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.

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 …


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”…


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?


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

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


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


“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?”


“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?”


“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.

The Day After Tomorrow

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is, still, “anticipation”……


He had always wanted to take up gardening.

Mind you, by gardening he just meant pruning roses on sunny summer says, he didn’t mean spending February mornings hacking at rock-hard ground with a trowel just so that he could have four onions with one meal in July.

He might get garden gnomes.

He could spend more time with his grand-children. Or less, come to think of it.

He could take up bowls. Or bingo. The possibilities were endless. You often heard of people older than him doing hazardous, exhilarating things like climbing Kilimanjaro, or parachute-jumping, or deep-sea scuba-diving. He thought of these people as nutters.

He could, and most definitely would, take his alarm-clock and hurl it discus-like as far out into the East River as he could.

He might just do nothing, for days upon end. Whatever he did (or didn’t), it wouldn’t involve work.

He had two days to go to retirement.

He’d miss the guys, the camaraderie, the nights in O’Malley’s bar after work. He wouldn’t miss drawing chalk-outlines, or breaking bad news to families, or being shot at.

Oh, I should have mentioned that sooner. He was a cop. Yep, a cop with two days to go to retirement.

He was well aware of the urban myth. He knew well that a cop with two days to go to retirement might as well go out on his last case with a target painted on his forehead. In fact, to save time and cliché he should just shoot himself.

Or some misdemeanour that he had committed back when he was a rookie would suddenly come to light, depriving him of pension, liberty and the chance to watch endless episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

None of this was going to happen to him. He had years of doing feck-all to look forward to.

Besides, if the tales were correct then no cops would ever retire, and the New York Police Pension Fund would be wealthier than the Beckhams.

He was sitting at his desk eating a doughnut (some urban myths are in fact true) when the call came through. His partner looked at him.

“You don’t have to come,” said his partner. “Finish your paperwork. Sit this one out.”

“Might as well come along one last time,” he said. “After all, I’ve only got two-”

“Don’t even say it!” snapped his partner.

They drove to the scene of the 911 call, and he got out of the car just in time for a man running from an apartment block to look at the uniform, panic, and shoot him three times in the chest.

The bruising made it look as if he had five nipples, once he sat up.

Because even though the call-out had been from an other apartment across the street, to take details from an elderly lady who had filed a missing kitten report, he had worn a bullet-proof vest. Just in case.

You don’t last thirty-five years in a police-force by being dumb.

On The Way

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “anticipation”….


He would be along in a minute, and everything was ready for him.

In a few minutes the Road Runner was going to be road-kill.

Wile E Coyote rubbed his paws together in gleeful anticipation. The Acme Atomizer Super-ray Gun was in position, pointed carefully at the pile of birdseed that he had left out on the road. Any moment now the Road Runner would speed into view, stop to eat the seed and be killed and barbecued all at the same time.

He had almost had him so many times before, but seemed to be dogged by bad luck. The Acme Trampoline from which he had bounced himself at Road Runner had been too powerful and had sent him sailing over his intended target and then over a cliff. The Acme Jet-pack had shot him straight up, to the very edge of the earth’s atmosphere, and then dropped him, stone-like, over a cliff. His Acme Bow had fired both him and the arrow out and over a cliff. On the Acme Motorised Supermarket Trolley in which he had planned to chase the Road Runner the four wheels had all pointed in different directions (in fairness, he should have seen that coming) and had driven over a cliff. His Acme Giant Fly-swatter was too bendy, and had flipped back to slap him sharply in the face, sending him staggering over a cliff. The Acme Warm-Air Hand-Dryer (which was no help in catching the Road Runner, but had been on special offer) had emitted a gale of air so powerful that it had blown him over a cliff.

Wile E Coyote cliffThere was a theme here, which anyone else would have spotted a long time ago. He was spending too much time near cliffs.

The ground around his lair was pocked with hundreds of coyote-shaped holes. Future generations of scientists were going to think that coyotes had been like lemmings.

But any minute now the Road Runner would be history, and if the gun worked properly then also geography. And then what?

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

Would Wile E eat him? How much actual meat would there be on that scrawny neck and those stick-like legs? What was he going to do, eat his arse?

