Tag Archives: Tingirl

A Life Lacking Structure

The sunlight poked through the window. It danced into the room, shining a spotlight over the bed where Rapunzel was in a light sleep. The duvet was tangled in her limbs, her hair dragged into a messy bun, destroyed by the constant tossing and turning throughout the night. This light is the only indication of the beginning of another day. As the sun hit Rapunzel’s face, she blinked, living in a blissful momentary ignorance. She suddenly remembered where she was and her face curled up. She turned over, away from the sun and pulled the duvet over her head. Now, in her own dark little cave, she takes a few moments to calm herself. The anxiety builds in her body as her skin feels like it’s vibrating.

Breathe in. Pause. Slowly, breathe out.

Not much help. She begins to sweat in her cave, so, she whips the duvet off her and sits up. The anxiety is constant, she may as well just swallow it.

She shuffles into the kitchen and switches on the kettle. The rumbling whistle fills the silence, feeling louder because of the vast emptiness. She momentarily wonders if it will
explode but reminds herself to push the anxiety down. She can’t spend all day bogged down, again.

She sits by the window and looks at the world below. She is up in her tower, eight floors high and wonders how many days she has been stuck here. The days melt into weeks and it all becomes a blur. Her sense of time is completely lost. She can only tell time is passing because her hair has continued to grow, a brunette shadow has been growing slowly and consuming her former self.

A monster has taken over the world. It has pillaged through villages and taken so many lives. Human contact is forbidden. Rapunzel hasn’t seen another human in weeks as people fear each other, not knowing who could be possessed. It can enter the human body and kill them from the inside. It sometimes lays dormant and uses the human as transport until it finds a vulnerable host. The leaders have locked the people away in order to slow the monster down. Everyone has to wear face coverings as a way to disguise themselves from the monster. There are workers on the frontlines trying to slay the beast, with little reward. Rapunzel feels disgusted that she is upset about her own life when these people work so hard to save others. She is in awe of their strength.

She fills her time by flicking through books, getting lost in someone else’s world, completely escaping her current reality. But once she closes it, she is brought right back. Back to the four walls that box her in.
When night falls, she sits on her bed and stares. Looking at nothing. Feeling nothing and everything all at the same time. For such a quiet space, the anxiety is so loud. It bangs off the walls and rips through her like fire in her veins. It stops her in her place. Rapunzel plays music to drown it out but it doesn’t work. She is alone. She is scared.

She wonders when the world will go back to normal, but she knows it never will. The normal she was used to is no more and the future is unknown. No one knows if the monster will conquer. They just know they have to keep fighting.

She thinks of the playwrights and authors. How will they document this portion of history? Will there be children who learn of these times and are thankful that they didn’t experience them? How will they see the leaders who didn’t do enough? What if this monster will always be a part of their lives? Everyone wants normal, but what is that now?

The night fades into the next morning. Rapunzel is still sitting, still staring. What is the point in going to sleep early? The days have no structure. Stories need structure, a beginning, middle and end. That is what Rapunzel was always taught in school. How can you structure these stories when it feels like there will never be an end? They are just drifting through this horrific middle, or is this just the beginning?

Breathe in. Pause. Slowly, Breathe out.

A whole day has just passed by and nothing has happened, nothing that would be worth telling in a story or play. She will wake up tomorrow and do it all again. How long will she drift until she finally reaches a new equilibrium? Rapunzel lays back and waits for sleep. The world will spin around her, she will stay frozen in time.


Today’s story is not by me. It was written by my wonderful, brave daughter Tingirl, who moved to London just in February and spent eleven weeks of the lockdown on her own in an eighth-floor apartment in Croydon. This story was published yesterday on pendemic.ie,, a website set up to act as a journal for this time, publishing poetry, short stories and non-fiction about the coronavirus.   

She’s Leaving Home

It was just like in the song.

This morning – Wednesday morning, as it happens – at five o’clock, as the day began, Tingirl left home.

