Tag Archives: It’s all about me

Vote Early And Often

The above is a phrase that used to be used regularly here back in the 70s and 80s, when identification requirements weren’t as strict as they are now and when managing to vote, say with the polling card from your new address and also with the one you received at your old one was regarded as a bit of a giggle instead of as voter fraud.  

But in the Best Blog Section of the Irish Blog Awards, voting each week is positively encouraged. Thanks to those of you who have voted for my post so far, and now you should be able to vote again, at http://www.blogawardsireland.com/category/best-blog-post-2/, and look for Worth Doing Badly: Weekly Photo Challenge – Up.

Er, that’s all.

The Finished Posts of May

Since I started my run of posts for the last nine days of May with a post about how I was going to have a run of posts for the last nine days of May it seems only appropriate that I should end the sequence with a post about how I have now had a run of posts for the last nine days of May.

To those of you still here even though you now know how dull this post is going to be, or those of you still wading your way through that opening sentence (don’t worry, I’ll wait for you) all I can say is that the exercise taught me very little that I didn’t know before, but reminded me of things that I needed reminding of.

Firstly, you can’t beat a good vow. Promising to the world at large, even if the large part of the world at large isn’t listening, that you are going to post every day concentrates the mind wonderfully, or horribly if you like, forcing you into thinking of something, anything, to write about. Topics that you would normally dismiss with scorn, like for example walking upstairs, are viewed as having definite potential. Watch out for future posts about me using my bus ticket on the bus, the fact that the grass in my garden is green, and which leg I put into my trousers first.

What this reinforces is that writing causes writing. Starting a topic, no matter how mundane, will lead you in directions that you didn’t expect to go, grow jokes inside your head, give you sudden ideas for things you can put in which are actually not bad.

And, though again I knew this already, it reminded me that I have a group of loyal readers who are also now friends and who will come here and support me, even if my post consists of a Chinese take-away menu written backwards (watch out for it, there’s a joke about Pork Sour And Sweet that’s absolutely hilarious).

Most of all it’s reminded me that if writing makes you feel less depressed, then there is no sense in stopping writing because you are depressed.

So I’m looking forward to getting back into it, to hopefully thinking up stuff, to writing every day.

Though I might take tomorrow off.

Go Ahead, Back Up

Last night, on the way home from a school event and thus with Tinson2 and Tingirl in the car, I drove Mrs Tin to quilting in her friend’s house. Her friend lives up a country lane, and then up a steep winding driveway.

Because we were late the space outside the front door was filled with the cars of her friends, so there was nowhere to perform my legendary nine-point turn (see below). I had to reverse down the driveway.

I am not keen on reversing. I could say that it is because I am an optimist who believes always in looking forward, or I could own up and say that it is because I am the worst reverser (astonishingly, Spellcheck recognises that as a real word) on the planet. Drunken people at discos attempting to moonwalk are better at going backwards than I am.

If I drive into a car park I ignore any space that I might have to reverse out of, always looking for two spaces in front of one another where I can drive through one to sit facing forward in the other. Often such a pair of spaces will be so far from the shop itself that my house is actually closer.

As part of the Irish Driving Test you have to reverse around a corner and come to rest with your car parked perfectly alongside the footpath. During my driving lessons I generally ended up with the car at two o’clock, no matter what time I actually did it at.

In my actual test (back in 1980, in a chariot) I had already done the three-point turn in nine, as mentioned above, in a space about two feet square in the middle of the road (my instructor had told me that the most important thing is not to hit either footpath), and I knew that I had got at least one road-sign wrong. The tester left the reversing exercise until last, and I did it with exactly the same result as always.

I realised afterwards that I must have been very close to passing, which was why the tester decided to give me a second chance. But I had already decided that I had failed, so when he asked me would I like to try it again my addled brain thought that he was just trying to humiliate me, and I said “no, thanks”.

“Come on,” he said, “just give it one more go.”

Sighing deeply, I tried it again, and for the one and only time ever it went perfectly, though I rather spoiled any illusion that this was normal by exclaiming “Wow”.

“That’s it,” he said, “you’ve passed.”

Anyway, back to last night. With the rear-view mirror filled by two ever-growing teenagers, I tried to reverse down this driveway in what was now dusk, using only my wing mirrors.

It took a while.

Several times I realised that there was so much room on my side that I must surely be close to the bank on the other side. On other occasions I found my side scraping the hedge. Each time I would drive a few feet forward, then start all over again.

