium balloon, that would just be silly) and then distilled in liquid form into giant floating hydrogen tanks. In this way the Gas can be used only when it is needed, otherwise we could find ourselves burping the television on in the middle of the night.

As with more traditional gas, Truly Natural Gas has a distinctive odour, though it has the advantage that this does not have to be artificially added.

It may not be clean, God knows what you’ve eaten if it’s green, but Floating Liquid Natural Gas really is the technology of the future.

Why? Because the backlash, as it were, from a night on the Guinness can, if properly combusted, blow you into the middle of next week.

Fitting Right In

Sidey’s Weekend Theme (I’m only getting around to it now) is “chameleon”…

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You might think that the stick insect does a great job of looking like a stick, that the bull-frog looks remarkably like a bull and that the great tit looks, well, never mind.

But nothing blends in like Claude the Chameleon. He truly can make himself red with anger or green with envy, and don’t he make his brown eyes blue.

Stand him by a wall and he looks like a wall, stand him by a tree and he looks like a tree, stand him by a fully kitted-out golfer in bright yellow trousers, a lilac jumper and black-and-white shoes and he looks like an idiot.

All of the other animals hate him.

It’s because of his warped sense of humour. A dog will be lolling sleepily on a deck on a hot summer afternoon when the railings will suddenly speak to him. A tiger preying in the jungle will find himself goosed by what had appeared to be a vine. A polar bear will suddenly be hit by a snowball, apparently thrown at him by an igloo.

Female chameleons don’t like him either. If a date isn’t going particularly well he just vanishes, not by going to the bathroom and never coming back, but simply by merging with the restaurant wallpaper.

He is quite hurt by this. He always thought that his merry japes would make him immensely popular, much as a person who pulls your chair away when you are about to sit down is always surprised when you don’t laugh.

Which is why last year to cheer himself up he decided to go on holiday. He caught a plane (looking like a drinks trolley), got a taxi (looking like a brown suitcase) and then caught the subway (looking like a drunk) right into central New York.

Times SquareWhere unfortunately he wandered into Times Square. His hair went frizzy, his skin began to peel and he got a blinding headache.

He had never felt worse. He thought that the Fourth Of July was not nearly as much fun as he’d been told it was.

Then the fireworks display started.

Hats Off

Last weekend, as I think I mentioned, it rained here.

There is no rain forecast for this week, but the highest daily temperatures are expected to be 3 or 4 degrees, which is 36 to 38 in warmer-sounding numbers. Oh, and as I write this it’s snowing lightly, that kind of snow that doesn’t actually fall, but hovers upwards and sideways, like Icarus showing off.

It’s bloody cold. As I walked to the bus this morning I reflected that I’m still wearing the same number of layers of clothing as I was in December, and a scarf, and gloves.

But not a hat. All around me are people wearing those sock-hats that make the top of your head look like a Dalek’s, but not me.

(Spellcheck, by the way, has never heard of either Icarus or the Daleks. No wonder it thinks that drawing red squiggly lines under words is an exciting occupation).

Benny from CrossroadsIn the 60s the only person you ever saw in one of those hats was a character called Benny in a TV series called Crossroads, and Benny was, well, a bit simple. In our house they were called Benny-from-Crossroads hats, and my brother and I, good children who obediently would eat our greens (cabbage, broccoli did not exist in those days), do our homework, and even wear those mittens that were secured to each other via a string of wool that went up your sleeves and across your back, simply refused to wear them.

My mother even tried us with the bobble-hat, which is basically a Benny-from-Crossroads hat with a dandelion-ball of wool on the top, because in some way that was supposed to make it look better.

We had a remarkable gift for losing them, including one that we hit over a wall with a tennis racket, having wrapped it around a tennis ball in an attempt to make our own shuttlecock. In the end she gave up.

Pardon Me

You will have noticed that there was no post here this weekend.

This is not good enough. David Bowie might have a 10-year gap between his last album and this new one, Halley’s Comet might just turn up whenever it feels like it, Schubert might not even bother finishing his symphonies, but as a blogger with a worldwide readership (yes, there are only nine of you, but you are scattered all over the world) I should be more disciplined.

I feel that I should offer an excuse, or since I don’t have one I should offer you a selection from which you can select the one you like best.

  1. The dog ate my computer (start with an old reliable);
  2. I was invited out to dinner, in Hollywood, by Madonna;
  3. And (just in case Mrs Tin is reading this), had to spend the weekend composing a regretful refusal;
  4. Saturday was the Spring Equinox (that’s not an excuse, that’s just an interesting fact);
  5. And an incorrect one. I spent the weekend checking Wikipedia to see if that was true, and found out that the Spring Equinox was actually Thursday (when I didn’t have a post either);
  6. I was abducted by aliens who, although they could cross galaxies and could beam a person right out of his trousers and onto their spaceship, did not have Wi-Fi.
  7. I had to go and buy new trousers (see Excuse 6);
  8. I had to spend the weekend buying a dog, since otherwise Excuse 1 would not be plausible;
  9. I decided I would finish Schubert’s symphony for him, though since I don’t know how to write music I just stuck the last two lines of The Sun Has Got His Hat On onto the end of it.