What was unlike the song was that she didn’t have to sneak out, leaving a note that she’d hoped would say more. Mrs Tin and I were up with her, enthusiastically helping her pack two massive suitcases into our ancient car, driving her to the airport and accompanying her in to bag-drop in case either case failed the 20kg test (this wasn’t the case, 19.7 and 19.9) in which, sigh, case we’d have returned home with several pairs of discarded shoes.

Our baby girl is moving to London with her degree in Media and PR, pursuing her dream of writing for TV and radio. She is excited and scared, and so are we.

We will miss her – her beautiful smile, her cheerful chatter, her ability (unique among the Tinfamily), to take a good group selfie. I will miss watching Bones, and Love Island, and Doctor Who with her.

But we are sure that she will do well. She is a lovely girl with a warm personality, and is diligent and hard-working (she worked here in a really stressful job that included all-night shifts, to raise the money to fund the early part of her stay). In media she has found something that she loves, and has sailed through every exam associated with it.

So best wishes, my lovely princess. May all of your dreams come true. You deserve it.

We are sad that you are gone. But so very, very happy for you.

Dad X


Our Birthday Girl

Our girl is 23 today.

Tingirl, lovely baby, cute little girl, teenager-like teenager, is now a wonderful young woman. She is adored by her older brothers, fiercely loyal and close to her friends, passionate in her beliefs.

She works now, in a difficult but very important job, but her plans are to move abroad, to work in radio or TV, fulfilling her lifelong ambition.

We love her and are proud of her. She is her Dad’s princess, and always will be.

Happy birthday, my beautiful girl.

Family Matters


Those of you who followed this blog during its most productive years watched as the Tinkids grew, joining in the celebrations of their birthdays and their various achievements, and thrilling me with how much you all cared about what happened to them, so obviously I have to update you on what they are all be up to now.

Prepare to be astonished, by the next sentence, at the passage of time.

Tinson1 is now twenty-five. After a lot of study and a long time trying to get a job in post-crash Ireland he started work 15 months ago as a medical physicist (no, I don’t know, either) in the Oncology Unit of a hospital in Waterford. Waterford is about 100 miles from where we live, so he has become the first of the Tinkids to leave home. He has an apartment that he loves, a small car that he is slowly learning to drive (and hopefully learning to drive slowly) and a job that he really enjoys.

Tinson2 (twenty-two next month) is in Canada at the moment, where he is nine months into a two-year student visa. He works in a restaurant in the ski resort of Whistler (minus 10 degrees there last week, according to my iPhone), and shares a house which has a stream rushing alongside, snow on its roof (it’s called a snow ‘fro, apparently) and racoons under its deck. It has also had, though only once so far, a bear in its back garden. He’s having the time of his life, and looks really happy whenever we talk to him.

Tingirl, our baby, is now twenty, and is in first-year at college in Carlow Institute of Technology, where she is studying media and public relations, hoping to make a career in radio. She absolutely loves the course, the college, the Foundry (Ireland’s biggest nightclub, situated in Carlow, Wednesday night is Student Night) and her housemates.

Yes, housemates. Carlow is about 60 miles from Greystones, so she has to live there during the week, and although she’s at home every weekend (she’s in the sitting room watching This Is Us with Mrs Tin as I write this), it means that during the week Mrs Tin and I are empty-nesters.

And Mrs Tin? Still the best, supportive when I was sick, supportive when I cut my working week, putting a brave face on the fact that I am at home for two extra days each week to drive her mental. I’ve talked before about her sense of humour, and it’s best summed up by what we have in our kitchen now:

Turn Around, And You’ve Grown

She was the last of the three, the baby of our babies, but now our baby is a young woman.

Tingirl is 18 today.

She faces into adulthood as wonderful a person as she has always been. She has a warm and kind nature, a host of friends to whom she is fiercely loyal, and a smile that makes her face light up like a sun. She is a typical teenage girl – sometimes funny, sometimes grumpy, sometimes full of energy, sometimes a bundle of yawns barely visible beneath a duvet on the couch.

