Tag Archives: twenty major

Area 51

One of the categories in next months Irish Blog Awards is “Best Outraged Blog Awards Post”, which they define as “Conspiracy theories, cries of corruption and calls for a million blogger march on IBA HQ”. This is my chance to tell the world the truth about the Irish Blog Awards and the dark figures behind it…..

The theme for last year’s Blog Awards was “Blogging is Dead”, because of a number of newspaper articles sniping at blogging and telling us it was finished. The evening opened with the committee carrying a coffin up onto the stage.We all laughed.

What no-one realised was that the coffin actually contained the body of a blogger who had been going to stand up and tell the room all about what a fix the Blog Awards are. I am taking up the mantle in his memory.

The Irish Blog Awards are run by the same people who run this country – the rich, the privileged, the powerful. When blogging began these people quickly realised the potential threat that we posed with our free unedited websites, denouncing corruption and cronyism, so they secretly moved to control us.

Have a look at some of the categories – ‘Best Blog of a Politician’, ‘Best Blog of a Journalist’, ‘Best Blog of a Business’. These are the people who truly run our movement – the Government, the Media, the Businessmen.

There is no category ‘Best Blog of a Blogger’.

The other categories are fixed too. The best Humour Blog is won most years by Twenty Major. Have a look at these two pictures:

Twenty bin Laden

Osama bin Major

Have you ever seen the two of them in the same room together? I think not.

And so on, category after category. Last year’s ‘Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog’ was won by a guy who writes in Irish. I mean, what chance had the rest of us got against him?

This year they have come up with the brilliant idea of having a category for the best post denouncing them. They knew that what we nutters conspiracy theorists crave most is publicity and they knew that this would flush us out into the open. Thus, although I know that by writing this I am exposing myself to them (er, should re-write that sentence but don’t have time, they’ll be on to me by now) I cannot resist. Even now they are sitting in their offices in the Texas Blog Depository reading this, and by using my IP address, Google Maps and a Garmin Sat-nav they will be here soon. Once here they will use their deadly mind-machine to wipe all knowledge of this conspiracy from my mind. I will be the blogging equivalent of a Stepford wife.

Don’t believe me? I bet I never write about this topic again.

We’re Not Worthy

The Sunday Times doesn’t like us.

The attached article, especially its final sentence, strikes me as a gloat at the fact that blogging hasn’t wiped newspapers off the face of the earth.

The thing is, of course, that very few bloggers ever claimed that it would, and even fewer would want it to. The idea of there being no Irish Times, and no Fintan O’Toole, Tom Humphries, Mary Hannigan, Frank McNally, Kathy Sheridan, Lucy Kellaway, Fiona McCann, Roisin Ingle or Keith Duggan would horrify me. Even John Waters, who famously said in a radio interview that “all blogs are stupid, every single one of them”, writes a column that I read every week, since I find his posts that I disagree with just as entertaining as the ones where I don’t. 

I got all this from Damien Mulley’s post. He lists the questions he was asked, and the replies he gave, and it’s fascinating to see how his essentially positive analysis of the state of blogging in Ireland is made to appear negative in the actual article.

It’s also interesting that the article quotes Rick O’Shea as saying “I don’t think the blogging community wants or needs mainstream respect or recognition. It only matters that people are reading your blog. The blogging community doesn’t need anyone but the blogging community.”

The next sentence in the article says: “They don’t mean that, though, not really”. Why bother asking him, then?

The ST cite the fact that we have annual blog awards as evidence that we “crave recognition”. And perhaps we do (vote for me, by the way, when they come along), but only from other bloggers. Architects have annual awards as well, where the important thing is having your work recognised by your peers. No-one claims that these awards are so architects will earn respect from the public at large.   

