Category Archives: Hell is Other People

I’m A What?

On the page where WordPress “wows” and “whoops” each time you publish a post it offers you three possible topics to get you started on your next one. Some of these have also appeared as daily prompts, but a recent option was “If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?”

For a second I didn’t get the hang of the idea at all, I thought “well, if I was, say, a block of wood I wouldn’t be animate enough to answer the question“. Then I figured out what they were at, it’s one of those questions like “if you were a car, what model would you be” (or, “if you were a model, what car would you be“)?

Psychologists make much of your answers. If you pick a TV remote you like being in control, if you pick a megaphone you think you’re loud, if you pick a blanket you think you’re comforting, a doormat means you have self-esteem issues. A codpiece says you’re a bit of a dick.

Which is all very fine if you’re prepared to actually attempt to answer the question seriously. If you think the question is daft, are on a long bus journey home stuck in road-works and don’t see why you should limit yourself to just one simple object you may come up with a list something like this:

The national flag of Benin. An Olympic starting-gun. The umbrella Gene Kelly used during the Singing in the Rain scene. A Blue Peter badge. The upper-left window-sill of Donnybrook Garda Station (the bus has just passed it). The moon. The sash worn by Miss Honduras at the 1978 Miss World contest. The gadget inside a truck that makes it beep-beep when it’s reversing. The river Jurua (might as well make use of stuff I’ve learned). The “Bistro Vivienne” sign shown at the top of Vivinfrance’s blog (sorry, Viv, SpellCheck is not at all impressed by your name). A CD of “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” by Joni Mitchell. The basin that Pontius Pilate washed his hands in (the OCD equivalent of the Holy-Grail). The Ryder Cup. A didgeridoo. The rolled-up copy of the Times that a spy carries. The Mary Celeste. A three-quarters-full bottle of Lea and Perrins sauce. The Large Hadron Collider. A Penny Black stamp. The third face from the left on Mount Rushmore (can’t remember who it is). A butterfly net. The football England scored/didn’t score the third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final with. A pith-helmet. A copy of the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, with the first five pages missing. The Orient Express. The orange light on a set of traffic-lights (traffic is still crap). The chain of office of the President of the Rotary Club of Swindon. A left shoe. The Popemobile. The “Kiss Me Hardy” t-shirt that Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar. The rubber shark from Jaws. A toilet-roll holder. The New York Stock Exchange bell. One of the metal signs that says “Route 66”. The shadow that Devon Loch jumped to fall and so lose the 1956 Grand National. A lightning rod. The rumouredly empty handbag that the Queen carries around with her. A rabbit-hutch. One of those huge rocks that they stick at the entrance to housing estates with the name of the estate carved into it. The button on your keyboard to the left of the 1, the one that no-one knows what it‘s for. The Volkswagen on the cover of Abbey Road.

Let’s see what the psychologists make of that.

Getting a Lift

WordPress asks “Who would you least like to be stuck in an elevator with?”

I’m taking it that they don’t mean just forced the share a lift for ten or twelve excruciating floors, where you stare at a point directly ahead, do not acknowledge the other person in any way and then for some reason say “goodbye” if they get off at a floor before yours.

I’m taking it to mean that you are trapped together in a lift that is sitting lifeless for at least four hours, and the simple answer of course is “anybody”, since being stuck in the elevator is actually a larger problem than the fact that you’re not wild about the person trapped in there with you.

But there are degrees of unpleasantness, and it is obviously preferable to be stuck in a lift with Keira Knightley than with Fred the Flasher from Falkirk (oddly, the word “Keira” is the only one that Spellcheck has a problem with in that sentence). Here. therefore, is a list of people I’d prefer not to be stuck in a lift with:

