Tag Archives: my local

Dry Humour

The prompt at today’s Irish Writers Centre workshop was to imagine it’s your first night in your local pub without drinking. Though I have myself been to my local after giving up drinking I would like to point out to those of you from said local who read this blog that this is fiction …

*******************************************

The front door has stained-glass in it, like a church window. I suppose it’s because this is, after all, where people come to find comfort and solace. I looked at it for a moment, took a deep breath, then pushed the door open and walked in.

Before I could speak The Owner picked up a pint glass and placed it under the Guinness tap. Just as the first flow of brown ooze began to trickle down the side of the glass I said “Hang on, I’ll have a Coke.”

Silence descended, the type of bar-room silence normally associated with Clint Eastwood pushing open the saloon double-doors.

“Coke?” said The Owner, in the same tone that he’d have used if I’d ordered ostrich piss.

“Coke,” I said, with a firm resolve that I didn’t really feel inside.

The Owner shrugged, popped the cap off a Coke and poured it into a glass. “Ice?”

“As long as it’s fresh,” I said. “I don’t want any of that frozen shit.”

This attempt at humour did not go down well. To be honest, neither did the first sip of Coke, but I stuck manfully at it.

Eventually The Old Man At The Counter, who has been sitting on the same stool since the bar opened in 1842, spoke.

“Are you driving?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “Well actually yes, but because I’m drinking Coke, not the other way round.”

While he was trying to figure this out The Guy Who Always Drinks Standing Up said “but it’s just for today, right?”

“No,” I said. “I’ve given up drinking.”

The deep silence returned, though within it you could hear shock and, I think from The Guy Who Thinks The World Is Against Him, a tiny fart.

One Of The Domino Players had a guess.

“Are you sick?” he asked.

“Er, no,” I said. “Coke-drinking is not a recognised illness.”

“Well, it should be,” said The Man Just Coming Out Of The Toilet. They all laughed. I didn’t.

“Are you trying to lose weight?” asked The Guy Throwing Darts On His Own.

The Man Who Knows Everything snorted. “Of course he’s not trying to lose weight, look at the size of him. He’s only six stone -”

“Nine stone,” I said.

“- and because he’s six stone,” went on The Man Who Knows Everything, “if he lost any more weight he’d blow away on a windy day.”

“You’re not becoming a Muslim, are you?” asked The Other Domino Player.

“What?” I said.

“Well, they don’t drink,” he said.

“Neither do babies,” I pointed out, “and I’m not becoming one of those either.”

“Actually you are,” said The Big Guy With “Mary” Tattooed On His Arm (she’s his wife and he’s terrified of her, so from here on he will be referred to as The Boy With The Naggin’ Tattoo), “because a man would drink real drink like the rest of us.”

“I knew a man who gave up drink and was dead within six months,” said The Bloke Who Just Reads His Paper In The Corner. We were all astonished, he had never joined in a discussion before.

“What did he die of?” I asked suspiciously.

“He was run over by a bus,” said The Bloke Who Just Reads His Paper In The Corner. He nodded to himself, as if to say “so there”, and went back to reading his paper. In the corner.

“Are you seriously off it?” asked The Guy Who Laughs At His Own Jokes, “because if you are then I’m going to sell my Guinness shares, they’ll be out of business by Christmas.” He laughed loudly at this. “Out of business by Christmas,” he repeated, because he doubled as The Man Who Always Says The Punchline Twice.

“Exactly. You’re destroying the economy and forcing people out of jobs,” said The Man Who Came Out Of The Toilet A Couple Of Paragraphs Back, who has no other distinguishing character traits.

“Like the bankers,” said The Man Who Knows Everything.

“And the developers,” said The Guy Throwing Darts On His Own.

“And the politicians,” said One Of The Domino Players.

“Should be hung, the lot of them,” said The Other Domino Player.

I was enjoying this brief interlude where contempt was being focussed elsewhere. It didn’t last.

“Are you out of work and trying to save money?” said The Guy Who Thinks The World Is Against Him.

“How could I save money drinking this?” I said. “It costs more per litre than petrol.” I took another sip. “And tastes worse than it.”

“That’s because it has so many chemicals in it,” said The Man Who Knows Everything. “You can clean toilets with it.”

“Maybe you should do that, and drink Toilet Duck instead,” said The Man Who Laughs At His Own Jokes, laughing uproariously.

The Man Who Knows Everything waited patiently for The Man Who Always Says The Punchline Twice to repeat “drink Toilet Duck instead”, then went on. “They also use Coke to wash out oil-tankers, un-stick barnacles from ships’ bottoms, and in the jet that comes out of bidets in France.”

