Monthly Archives: September 2013

Short Flash


The sky burned.

The explosion that had preceded the inferno had been deafening. A Big Bang, in fact.

Gabriel and God stared in astonishment.  A feather fell slowly, like a snowflake, from Gabriel’s smouldering wings. God’s face was blackened, cartoon-like, while smoke drifted in wisps from his beard.

“Was that supposed to happen?” asked Gabriel, once his ears had stopped ringing.

God looked down at his blueprint. “Damn,” he said.  “Er, if you’ll pardon the expression. I was supposed to use nitrogen, not nitro-glycerine.”


The sky(Ok, I may have to explain this. A lady called Alyssa Leonard runs a 24-hour competition each Tuesday called “Finish That Thought” in which an opening sentence is given and you’ve to finish the story. On Tuesday the sentence was “The sky burned” and we weren’t to exceed 500 words. I used 84, thought “well, I won’t get anywhere with that” and this morning got an email to say I’d won. My prize is to pick next week’s sentence and judge the entries, is the scariest thing I’ve ever done on the internet, which tells you an awful lot about my life).

(The photo is not of the sky burning, it’s sunrise over Killiney bay, just south of Dublin, and was taken by me)

I Didn’t Feel Alone Till I Met You

The title above was the prompt at our Writers’ Group last night. I was staring haplessly at it, with not an idea in my head, when one of the girls said “It sounds like a Country and Western song”. So…


I’ve felt happy as a warthog who’s been eatin’ from a trough,

I’ve felt wind blow up my long-johns when I’ve left my trousers off.

I’ve felt gassy after drinkin’, I’ve felt somethin’ in my shoe,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


I’ve felt giddy watchin’ Nascar and the way those engines roar,

I’ve felt dizzy after moonshine and next mornin’ I’ve felt sore.

I’ve felt man-love for Hank Williams and for Lyle Lovett too,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


I’ve felt deeply philosophical but I took some pills for that,

I’ve felt angry when my dog threw up in my ten-gallon hat.

I’ve felt great relief when prune-juice made me do a massive poo,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


I’ve felt sorry when my wife left and felt worse when she came back,

I’ve felt horny when I met a girl with a really massive rack.

I’ve felt hungry till I’ve eaten all my beans and grits and stew,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


I’ve felt master of the road when I’ve been in my pick-up truck,

I’ve felt scared at how this line might end, but I’m gonna trust to luck.

I’ve felt tears of pride well up while watchin’ Dukes Of Hazzard 2,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


I’ve felt bad I wrote a Country Song and never mentioned God,

I’ve felt sure that this song has no chance in this year’s Eisteddfod.

I’ve felt stuck for one last rhyme and so this one will have to do,

But I didn’t feel alone till I met you.


Just Another Day In Paradise


“I spy, with my little eye,” said Adam, “something beginning with ‘F’.”

“Firmament,” said Eve.

“How did you know?” asked Adam.

“Because that’s what you always pick,” said Eve. She looked around the Garden. “From here I can see lots of other options, such as fox, foxglove, fig-leaves and flame-sworded Cherubim, but you always pick firmament. I bet you don’t even know what it means.”

“Of course I …” began Adam, and then realised he didn’t. “Anyway, it’s your turn.”

Eve glared at him. “Is this seriously how we’re going to spend the rest of our lives?” she asked.

“Well, no,” said Adam. “Our job is to tend the Garden.”

“The problem with tending the Garden of Eden,” said Eve, “is that it doesn’t need tending. The lawn is always perfect, the flowers are always in full bloom, and there aren’t any weeds.”

“Well, what would you like to do?” asked Adam.

“I have dreams at night,” said Eve. “Visions, really. I know that there are things that couples will eventually do.”

“Such as what?” asked Adam, a little nervously. He had seen the birds of the air and the beasts of the fields up to some things that had frankly astonished him.

“Throw dinner parties,” said Eve, to his relief, “and invite the neighbours over.”

“We don’t have any neighbours,” said Adam.

“I’m all too well aware of that,” said Eve. “If ever there was a property that truly deserved the term ‘exclusive residence’ this is it.”

“What other things do couples do in these dreams?” asked Adam.

