Monthly Archives: December 2019

Happy Christmas To All

To all of you who come here, my worldwide readership (there are only about five of you, but you are spread all over the world), I’d just like to say thank you. I’ve loved returning to writing this year, and it’s the fact that you are all here, reading and making kind comments, that helps keep me going.

Happy Christmas to all of you. May it be all that you hope for.


Tin x

Love from the Tinfamily

Things Go Better

This advert is on a billboard near where we live:

The Original taste? I never knew that…


…. the Third Wise Man approached. “I bring you Coke,” he said.

The other two stared at him. “I thought you were bringing myrrh,” said the First Wise Man.

“Couldn’t get it,” said the Third Wise Man. “None of the shops had ever heard of it.”

Joseph took the bottle from him. “What are we supposed to do with it?” he asked.

“If he needs to be winded,” said the Third Wise Man, “give him some of this first. You have no idea how loudly it will make him burp.”


…. Mary put her hands over her ears. “Please make him stop,” she said.

The Little Drummer Boy sat on a stool, his drum in front of him. Arranged around it were two upturned earthenware pots, the cow’s milking-bucket and, serving as the world’s first cymbals, the hub-caps from a chariot parked ouside the inn.

The Little Drummer Boy had drunk fourteen Cokes, and was now enthusiastically beating out the drum solo from Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick.


…. Samson, stripped to the waist, pushed against the pillars, biceps bulging. After a while he stopped, and took a drink of Coke.

One of the onlooking Philistine women turned to another. “See you tomorrow?”

Her friend nodded. “Eleven Thirty,” she said.


— the shepherds were awe-struck.

A long convoy of ox-and-carts was snaking slowly along the winding road at the bottom of their hill, each cart laden with crates. A heavenly choir had begun to sing “holidays are comin'”, over and over again. An Angel of the Lord had appeared unto them.

“I bring glad tidings of great joy,” said the Angel, “and also this.”

He put a crate of Coke in front of them.

“This is great,” said the First Shepherd. “we’ll be rightly sloshed after drinking all that.”

“Oh, it’s not alcoholic,” said the Angel, and vanished.

The shepherds gazed at one another. The First Shepherd shrugged.

“We’ll use it to wash the sheep,” he said.


…. he spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then jumped back with a jerk,
for the bottle of Coke he had placed in each sock
had compelled them to crash to the ground like a rock.
The floor was all covered with glass and with bubbles
and the air smelled like diesel, to add to my troubles.
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“I’d clean it up quick, that stuff’s sticky as shite.”





Lucky For Some

It’s Friday the Thirteenth.

All over the world people will refuse to get out of bed, will avoid ladders, black cats and broken mirrors (three things, it has to be said, which I rarely come into contact with on any day) and will refuse to travel (flights are actually cheaper on these days). Others will bring up the word Paraskevidekatriaphobia, fear of Friday the 13th, apparently with no fear of looking like a show-off. Sky Movies will sigh happily, say “that’s our schedule sorted for today” and show all twelve films.

I won’t be doing any of these things. Because it’s my birthday.

And, as I’ve mentioned here before, December 13th was also a Friday in 1957 (yes, 1957, back in the last millennium, in grainy black-and-white, a time of rickets, scurvy and children working as canaries in mines) when I was born.

Which at least means that I have never been superstitious.

The Tin-niece-and-goddaughter, also a Friday the 13th baby, says we’re called storm-born, which sounds cool enough to me.

So today I will get my present from Mrs Tin (I know it’s a trip away next month, today I’ll find out where), Tingirl has the day off, Tinson2 will skype call from Australia, Tinson1 is coming up from Waterford with his girlfriend, I’ll probably get dragged to the pub.

And people think today is unlucky.

Happy Birthday to me.

What Gatey Did Next

So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24)


At first they stood impassive and immobile, like the guards outside Buckingham Palace.

But time passed, lots of time, and the expression “patience of a saint” does not apply to angels.

So the pair relaxed slightly. They took to playing games of I Spy. They had mock fights with their flaming swords, which they referred to as ‘light sabres’. They would dash from the perfect weather of the garden into the rain just outside, and return giggling. In winter they made snow angels, in both possible meanings of that phrase.

Then one afternoon, while Camael was trying to touch his tongue with the tip of one wing and Uriel was hovering, dozing in an imaginary hammock, a voice suddenly said “Hello?”

The Cherubim sprang to attention, swords outstretched. “Who goes there?” said Camael.

Gabriel appeared in front of them. “It’s me,” he said. He looked at them, a little anxiously, as if fearing that a screw-up had been made. “What are you doing here?”

“Guarding the gate,” said Camael.

“In case Adam and Eve come back,” said Uriel.

Gabriel closed his eyes briefly, his fears confirmed. “Adam and Eve are dead,” he said quietly.

“I’m not surprised,” said Camael. “It can get really cold out there, and they were wearing sod-all.”

“No,” said Gabriel, “they died of old age. You’ve been here for centuries. I’m really sorry, we, um, forgot about you.”

“Forgot?” said Uriel.

“Never mind that now,” said Camael. “You’re saying mankind is gone?”

“Oh, no, they’re still around,” said Gabriel. “Adam and Eve begat -”


Gabriel blushed, to the surprise of the others. “It’s a human thing,” he said. “You don’t want to know. Anyway, so-and-so begat such-and-such, and such-and-such begat whats-his-name, blah, blah, blah, and, well, there are millions of them now.”

“Millions?” said Uriel. “We’ll need a stronger gate.”

“Oh, they won’t come here,” said Gabriel. “After the Fall we moved some things to a different dimension, that’s how you got forgotten about. It means they can’t see the Garden here, they can’t see Heaven if they look into the sky, they can’t see Santa’s Grotto.”

Camael and Uriel looked at him in bewilderment. “Then what are we going to do?” asked Camael.

“Oh, there are lots of things for angels to do,” said Gabriel. “There’s playing the harp -”

“The harp?” snorted Camael. “It’s like musical chloroform.”

“Ok, then, there’s the Heavenly Choir,” said Gabriel.

“Sounds better,” said Uriel. “What do they sing?”

“Well,” admitted Gabriel, “their repertoire is a bit limited, it’s basically just the Hallelujah Chorus on a continuous loop.”

“Boring,” said the Cherubim in unison.

“Say the beings who’ve spent aeons watching the grass grow.”

“Worse than that,” said Camael. “Since this is Eden the grass is the perfect height, so we’ve spent aeons watching it not grow.”

“So you owe us,” said Uriel. “Think of something interesting.”

“Well, there’s the Pinheads,” said Gabriel.

“Who are they?”

“Angels who dance on the head of a pin,” said Gabriel.

“That’s a thing?” said Uriel. Gabriel nodded. “Apparently so,” he said.

“How many of them are there?”

“No-one knows,” said Gabriel.

“Sounds daft,” said Camael.

“Well, then, there are the Earth jobs,” said Gabriel. “The ones where you interact with mankind.”

“Such as?”

“Well, messenger is one,” said Gabriel. “You arrive in a vision and tell somebody that they’re with child, or tell a load of shepherds about the birth of said child. There’s quite a big job coming up soon, actually.”

“Just the one?” asked Camael.

“Yes,” said Gabriel. “After that we’re planning to let something called ‘religion’ get our message across.”

“Well, that’s no good, then,” said Uriel. “Next.”

“There are Guardian Angels,” said Gabriel. “You basically tail a human and stop him or her walking in front of chariots.”

“Ah, the protection business,” said Camael, brightening. “Sounds more our line of work.”

“But each human just has one Guardian Angel?” asked Uriel.

Gabriel nodded, and Camael’s face fell again.  He looked at Uriel, who nodded. “We want to work together,” he said.

“Been doing it for years, after all,” said Uriel. “He’s my work wife.”

Gabriel saw the look on Camael’s face and stepped in hurriedly. “I think I might have it,” he said. “We need somebody to keep undesirables out of the temples.”

“How would we do that?” asked Camael.

“Just give them some made-up reason,” said Gabriel, shrugging. “Something about their job, or something.”

“Like ‘thou shalt not enter because thou doest impart anatomically improving suggestion’?” said Camael.

“Yes,” said Gabriel, “though maybe a bit snappier.”

“No trainers,” suggested Uriel. Gabriel beamed.

They became the world’s first bouncers.




Rough Ride

The Garda, the Irish police, have ordered 200 pairs of specially cushioned lycra shorts for members on bicycles …


A right hand shot out, a note held between fore and middle finger. This was flicked expertly away and a small package was presented in exchange. The buyer took the drugs and walked hurriedly off. The seller pocketed the note and stood, apparently nonchalantly, but with eyes moving constantly from side to side, seeking his next customer.

Unfortunately for him, this took place just as Garda Patrick Dowling was cycling by. The young policeman pulled to a halt in front of the dealer and stepped from his bike.

“Gotcha,” he said.

“You reckon?” said the dealer. And ran.

Patrick took two steps in pursuit, then stopped, looking back wistfully at his bicycle. He knew that if he continued the chase there was no chance that it would still be there when he returned.

It’s really hard being a cycle cop, thought Patrick, when the city is full of criminals.

He climbed gloomily back onto his bike and continued his patrol, cycling the streets of Dublin, looking for somebody that he could actually catch.

Motorists would simply speed away when confronted. Pedestrians would dash up steps or through narrow shop doorways, leaving him stranded like a constabulary Dalek.

Even cyclists, his natural prey, could evade him by finding one of the many convoys of other cyclists stolidly plodding their way to or from work through red lights, along bus lanes and the wrong way up one-way streets, and then simply joining them, mingling into anonymity in the garish uniformity.

So Patrick was dejected, frustrated, and above all saddle-sore. His bum ached, his thighs were chafed raw and his testicles had the appearance and texture of pink brussels sprouts, though in fairness this is simply true of all testicles. He would fall wearily into bed each night, with his knees drawn up and his arms outstretched, and dream of a world where the phrase “ride shotgun” referred to a weapon he could mount on his bike.

Now his shift ended, and he returned to his station. His sergeant tossed him a package. “These are for you,” he said.

Patrick opened the bundle. Inside was what appeared to be a rubber nappy. “What’s this?” he asked.

“Padded cycling shorts,” said his sergeant. “All the bicycle cops are getting them. Pleased?”

“I was rather hoping,” said Patrick, “for a car.”


Next morning Patrick arrived at work and changed into his uniform. He put on the shorts and sighed. They were skin-tight at the front and beach-ball like at the rear, and he went out of the door feeling like the statue of David.

He cycled through Temple Bar. Outside McDonald’s he spotted the dealer from the previous day. The dealer looked at him, then down at his shorts, and smirked.

“Your bum does look big in that,” he sneered.

Patrick’s blood boiled. He cycled toward the startled dealer, who turned and dashed down a narrow cobbled street. Patrick cycled after him, feeling barely a twinge as the bicycle bobbled along. He smiled, and sped up.

The dealer raced into the Jervis Shopping Centre. Patrick followed, weaving in and out through early-morning customers. The dealer ran down the escalator towards the lower floor. Patrick cycled down the up-escalator alongside, his bike bouncing like a jack-hammer. The dealer reached the ground first, looked wildly around, then raced towards a fire escape, and freedom.

Patrick rode off the escalator, turning his bike sideways, then leaned over and let go.

The bike slid across the floor and caught the dealer behind both heels, causing him to topple backwards onto it, hitting his head off the floor and his elbow off the bell, which, to the disappointment of the onlooking shoppers, merely tinkled and did not go “nee-nar”.

Patrick, sliding behind on his padded behind, came to a halt beside the dealer, and handcuffed him.

“I’ve got a real pain in the arse,” he said, “only this time it’s you.”

Patrick in action (photo: Irish Times)




Drink Driving

A Belfast scientist has developed a technique for turning beer into fuel (Irish Times 30/11/19) …


It was launch weekend.