I should have mentioned earlier that The Man Who Knows Everything is in fact The Man Who Gets Most Things Wrong, and that none of us have ever had the heart to tell him that.

I finished my drink and stood up to leave.

“You’re really not drinking?” said The Owner.

“No,” I said. “I told you all.”

“Yes, but we didn’t believe you,” said The Boy With The Naggin’ Tattoo.

“So we’ll never see you again?” said The Old Man At The Counter, almost plaintively, as if one of the Dwarves had just told his brothers that he was emigrating to Pluto.

“No, I’ll still be coming here,” I said.

“But if you’re not drinking why would you want to be here?” said The Owner, before he could stop himself. The phrase “with these gobshites”, though never spoken, sounded inside my head and, judging by the glares that he got, in everyone else’s as well.

I smiled sweetly back at him.

“For the conversation, of course,” I said.

Clean and Serene

WordPress recently asked “how do you know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em?”

The picture below shows that I don’t really know how to do either.


However, this is not a post about how Tinman is not iron-man. The picture is of my favourite T-shirt, and I think my one and only ever clothing impulse-buy. I passed a shop one day years ago and the T-shirt was in the window, I laughed, walked on about ten yards, then thought “hang on, I’m going to buy that”, and went back and bought it.

I loved wearing it in the pub because while I might not like ironing, I do like irony.

But about three months ago I gave up drink. I haven’t mentioned this here before because it was no big deal, I wasn’t advised to, or warned to, I’m not alcoholic and never get spectacularly drunk, I just decided one weekend that I was fed up with Guinness (I may well have my Irish passport confiscated for typing that sentence) and decided to try drinking soft drinks instead for a while instead.

I had a lot of trouble finding alternatives. I started with Lucozade until I learned on my first-aid course that it’s what you give diabetics who’ve had an attack because it’s 62% sugar. I asked what would happen if someone drank seven of them in one evening and was told don’t be silly, no-one would ever drink seven of them in one evening.

This no-one then tried Coke, but I could almost feel my teeth dissolving as I drank it. 7-Up made me burp, at volcanic volume, fruit-juices cost more than diamonds and I’m not paying for Ballygowan Water because it is, well, water. I‘d rather let them charge me to breathe the air in the pub, which has both more flavour and aroma (if I sometimes make my local sound like an opium-den from a Sherlock Holmes story, it’s because I’m being kind to it).

I have finally settled on tonic water, as it is less sweet than anything else I’ve tried and people tell me quinine is good for you, though when I ask how no-one seems to know. I have Googled it and discovered that it is an effective treatment for malaria. Since I haven’t contracted malaria within the last three months this appears to be true.

I’m not necessarily going to stay off booze forever, though I am aware that I gave it up for one month in 1978 for a bet and stayed off it for a year-and-a-half. It is nice, though, to be able to go to the pub for a couple of hours and still be able to drive to collect Tingirl from a disco, it’s nice to be able to go at odd hours (I went at 10.30 one Saturday morning recently because our house hadn’t yet heated up and I knew the pub would have a roaring fire) and it’s nice to be able to sit quietly at a table and write my blog. At least two of my recent posts have been written in the pub.

The only slight drawback is that I can’t wear the T-shirt to the pub any more. I now look as if I‘m admitting to something and the irony is gone.

I could wear this, though:

The only problem is that it’s not mine, it belongs to 16-year old Tinson2.

His sense of humour is even weirder than mine.

Peas in a Pod

Sometimes I like to tell stories about myself in which I do not emerge looking like a total gobshite.

Today will not be one of those stories.

It is said that everyone has a double somewhere in the world, and tonight my brother’s walked into my local.

He was astonishingly like him, so much so that I said to the people I was with “oh, there’s my brother – oh, no actually, it isn’t him.”

And then, because he was so like him, I unthinkingly said “but I bet it’s his brother.”

I only have one brother, so you can figure out what I had effectively said.

And, unfortunately, so could my pubmates.

Wine, Woe and Wishes

I had intended keeping this tale of embarrassment and stupidity to myself, but since everyone in my local seems to think that it’s absolutely hilarious I may as well entertain all of you lot at my expense as well.

I think it was on Tuesday last that the rain finally fell, washing away most of the snow and ice and meaning, for the first time in almost a month, that walking was an activity less dangerous than, say, bomb disposal. We had no wine left in our house (dunno, I think it evaporates at room temperature) so I decided to go to the pub. Mrs Tin, who had a lot of chick-films that she wanted to plough her way through, declined to join me, so off I set on my own.