On the subject of Twenty Major, they bemoan the fact that he has a larger readership for a post that says “John O’Donoghue is a fucking clown” than Gavin Sheridan has for his continually excellent posts about NAMA and similar issues (unfortunately for them, anyone clicking onto Gavin’s blog for the first time today after reading their article will come first upon a post dated Dec 11th that doesn’t really help their argument). But this is not comparing like with like. Twenty’s site is primarily about entertainment. As part of that entertainment he vents about issues in our country, striking a chord with many frustrated and enraged Irish citizens as he does so, but he is not the same type of writer as Gavin, nor would he claim to be. It’s like bemoaning the fact that South Park has more viewers than the South Bank Show.

(As a brief aside, the article says that the fact that many of Gavin’s posts attract no comments “indicates little interest”, though it does admit that his posting of all of John O’Donoghue’s expense claims were read by people who then helped escalate the whole matter. The fact that posts don’t attract comments doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t being read. Mulley’s own posts, for example, attract very few comments, but that certainly doesn’t mean we bloggers don’t read them. And Twenty himself often provides links to posts written by Gavin).

On Twenty being more popular than Gavin (sorry, Gavin, I’m going to stop saying stuff like that now) the article asks “Isn’t that typical, and disheartening for those who hoped the internet might be a forum for higher minds?” Oh, for God’s sake. Playboy massively outsells the Economist every month. Isn’t that typical, and disheartening for those who hoped that the periodical might be a forum for higher minds? 

The Playboy/Economist comparison is probably at the heart of this issue. The magazine world has publications from Bass Angler’s Guide to Flying Saucer Review. No one would write an article suggesting these have a common aim, or are of comparable value. Yet article after article says that the blogging world wants this, or has failed at that. It’s meaningless.

My blog will not change the world, nor have I ever expected it to. I like writing, though, and I like writing stuff that I hope is funny. I also like to sometimes use my blog to articulate and therefore ease some of the health and mental problems which have dogged me over the last couple of years. I don’t have a large readership, but you are frequent and loyal readers who I’ve come to regard as friends. You wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t engaging and interesting, so the fact that you are makes me very, very proud. I don’t crave recognition, but I do crave the feeling that I’m doing something well, and I get it from all of you.

And there are many other blogs, some of which belong to all of you, some of which belong to people who’ve never heard of me, and many of which don’t even know I read them (I’m not a great commenter), which I go to every day.

And that’s the saddest part of this article. In the concluding paragraph, the author states: “While some are entertaining, not one continually demands our attention. No Irish blog is important enough to read every day.”

Ignore the arrogance behind the dismissal of others as unimportant. That sentence is written by a journalist who believes that all that matters is the cocoon-like world of politics and current affairs, whereas the blogs I read entertain me, share my concerns, make me laugh. Some have fabulous writing, most have real warmth. All of them have an overriding sense of humanity.

These bloggers make my life more enjoyable. I don’t think that’s unimportant.

Getting Your Own Back

I was talking to the Tinkids this morning about political correctness, and about how it can sometimes be somewhat misguided, so I told them about the “sport” of Dwarf Throwing in the US, and of how, when PC determined that Dwarves should be referred to as Porgs (Persons Of Restricted Growth) one town changed the name of its contest to the Porg Throwing Contest, thus missing the point that the throwing of someone might actually be more offensive than what you call them while you’re doing it.

I then decided to look it up on Google to see if I could find out more about it. I typed in “Porg Throwing” and, to my surprise, about half way down the page I got a link to a post from last April by our own Twenty Major, with this excerpt:

There’s a place in the US where they have Annual Dwarf Throwing Contests. … growth) got the contest’s name changed to the Annual Porg Throwing Contest. …

Here we go, I thought, let’s see what Twenty said about it, I bet it’s really funny.

So I read the post, which is about the dumbing down of Newstalk, and is indeed really funny. But it doesn’t mention Dwarf or Porg Throwing. So the reference must have been in one of the 202 comments.

With the beginning of a sinking feeling in my stomach I read through the comments, and eventually found this:

There’s a place in the US where they have Annual Dwarf Throwing Contests. When PC came in, however, dwarves – who now insisted on being known as Porgs (persons of restricted growth) got the contest’s name changed to the Annual Porg Throwing Contest. Seemingly it was the name that was humiliating, not the fact they were being thrown.