  • A dead body.
  • A dead body and a murder weapon, with my fingerprints on it.
  • Anyone who starts humming along to the elevator music.
  • Anyone who has ever written elevator music.
  • Anyone I’ve ever got off with. Ever. Just too embarrassing.
  • Anyone who pushes the button at a pedestrian crossing and then pushes it again thirty seconds later. Imagine what he’d be like in a lift with buttons for 32 floors, a mezzanine and a basement. He’d even push the button that says “Close Door”.
  • Though I would find it funny every half an hour or so to suggest that they might work this time if he tried them all again.
  • Someone who suddenly announces “I hope they hurry up, I’m dying for a poo”.
  • The kind of guy who says “I can fix this”, takes a screwdriver to the button panel and manages to blow out the overhead light.
  • Anyone who sobs, cries “we’re doomed”, falls to their knees in prayer or starts beating repeatedly upon the door with their fists, all of which are my job.
  • Anyone who says that they have an app on their iPhone for working out how much air we have left.
  • Anyone who reckons we can get out through the roof and climb up the liftshaft, and offers to give me a bunk up because I’m the smallest.
  • Anyone who suggests a game of I Spy, whether they mean it as a joke or not.
  • A kid with a pogo stick.
  • Someone who looks around and says “well, it’s bigger than my cell used to be.”
  • A sumo wrestler, just on his way to his dressing room after a fight.
  • Someone with a bag of chips, who eats them all and doesn’t offer me one (see options 1 and 2 above, I’d never be convicted).
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They’re very good, but they’d sing to pass the time, the lift would be very small and it would take two weeks to get the ringing out of my ears.

Half way through the above, though, I realised the real answer. The person I’d least like to be stuck in a lift with is me. Can you imagine being stuck on your own, with your own thoughts, not knowing how long you were going to be there?

Suddenly any of the above seem welcome liftmates, well, except for the obvious one.

You wouldn’t want the I Spy guy.

Star Crossed Losers

On this most special of days, for the floral industry at any rate, it’s worth pausing for a few seconds to remember that not every couple is lucky in love.

  • Adam and Eve: As the first couple on earth, neither of them had a mother-in-law. On the other hand they had their home repossessed and one of their sons killed his brother, which just shows that there are worse things than mother-in-laws.
  • Rose and Jack: The Titanic was big. Like, really big (titanic, in fact). After it went down there really must have been loads of flotsam and jetsam floating and, er, jeating in the water, but they picked a plank only wide enough for her. The plank, in other words, wasn’t as thick as they were.
  • Oedipus and Jocasta: For the second time in less than a week I find myself having to use the acronym MILF. It can’t be easy when you find out that the MILF that you’ve married is in fact your own M. As cougars go, Jocasta takes some beating.
  • Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. Sarah gives Jocasta a good run for her money, though.When the machines that rule the world in the future sent the Terminator back in time to kill resistance leader John Connor’s mother before John was born, John sent his friend Kyle back to protect her. He promptly got off with her, thus becoming John’s father, before dying heroically. Stuff like this will make great material for the best man’s speech at John’s wedding.
  • Tarzan and Jane: ok, he had a terrific bod and she didn’t have to do too much laundry, but it’s not easy living with someone who has a monkey as a friend, as Lisa Marie Presley will tell you. Plus that yodelly-yell of his must make you jump every time, no matter how often you hear it.
  • Edward & Mrs Simpson: he gave up being king to be with her, which was a shame, because it was the fact that he was king that attracted her to him the first place. His brother took the throne instead and is about to win an Oscar for his stammer, while all that is remembered about Edward and Wallis is that she had a dog called Gromit.
  • Love rat

    Prince Charming and Cinderella/Rapunzel/Sleeping Beauty/Snow White. I have to admit I’ve nicked this idea from Laughykate (thanks, honey, think of it as a Valentine’s Day gift), but let’s face it, the guy makes Tiger Woods look like a monk.