Eventually I saw the white pillar that marked the end of the driveway. I drove towards it, then realised at the last second that it was on the left-hand side of the exit and not the right, and that I was about to drive into a wall. I went forward again, drove the last couple of feet out onto the lane, and the police car that had been watching me for the last ten minutes sounded its siren.

The driver got out of the car and, as they say, “approached my veh-hic-ell”. He asked to see my licence, was probably startled that I had one, then explained that they were in the area because there had been a recent spate of robberies. He obviously realised that there has never been a gang of robbers that consisted of two kids in school uniform and a really crap getaway driver, so the atmosphere became very friendly, especially since his female partner, sitting in the car, never stopped laughing the entire way through.

“Have I embarrassed you in front of your children?” he asked eventually.

“Not really,” I said. “The embarrassing thing was the way they kept talking to each other and ignoring what was going on the whole time, obviously thinking “Dad’s reversing, we’ll probably be here for an hour or two”.”

Just as he was getting back into his car he looked at me, grinned one last time, and said “Boy, you made some balls of that.”

I have on occasion, I’m sorry to say, had to deal with the police after speeding.

Last night was the first time I came to their attention for going too slow.

The Darling Blogs Of May

I have come back to my blog, cleared the tumbleweed from the front lawn, thrown out the virtual milk delivered by my virtual milkman, and sneezed violently at the dust that has lightly carpeted my brain.

I’ve been away from it for a week now. It all began when I couldn’t think of anything for the Weekend Theme, went on when I couldn’t think of anything for the Photo Challenge, and then panic took over and I couldn’t think of anything at all.

I’ve just gone through my junk mail. People who would like to sell me extensions (not to my hair, nor to my house) have written more on my blog than I have. They tell me that rarely have they read insightful forthrightness so many, or that I am found this really useful.

Their stuff is better than anything I’ve written in the last week.

I’ve been stuck for ideas before, of course, everyone has. Shakespeare got so stuck after writing Henry IV that he was reduced to writing Henry IV, Part 2, thus inventing the sequel, so it is he who is responsible for Police Academy VII, though his stuff has better jokes. But I’ve always tried hard to fight through it, to write anything at all just to get me going. But sometime on Saturday I conceded that I just couldn’t, and went to the  pub instead to watch the European Rugby Cup Final, which featured two French teams that I know nothing at all about playing a sport that I‘ve no great interest in. That made it easier not to open the computer on Sunday, and after that Monday and yesterday were out too.

There are now nine days left in May, and I am vowing here that I will post something every day. This piece, where I tell you that I will post something everyday, counts as today’s. I know that this is cheating, it’s like counting the Table of Contents in a book as one of the pages, but you’ll have to allow me this one, I’ve got to start somewhere.

You can expect posts about how hard this is, about how surprisingly easy it is, about how many days I have left to go, about the weather and how you couldn’t possibly blog in this heat/cold/humidity/plague of frogs.

Somewhere along the way, though, I’m hoping that I will get some idea for some story, and that normal service will return.

I’ve missed it.

No Post Today

As the readership of my modest blog (it’s the blog that’s modest, not me, I’m brilliant) grows slowly larger, more and more of my friends and my family have discovered and are reading it. This is great, but has one disadvantage. I’m less likely to vent about the mental issues (I typed “metal issues” there by mistake, which if I’d not noticed it would have given the impression that my pacemaker was beginning to rust) that occasionally plague me if I know that it’s going to be read by people who think I’m a calm, cheerful ray of sunshine, a slightly less annoying version of Pollyanna.

I can’t write, for example, about the reasons why my posts are appearing at the moment less frequently than Halley’s Comet. I can’t use the excuse that it’s because I’m depressed again, more so than I have been for a couple of years now. I can’t write that I am massively stressed about work, even though there is nothing going on there to be massively stressed about.

I can’t write that all of this is affecting my sleep again, that I wake at ludicrous times and lie for hours thinking about work, about things that I can’t exactly fix while in bed at three o’clock in the morning and many of which don’t really need fixing anyway.

I can’t write that I woke on Saturday at three am and lay there until five, fell asleep for a while and then got up at seven-thirty. I can’t write that yesterday – Sunday – morning I woke at four and lay there until I eventually got up at six. Yes, six o’clock on a Sunday morning, a time that I had previously believed to be mythical, like the Wonder Years, Sheffield Wednesday and the Age of Aquarius.

I can’t write that I am writing this on the six o’clock train (the buses haven’t even started running yet) because I got up at five this morning.

When it comes to my sleep pattern you could set your clock by me at the moment, if by that you mean that you could get your clock set by me, since I’m always awake to do it for you.