“Um … shop at Ikea,” she said.

“I understand only one word in that sentence,” said Adam.

“As far as I can make out, “ said Eve. “We would go to some giant shed, barter lots of paper for things we don’t really need, then have to assemble them ourselves, shouting and arguing with each other as we do so.”

“Sounds more like a nightmare than a dream,” said Adam. “Anything else that the couples do?”

Eve thought for a moment. “Water-ski,” she said eventually.

“What’s that?” asked Adam.

“One half of the couple drives a boat while the other one slides along the water behind it on a plank,” said Eve.

Adam looked at the little boat in the ornamental pond. “We could try it,” he said doubtfully, “but you’ll have to row awfully fast.”

Eve opened her mouth, then decided there was no point. The two sat in silence for a while.

“I was talking to the snake this morning,” she said.

“Really?” said Adam. They had adopted the snake as a sort of pet, since it was the only creature that didn’t seem to be part of a pair, and it was also the only one that could talk (well, apart from the parrots, but all they said was ’Polly wants a cracker’, and since neither Adam nor Eve knew what a cracker was, they tended to avoid them).

“Yes,” said Eve. “He wanted me to eat an apple off that tree. He called it the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

“What’s Good and Evil?” asked Adam.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

“I wouldn’t know,” said Eve patiently, “since I haven’t eaten anything from the Tree of Knowledge of Them.”

“Good point,” said Adam. “What did you say to him?”

“Well, I said no, of course,” said Eve. “God told us not to.”

They sat in silence again.

“God, this is boring,” said Eve. “I wish I could think of a way out of here.”


(The image is from Wikimedia Commons and is by, well, God presumably.)

Bottled Up

???????????????????????????????Neville liked to spend his Saturdays rummaging through the special-offer-boxes outside bric-a-brac shops, which tells you something about his personality and everything about the number of girlfriends he currently had.

One day he spotted an old genie-lamp on sale for one Euro, bought it and brought it home, thinking it would go nicely on the shelf in his sitting-room between his Airfix Model Spitfire and his nineteenth-century chamber-pot.

He took it home and just before he put it on the shelf he rubbed it, just for a laugh. There’s not a human on earth who wouldn’t have.

To his amazement the lamp began to vibrate, then to rock violently, then from its spout it toothpasted a small female figure. She was beautiful, and very attractively dressed. To Neville she was almost perfect.

The girl looked at him and got to her feet. Then she looked back at the lamp, shuddered and said “Yuck, am I glad I won’t ever have to do that again. I feel like I’ve just been laid, and in case you’re thinking that’s a good thing let me tell you that I’m talking in the egg meaning of the phrase.”



Neville was about to speak when she put one finger to her lips to hush him. “I am Sharlana,” she said. “Before you ask, yes, I am a genie, and yes, you do have three wishes. But, and I cannot stress this forcefully enough, be careful what you wish for.”

Neville’s mouth opened again, and again she forestalled him.

“For example,” she continued, “you are probably quite astonished at what has just occurred. Please try to avoid saying ‘well, I’ll be damned’, ‘I’ll be a monkey’s uncle’ and especially ‘I’ll be darned’, because believe me you wouldn’t enjoy it.”

“I’ll try to remember that,” said Neville.

“ ‘Bugger me’ is also probably not a good idea,” said Sharlana.

Neville stared at her in awe. She was, as I’ve said, almost perfect. It was the ‘almost’ part that was the problem.

“You’re only three inches tall,” said Neville.

“Of course I am,” she said, pointing at the lamp. “How do you think I fitted in there? It’s a genie-lamp, it’s not the bloody Tardis.”

Neville stared at her beauty. “I just wish you were a bit taller,” he said, almost to himself.

She folded her arms, blinked, and instantly grew to five feet five inches tall. “That’s one,” she said.

“One what?” said Neville.

“One of your wishes,” said Sharlana. “You’ve two left.”

“That wasn’t a wish,” said Neville.

“Of course it was, dumb-ass.”

“I don’t want any cheek,” said Neville.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” said the genie, “because you’re new at this. Believe me, you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with no cheeks. You wouldn’t be able to do chipmunk impressions, for one thing. Also you’d never be able to fart. Now, what would you like next?”