(I always start to giggle when I think of this story, which is really, really mean, coz I’m only five foot five).

And yes, as I had feared, it was written by me.

In the interests of honesty I’ve printed the comment in full here, including the bit about the giggling. I know it’s wrong, but try to picture the contest in your head for a second.


Anyway, I had no recollection of writing it till I read the next comment, which was from Jo (who I hadn’t met then) and said “Tinman, are you Bono?”

So there. Whenever you use the Internet to back up a point you’re making, make sure it’s not yourself that you’re quoting.

There He is, Gone

Just four days after I named Twenty Major’s blog among my 100 favourite things he’s gone and closed it down.

If this becomes a trend soon there’ll be no more sunrises, no more airports and no more Harry Potter books.

Anyway, today’s as good a day as any to tell the story of the one-and-only time I met Twenty. I had wandered in to Ron’s Bar in the mistaken belief that it was the Gresham (in my defence, the sun was in my eyes).  A lone figure was sitting at the counter sucking fiercely at a cigarette. A tiny sausage-dog which was lying at his feet sat up and yapped, though its voice was so high-pitched that only, well, dogs could hear him.

“Quiet, Throatripper,” said the man.

“Why do you call him that?” I asked.

“If he ever fought another dog he’d stick in his throat and choke him,” was the reply.

I laughed and offered to buy him a drink, which he accepted. He held out his hand. “Twenty,” he said. This may have seemed like a strange name, but when you’re called Tinman you tend not to mock other peoples’ names, unless they’re called Track or Trig, which would be just silly.

Twenty is taller than you’d expect from his blog, though this may be just because my laptop has a very small screen. He is a lively conversationalist, though his language is a little crude. I noticed, however, that he seemed a little dejected, and asked was anything the matter.

“I’ve just come from my aunt’s funeral,” he said. “Mathilda Major. She was 102, and one of the great patriots. She was an officer in the old IRA.”

“An officer? Was she called Major Major?” I asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous, no-one would be called that. She fought with all the greats – Connolly, Pearse, Howth Junction …”

“You mean she was in the GPO?” I asked.

“Yeah. Loads of times. That’s where she collected her children’s allowance.”

“No, er, I meant, it’s just, well, you said she fought with Connolly and all…..”

“And so she did. Fought with them all the time – called them gobshites and wasters.”

I felt at this stage like I was conversing in a bucket of treacle. “Anyway,” I said, “her funeral was today, you say.”

“It was. Full military affair. Guard of honour. Twenty Gun salute. And she was buried in a full army uniform. And, of course, in the special hat that all IRA members get buried in.”

He knocked back the last of the pint, walked to the door, and turned back to me.

“She wore the RA’s bury beret,” he said.


That’s my tribute to you, Twenty. Best of luck with all you do.

Making Holemaster Whole

A guy I know is going into hospital today. He’s going to have part of his lung removed, to get rid of a small but malignant growth. There are loads of us thinking of him.

None of us have ever met him, and his name is, er, Holemaster.

He’s one of the regular commenters on Twenty Major’s blog. Sometimes he tells us more than we need to know about his um, toilet habits. Other times he makes witty remarks. To show an example, I’ve gone into Twenty’s archive, picked an article at random and came up with this comment that he made:

“Hey imagine if D.I.D. Aldi and Lidl merged?


Ok, that didn’t really work.

Anyway, if you spend enough time there you get a feel for who you’d get on with out in the real world, and HM seems to be one of the good guys.

On August 4th, after nagging encouragement from Jothemama (so called because she is a blog midwife), he started his own blog, ‘Esker Riada’.

On September 4th, after just fourteen posts, he wrote the post ‘Operation Holemaster – Post 1’, in which he told us of his doctor’s diagnosis, and that he was looking at surgery to remove the left upper lobe in his lung (Honestly, the lengths some people will go to to get commenters).

The great thing is how many comments he did get, both on his own site and on Twenty’s, all wishing him well. Because somehow we all feel that we know each other, and sad that one of our number is unwell.

Good luck with eveything, HM. Looking forward to a load of post about bedpans, hospital food and cute nurses soon.