In actual fact I spent the weekend in the West of Ireland, at the wedding of one of Mrs Tin’s cousins and had a great time with her extended family, meeting people we hadn’t met for years, staying up singing until four o’clock and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lock-out (sorry, that last bit’s a family joke).

And I brought my computer with me, so it, like me, has had a holiday away, so expect more posts in the coming week.

After all, we have no excuses left.

Damp Course

I got to my house this evening (well actually to the pub, I felt that I needed it) after two hours and forty minutes on the bus. I work nineteen miles away. It’s like being back in the days when a man carrying a red flag had to walk in front of your vehicle, except we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with any man walking in front of ours.

This is because the N11 motorway is flooded.

Now let me assure you people (you lucky, lucky people) who do not live in the County Wicklow area of Ireland that the word “motorway” means exactly the same thing here as it does where you are – a big, many-laned, flat stretch of roadway with grass verges and trees at the sides – nothing in any direction, in fact, against which water could build up. Flooding a motorway in just one spot is a substantial achievement, like parting the Red Sea but in reverse.

I should have got the train home instead, but the line is flooded between two particular stops. This happens regularly ever since they replaced the traditional loose stones along that stretch with concrete in some sort of noise-deadening exercise, which I suppose I have to admit is a success since there are far fewer trains making noise on the line than there were before.

That particular part of the line between Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire was known as the Atmospheric railway and was built in 1843. In 1843 trains ran along it. In 2013 you can’t guarantee that they will on any wet day. That’s progress, Irish Rail style.

In fairness to them, it’s raining. In Ireland. In March. Who’da thought.

If today’s traffic chaos was because of bush fires, or tectonic plate activity, or the eruption of a volcano that we didn’t know we had, then you’d feel sympathy for the haplessness of the people who control our roads and our railways. With rain, not so much.

In fairness to them again, though (I have to be fair, otherwise this might sound like a rant), it has been raining heavily. Not for days, or even weeks, but, well, since yesterday.

This will all be over by tomorrow. The waters will subside, everything will go back to normal, and absolutely nothing will be done to stop it happening again. That’s the way we do things here.

So here I am, home (in the pub) hours later than I should have been. Am I angry? Yes. Am I cold, wet and miserable?

No.

Because I left the house this morning wearing a coat and carrying an umbrella.

See, I live in Ireland. I thought it might rain.

Chit-Chat

Saturday’s prompt at our Writers’ Group was “speaking of idle talk”….

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“He did that statue, you know, the nudie one.”

“Which one?

“David. I’ve seen it in the Vatican.”

“Is it big?”

“Well, I’ve seen bigger.”

“I meant the statue.”

“Oh. Er, so did I.”

“What else did he do?”

“He painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”

“Really, what colour?”

“What?”

“Like, is it blue? Or white? Or one of those colour-chart made up colours – autumn mist, snowflake white, catsick green.”

“Catsick isn’t green.”

“It is if your cat’s just drunk your bottle of Chartreuse. Trust me on this.”

“Anyway, he didn’t paint it a colour – he wasn’t a painter and decorator. You’ll be asking me next did he wallpaper the Papal balcony.”

“No, I won’t. Why would you wallpaper an outdoor balcony?”

“Exactly.”

“You’d use Ronseal Five-Year Woodstain.”

“Look, he didn’t do any of that. He painted pictures on the ceiling.”

“Wow, he must have got an awful crick in his neck.”

“Yes, I suppose he must. Unless he did it lying on something, painting upwards.”

“Then he’d have got paint in his eyes.”

“Maybe he wore goggles.”

“Anyway, what pictures did he paint?”

“He painted one of the birth of Adam – “

“Adam as a baby?”

“No, Adam was born fully grown.”

“God, his poor mother.”

“No, he wasn’t born like that. God just created him. The picture has him and God stretching out their fingers towards one another -”

“Like ET?”

“No. Well, yes, sort of. Anyway, it’s God bring Adam to life, by them touching fingers.”

“How come Adam’s able to stretch out his finger to God, if God hasn’t touched Adam’s finger yet?”

“It’s a mystery. One of the mysteries of the rosary.”

“What are the other ones?”

“Um, why is Good Friday called good if it’s the day Jesus died, how are you supposed to only eat fish on a Friday if you live somewhere landlocked like the Czech Republic, why would angels want to dance on the head of a pin, why does a communion dress cost four hundred euro, where can you actually buy rosary beads, and what had St Patrick got that St Brendan & St Bridget hadn’t that made him Ireland’s Patron Saint, especially since he was Welsh.”

“That’s a lot of mysteries.”

“And they’re just the sorrowful ones. There’s also the joyful ones, and the, er, mysterious ones.”

“Like how did he know what David looked like in the nude if David had lived centuries earlier?”

I tore up the notes I’d made, for the speech I’d been running over and over in my head, for the exact way I was going to propose later that evening.

It’s very hard to concentrate in a room where women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo.