Stately Tinman Came From The Stairhead

Since lockdown commenced we have heard numerous stories of people who were going to use what is light-heartedly being referred to “all this new free time” to embark on long-deferred self-improvement projects. People were going to learn a new language, lose two stone, replace the battery in the smoke-alarm that ran out in 2004.

Our situation was to be regarded not as a problem but as an opportunity. We have been given lemons so should make lemonade, using instructions from YouTube.

It turns out that this is not what has ben happening. Bored people have been watching Sister Act rather than Citizen Kaneplaying Candy Crush rather than chess, and not so much baking bread as eating bread.

We have been given lemons and are putting them in our gin, which we are starting on at eleven in the morning.

Not only that, but an article I read yesterday said that now was not the time for all these grandiose schemes, that they only increase stress.

Sadly the realisation that self-improvement is a bad thing that no-one else is actually doing anyway has come too late for me.

I decided that I would read Ulysses, so I am reading Ulysses.

It is not going well.

I have read it before. I was a student on the 1970s, believed myself to be an intellectual, and therefore took on anything that was as long and impenetrable as my sideburns. Books about philosophy. Progressive-rock double albums.  2001: A Space Odyssey.

And of course, knowing that Ulysses was the toughest, cleverest, esotericist (Joyce makes up words, why can’t I) work of them all, I hurled myself eagerly at it. And bounced right off.

I read to the end, though by reading I mean following the words on page after page, letting the meaning not so much flow over me as pass somewhere nearby. I ticked it off my smart-arse bucket list and moved on.

And in time I put away childish things, such as doing stuff just to think myself clever, and moved into adult life. I thought no more about Leopold, Stephen or Molly for decades until I saw this:

It is cleverly priced. Had it even been €5.99 I wouldn’t have bothered, but at less than four euro it got me thinking “sure, even if I give up after ten pages, so what” so yes I said yes I will Yes.

Then didn’t. That was in 2016, and I brought the book home and never even opened it.

Cabin fever, though, does odd things to a man, so this week I’ve given it a go (and I’ve just realised that it has so fried my brain that I accidentally first published this post three hours ago, when it was only half written). I’m on page 262 and have no idea what’s going on. I’ve just finished what I think is the Sirens episode (the book is a series of episodes supposedly mirroring those in the Odyssey but there is nothing in the text that hints at which one is which) and the second last sentence is “Pprrpffrrppfff.”

I have four-hundred and-twenty pages to go.










4 thoughts on “Stately Tinman Came From The Stairhead

  1. Janie Jones

    I am a little jealous. Not like I have long been dreaming of reading Ulysses, but unlike some who are just sent home, I am still expected to attend my classes via video conference and “go” to work from my dining room table. While I do enjoy the slight perk of being able to avoid the commute, I have not suddenly been handed an extended vacation. I can’t even work in my jammies, because we often meet via video conference.

    I am also trying to apply for jobs, lol lol lol lol, because my currently employment is only contracted for the school year, once May rolls around and finals are over, I get the boot. I suppose if we are still on lockdown come May and I haven’t found a job I might be less envious. And, I might finally finish painting the windowsills, steam clean my carpets and perhaps, if this drags on too long, I might even hang those hooks in the closet.

    My, what strange times.

  2. prenin

    Hi Tin! 🙂 ❤

    Since I've been on medical furlough for 30 years now and then some, this 200 year plague has me in the nude, eating sweets and debating a glass of Brandy at 3.33.33am (yes I waited a few seconds to get the perfect time) this is nothing new for me.

    I've had COVID-19 and recovered, so I am no longer stressing about getting horribly sick and dying alone any time soon.

    In short I know boredom and how to keep occupied!

    Hope you and yours remain in good health my friend. 🙂 ❤

    Blessed Be!


  3. The Laughing Housewife

    After 9/11, I decided that life was too short to watch/read/listen to any form of entertainment that I was not enjoying, so I stopped doing that. Without guilt. Let me tell you, it is freeing in a way you can’t imagine.

    Fair play to you, giving the incomprehensible and impenetrable another go. Though why you want to make the lockdown feel even longer than it already does is a mystery worthy of Ulysses itself.

    I’m off to read another fruity romance 🙂

  4. Tinman Post author

    I’ve finished, and on balance I’m glad I read it. Some of it is great, some of it is really boring, some of it just baffled me. Like life, really.
    Boy I miss football.


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