Neville thought for a minute. “I’d like to look like Brad Pitt,” he said.

“Who?” said the genie.

“Brad Pitt,” said Neville. “He’s an actor.”

“Never heard of him,” said the genie. “You‘d be surprised just how few celebrity-gossip magazines get delivered to a genie-lamp. I can make you look like the Wazoo of Yazoo, the Sultan of Sultana or the Raisin of Thedead.”

“What do they look like?” asked Neville.

“Bearded,” said Sharlana. “Swarthy. If this was a story you’d say they were stereotypes.”

“Forget it, so,” said Neville. He thought for a moment. “I know,” he said excitedly, “I wish I had a magic carpet!”

“Are you sure?” asked Sharlana “Remember, be careful what you wish for.”

“Go ahead,” said Neville firmly.

Sharlana folded her arms and blinked again. A small rug appeared, about a foot off the floor.

“Now, the thing they don’t tell you about magic carpets,” said Sharlana, “is that that you can’t use one if it’s windy because it blows up all around you like a sleeping-bag, and you can’t use it if it rains because you’ll get soaked and the carpet will smell like wet dog for weeks afterwards. Also, the word to get it to stop is “aryhootencollybuttlefillysallyscootanduff” and usually, if you have to stop suddenly, by the time you’ve said that you’ll have smacked your face off whatever you’re trying to avoid and got carpet-burns on your knees from skidding to the front.”

Neville looked despairingly at the hovering carpet. “I’m making a right mess of this, aren’t I?” he said bitterly.

He looked so crestfallen that she put her hand on his arm consolingly. “You’re not doing too bad,” she said. “You’ve got a companion that you don’t have to carry around in your pocket and a rug that you won’t have to lift when you want to sweep under it. You could have done much worse. One guy really blew it by singing ‘I wish I was an apple on a tree’ while he was in his bath.”

“That’s terrible,” said Neville. “What happened to him?”

“Oh, his genie felt sorry for him, so she reversed the spell,” said Sharlana.

“Well, that’s good,” said Neville.

“Yes, she turned him into a tree with an apple on it,” said Sharlana. “At least he got to live longer.”

Neville looked at her shyly. “I wish…” he began, then stopped. “I’d like, er… I hope…”. He thought for a second, then said “it would be nice if you’d go out with me.”

Sharlana glared, then sighed and began to fold her arms.

“Wait,” said Neville. “That was a statement, not a wish. I don’t want you to go out with me because you have to. It would be nice if you did it because you want to.”

“That’s really sweet,” said Sharlana.

“What do you think?” asked Neville. “You’ve been in there for so long. We could go for walks in cool fresh air, you could watch your first sunrises for a thousand years and on dry nights we could hover on our carpet outside pubs, scaring the crap out of drunks on their way home.”

Sharlana smiled. “Ok,” she said. “But what about your last wish?”

“I’m keeping it,” said Neville. “From what I know of relationships, there will always come a time when a man says or does something that he really wishes he hadn’t.”

(Sharlana’s image is from
The genie-lamp is from Wikimedia Commons, and is by Tracy Nunn) 

Father’s Day

If it wasn’t for my Dad I wouldn’t be here.

If it wasn’t for my Dad I wouldn’t have the sense of humour that I have.

If it wasn’t for my Dad I wouldn’t have my youthful good looks.

If it wasn’t for my Dad I wouldn’t have learnt to be the parent that I am.

If it wasn’t for my Dad I wouldn’t be me.

My Dad is 80 today.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Love, Tin.


Dad and Mum (and me)

Sea Side Story

A WordPress prompt last weekend was “Grab the nearest book. Take the tenth word and write about it”.

WordPress often set prompts like this, not realising that most sentences have more words like “the”, “a” and “and” than they do words full of possibilities, such as “treasure”, “skullduggery” or  “Hogwarts”. The book I picked up was called “Shirley Flight – Air Hostess in Hollywood” (Shakespeare and Dickens do not feature much on the bookshelves of  the Tinhouse) and the tenth word is “she”…


She sold sea-shells. By the sea-shore. People spoke about that a lot.

