Category Archives: It’s all about me

It’s My Day

Today I am 21 again.

And again. And again.

Ok, I’m sixty-three today.

Since this is a lockdown birthday, it will closely resemble each of the preceding two-hundred and seventy-four days. We will go for a walk this morning, I’ll sit and pretend to write something for a couple of hours, then I’ll read and watch TV.

This is what happens when your local pub is still closed.

But it will be different. I’ll talk to Tinson1 in Waterford and Tinson2 in Fremantle. Friends will send texts, or will WhatsApp. Mrs Tin, Tingirl and I will have cake.

It’s my birthday, and I’m going to enjoy it.

Happy birthday to me.

No Smoking Area

On this day twenty years ago I gave up cigarettes.

It marked the end of a long and turbulent relationship. I had started at the age of fifteen, way back in 1973, when Nixon was US President, the Beatles’ Blue and Red Albums were released, and the UK joined the EEC, an association that they too would eventually break.

The reasons why are embarrassing and stupid, a combination of curiosity, peer pressure and the fact that I was a moron. How little I enjoyed it it shown by the fact that just one year later I gave them up, though for just one year.

Then in 1983 the boyfriend of a girl I worked with got hypnosis to give up. He was so impressed that when he was leaving the course he enrolled her for the following Saturday. She didn’t want to go on her own so she asked me to go with her.

She was back on cigarettes on the Sunday. I stayed off them for three-and-a-half years.

The reasons why I went back on them are embarrassing and stupid, though this time can be distilled bluntly into the fact that I was a moron. And remained so for seventeen more years and thousands more cigarettes, all of them unmemorable and unsatisfying.

Then, in July 2000, I read Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking, and my life changed.

Allen Carr passed away in 2006. There have been a few very special people throughout history who have left this world having made it an immeasurably better place, and I would count him as one of them.

If you are reading this and want to quit cigarettes then I urge to to get his book. It tells you to keep smoking while you are reading it, and then, as you smoke and read, the book calmly and logically dismantles each of the reasons that you think you have for smoking. pointing out all of the absurdities inherent in them by simply waking up your own common sense.

It was late on the evening of July 5th when I finished the last chapter and elatedly stubbed out my last cigarette, knowing with absolute certainty that it would indeed be my last.

And it has been. I do still occasionally, even now, dream that I am back on them, usually for some reason on the terraces behind the goal at a football match. In these dreams I find myself reasoning that this doesn’t really count because I’m not smoking during any other part of the day, proof that the self-delusion that got me hooked on them in the first place has never really gone away.

But that’s being too hard on myself. I have done something truly remarkable, and today is a day to celebrate.

We all need another hero. Sometimes it’s ourselves.





You Can Almost Smell The Jasmine

Mrs Tin and I are not in Portugal.

This ought not be newsworthy. We are also not in Antarctica, Burkina Faso, or the express elevator in the United Nations Building. We are not in Bratislava, Medicine Hat, or the currently empty stadium of Accrington Stanley Football Club. The world, in fact, is made up almost entirely of places where we aren’t.

The thing about Portugal, though, is that it is where we should be.

This morning we should have got up at a ridiculous hour, since a holiday is not legally a holiday if it doesn’t so start. We should have checked that we had our passports, made our way to the car, checked that we had our passports, driven to Long-Term Parking, and checked that we had our passports. We should then have caught the courtesy bus to the terminal, where someone would have checked that we had our passports.

We should have gone on to catch a flight, been met at the airport, and should now be sitting in sun-loungers at our resort, wondering if two o’clock is too early for a beer.

We should be wearing shorts that scream “I’m on holiday”, whilst whispering apologetically “and my wearer is colour blind”.

We should be spending the coming week eating pasteis de nata, cozida à portuguesa, and dobrada, though perhaps not so much of the last one since it seems to be a tripe-and-bean stew. We should be drinking our way through the resort’s cellar of Vinho Tinto. Instead we’ll be eating sausage and chips and drinking our way through our fourth box of lockdown tea-bags.

Yep, not small ones, 160 per box

While walking we should be staring in awe at lovely churches. Instead we’ll be glaring in ire at non-distancing joggers.

Because we will be out and walking around our home town, since I’m off anyway. Our company made those of us who had holidays booked take the days in any case, as otherwise all one thousand of us are going to try to be off during the same two weeks in September.

So here we are. No swimming pool. No local entertainers. No umbrella, neither shading us nor in our drink. Also no pub, no bookshop, no sport on telly.

And it’s just started to rain.