  • Samson and Delilah: She made him cut his hair. Once the woman starts to believe she can change the man, things can only go in one direction.
  • Troilus and Cressida: The only thing I know about this pair is that Shakespeare wrote a play about them which I’ve never read, but generally speaking if you are a couple and Shakespeare writes about you, then it’s unlikely that things have gone well in your lives.Which brings us neatly onto:
  • I'm down here

    Romeo and Juliet: Supposedly the greatest romance of them all, it’s like Meet the Fockers directed by Quentin Tarantino. A brief summary – boy meets girl, girl declares love from balcony, there’s some friction among the families, girl takes potion to make herself appear dead (as you do), boy thinks she’s dead so kills himself, girl wakes up from being fake-dead, finds out boy is dead, so kills herself. In other words, they were both mental. Can you imagine if they’d had kids?

And in case I appear too cynical, a story to make you go “aww” to finish. I gave Mrs Tin her card this morning as we were dashing about getting me ready for the bus, but didn’t get one back. This didn’t bother me, I figured I’d get one this evening.

I got my bus and, as I always do, took out my netbook to begin writing today’s drivel. My card was in the little netbook case.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mrs Tin.

Rebel Without a Vase

Ikea DublinThe new Ikea store has finally opened in Dublin. It’s slogan is “Bring Out Your Rebel”.


Three thousand people passed through the door in the first hour on Monday, and 5,000 over the whole day. Every weekend from now till hell freezes over (and that’s further away than it used to be, thanks to global warming) thousands of couples will get into cars, drive along the M50, queue to get into the car park. The sheer number of couples in the one place will make the spread of swine flu even more inevitable. They will collect a map and head off into the cavernous abyss, like Hans, Axel & the Professor on the trail of Arne Saknussemm. They will bicker continually. They will eat Swedish meatballs in the cafe, though normally an Irish person, when offered meatballs, will recoil as if they’d been offered cat vomit. The husbands will try to get glimpses of the score of whatever match they’re being forced to miss in order to share this experience. The wives will compare costs with the prices in the Belfast store. Those who bring children will lose them, scold them or smack them, and often all three.

They will come home with the two items they went with the intention of buying and three other items that they didn’t. They will bicker again as they try to fit their flatpacks into their car, and will know deep in their souls that this squabbling is just a mild appetiser for the truly humunguous row that they’re going to have when they try to put the stuff together.

And two weekends later they will go again.

If this is rebellion, then so is wearing a suit and tie, queueing for new Harry Potter books or watching Big Brother (the fact that I do two out of those three things does not invalidate my argument).

Any way, I’m going to bring out my real rebel. I’m never going near the place.

Video Nasty

It’s a sign that we’re getting more like the US that a Mr John McAuley, who wanted to film “every precious moment of the first minutes of his baby’s life” sued the midwife at Mount Carmel Hospital for €38,000 damages for interrupting his video of the birth.

Thankfully, it a sign that we’re not quite there yet that the Judge Joseph Mathews threw the case out.


Reading the facts of the case is a jaw-dropping experience. McAuley admitted that “he and his partner had been given a perfectly healthy baby and he could not criticise the hospital in any way for its care of mother and child”. He also admitted that he had recorded 39 minutes of the birth “up to and during an emergency Caesarean delivery” (Jesus!), but said that he had five other 39-minute tapes with him.

The midwife, Iris Halbach, asked for a momentary stop in filming while she carried out emergency clearance of the baby’s airways. She said “Maybe we could hang on a little with the filming until the baby is all recovered, if you don’t mind”, and McAuley described these words as justifying his claim that Ms Halbach had at that moment become “irrational and agitated”.

Now, I have to say here that I am not a video type of person. I don’t have a film of the birth of any of the Tinkids, and never for one second thought of making one. Each of the births (and I have to be honest here and hope Tinson2 and Tingirl never read this, but especially the first one) is seared into my brain in such a way that if I let my mind drift back for a few seconds I can still feel the shock, wonder and joy of the whole thing as clearly as ever. I’ll never need a video for that.

And I can still remember our affection and gratitude for the staff, who were patient, hard-working and caring. After Tinson1 was born, when the nurse who’d sat with us through the whole thing was leaving Mrs Tin hugged her as if she was the best friend she’d ever had, and at that moment she was.