I did notice that at some places on the road the ice had been so thick that it hadn’t quite melted yet, so little islands of it lay here and there, as if people had cut the icing off their Christmas cake and thrown into the street. These were easily avoided, however, so I went to the pub, met some friends and had a very pleasant time. At some stage I thought of Mrs Tin, sitting at home more sober than a football fan at the Qatar World Cup, so I asked the owner did he sell wines by the bottle that I could take home to her. Since take-away wine from a pub tends to be extremely expensive, and since the owner of my local is a decent bloke, he suggested not buying the wine but simply taking some home and replacing it with something similar the next time I was in. I asked for two bottles, he put them into a paper bag, and when I was leaving I took them home with me.

It was raining quite hard when I left, so hard in fact that I put up my umbrella for the first time in weeks, and with the umbrella in one hand and the bag in the other I walked home, head down. I had just reached to end of our road, which I have mentioned before is very steep, when I stood on a little patch of ice. I shot forward onto the ground – and one of the bottles of wine broke.

I lay there for about twenty seconds, face pressed against possibly the only piece of ice left in Northern Europe, yet with rain pouring onto the back of my head. My arms and legs were spread, a line of red liquid was trickling away from my body down the hill, and all I needed was a chalk outline to have auditioned for a role (a very brief one, obviously) in CSI.

I must be honest with you all, who know so much about me, that I did seriously consider just staying lying there, forever. Eventually, though I dragged myself up and limped (my left knee is still very swollen, even now) the last fifty yards to my house. I know you’re all miles ahead of me here, but I may as well set my shame out in print. I reached the front door, juggled umbrella, bag and house-key for a couple of seconds, and dropped the other bottle of wine.

From inside the house the noise must have been deafening, and Mrs Tin rushed to the door, afraid perhaps that someone had smashed our car window, or that I fallen in through our glass front door. I told her what had happened and she said it didn’t matter, she didn’t need wine, but by now self-anger at my own stupidity had taken over from rational thought. I had wanted to bring her home wine, and I was going to bring her home wine. I set off on the half-mile walk back to the pub again.

I didn’t bother with the umbrella, I was too bloody fed-up, and those lucky enough to be in the bar when I burst through the door still laugh every time they tell yet another person about the state I was in. My hair was matted to my head and rain poured off my coat like a fountain.

There was no-one behind the counter and one brave customer said “the bar’s closed, Tinman”.

“No, it isn’t,” I growled.

“Look, it’s ten past eleven, there’s no way he’ll serve any more drink,” my friend ventured.

“He’ll fuckin’ serve me,” I said.

The owner arrived out from the back room at this point, held up a hand as if to point towards the clock, then saw the expression on my face and put it down again. Picture Jack Nicholson’s expression in The Shining, then imagine what he’d have looked like if, just as he put his face to the hole in the door, he’d been bitten on the arse by a rabid Alsatian.

“Dropped the wine,” was all I said.

Wordlessly he put two more bottles in a bag and I slouched home, safely this time. By now Mrs Tin had gone to bed, so I drank the wine myself.

There are wine-writers all over the world who are more gifted at describing wine than I am. They write things like:

Lovingly picked from the south-facing vines of this richly-soiled region, the grapes are gently pressed by the beautiful feet of nubile young maidens before being allowed to mature in oak barrels in a cool, dim cavern. The wine is decanted into hand-crafted bottles, the cork is inserted by blow-pipe and the resultant wine tastes of both fire and ice, with a nose redolent of warm sunny summer days, wortleberry and Imperial Leather soap (look, I only said they write things like this, I didn’t say it was word for word).

Anyway, there’s not a writer on earth who would have described this wine in those terms. If I were a wine writer my review would be what I believe they call fruity, and would run thus:

This wine is called CYP, it’s from Chile, and now I know how the Chilean miners disposed of their pee during their ordeal.

And of course I’d to buy four bottles of wine to replace this gunk.

So there’s my tale of wine and woe. And the wishes?

Well, they’re for all of you. I wish all of you all the very best for 2011. Thank you all for reading, thank you all for commenting, thank you all for caring.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Tin x

And In Local News

My local pub is like home to me, in that it’s full of younger people who ignore me, the TV is rarely on a channel that I want to watch and I continually have to hand out money.