She still loves acting, and is still part of the closely-knit drama group with whom she has essentially grown up.

To me, her Dad, she is still a source of wonder, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a hoodie.

She is also a source of deep, joy-filled love.

So Happy Birthday today, Tingirl, and enjoy the life and possibilities that now lie before you.

You are our baby, our Princess, and now our wonderful grown-up girl.

Tingirl for 18th

At Seventeen


“Thank you for letting us care for your lovely daughter. She has been a pleasure to have in the house, she’s kind, polite and a gorgeous girl. We enjoyed having her.”

Tingirl is part of the Transition Year Choir at school, and this year they did an exchange programme with a school in Sweden. A lovely girl called Kajsa came to stay with us for four days in February, and in May Tingirl went to Helsingborg to stay with her and her family (our choir had to learn how to spell the name of their town, but theirs had to learn the name of our school, Coláiste Chroabh Abhann, so overall I think we came out ahead).

The words above were written by Kajsa’s mother. In four days Tingirl charmed her with her smile, with her personality, with her all-round Tingirlness.

It was lovely to hear this from someone who had never met her before. Of course we see this all the time, though we also see the slumpage days, where she will appear at about noon in huge Christmas slippers and a zebra onesie. On such days we know that she will lie on the couch and keep up with the Kardashians, who have certainly improved in looks since they used to terrorise the Enterprise in Star Trek.

Such days are part of being a teenage girl, and are few and far between with our daughter. Most days are spent with her huge collection of friends, or with her Drama Group, a close-knit team who have moved up through the classes together for eight years, and who now are at the stage where they write their own shows.

Kajsa’s mother has summed her up perfectly. She’s a pleasure to have in our house, a pleasure to have as a daughter, a joy to have as  my princess.

Tingirl is seventeen today. Happy Birthday, sweet lovely girl.

Tingirl (1)

Globe Trotting

The Tinhouse is bereft of women this week, as Mrs Tin and Tingirl have gone to London. They intend to indulge in mother-daughter bonding, visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum (Tingirl is a firm fan) and shop, According to an email I got from Tingirl they have already been to a “beetles exhibition”, by which I don’t think she meant something about insects.

The main purpose of the trip, though, is to visit the Globe Theatre, since Tingirl is so consumed by acting and intends to try to pursue it as a career.

They are going tonight to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, firstly because, well, it’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Secondly they picked that because the School Musical this year was All Shook Up, which is built of course around Elvis songs, but apparently it uses A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a framework upon which to build it.

This may be why it’s better than Mamma Mia, which is built around Abba songs, but apparently upon a framework of the actors saying whatever comes into their heads next.

The girls bought the tickets online. We have all bought stuff online, and are used to filling in the little drop-down box that asks if we are Mr, Mrs or Ms. Slightly posher websites may also concede that some of us might like to be referred to as “Dr” (I haven‘t seen one that that offers the option “Bgr” for blogger, though looking at the abbreviation, it’s probably just as well).

Buy tickets for the Globe, though, and you are offered these choices:

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We chickened out of Princess, but I hope that Air Commodore Tingirl has a super time.

The Song Remains The Same

There are three types of people in the world – those who like the Eurovision, those who hate the Eurovision, and those who don’t live in Europe.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual extravaganza of absolute kitsch. The format never changes. The contest is hosted by the winners of the year before and has two presenters, one male and one female (very occasionally a country will opt for a man and two women, in what is surely the most cheerless use of the word “threesome” of all time). These presenters will have only one talent – the ability to be unfunny in the languages of every corner of Europe, including Gibraltar, Transylvania and the Vatican City.

The songs themselves are mush. Not only that, but they are all ladled from the same giant pot of mush – each entry could be sung by any of the other countries and it would make absolutely no difference, especially since almost every song is sung in English. They might as well draw a song out of a hat just as they walk onstage.

Occasionally a country will bravely stick to its heritage, and enter a song in its native language sung by a band dressed in its native outfit. Such songs do not do well.