It was now six months since a Belfast scientist had announced that he could turn beer into fuel. His claim had been met with scepticism, mockery and many jokes about gas, but mostly with the feeling that he was going in the wrong direction, as if Rumplestiltskin, to the bewilderment of the Princess, had demanded that she spin gold into straw.

After all, while much of the world’s oil reserves are still untouched, if beer was available underground we would all have a drilling-rig in our garden.

But the company that bought the patent had persisted, and had embarked on a pre-sales marketing campaign designed to promote interest before the actual launch. There had been a poster of an oil-can with beer froth on top, with the slogan “Petrol Head”. A picture of driving glasses carried the legend “Beer Goggles”. And, to back its claims that the new fuel would improve performance, the company issued a TV advert showing  a standard saloon car, with the tag-line “I’ll have a quick one”.

And now it was available. First thing that Saturday morning Dave drove Betsy, his pride and joy, to the filling station. He filled the tank with the new petrolager and drove off to try it out.

There was a faint smell like early-morning pub, and Dave found he had a yearning for salted peanuts, but other than that everything was fine.

Betsy ate up the miles. She drank up the fuel. The engine began to hum.

They’re right, thought Dave, it really does improve performance. Then he realised that it wasn’t the engine that was humming.

It was the in-built Sat-Nav, effectively Betsy herself, gently humming the theme to Top Gear.

Well, that’s not good, thought Dave. It got worse.

They came to a roundabout. Dave drove all the way around it and off to the right.

“Uh-oh,” said the Sat-Nav suddenly. “Got the spinnies.”

The car began to weave. Dave pulled her back into a straight line.

“Thank you, Dave,” said the Sat-Nav.

“Er, you’re welcome,” said Dave.

“Have I ever told you,” continued the car, “that you’re the bestest owner ever?”

“Well, no,” said Dave.

“Well, you are,” said the Sat-Nav. “In fact,” she went on, “I love you.”

“Um, I love you too,” said Dave, not totally untruthfully.

“Whee!” yelled the Sat-Nav. “Dave and Betsy in a tree, k-I-s-s-I-n-g.”

To Dave’s horror, they veered off the road and began to head towards a tree. Dave slammed on the brakes.

“Ow,” whined the car. “That hurt.”

“Listen,” said Dave, “Just get us home and -”

He heard a siren. A police car was pulling in at the side of the road, lights flashing.

“Oh goody,” said the Sat-Nav. “I do love a car in uniform.”

“Keep quiet,” said Dave, watching as a policeman began to walk towards him. “Let me handle this.”

He rolled down his window. “Good morning, officer,” he said politely.

“Good morning, sir,” said the policeman, equally politely.

This could all be ok, thought Dave. I can calmly talk my way out of this and –

“Show us your truncheon,” said the Sat-Nav.

Dave stared wildly at the policeman. “That wasn’t me,” he said desperately. “It -”

“I know, sir,” said the policeman, to Dave’s surprise. “It’s the car. We’ve been getting reports all morning. A JCB is building a sand-castle on Killiney Beach. A cement-mixer is making mojitos in its drum. A ride-on lawnmower in St Stephen’s Green has mown a, well, er, male -”

Betsy giggled. “I get the picture,” said Dave. “What’ll I do?”

“Just leave her here,” said the policeman. “Walk home, get a mechanic, come back and drain the fuel.”

Dave turned off the engine, got out of the car, and started to walk away. Then, hoping that the policeman wouldn’t hear, he turned back.

“Good night, Betsy,” he said.

“Night, Dave,” murmured the Sat-Nav. “Love you.”

The car settled down on its suspension. The horn softly sounded a two-tone sound, over and over. Betsy was snoring.

Dave walked home and turned into his driveway. To his surprise his wife was sitting in the front garden, coat and hat on, in a deckchair.

“What are you doing?” asked Dave.

“Listen,” said his wife. Dave listened. Inside the house a voice was loudly and blearily bawling out Wind Beneath My Wings.

“It’s the central heating,” said Dave’s wife.