Last Saturday night my local had a touch of cabin-fever-release about it, as the thaw in the weather brought in a larger than usual clientele as we all ventured out for the first time in ten days. As often happens when there’s a large crowd a sing-song started, and as often happens the singer realised part of the way through that he didn’t know all of the words. As he was a friend of mine and obviously struggling I joined in with him to encourage him along, and it’s not hard to guess what happened next. We ended up like athletes in a relay race as he firstly ran along alone for a while, then we ran together each holding one end of the baton for a shorter while, then he let go and dropped out, leaving me with the choice of lamely pulling up or heading, solo, towards the finish.

It’s not the first time I’ve sung in public (for example just two weeks ago I sang “Sweet Caroline” at the staff Christmas Party, and again, it hadn’t been my idea), so I finished the song (it says a lot about the evening that I can’t remember what it was) and went back to whatever I’d been talking about. And there the story would end, were it not for a long-held and often expressed belief of mine.

I don’t like sing-songs in my local, as I have previously informed the entire internet by writing this. Of course this shouldn’t be a problem, no-one in my local knows anything about Tinman, his blog or his anti-caterwauling prejudices.

Well, ok, some of them do. After snorting my way scornfully through one gigantic sing-song earlier this year I said to a couple of people “I’ll show you what I think of sing-songs” and the following day sent them links to that post. To be honest I was big-headedly looking for praise, which I duly got. I was also thick-headedly looking for trouble, which I have also now possibly got. A friend who knows about the blog texted me on Sunday evening to say one of my other confidantes was happily telling everyone something like “and he was singing, yes, even though he says he hates it, he wrote it on his blog, it’s called Worth Doing Badly, he calls himself Tinman”.

I don’t think any of them will look it up. I’d be more certain of that, however, if it weren’t for the fact that apparently four people have clicked on the “About Tinman” tab this week so far. This is an increase on the usual weekly number, which is, well, zero.

If, of course, they did look up the blog then all they’ve found out is that yesterday was my birthday. Unless they read back for months and months they wouldn’t have found the post that they were looking for.

Mind you, if they left looking it up until this evening or later they’ll find that I’ve now provided them with a helpful link above. They’ll also read today’s news for the rest of you, which is that I have another appointment with my psychiatrist in the morning.

You might think that the discovery that I’m mad will alarm them, cause them to ostracise me or think of me as different. If so you don’t know my local, or many of its customers.

I think I’ll fit in more than ever.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Tinson2 did indeed find a Work Experience job and it does indeed involve him calling into the pub.

He is not being used for entrapment purposes, however, he is simply working in my local.

And he organised it all himself. He was in the car with Mrs Tin and Tingirl last week, they were passing my local and he said “stop here, I’m going in to ask them will they give me work experience.” He came back out so quickly that the girls assumed he’d been told no, but in fact the owner, once he’d said he was Tinson1’s brother, told him to come in yesterday morning at 10.30.

He worked there until two. They got him to sweep outside the front, and then put out the tables, chairs and ashtrays (ever since the smoking ban was introduced here all pubs and cafes put tables and chairs outside for smokers, making us look like Paris, though without the sunshine. Or the warmth. Or the lack of a howling wind). Then they set him to washing all the glasses. He emerged thrilled with himself, and set off happily again this morning.

The two weeks will be an important learning experience for him, getting himself up and in on time, learning to take instructions, learning to work carefully and diligently for as long as he’s there.

It’s part of him growing up, and all I can say is fair play to my local’s owner for letting him do it.

Remote Control

In the bar of my local on Saturday night, the conversation turned to the pedestrian crossing which has recently been installed outside (see, we don’t just talk about football and boobs).

A discussion took place as to whether or not a sensor could be installed so that the lights would change every time a man internally wearing a box full of electrical impulses approached. The consensus was that this would get me into the pub quicker, that this would be a good thing, and that the conversation as a whole was hilarious.

My protestations that it was just as well that I’m not sensitive were ignored, mainly because, after the first couple of seconds, I was one of the most enthusiastic particpiants in the debate. Because I think it would be cool. People still love house lights that turn on when you clap your hands, or phones that ring a certain person if you say their name. To those who might say that stuff like that is childish, that grown-ups aren’t impressed, I can only reply with the four words Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Anyone would feel slightly smug if they could walk up to a set of traffic lights knowing that they would automatically change in their favour as they neared. It would be like having a secret superpower.

My pubmates are wrong, however, if they think I’d arrive at the pub quicker. I’d be far more likely to stand at the very limit of the sensor’s range, stepping forwards and backwards into and out of it, annoying the shit out of the traffic. For hours on end.  

I might not get to the pub at all.

