Category Archives: It’s all about me

Heartfelt

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.”

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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.

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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?

 

 

-oOo-

 

 

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.

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Hast Thou Been

I’ve not written anything for over two years now.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and apparently it flies when you aren’t.

Through 2013 and 2014 my posts were getting less and less frequent, but I was still trying. Then 2015 came along. My role at work changed, mostly because had I asked for it to. They asked me would I be interested in working for our UK Finance Department, and I said yes. This meant that my boss was now in Edinburgh, and I had to travel regularly to visit both her and our office in Lichfield.

I had 30 flights during that year. Very glamorous, very exciting, very look-at-me-I’m-a-proper-high-powered-business-executive-at-last.

Or not.

Each of these involving getting up at 3.20 a.m. to catch the 4 o’clock Aircoach, to get me to Dublin airport in time for a 6.30 flight on a tiny propeller-powered plane to Edinburgh or Birmingham. Each two-to-three day trip involved me eating dinner in Burger King in Edinburgh or McDonalds in Lichfield every evening, because I’m not the kind of person who sits alone in a restaurant. I am, however, the kind of person who sits alone in a bar, so that’s what I would do, buying a different newspaper each evening and marvelling at the blatant bias, in both directions, of the UK press.

It might all have been great if I’d owned the business, or if I’d been in sales and felt that I was achieving something, or if I really wanted to be a proper-high-powered-business-executive, but I was just an office worker with a really long commute. Add to that the fact that there were problems adapting the way I’d been doing things in our Irish office to the way they were being done in the UK, and I quickly realised that I’d made a mistake.

Well, I would have quickly realised if I’d any sense, but this is Tinman talking, so I just thought things were a bit challenging.

Then, on January 18th, 2016, I had to fly to Edinburgh, where our auditors were waiting to begin our annual audit. At 3.20 a.m. I sat up in bed, then lay back down again. I didn’t go to work for another eight weeks.

The office were great. I met with the CFO and the HR manager while I was off and we agreed that I would come back three-days-a-week, and that I would do only the payroll, the only part of my job that I believed to be really important.

So that’s what I’ve been at for the past year. I’m happier at work (I was astonished at the number of people who commented on how rested I looked, and how much colour I had in my face, when I came back, so I must have looked really shite during those last few months) and I’m slowly getting used to having four days a week off. (During my first month back I felt guilty at how little time I was spending at work, and kept thinking “how are they letting me away with this?” and then the first payday came along and  I thought “oh, that’s how, they’re paying me sod-all”).

I’ve spent the extra time off going to the gym, and reading an awful lot, concentrating on books that I’ve always wanted to read but never got round to (I got 130 pages into Ulysses, which is 80 pages more than my previous record) and every now and again I’ve sat in front of my laptop, determined to write something, and have spent two hours instead reading stuff about the Kardashians.

But slowly I’ve got back in to it, half-writing stories, or writing half-stories, never finishing anything in a way that I’m happy with, but getting the urge back.

So I’m giving it another go, not trying for every day, but just trying to get back to doing the thing that I love doing best.

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever It May Take Me

It’s 6.30 on a Sunday evening.

Most people are relaxing before work tomorrow, splodged in front of the TV watching something mentally untaxing, usually involving judges telling somebody that they are useless at something.

Not me, because I’m starting to write again.

So I have the TV off, and am sitting in front of the computer, looking up stuff about camels.

Blogging takes me to strange places.

Baring My Head

HeadSpace 3 (cover art by Michelle Granville)

HeadSpace 3 (cover art by Michelle Granville)

HeadSpace Magazine is a writing and art magazine based around the theme of mental health. It is published online, and also has print copies which it distributes free of charge to hospitals and support groups across Ireland and the UK. You can read more about the magazine and its aims here.

Issue No 3 is being launched tomorrow night at White Lady Art on Wellington Quay in Dublin. It features art, poems, fiction and memoir, and much to my astonishment it includes a piece I submitted about my stress-induced bout of depression in 2001 and about an incident which I regard as the start of my recovery.

Even more to my astonishment I have agreed to read this piece out at the launch. At least that proves that I am nuts.

Actually, I’m quite looking forward to the event, and I hope that the magazine gets all the publicity and attention that it deserves.

Out There

Paper Swans Issue 2

The people who run the Paper Swans website are, as they say themselves, dedicated to the support and promotion of emerging writers.

Their second iPamphlet of poetry and flash fiction was published this morning via their website and via iTunes (how cool is that) and I have two stories in it.

I’m not telling you this to show off (God, even I don’t believe that sentence) but to highlight the work they do, and also to bring them to the attention of you all, since many of you are far better writers than I am and should consider submitting work for future issues.

In the meantime, my stories are in a publication that is available via iTunes, which also features stuff by Mozart, the Beatles and Jedward.

I’m just saying.