Tag Archives: It’s all about 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.





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.










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.


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.






Oh Yes We Are

The Tinfamily are going to a Pantomime tonight.

Rathmichael Parish Church, in Shankill in South Dublin, is 150 years old, and as part of the parish’s celebrations their Drama Group is putting on Old King Cole, and the five of us are going along tonight.

This may seem slightly odd. The Tinfamily are not from Shankill, and are not members of Rathmichael Parish. Furthermore, since Tingirl is now 18 we are all adults, at least in theory, and are not in the age group that typically shouts “Oh no, it isn’t” and bursts into terrified tears at the sight of the Witch. But there is a reason why we are going.

I wrote the Pantomime.

Ah, I hear you say, that explains why you’ve written so little here in the last six months, we completely understand, now can you please go back to writing a bit more often, we need something to laugh at, often in the kind meaning of that phrase.

And it would be a great excuse. I’m pretty sure that when Tolstoy was writing War and Peace he didn’t write anything on a blog either, but it’s an excuse that I can’t quite get away with.

I wrote Old King Cole in 1991.

Back in the late 80s I was in an Amateur Drama Group, and every year we would stage a Panto. Over time I noticed that, no matter how tired the standard, shop-bought script that we would use was at the beginning, our inventive director and some really great comic actors would always manage to turn it into something terrific, and so one year I had a go at writing one. After that it was accepted that I would write the script each year, and so I wrote five of them.

A friend of mine (actually, she’s Tinson2’s Godmother – no, a real one, not a Fairy one) who was in the Group back then is now Headmistress of Rathmichael school, and rang me a few months ago to ask could they stage Old King Cole. I am thrilled, obviously.

And terrified. I was always sorry that none of my children ever got to see any of my pantos, because I had stopped doing them by the time that they were old enough, but I’m a bit nervous about sitting beside them, at the age that they are now, while they watch one.

I can’t remember anything about this one, except that I have a vague recollection that the goodies win in the end. I’m clinging to the memory that the audiences at the time seemed to enjoy them, and I’m hoping that whatever I wrote back then is still funny now.

Anyway, while I’m scared I’m also excited, and really looking forward to it.

It’s A Fact

I did homework last night, for my creative writing course. To illustrate the difference between fact and fiction we had to write one paragraph containing three true facts and one made-up one, and then another with one true fact and three fictional ones. We then had to see if we could tell the facts from the fiction in other students.

Obviously this blog is not going to be very interesting if I simply regurgitate my homework every week for the next eight weeks, but this is the first time I’ve had to do any since 1975, so I’m making an exception here. The one true fact in the second paragraph will actually be known by anyone who’s been reading this blog for a long time, while the three true ones in the first can be determined by, well, anyone with Wikipedia…. 

One Fiction and Three Facts

Fact is indeed stranger than fiction, and people are stranger than both. For example, Admiral Nelson suffered really badly from seasickness, Ozzy Osbourne wrote the lyrics to Cliff Richard’s “Power To All Our Friends”, Lee Harvey Oswald accidently shot himself in 1957, and Beethoven used to pour iced water over his head to stimulate his brain while composing.


One Fact and Three Fictions

I am stranger than even them. At school I once sneezed so hard that I blew out one of my front teeth. I once won Man Of The Match, while playing in goal, in a soccer game in which my team were beaten 14-1. My family once moved home while I was on holiday. I have no eyebrow over my left eye, and never had.

Happy Blogday

My blog is six years old today, and I have decided to get it a birthday present.

It has slowed down in recent times, as the aging tend to do. I would say that it was drifting toward dementia, except that there was always something demented about it anyway.

I have enrolled in an eight-week online Open University course in creative writing. It began yesterday and I arrived into class (logged in) for the first time last night. My short visit (there was football on the telly) was spent filling in a survey about why I was doing the course, and then introducing myself, via the comments box, to my fellow students.

There seem to about four hundred people in my class. It’s going to be hard to become Teacher’s Pet.

The main emphasis of the course is on development of characters. Given the type of story I write my characters usually have as much depth as a puddle, so this will hopefully be a good thing.

As the course progresses we will be expected to submit pieces of writing which the other students and the lecturers can comment upon. The comments I get on my blog tend to be of the “you’re a genius” variety, so I’m not sure how I’m going to handle any that suggest I should be given a conical hat with a big letter D on it and made to stand at the back of the class.

I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m hoping that what I learn will improve my writing, and most of all that it will re-kindle my enthusiasm, take me away from my current mind-set, which is “well, I can’t be expected to write today, it’s a workday”, or “well, I can’t possibly write today, it’s the weekend”. I’m hoping to return to the days where I’d look forward every morning to seeing where the Tinmind was going to take me that day.

I want to have fun again. My blog has given me so much of that fun over the past six years, and that is why I have got it this present.

So Many Happy Returns to my blog, meaning I hope that I return here many times.










Moving Fast

A few weeks ago I wrote a rather moany piece about how unhappy I’ve become with my career, and how I’ve realised that I’ve always hated it. I said that I was in talks with my manager and my department head about finding something else to do in the company, something, anything, that has nothing to do with the production of accounts.

My manager, and dear friend, told me last week that they were taking this very seriously, and that they would take action as soon as possible, and this Tuesday we held a preliminary meeting about the kind of things that I might like to do.

Early days, one might think, and perhaps they are just playing along until the extreme pressure that I’m under at the moment eases and I settle back down, unfulfilled but wearily accepting of my lot.

Or not. On Thursday I got positive proof that they are as determined as I am to find a solution.

My current job is being advertised on our website.

Six Today

Today marks another birthday in the Tinhouse.

There will be no cake, no candles and no presents. It’s not really that kind of birthday.

My pacemaker is six years old today.

It’s six years since they made me part android by inserting a small metal box into my chest, protecting forever me from the blackouts caused by my heart-rate dropping, and protecting forever me from the X-ray machine at airports (though this has condemned me to a lifetime of being patted down at airports instead).

It works happily away, 24/7, possibly singing “hi-ho, hi-ho” as it goes about its work. It probably does deserve a present, so perhaps I’ll stick my finger into a light-socket sometime today, just to give it a bit of a thrill.

It’s earned it. It’s keeping me alive.