Tag Archives: life’s hard

Still Here

I know that some of you get notified whenever I publish a new post.

I am not sure how this works. Perhaps an email pops up saying “I bring you glad tidings of great joy”. Perhaps your computer bursts into the”Hallelujah Chorus”. Perhaps it delivers its message and then self-destructs after five seconds.

Anyway, to those of you who have rushed here with bated breath (and indeed to those who are here thinking “oh God, what has the gobshite written this time”) I’d just like to say that I’m not (a) sick, (b) dead or (c) in prison, and shame on any of you who thought that (c) was even a possibility (they’ll never find the money, or even know that I’ve stolen it, it really was the perfect crime).

I just needed some time off, from pretty well everything, and I’m back now.

So today’s post is an explanation for you, but also an education for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had to write it down before, but if anyone had ever asked me “do you know how to spell ‘Hallelujah’?” I’d have confidently replied that I did.

And now, after four attempts and the eventual help of Google, I do.

Revolving Doors

Picture an old, long-closed hotel. Inside it is dreary, desolate and lonely, with deep black shadows and frightening scurrying sounds in the dark.

Imagine that the only things that work are its revolving doors and that sometimes as you pass the hotel you step into the doors and roundabout yourself in them. You catch brief glimpses of the dark as you whizz merrily by, but you always emerge into the bright sunshine.

Sometimes, though, you get it wrong and find yourself stepping out of the spinning doors into the darkness.

Now imagine that all of this is your brain. Or mine, at any rate.

Too many long days, too many work problems, too little sleep (I work up at three yesterday morning, which would sound absolutely dreadful were it not for this morning, when I woke at ten to two) have made me miss my stop, as it were, so I have stepped out of the doors on the wrong side.

Some people get lost in the dark of the hotel. Some even try to book in. I have always found my way out, and will do so again, although the doors are harder to push from that side.

I am taking next week off (yes, this is only my seventh day back at work after a whole ten days off, what’s your point) to rest and recover. 

It is January, so I am unlikely to feel sunshine on my shoulders, but I will yet again feel sunshine in my mind.

Uncle Don

I didn’t post anything yesterday because I was at a wake, that peculiarly Irish tradition where a person is laid out in his own home the night before his funeral.

Once you’ve spent part of your evening sitting in the same room as a deceased person in an open coffin then any jokes you were planning to write seem a lot less funny.

He was Mrs Tin’s uncle and yet he wasn’t – he and his wife were close friends with her parents, and back when we were young such people were commonly referred to as Uncle This and Auntie That (there is a couple, now living in Canada, and if I met them tomorrow I would call then Uncle Bill and Auntie Julie, though their relationship to us consists entirely of the fact that for three years in the 1960s they lived in the flat above us in Tottenham).

Nowadays, of course, my real nieces and nephews, from the eldest (32) to the youngest (7) call me simply by my first name.

Uncle Don was a sweet man who never really got over the death of his wife Doris, a real fireball of chatting, laughing energy, just three years ago.

He leaves one daughter, Gillian, a girl who I first met when she was 24 and who is now 50 and has suddenly risen to be head of the family.

I couldn’t go to the funeral today because I’m back to work but I hope it all went well for her and her three children, who all had to give readings.

I was thinking about them this morning, and will be thinking about them in the days ahead.

Long Week

There may not be a lot of posting here for the next couple of days.

My friend GoldenEyes is still out sick and I have huge amounts to do this week. It’s so bad that I’m actually getting the hated train for the week as there is one that can get me in at seven, whereas the earliest bus I can get (in a capital city, in the 21st Century), will only get me in at a quarter to eight.

The problem with getting a train at six is that I’ve to get up at 5.08, and there are two problems with that. One is that, like this morning, you wake up at 3.30 in anticipation, as I did, and end up getting up at 4.20, and writing posts at 4.45.

The other is that you can only get eight hours sleep if you go to bed at 9.08 in the evening, and since I’m getting home at 9.30 this is not easy without reverse time-travel, which is preposterous, or the spell that Hermione Granger did where she could be in two places at once.

I’d try that, but knowing my luck both places I’d end up in would be at work.

The Child Within You

Jo wrote a lovely post a couple of weeks ago in which she quoted Polly Devlin speaking about your inner child.