Not Drowning, But Grumpy

On Thursday on Twenty Major’s site, a comment thread that started being about pigs and lipstick suddenly turned to bipolar disorders. People said things like:

“What makes me truly suspicious is the use of the word ’suffering’. ‘I suffer from bipolar depression’. ‘He suffers from ADHD’.”;

“But people who get depressed, or low, and claim to have manic depression are surely deserving of ridicule according to your piece.”;

“I think this is being facilitated by too many in the medical profession. People are always relieved to find there may be an explanation for why they feel bad, temporarily depressed or have problems interacting with the world around them.”;

“Or is it a good thing to do to give something a cooool name so people can say to each other triumphantly ‘I can explain why life isn’t working out for me- and the best thing is its treatable!!’ [rattles pillbottle].”

Jo from Infantasia and Problemchildbride fought back. Jo was the voice of reason, saying“What happens to the real sufferers if we just dismiss their conditions as invented or attention seeking?”.

PCB, whose own mother suffered from manic depression, wrote a brilliant rant, which included this part:

“So enough of this it’s all made up by Hollywood celebrities stuff. If you want to appear urbane or knowing or world-weary or coolly ironic or however the hell you want people to see you, I couldn’t give a flying fuck, I like to adopt that posture as much as the next person some days. We, the sane,medicated or otherwise, have that luxury. But just know that there might be some uppity bitch reading who is having a crap week and having to deal with shit from people not impertinent to this comment, who IS going to call you on it and tell you to refrain from being archly superior and just plain wrong on topics you are clearly not informed about.”

And I said nothing.

The problem is that many people do suspect that those who say they suffer from depression are really just unhappy. And those who suspect it most are the ones with the depression. Like me.

Last year I started blacking out for no apparent reason, and after various brain, blood and heart tests it was discovered that my heart-rate would sometimes slow so much that it would stop altogether. I was given a pacemaker and am now blackout free. Everyone knows about this, I’ve made no attempt to keep it secret. I joke about it, mock myself about it, and have even taken my blogging name from it (the 18 refers to the fact that a heart monitor that I was on revealed that one night my heart stopped for eighteen seconds).

In 2001, I was diagnosed with depression, and have been on medication on and off ever since. And I’ve told five people in seven years.

So, one illness I’ll discuss openly, and the other I’ll keep to myself. Because deep inside I fear that I’m just a big cod, that there’s really nothing more wrong with me than just being a grumpy git. I don’t know, but I’d guess that most depression sufferers (yes, sufferers, try it sometime) feel like that.

I know organisations like Aware are trying to fight the stigma attached to depression, the belief that it’s a failing rather than an illness, but they’ve a long haul ahead of them when the depressed themselves see it like that.

Even the fact that I’m not suicidal, because I just would not do that to my family, makes me think “see, there’s nothing really wrong with you”. (During all the medical crap last year there was a tiny part of me that thought “wow, if I die from this it’ll all be over, & I won’t have topped myself”).

When I get depressed over really stupid things, like a little boutique shop opening that I just know has no chance of surviving, or a recent one where I passed a bald man with a moustache and fell into a state about how ugly he was, how no-one would ever love him, and then how futile everything is, then my mind says “actually, you’re not depressed, you’re just mental”.

And the problem is I’ll never really be sure.

I’d Scream, You’d Scream

Over on Twenty Major’s site on Friday last he posted about the fact that they are playing David Gray’s ‘Babylon’ over and over again at the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to torture them. This led to a discussion about songs we’d hate to have continuously played at us.

That got me thinking – can you imagine what it must be like to drive an ice-cream van? The same one hurdy-gurdy tune over and over again, all day long?

How do you pick the tune? Does it just come with the van or is there a catalogue? If there is it’s a very small one, as they all seem to have either the Match of the Day theme, the Magic Roundabout theme or O Sole Mio.

You’d dread getting out of bed in the morning. You’d dread turning into each new estate.

I’m on my way to work at the moment, and suddenly feeling a whole lot better about my job.