Being That Guy

Suppose you were in your local pub last night and a young man, clearly very drunk, walked in. Suppose he asked for drink and, when he was refused, started to rant, knocked a glass off the bar counter, made a grab at one of the barman and finally grabbed one of the high bar-stools and swung it back over his left shoulder, intent on, I don’t know, hitting the barman with it, or breaking it over the counter, or just hurling at all the bottles in the optics against the wall.

Suppose all that. When he swung the stool back, would you grab it by two of its legs, yank it out of his hands, then set it down gently on the ground?

Because that’s what I did.

The sheer look of astonishment on his face when he swung around to find he had been de-stooled by a small, middle-aged man still sitting calmly on his own stool was one that I will remember (and treasure) forever.

And, having turned away from the bar, he was then grabbed by all the barmen and, as they say, escorted off the premises. Then all attention turned to me. Reaction ranged from finding that my next drink had been paid for (by one of the barman) to being asked what the fuck I’d been thinking (by one of my mates).

The truth is, I didn’t think at all, it just happened.

And I’m not terribly sure why I’m now writing about it. Partly it’s because, even as I was assuring people last night “oh, it was no big deal, he was never actually going to hit anyone”, I was secretly bloody proud of myself and still am. And partly because it’s nice to be able to tell a story in which for once I come across as a bit of a hero rather than a bit of a gobshite.

But mostly it’s a post about derealisation, this wearying, draining, soul-destroying condition in which everything is happening in a bit of a dream. I have written before about how at the beginning I was afraid of it, that if everything felt a bit unreal then what was to stop me telling the boss he’s a moron, or groping one of the girls at work,  or writing to Di Stewart on Sky Sports and telling her I’m in love with her. I realised over time, though, that none of those things were going to happen (sorry, Di), that the condition wasn’t going to make me act out of character. It wasn’t going to make me do anything that I wouldn’t normally do, it would just stop me fully experiencing the things that I normally would.

And I think that”s why now, the morning after, I keep thinking back to last night. There’s a scene in Die Hard 4 (what, you thought I watch foreign arty films with sub-titles?) where John McClane says “you know what you get for being a hero? You get shot at, your wife leaves you, you get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy.” Then the young bloke says “then why are you doing this?” and McClane says “because there’s no-one else to do it right now”, and the young bloke says “ah, that’s what makes you that guy”.

All us men would love to be John McClane, though perhaps a bit less bald. We’d love to believe that we’d stop a man swinging a stool at a barman for no other reason than that the barman was doing his job.

I wonder if I’d have done what I did if  I was fully well. Perhaps I would have, or perhaps I’d have sat, horrified and furious but afraid, watching the whole scene unfold. But because of derealisation I instinctively did the right thing, and for one second of one day of my life I became that guy.

It’s the first good thing that’s ever come out of it.

Hoping He Will Phone

On Saturday night in the bar of my local (and just after I’d stated to the whole bar that no-one under the age of 40 ever drinks there) the door opened and two young girls came in.

They weren’t total strangers, in fact one of them worked in the pub a few years ago, they were two sisters out for the night who’d abandoned the lounge because it was too quiet and were hoping for a bit more life in the bar.

And that’s what they got, ending up in a sing-song with some of the patrons. The younger of the two, although she’s 28 and so was born in 1982 (God I feel old), confessed to loving 1950s music and sang some songs from that era. One of the songs she sang was Bobby’s Girl.

Bobby’s Girl is the kind of song that normally just burbles away merrily in the background if, say, RTE1 or BBC Radio 2 is on in a shop that you’re visiting, so I’d never really listened to the words before. Apparently the singer (now that she’s not a kid any more) each night sits at home, hoping Bobby will phone, because there’s just one thing she’s waiting for. And that’s to be (pum, pum) Bobby’s girl.

And if that happens (which I doubt, Bobby sounds like the kind of bloke who’d recognise a bunny-boiler when he sees one), well, what a faithful, thankful girl she’ll be.

There you go. That’s a popular 1950s song for you.

Can’t see Pink or Lily Allen writing a song like that today, can you?

And The Big Limousine Disappeared

On Saturday night in my local we were watching the World Athletics Championships on BBC2. When they ended the BBC Proms Classical Music programme came on, and we watched it for a while. This is because we are a cultured lot, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the barman was outside changing a keg and none of us could reach the remote control behind the bar.

Anyway, watching it reminded me of two questions I’ve always wanted to know the answer to:

1. Does “La Donna é Mobilé” mean “The Woman is Moving”?

and, if it does, then

2. Does that mean that the aria was the original version of  “for 24 years I’ve been living next door to Alice”?

I’m not really very deep.