I have one too, though I must admit that far too often I keep him in his room, playing quietly away with his crayons, his imagination and the wonderful innocent belief that all children have that every day will be great. As we get older too many of us suppress this belief, and fill the void left with self-doubt, pessimism and endless stress.

Jo says that you should speak to this inner child. Sometimes you don’t have to, he rushes out and yells merrily at you.

Today was a tough, busy day at the end of a tough, busy week at work and I have to admit that I was letting it get to me and was in a thoroughly bad mood. Then I had to find the phrase “Arts Council” in a very, very long spreadsheet. I went to a blank cell, duly typed Control+ F, and then “arts”. Except, of course, that I have all the typing ability of a man wearing boxing gloves, standing on a hammock, so I typed Shift+F and “arts” instead.

Which meant that the cell now contained the word “Farts”.

Grown-up, grumpy me might have smiled to myself for about half a second and started again, but little child me, Tinboy, dropped his crayons, raced out of his room and shouted “honest, Tinman, this is dead funny, giggle like a looner”.

So I did. And I felt better.

Sometimes he’s more sensible than I am.

I’m in With The Inn Crowd

I’m writing this in a hotel room right in the heart of Dublin City Centre, on my own.

Fed up with the mile-long trek to the train on icy footpaths on pitch-black mornings (shot onto my back on Friday morning, thankfully my backpack acted as a tortoise-shell), and mindful of the horrendous weather forecast for later today, I decided to see if I could find a hotel near the office. The Arlington Hotel, on the quays, offered a three-night-for-the-price-of two deal so here I am, ready for my 200-yard walk to work at eight tomorrow morning.

The problem is that’s fifteen hours away. It’s five in the afternoon, I’m on my own, and I’m bored stiff.

And I’ve only been here twenty minutes.

How I’m going to fill this evening and the next two is beyond me.

The drawback about a Dublin city centre hotel is that the city that it’s in the centre of is Dublin. This is, of course, delightful if you’re a visiting tourist, but lacks a little in excitement if you’re actually from Dublin. The room’s information pack lists place of interest nearby. I’ve seen most of them (some of them I see every day), and in the case of some of them (the ILAC Centre, for example), I can only hope that visitors to Dublin are easily impressed.  

The hotel itself has a nightly Irish Dinner and Show, which it describes as “one of the main attractions of the Arlington Hotel”. It features traditional Irish music and Irish Dancing. Again, I’m sure tourists would love this, but I used to do a lot of Irish Dancing (went out with an Irish Dancing champion for three years, you kind of had to join in), and its a phase of my life that I’m trying to forget.

There is, of course, the hotel bar, but if I spend all of every evening in the bar I won’t be able to get up for work, which kind of makes this whole exercise pointless.

If this were Hollywood then I would meet some lone woman in said hotel bar and embark upon a wild fling that would have disastrous consequences for my marriage and even worse ones for my pet rabbit, but this isn’t Hollywood, it’s Dublin.

Which is kind of a pity (easy knowing Mrs Tin doesn’t read this blog), since at least then I’d have something to write about.

What’s Brown and Has a Trunk?

…  a mouse coming back from holiday.

I’m in my second day back at work after my week off stuck at home, since we can’t really afford to go anywhere nice after Tinson1 turned out to be surprisingly bright and we’ve to pay €1,585 next month for him to start in Trinity.

I’ve just read that the Space Shuttle, due to take off this morning, is bringing six mice to the International Space Station.  The report says:

Although Nasa has flown rodents on the shuttle and station previously, they have never been left behind for a long stay in space. The mice are scheduled to return aboard Nasa’s next shuttle mission in November.”

It’s a bit galling when mice have a more exciting holiday than you have.

Worse Things Than Dying

When I was a teenager all the girls around my area were in love with either Donny Osmond or Michael Jackson, both of whom were the same age as me, so I’ve never liked either very much.

When I was a teenager Farrah Fawcett appeared in Charlie’s Angels, which we thought at the time was so cool (they had phones in their cars – imagine how great that would be). Farrah played Jill,  setting fire to my heart and several other parts of my anatomy. So it shouldn’t be hard to guess which of yesterday’s two deaths upset me more, and which I would regard as the most sad.

And yet.