And I can’t write that I am tired, so, so tired, so, so exhausted. I take out my computer each morning and evening on the bus, write about ten words of blather and then put it away again, defeated by the fact that I can’t remember how to spell cat, let alone write about one (the fact that I don’t have a cat is, of course, another drawback in this particular example).

I can’t write about the fact that I can’t write.

So I won’t.

Breathe Deeply

I go to the gym a couple of times a week as I am hoping to develop arms like Popeye’s, since as I get older I seem to be acquiring his face. I run on this, swing from that, row on this, lie gasping for air on that. When I have done all of this I sit for a few minutes in the steam room, where my pores are opened, my skin is purified, and my lungs are cleansed into empty buckets, waiting to be filled by the next aroma they meet.

I then walk into the men’s changing room, and my lungs get hit by the Lynx effect.

Lynx deodorant (known as Axe in some countries) is extraordinarily popular among young men (a big hello to Tinson2 here, by the way) who firmly believe its advertising, with its tag-line “spray more, get more”. It comes in a bewildering variety of varieties, I think they bring out a new one every week.

In actual fact all of the flavours are identical, because there are only three ingredients in Lynx – chopped onions, tear-gas, and mace.

The name possibly has something to do with the animal, perhaps with the way it marks out its territory.

Anyway, inhaling a lungful (two lungfuls, to be accurate) after two hours one hour thirty minutes of vigorous exercise takes you back forty years. You are fifteen, and about to inhale your first cigarette.

You’ve been smoking for a couple of months at this stage, making a kissing shape and noise with your lips and then blowing the smoke out in an impressive plume. You believe that you’ve been inhaling but in reality you’ve been drawing the smoke in about as far as your back teeth.

Then one day just as you suck in the smoke someone says something, and you start to reply, and drawing your breath to do so drags the smoke right down to the pit of your lungs.

The result is the aerobic equivalent of being hit in the face with a frying pan. The top of your head almost lifts off, your head spins, indeed the world spins, indeed the universe spins. Your lungs feel like two footballs of fire, so much so that you believe that if you were to take your shirt off they would actually be visible, smouldering just beneath the skin of your chest.

And then you cough. You have coughed before, of course, but never like this. Never before have you felt as if you were about to cough yourself inside out.

The symptoms eventually subside, and about twenty minutes later you decide to repeat the experience. Over and over, for twenty-seven years.

Um, this post has taken a direction all of its own. It began as a smart-alecky jibe at young men who spray themselves with an aroma like steamed cabbage after they’re finished in the gym.

But they have been in the gym. Somehow the post has decided to gently remind me of what I was up to at their age, and I suddenly don’t feel so smart-alecky anymore.

Critical Mass

While reading through my spam the other night (there was nothing on the TV) I found this comment from Sammie, at learnhowtolapdance.org:

“Remarkable material, but it could be slightly more descriptive. Not whining, but I hate going from blog to blog to blog just to learn a couple of answers; why can’t 1 site simply have all of them at once! I’m sorry, I’m rambling and exhausted….I tend to get cranky and I’m taking it out on your site. My bad.”

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Lap-dancing is an exhausting profession.

At first glance it’s hard to see why, its very job title implies it that involves a great deal of sitting down, but the dancing itself is only part of a lap-dancer’s day. During the afternoons Sammie had to teach classes (essentially wriggling on a chair the way you do when settling into your sofa) and in the mornings she had to send out emails trying to find a constant stream of new clients, since most people would turn up for just two lessons and reckon that they pretty well had it sussed.

The usual targets were bloggers, who Sammie’s boss said were sad, lonely individuals who needed to meet real people, or at least to fantasise about doing so. The boss reckoned that such souls would succumb to any form of flattery, so Sammie’s job was to find people who seemed pathetic and then butter them up, though this is apparently more useful in pole-dancing.

Sammie was from Greece, having fled the country when its economy fell apart, and unfortunately had only broken English, so she told blogger after blogger that “you work is very appreciated for me”, “doing well keep posting such stuffs” or “your work contains truly information”.

But Sammie had dreams. Like all other lap-dancers (as well as strippers, exotic dancers, and girls who lie on car-bonnets at motor shows) she was only doing it to pay her way through college (she came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge). She wanted to study ancient civilisations, and was very interested when she heard about the predicted 2012 end of the world. She Googled it and then studied a suggested blog. It told her only that a giant meteor was on the way. She read another, which said we were going to be swallowed by a black hole. She read another, which warned of the imminent arrival of the Four Postmen of the Apocalypse (Junkmail, Postcard, Readers-Digest and Bill).