Besides, he wasn’t hungry. He was never hungry anymore, every time he ordered something from the Acme Corporation they sent him a giant hamper, since he was the only customer who had never sued them and who continued to buy their products. They were desperate to keep him alive, he represented their entire sales figures for the West Coast. And even if they hadn’t, pigeons flew past, pigs wandered past, whole open-backed trucks with apples rocking on the back like swaying womens’ bums drove past.

He had no need to kill the Road Runner. Yet he had devoted his whole life to chasing a bird, and not in the romantic meaning of that sentence, if indeed there is any romance in the sentence “chasing a bird” in the first place.

He realised that the Road Runner was now his obsession, Moby Dick to his Ahab.

He decided to end it all. No, I don’t mean that, he was going to go back to Tennessee, meet some girl, even if she was coyote ugly, and settle down in the Acme two-storey house that he had seen advertised in their brochure (it quickly became the Acme bungalow, but he didn’t know that. Yet.).

He packed up his collection of weaponry, of which he had more than the entire Swiss Army, though he didn’t have their knife (Acme’s attempt at making one had been so dangerous to its owner that even they had drawn the line at marketing it).

As he walked away he heard the sound of something approaching at great speed, then come to a sudden halt. He heard the tap-tap of beak on birdseed, then the massive explosion as the Ray-gun fired. He held his breath in the ensuing, almost audible silence. Then he heard a “meep, meep” and the sound of something speeding away. He smiled to himself.

He got into his car, turned on the engine and put it into first gear, and hit the accelerator.

And the Acme Ten-Cylinder Go-Faster-Striped Convertible back-fired spectacularly, put itself into reverse, and drove backwards over a cliff.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood

Tinman’s weekly camera-less attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge….


The fireman is a person in my neighbourhood. He comes from cave to cave each evening and lights a fire in the entrance. He does this by rubbing two sticks together. I have no idea how he does it, if it’s that simple then surely bushes would catch fire on windy days.

The wheelwright is a person in my neighbourhood. You see him most mornings chasing the wheel he invented through the village, because he has not yet managed to invent the brake.

The artist is a person in my neighbourhood. His name is Vangogg and he will come to your cave and draw on the walls, like a two-year old. He draws pictures of cavemen chasing wild woolly beasts. In reality this usually happens the other way round, which is why we live mostly on fish, berries and wild lichens.

The tailor is a person in my neighbourhood. It seems that it is no longer acceptable to just throw the pelt of a woolly animal (generally a sheep, we don’t catch anything else) around you, it has to be fitted. He even asks on which side do you dress. This is a stupid question, the answer is obviously on the outside.

CavegirlHe also designs and fits the two-piece outfits that the women wear. It seems that women do not care how cold they are as long as they look sexy, and I have to say that it works. He advertised for an apprentice last year and every teenage boy in the village applied, along with Maggda, who is single and dresses like a bear.

The interior designer is a person in our neighbourhood. His name is Clod (pronounced Claude) and he comes to your cave and hangs pelts on the walls. I have no idea why, it’s not like walls can feel the cold. I pointed this out to my wife Agga and she looked at me as if I needed my head examined.

I do not know who would do this. The head-examiner is not a person in my neighbourhood.

The Tourism Committee are some people in my neighbourhood. They have erected a “Welcome to Rockford, Pop 62” sign at the entrance to our village. This is odd, since we don’t like strangers, and they usually get to see the sign that says “you are now leaving Rockford, have a shit day” pretty soon after they arrive.

The party organiser is a person in my neighbourhood. His name is Kragg (pronounced Craig) and he arranges events at which people gather and eat twiglets (no, literally) and drink something that tastes like mammoth’s piss. There is a reason why it tastes like this.

The wedding planner is a person in my neighbourhood. No longer can you just hit a woman over the head with a club and drag her back to your cave. Now you have to invite guests along to watch you do it, and have a gift-list and an ice-sculpture of a sabre-tooth tiger.

The hunter is a person in my neighbourhood. His name is Argg, pronounced Aarghh. He gets up before dawn, takes his spear, and heads both manfully and fearfully into the hills. He falls into streams, gets mud up his nose and slips on dung-patches so large that he hopes never to meet the creature that dumped them. He sometimes comes across an actual mammoth, waves his spear at it for a second, then cops himself on and runs like hell (whatever that is), shouting “Aarghh!”. He finally gives up and picks berries, using his spear to get at particularly high ones. He then trudges back home, where his haul is mocked by the entire village. He is me, and in every possible meaning of the phrase we are a dying breed.

The service industry is taking over.