The idea of suing any of the people involved in helping us through these wonderful events just because of a bloody video is just appalling. If McAuley had felt any of the emotions we felt he’d be grateful to Iris forever, instead of trying to make money from her.

Anyway, he lost, and I’m delighted.

Though not, I suspect, as delighted as his friends.

Six 39-minute tapes of his child’s birth?

Now that’s a dinner party you don’t want to be invited to.

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

shivering-snowmanOn Monday evening I got I worked late, got off the DART at Bray in the snow, and went outside to find another car parked beside mine, right up against the driver’s door.

There are two keys for my car – the main one, with one of those remote things that you press and it opens all doors, and a secondary one, which just opens the driver’s door, and I’m sure the fact that I am telling this story at all probably gives away which key I had on me (since all the blackout stuff, Mrs Tin is now the main driver in our house).

If  I’d had the other key I’d have simply opened all the doors, got in on the passenger side, and shimmied across to the driver’s seat with no worse hassle than an attempted probing by the gear stick.

Now, though, before I could undertake this exercise I had to get the passenger door open, and the only way of doing this was to get the driver’s door open far enough to reach a little button near the wing mirror adjuster that opens all the doors.

I slid between the two cars, turned the lock and opened the door. It opened about four inches. I closed over the wing mirror of the other car (I hope he was in his car with his seat-belt on and already driving before he discovered that) and found the gap had expanded to about six inches. I leaned in as far as I could, but couldn’t reach.

It was snowing quite hard, but I had no choice other than to open my coat, and when I still couldn’t reach, take it off altogether. This was followed by my jumper, and, since I couldn’t reach far enough into the car to store them there, I had to leave them on the roof in the snow.

Finally I slid in again just in a t-shirt, and could feel every inch of the roof against my back and the door against my front as I squeezed along. (This suddenly reminded me of something that I’d obviously pushed to the back of my mind about my stay in hospital. Before I got the pacemaker fitted NiceNurseNicola said “I’m sorry,  I’m afraid I’ll have to shave your chest, but luckily there’s not much there.” “God, NNN,” I replied, “would it have killed you to say I’ll have to shave your manly chest now, if I can actually find a way to scythe through such a massive growth.” She just laughed, which hurt even more.)

Anyway, I was just starting to feel that I might actually have to shave my own chest (it grew back, you know, sparse as it was) to see if that could get me the final few centimetres when the tip of my finger reached the button and I heard the passenger door open. I slid back out (far too quickly, of course, and scraped skin off both back and front) retrieved my soaked clothing, slid into the passenger seat, underwent the brief proctology, and fell into the driver’s seat.

And what about the other car? Did I leave the strongly worded note that I’d been writing in my head all through the ordeal? Did I just write the word “gobshite” in the snow on his windscreen, as I’d finally settled on as being both cutting and succinct enough?

Well, no, because of course I should really have done one of these things before I got across into the driver’s seat, coz now that I was there and out of the cold there was no way I was getting back out again.

So, although I know there is no realistic chance that he will read this, Dear Mr 02WW5884, may your wipers wither and your fanbelt fester, you Micra-owning Minghead.

Worthless Scum

On 26th September last year two part-time firefighters from Bray Fire Station died when the roof of a blazing factory collapsed on them.

Mark O’Shaugnessy was just 25 years old. Brian Murray was 46, and had 15 children.

These men were willing to risk their lives to help save the lives of other people. Their surviving colleagues show the same selfless bravery. Their courage and commitment to their community are an example to us all.

And on Saturday night, while these same colleagues were out responding to an emergency call, two scumbags broke into the fire station, ransacked their lockers, stole their wallets and then drove off in two of their cars.

According to CCTV footage, one man broke in and drove off in a stolen car, and then arrived back with a second man who stole another car.

I hope these guys get caught. I hope they get jailed. And I hope that the jail goes on fire, and that they die screaming for a firefighter to rescue them.

Not very Christian of me. Not very humanitarian. Not very God-love-them-they-had-a-tough-upbringing-and-deserve-another-chance of me, either.