Then she turned to a blog which came up with the far less likely idea that the Mayan doing the calendar had simply met a girl.

Sammie was exhausted and cranky, and had had enough. She had started, almost on auto-pilot, by saying that the blog contained remarkable material, but then thought more carefully about the post. What kind of paper had the Mayan used? Did he put in Friday 13ths, or Friday 12As? What did Ithixa and he get up to in bed that night?

She read what she had written and found that she had suggested that the blogger write something more descriptive. Originally she was horrified at having insulted a potential client, then thought “to with it hell” and launched into a scathing attack on blogging in general.

She thought about the poor lonely blogger and the impact that this would have upon what he laughingly called his self-esteem and typed the words “my bad”.

Then she sent it anyway.

The story ends happily for Sammie. The following day she discovered Wikipedia and got all of her information in the one article, even if that information was that we were about to vanish up the bum of a giant space-weevil.

And the blogger? Well, he was a bit startled and hurt, but he decided to comfort himself by reading the rest of his spam, confident that he would be told that he was “most topic knowingful” and “a bacon of light among such article”.

Which is how he read the comment of Lista De Email (I didn’t make that up, I couldn’t), who asked (I didn’t make this up either): “could you improve your way of writing?”.

Things are bad when even spammers think you write crap.

All The Fives

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Its my birthday!!!!

I am 55 today, which I believe is described as middle-aged. This implies that I am going to live to be a hundred-and-ten and I am quite happy about this, it means I may get to finish all the Game of Thrones books.

For my birthday I have been given, well, nothing. Fear not, this is simply because I leave the house in the morning before any of my family are awake. When I arrive home I will receive three home-made cards from the Tinkids, and a bought one from Mrs Tin. We will have a cake, and candles, and photos. Every now and then, out of the blue, I will be enveloped in a group hug by all four of them, who will shout “Birthday Boy!”. This torture is carried out on any Tinfamily member unfortunate enough to have a birthday, and is something potential sons-or-daughters-in-law might like to bear in mind.

I will also be given the surprise present of a phone. I know this because I bought it myself, over two weeks ago now, and have manfully resisted the temptation to use it since, or even to bring it to work today, since it has not yet been given to me.

This means that I will have a working camera again, which means that I can take photos for the Weekly Photo Challenge instead of using it as inspiration for some daft story or other.

I’ve decided not to. I’m having too much fun with the stories.

Tomorrow I will be older (now there’s a sentence that you’t can’t fault for accuracy), but today is just special.

Happy birthday to me.

Hand Relief Again

I have never re-blogged an old post before, but since I seem to have sprained my left wrist in my sleep I can’t really type anything (it’s taken four minutes already just to get to here), so here is a post called Hand Relief, that  I wrote the last time I hurt my wrist….

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Today’s post starts with a plea for sympathy, which I have a feeling I’m not going to get.

I think I have Repetitive Strain Injury in my right hand.

Already I can sense the giggling bubbling out across the internet, as my virtual friends treat this news with the same ribald hilarity as my pubmates did. I have received a number of suggestions in my local as to what might have caused this, and to say that there is a recurring theme to these suggestions is putting it mildly.

I have pointed out to them that I am not, in fact, a fourteen-year old schoolboy, and that there are a number of activities that could cause such an injury, such as sword-fencing, bell-ringing or staking vampires through the heart. They in turn have pointed out that I don’t actually take part in any of those activities, and I in turn have pointed out oh, shut up.

I think that I actually got it at work from using the mouse so much, since whenever I put my hand on the mouse now the pain seems to sit around my hand like a glove. I (*sigh*) shook it off at first, but the pain is becoming more consistent, and now I’m finding it hard to grip things (oh come on).

In an attempt to ease the pain in my hand (hence the post title, of course) I decided to use Voltarol Gel, the one that’s used in the Tinhouse whenever we have muscle pains. The tube that we had was empty (but had been carefully put back in the cupboard by whoever used it last), so I went to the pharmacy to buy a new one.

I’ve noticed a welcome development in my local pharmacy recently that, if you order some well-known product, they will offer a similar generic product that’s cheaper. This is what happened when I asked for the Voltarol, so now I have a tube of this:

Now, I’m full of praise for companies making generic products cheaper by cutting costs, but I have to say that had just a teeny amount of money been spent on branding or market research they might not have come up with the name above.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve to rub it in three times a day. We might as well continue the theme the whole way through.

Thank you all for your concern.