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.










Bearding The Lion

This is me.

The rules of machismo demand that I claim to have grown this today, so let’s start with that and get it over with. And then admit that it is not true. This is more the triffid of beards, slowly enveloping the globe that is my face. I started growing it, or rather stopped not growing it, on March 12th, the night before my last trip to the office. This therefore is sixteen days’ worth. Oak trees grow more quickly.

I am calling it the coronafuzz.

I didn’t set out to grow it. I have no interest in becoming a hipster. I do not intend to captain a pirate ship. I am not auditioning for the role of Hagrid. I simply didn’t shave that first weekend and then, as Monday arrived and I faced not facing anyone, I decided to leave it and see what happened.

The early shoots were grey and white, making me look like a dandelion clock. Over time, though, a certain amount of my original colour has filtered through, and now I’m more like an ineptly-fleeced panda.

I don’t hate it as much as I did at the start, and was startled yesterday when Mrs Tin said that she actually quite likes it. Nevertheless, the day this all ends it’s coming off.

But in years to come, when the grandkids ask “Grandad, what did you do in the Covid War?” I’ll be able to say that I helped conserve the world’s supply of shaving cream.


Never Seein’ No-one

My blog friend Janie Jones has posted about what things are like for her during these difficult times, after she read Sarsm’s post, and has asked that we bloggers all let each other know how we are getting on in our various parts of the world.

The short answer is that I am fine and well. The virus is most dangerous to elderly people with an underlying medical condition. Since I am sixty-two and have a pacemaker, this does not apply to me. I know by personal experience that sixty-two is not elderly, something that I didn’t know when I was thirty-two, and while anatomically speaking a pacemaker is about as underlying as you can get, it was put in twelve years ago for a condition that I had then and has had little usage since.

The underlying medical condition for this is called denial, and fortunately I have it only in mild form, so I am taking precautions. I’m into my eighth day at home, since our company is encouraging us all to work from home until March 31st at least. The good thing about this is that I get to stay in bed for an extra two hours every day. That is the only good thing.

Sorry, it isn’t. The other good thing is being able to swear loudly about colleagues. Upon receipt of a particularly moronic email yesterday I was able to yell “oh, you are such a gobshite!” at the screen instead of seething quietly as I would have had to do when surrounded by workmates.

Other than that, though, I’m working on a laptop screen instead of two monitors, everything loads up more slowly than it would in the office, and the silence is almost oppressive. Thus time drags, and my mind wanders.

I think about the survivalists who have cabins in the mountains stocked with essentials like half-a-ton of tinned pork and twenty-four rifles, in preparation for life after The End Of The World As We Know It. I wonder if our current experience is making them realise just how dreadful that life will be, and that when the day does come maybe they should simply join the zombies.

I wonder what will happen when border closures mean a shortage of some foods from abroad, such as French cheese, German beer and Kentucky fried chicken.

Me in six weeks’ time (still writing my blog, you’ll notice)

I wonder what my hair will look like as time goes on. Given its colour and general unruliness I’m guessing I’m going to look like Beethoven. A follow-on thought is that at least I don’t have to worry about my roots showing, a panicky thought that is slowly dawning on about half of the world.

I wonder can I ever write seriously about anything.

No man is an island, except of course for the Isle of Man, and I miss people. We have email, and Skype meetings, but it’s nowhere near the same.

Mrs Tin is here, of course, and great girl that she is she has not yet thrown anything at me as I stomp into and out of the kitchen ten times a day making tea. Other than her, though, I haven’t spoken live to a person for over a week. Yesterday was warm and sunny, so we stood in the front garden for the last ten minutes of my lunch break. A number of people went by, as a laneway into the next housing estate runs by the side of our house, but none of them looked toward us as they passed. Mrs Tin says that it is the same in our supermarket, that everyone scurries around gazing straight ahead. It’s as if they think it’s the Medusavirus, transmitted by looking into someone’s eyes.

Overall, though, I know that I am lucky. I am well, when so many aren’t. I can work from home, when so may can’t. I am in no danger of losing my job, when so many have.

To all of you who come here, I hope you are well and keep well. You are my friends too, indeed ones that I’ve had more practice at engaging with remotely.

Take care of yourselves, all of you.



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.


The ball rolled slowly over the goal-line, and a two-point deficit became a one-point lead.

Eighty thousand voices rose, some in despair, some in joy. Seconds later the referee blew the full-time whistle. Pigs had not flown, Hell had probably not frozen over, but the county of Wicklow, for the first time ever, had won the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship.