Mainly because they were a bit baffled by her choice of career. If you’re going to sell sea-shells, a modest source of income in any case, then by the sea-shore, where free sea-shells are scattered all over the beach, is probably not the place to do it.

The shells she sold were sea-shore shells. I’m sure. I’m sure because it says that in the first sentence. Had she sold egg-shells, tortoise-shells or even armour-piercing shells she would probably have had a higher income, though the last of these would probably have got her arrested.

Her friend Molly Malone sold cockles and mussels. Live ones. This was a far better business idea, but unfortunately Molly died of a fever. People tried, but no-one could save her, so that was the end of that. And her.

At least it should have been, and the sea-shell seller could have taken over her business. Sadly Molly’s ghost kept the business running, and this was not a success. Shellfish can be dodgy at the best of times, so people were understandably wary of buying cockles and mussels that were more alive (alive-O) than the person selling them. Especially when that person had died of an unspecified fever.

Molly (after a bit of a disaster at a tanning salon)

Molly (after a bit of a disaster at a tanning salon) (photo via me)

So both ventures failed. Molly moved into a castle and into the haunting business, terrifying the residents with her plaintive cries while impressing them with her massive cleavage. The girl who sold the sea-shells moved to Africa, where she now tries to sell sea-shells at a camel-stop in the Sahara desert. If you hold one of the shells up to your ear you can hear the sea, which is bloody annoying when you haven’t had a drink for four days.

Some people just aren’t cut out for business.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge..


The cow mooed in terror as she fell, hooves scrabbling in vain against the sides of the long dark tunnel. Eventually she emerged into a large cavern and landed with a terrific splash into something that it didn’t do to think too hard about. She climbed to her feet and looked in surprise at the other five, who were looking in astonishment at her.

“Seriously?” said the dog. “She sent a cow?”

“Er, what do you mean?” asked the cow.

“What I mean,” said the dog, “is that’s there’s been a certain logic to what she’s done so far. I mean, it’s fair enough that she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, and that she swallowed me to catch the cat, but as far as I know there has never been any recorded case of a cow catching a dog.”

“It’s not actually the first mistake she’s made,” said the bird. “We birds don’t usually eat spiders. We tend to go more for worms, or preferably bird-seed. She’s obviously never watched the Road Runner on TV. Wile E Coyote never puts a spider under the Acme anvil.”

“She’s losing it,” said the cat.

“You’re only realising that now?” said the fly. “If she’d just left her mouth open I’d have flown straight back out, I only flew in by accident. She didn’t need to start a bloody zoo.”

“How on earth did she swallow you anyway?” the spider asked the cow.

“I don’t really know,” said the cow. “She was milking me, I was staring vacantly into space, as we cows tend to do, when she suddenly swung me round by the udders and straight into her mouth.”

“She’s stronger than she looks,” admitted the cat.

“Cleverer, too,” said the dog. “She tossed a stick up in the air for me to catch, and when I came down she was lying on the ground with her mouth open.”

“Why haven’t you all caught each other?” asked the cow.

“What was the point?” asked the spider. “I was here second, but I reckoned if I’d caught the fly I’d have no-one to talk to.”

“Over time we’ve all become friends,” said the bird.

“And how do we get out?” asked the cow.

“As far as we can make out,” said the fly, “we don’t. We just sit here and wait to see what comes along next.”

“Couldn’t we jump up and down, and try to make her sick?” asked the cow.

“I thought of that,” said the spider. “I wanted to wriggle and wiggle and tiggle inside her, but someone vetoed the idea.”

“Listen,” said the cat, “when your only means of cleaning yourself is to lick your own fur, the last thing you want is to be expelled forcefully from somewhere in a jet of someone else’s vomit.”

“Er,” said the cow nervously, “what about -”

“Don’t worry about that,” said the dog. “She’s had constipation for weeks. Mainly on account of the fact that she’s eaten no fruit or fibre, being on an exclusively wildlife diet.”

“Diet’s not the right word,” said the cow. “You should see the size of her now. She looks about twenty-two months pregnant. With triplets.”

“What do you reckon will be next?” asked the spider.