They say that since it is a Song Contest (the trophy is presented to the winning composer, not to the winning singer), it is the song that matters and not the performance. This is not strictly true. Put say Don McLean sitting alone on a stage with just an acoustic guitar, singing even something as wonderful as Vincent, and he will not win. But add a troupe of scantily-clad dancers,  a yeti on a tightrope and some stoats jumping through hoops of fire and Don could well be on the way to stardom, or a least to a more wealthy form of anonymity.

Within an hour of the contest ending you will have forgotten what Don looked like, and what his song sounded like. By the following morning you won’t remember which country he was from.

There are some exceptions to prove this rule, some acts that, having made it there, went on to make it anywhere. Abba’s fame began when they won the contest in 1981. Celine Dion was first heard of when finishing second one year (singing for Switzerland, surely the height of ambition for all Canadian singers). And each year the host country puts on a home-produced interval act while the votes are being tallied, and it was as such an act, just ten minutes long, that the world first saw Riverdance.

That was when we were hosting it. Ireland have won the Eurovision eight times, more often than any other country. This is something that we are both proud and slightly ashamed of, like a Dad who beats his children in a belching contest (no, it’s not bad parenting and yes, I do always win). But we have not won for many years now, and languish in the lower regions of the competition, like a once great football club now relegated to the lower divisions of the league. We are the Leeds United of the Eurovision.

The football analogy is apt, since the splitting of the USSR and Yugoslavia has meant that there are now so many entrants that they have had to introduce two semi-finals.

And this is why I write of this today – the first semi-final takes place tonight. I’m sure you can gather from my relentless slagging here where I stand in my opinion of the Eurovision. I love it. And I have made fun of it here because that is one of the Eurovision’s great charms – it doesn’t mind being laughed at, because it laughs at itself, joyously and unashamedly.

Tingirl and I will be sitting in front of the TV tonight, as we will be for the second semi-final on Thursday and the final on Saturday. As always we will debate whether or not, as we suspect, Portugal enter the same song every year, just to see if anyone will notice. As always we will score each song out of ten, and every time the contestant is a man in a white suit and an open-necked shirt (a big hello to Greece here, by the way) I will write down zero before he has even opened his mouth.

And when the voting starts the most important of our traditions will take place. We will pick up our phone and we will vote for Song Nine. We do this every time, no matter what the song is like.

It’s stuff like this that builds memories.

My Girl

They say that girls are made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”. They talk about them reaching “Sweet Sixteen”.

The overwhelming impression this gives is of a syrupy stickiness, like Sandy from Grease injected with candy-floss.

And of course they are sweet. Tingirl has a smile that lights up her whole face, and turns on one dimple, just on her right cheek, which she got from me. She is funny and kind and great company.

But teenage girls are so much more. There are the Slump Days, a full day spent lying on the couch in a dressing-gown, pyjamas and a giant one-foot slipper. But these days arise because of the vitality of the other days – the days out with friends, so many friends, and so many activities, such as her acting classes, or her trips to the cinema, or her string of texts promising that she will be on the very next bus home.

There are the reading days – she has introduced me to The Perks of Being A Wallflower and the Hunger Games trilogy, and I have introduced her to the Sherlock Holmes stories and Before I Die. 

There are the Mum and Daughter days, days filled with hugs, and intimate conversations, and healthy bickering. There are the Dad and Daughter days, where we sit through long evenings watching baseball on TV, for we are both fans, and laughing a lot. There is the Dad and Daughter tradition of telephone-voting for Song 9 in the Eurovision Song Contest each year without even waiting to find out what country it is, or what it sounds like.

There is a girl full of love, and friendship, and loyalty to those friends, and a fierce determination when it comes to something she wants to do, and a remarkable talent for getting out of anything she doesn’t.

She may be made of sugar and spice, but she is made of so many other, far more interesting things.

Tingirl is sixteen today. Happy Birthday to our wonderful girl.