Sean’s heart leapt in delight, though he wasn’t sure it was meant to do that. He felt a bit bitter, though, as he watched the TV. He should have Been There, he’d had his ticket for weeks, but then this had come up and so it was his neighbour (who had whooped and embarrassingly kissed him on the forehead when he gave him the ticket) who was witnessing history.

Sean went to roll up the left sleeve of his pyjamas, his hand slipped off and he punched himself in the chest, right where his new pacemaker was. The astonishingly sharp pain assured him that he wasn’t meant to do that.

It had all started a few weeks ago, when he’d suddenly begun to black out for no apparent reason and in every possible embarrassing situation. He had slid off a bar-stool in his local. He had keeled over in Tesco, his runaway trolley noisily toppling a a Ferraro Rocher-like arrangement of bean tins. His head had bounced via the chest into the lap of a girl beside him on the bus.

Tests had revealed that his heart-rate kept dropping to zero. He had been placed in a hospital bed, a pacemaker had been placed in him, and Wicklow had marched to glory without him. He was only 39, he hadn’t Been There, and he was feeling very sorry for himself.

He hadn’t noticed that it was visiting time, and started (he wasn’t sure that he was meant to do that) when his wife and daughter appeared at the door of the ward.

His wife smiled, though with tears of relief in her eyes. “Hello, Tinman,” she said.

His daughter handed him a card made from a folded sheet of A4 paper. “Get Well Soon, Daddy”, it read. One of the two inner Ds was the wrong way round.

“Is your heart better now, Daddy?” she asked.

On TV the Wicklow captain had accepted the cup and was now thanking the manager, the fans, the squad and quite possibly the Unitarian Church Organ Restoration Committee. Sean didn’t care. As he looked into his daughter’s troubled little face his heart melted, and this time he knew it was meant to do that.

“Yes, darling,” he said softly. “It’s better than ever.”


It’s ten years ago today that I got my pacemaker, a small change to my body that has meant a huge change to my life, and this story is its birthday present.

The story itself is mostly fiction – my name is not Sean, I was 50 and not 39, Tingirl and her two brothers were much older than the girl in this tale.

Also, the All-Ireland Football Final takes place in September, not in January, and my home county of Wicklow are no closer to winning it than ever.

Only Fifteen… In Scrabble

Today is my birthday!!!!

Typing all of those “!’s” was quite taxing (typing ‘”!’s”‘ wasn’t easy either, let me tell you) because my fingers are not quite as nimble as they used to be. Sadly, neither is much of the rest of me.

This is because today I am sixty.

It’s a tiny bit depressing, and putting it here doesn’t help much, because none of you have any idea what I look like, so can’t say “gosh, you certainly don’t look it”, like all of the thirty-somethings that I work with keep saying (it may be, of course, that they think I look eighty).

But the important part of the first sentence in the last paragraph (actually the only sentence, I’ve just realised, see, I’m rambling already) is the “tiny bit” bit. Now that it’s arrived I’m quite phlegmatic about it, and am looking forward to today, when the afore-mentioned thirty-somethings are taking me out for lunch, and may even offer to cut up my food for me.

Since it’s a Wednesday none of the Tinkids are in Greystones, but Mrs Tin and I will head out somewhere nice (the pub, who am I kidding) and all in all I’m expecting to have a lovely day.

Happy Birthday to me.


Blood Drive

I’m in the car. Alone. I’m driving towards the local hospital.

I look down. There’s blood on the passenger seat beside me.

My blood.

I take a deep breath and keep driving, for what seems like forever. Other cars pass me, filled with normal people doing normal things, like listening to the radio, or picking their nose.

I’m not doing either of those.

At last I reach the end of the motorway, and there it is, my final destination. I turn left at the roundabout, past the sign that says “St Colmcille’s Hospital”, past the front entrance, and past the Accident and Emergency Department.

They cannot help me, not today.

At the very end of the hospital driveway I park, badly, because that’s all I can manage, in front of a sign that reads “Mortuary”.

I climb from the car and, with blood on my hands, go through the door next to the sign.

Could it BE any more Friday the Thirteenth?






Ok, so this morning I went to my doctor for a routine check-up and she took blood samples (that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’ve had stuff happen with your heart). She was concerned that they wouldn’t get to the hospital before the weekend and, since I don’t work on Friday, I offered to deliver them to the laboratory there, a room which is located, as it happens, beside the mortuary.



And the bad parking? Oh, I’ve never been able to park properly.