“Hard to tell at this stage,” said the cat. “If she believes that cows catch dogs, then God knows what she thinks catches cows. An armadillo, perhaps, or a vole. Maybe a reindeer.”

Daylight suddenly appeared,  far, far above.

“Looks like we’re about to find out,” said the fly.

They all listened, and could hear an animal sound. They all looked at one another.

“She has got to be kidding,” said the cat.

They listened again. It was definitely the sound of neighing.

“I’ve got a really bad feeling about this,” said the dog.

Dancing In The Dark

 Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “dancing”…


The opening of the clasp always acted as an early-warning system.

It was like the key of a parent turning in a front door, which allows a teenager and his girlfriend time to sit up straight on the couch, re-arrange their clothing and switch on the TV, hitting any channel at random, so that when said parent arrives into the living room they look about as guilty as it is possible to look, sitting two feet apart and watching, apparently intently, Tili a’i ffrindiau on S4C, the Welsh language channel.

In Angie’s case (quite literally, actually) the sound of the clasp gave her time to drag herself up onto her feet, and then further up onto her toes, en pointe, and to swish her dress out, Marilyn-style, so that by the time the jewellery box was fully open Angie the Ballerina would be ready to dance.

The music would start and she would slowly pirouette to the tune. Her lack of speed was not by design but by choice, since she had long ago established by bitter experience that if she spun any quicker she threw up.

And that tune, oh God, that tune. O For The Wings Of A Dove may well be one of the beautiful pieces of music ever written, but the jewellery-box version sounded as if it was being whistled by metallic budgies. It was almost sacrilege, like someone playing Smoke On The Water on the bagpipes, or Moonlight Sonata on a kazoo.

Plus it was the only piece of music that she ever got to hear. She had grown to hate it as much as an ice-cream van driver hates the theme to Match Of The Day.

Whenever the box was open she could see the couple on the Weather Clock, Sonny and Claudia. How she envied them. Yes, they were always apart during the daytime, but she could imagine them at night in their little apartment at the back of the clock, with a huge music collection, an energetic love-life and long conversations, even if mainly about the weather.

When the box was closed Angie was alone. She would amuse herself  by hula-hooping with a bangle, drawing moustaches on the cameo brooches with an old lipstick or playing basketball with a stray pearl, throwing it into a hoop that she had made from a nipple-ring, a long-abandoned memento of her owner’s teenage years.

If she was really bored she tied impossibly tight knots in the neck-chains.

But most of all she danced in the darkness, dances other than ballet to music that she played in her head. Salsa, rumba, Dad-dancing, jive, even moon-walking, although she reckoned that that was really just walking backwards.

She had even tried Morris Dancing, using a hairpin as a stick and thwacking herself on the head with it as she jumped about.

Then one evening her owner tried to take out a dangly ear-ring that had got wrapped around the gnome on a charm bracelet. She pulled too hard in frustration and the entire box fell onto the floor in a massive clatter of rolled gold and cubic zirconia. She managed to recover all of the jewellery, and the box was undamaged apart from the fact that it now played Achy Breaky Heart.

To her surprise, however, she could find no trace of the ballerina.

Jeff (from ebay - Wimbledon players don't command big transfer fees)

Jeff (from ebay – Wimbledon players don’t cost big transfer fees)

Angie now lives in the bedroom of her owner’s small son. There are lullabies sung there at night and The Wheels On The Bus played on a CD player during the day. She is going out with Jeff, a Subbuteo footballer in AFC Wimbledon colours. She supposes that this makes her a WAG but she doesn’t care. She has never been happier.

In fact, she often dances with joy.

Vote Early And Often

The above is a phrase that used to be used regularly here back in the 70s and 80s, when identification requirements weren’t as strict as they are now and when managing to vote, say with the polling card from your new address and also with the one you received at your old one was regarded as a bit of a giggle instead of as voter fraud.  

But in the Best Blog Section of the Irish Blog Awards, voting each week is positively encouraged. Thanks to those of you who have voted for my post so far, and now you should be able to vote again, at, and look for Worth Doing Badly: Weekly Photo Challenge – Up.

Er, that’s all.