Well, that’s the way I feel.

Smack My Bitch Up

The reaction to the Irish Times’ Men Today national poll seems to have been a jokey “aren’t men lovable saps”, focussing on our belief that men can cry, that some of us now use skin products, and that we’re essentially happy. Indeed, many of the results are truly entertaining, being either funny, bizarre or nonsensical, and I might write about them later. But, for now, I’m highlighting one statistic that has not received nearly enough analysis, and which I find very disturbing.

I am old-fashioned enough to believe that hitting a woman is one of the ultimate sins. I would find it unforgiveable if any man hit any of my female family or friends, and would expect no forgiveness if I ever did it.  And, according to the poll, six percent of men in this country have done it.

The Times’ Social Affairs Correspondent remarks merely that it’s “a figure that remains low across all age groups”. This seems to imply that it falls within some acceptable parameters or something. And the figure does sound low.

But there are 1.7 million men in this country, so one hundred and two thousand of them have hit a woman.

And the figure is probably higher. Six percent of the respondents answered Yes, but only 91 percent answered No. Since it’s unlikely that the other three percent don’t know whether or not they’ve hit a woman, I’m taking it that they simply didn’t answer the question. And since I can’t think of any reason why someone who has never hit a woman would decline to say so, I think it’s reasonable to assume that most of the ones who gave no reply were too embarrassed to. This means that the figure could be as high as one hundred and fifty thousand. I’m not even counting the fact that some of the 91 percent might have been lying.

According to the poll, we claim we’re more sensitive, we claim we will turn to our partners for emotional support, we claim that macho men get on our nerves, but a substantial number of us are still neanderthals whose beliefs about the status of women haven’t changed since the days of cavemen.

I can only hope that more attention is paid to this particular part of the survey in the coming days, that women TDs focus on it, that womens’ groups highlight it, and that influential broadcasters like Pat Kenny and Marian Finucane and Ray Darcy pick up on it. And, hopefully, that more support is directed toward organisations like Womens Aid because of it.

Because this says a lot more about what many Irish men are still like than whether we read novels or gamble online.

The Big Bang

It’s 8.57 in the evening on September 18th, and the first firework of the autumn has just gone off on the hill at the back of the house.

So that’ll be it now, six weeks of nightly noise provided by people who think that a loud bang and four seconds-worth of pretty colours is the height of entertainment. A better bang for their buck, in fact.

To hell with the dogs. To hell with the elderly. They’re having fun.

And they know it’s Ok because, come Halloween, many of the adults in the area will themselves flaunt the law by having firework displays in their gardens. And they’d be horrified and outraged if the Guards did anything about it.

Because, like, it’s only havin’ the craic.

I know I sound like an old fart. ( As do some of the fireworks).But adults who buy fireworks really piss me off. Fireworks are illegal because they’re dangerous. Every year children get injured. That’s why the law is there. If you don’t like it, campaign to change it. Until you do, it’s not up to you to decide which laws you’ll obey and which you won’t. Because that teaches your children that they can do the same.

Do the words grown up mean anything to you?

Busker Roster

At lunchtime today I passed Arnotts on Henry Street, and two young women were playing Bach on violins on the street outside. This evening I passed by again, and now there are two men with a guitar and a trumpet playing ‘Summertime’.

This made me wonder – do buskers have a rota system?

It would be a good idea if they did. The really crap slots – 3am to 5am, say – could be allocated to newbies so that they could find their feet (and learn some chords) before making a fool of themselves in front of a larger audience. 5am to 7am would be reserved for anything to do with balloon animals. 4am to 4.10am on Bank Holiday Mondays would be for those guys that pretend to be statues and then move suddenly, scaring the crap out of you. Christmas Night when all the shops are shut are for anybody with a Bodhrán.

And now that the licensing changes mean that all angry drunks arrive on the streets at the same time, 2am to 3am belongs to guys who play ‘The Boxer’ and ‘I just called to Say I Love You’.

It would kind of be like Natural Selection.