I grieve for Farrah. She died far too young after a long illness. But I feel for Jackson too, and not just for his really early death.

FarrahFarrah was a beautiful, well-respected actress, had Ryan O’Neal as a partner for over 20 years and of course was the subject of the best-selling pin-up poster of all time (and you all know me well enough by now to know that I’m gonna show it).  Michael was a strange-looking, widely ridiculed singer who had a monkey as a best mate for a disturbingly long time and who was the subject of one of the most famous court cases of all time (and though he was acquitted, in the eyes of much of the world he’s still guilty).

Thanks partly to the poster, Farrah will be remembered for her beauty. Michael will be remembered as a freak.

Farrah was loved when she was alive and will be mourned now that she’s dead. Jackson, whether in or out of one of his strange marriages, always struck me as dreadfully, dreadfully alone.

You get one go at life on this earth. Looking at the pair of them, I know who’s life I’d rather have had.

And It Never Did Me Any Harm

As I said yesterday, I watched Michael O’Brien on Q&A on Monday night in my local with about four other customers, the owner and his wife (and by the way, it’s great to see the way the clip of his heartfelt outpouring has travelled around the blog world).

When he’d finished, we all sat in silence for a few seconds, then started to clap.

Then we all started to tell stories of when we were at school. None of us had been boarders, or had been at “corrective” schools, so we were all thankfully spared the buggery or rape which so many kids, from the same generation as us, had to endure. But we were all at school in the sixties, when corporal punishment was still allowed and indeed enthusiastically embraced, and each of us had a least one story of a savage beating.

This is mine.

Back in those days we used the type of pens with a sharp metal nib that you had to dip into an inkwell, the belief being that this would improve your handwriting, which would be essential for your future job prospects (the arrival of the computer keyboard come as a total surprise to the curriculum setters of my generation). In a class of giddy young boys it was considered the height of wit, if the bloke sitting next to you stood up to answer a question, to hold your pen just below his bum and then pull it away just as he sat down again.

And one day, when I was about ten, I got the timing of this disastrously wrong.

The results were spectacular. My deskmate yelped, leapt in the air, and then started to cry. There was no way of hiding what I’d done, and the teacher produced his leather strap and beat me with it. Since I was horrified at what I’d done, and knew I was in the wrong, and since this was how we were punished in those days, I regarded this as my due. Then he marched me to the headmaster’s office, told him what happened, and the headmaster beat me too. Again, I fully accepted that I deserved this. There were some crimes that demanded that the class teacher’s punishment alone was not enough, and this was clearly one of them.

Then the two of them took me to every other class in the school, told the teacher and the whole class what I’d done, and each of those teachers in turn beat me as well, in front of their own class.

Somewhere in the middle of this even I -ten years old, shocked at my behaviour and full of guilt – started to think “well, this is a bit much”. But they kept telling me that the guy was bleeding (which I realise now was unlikely), that he might get blood-poisoning from the ink on the nib, that he might even die, so I said nothing.

And I said nothing at home. When I related this story in the pueveryone said “no, because you’d have got the same at home”, and, while I certainly know I wouldn’t have been beaten, I’m not sure that they’d have taken my side.

Because that was the way things were then. If children misbehaved, they got slapped. We were all sent off to school to a bunch of people who our parents didn’t fully know, but to whom they’d given tacit permission to punish us physically if these strangers saw fit.

And by the way, not one of the people who beat me that day was a priest or a brother. The school – Harold Boys’ in Dalkey, may it burn to the ground – was under the overall control of the parish priest, but all of it’ s teachers were lay people, married, with children of their own.

An awful lot has been said in the last week about the behaviour of the religious organisations at the time. And rightly so. As followers of God, their’s should have been the benchmark, the standard of care for the young which lesser lay organisations aspired toward. Instead they merely led the rest of the herd in cruelty.

But people have asked how it could have happened. And, while the ordinary people of the time would have had no idea that their priests and nuns could reach such depths of sexual depravity, they have got to admit that they knew and accepted that these people would beat children of both genders, starting from the age of four. They would say “well, I was beaten at school, and it never did me any harm”. In many cases they would beat their own children. They would certainly slap them.

Ireland was indeed a terrible place in those days. But it wasn’t just the religious that were responsible for that.