top of page

Sitting with Tiernan

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

All right, folks, here's how it is: I wanted to meet Tiernan Cloud. I met his mum. I met his brothers. I met his family. I never met Tiernan. Always wanted to. He had the sound off him of a kind of legend of a person. Smart and cunning, like the way I like them. And I didn't get to talk to him.

For some reason that I wot not but that the stars seem to have set down for my good fortune, I've been allowed to talk with them that knew him well about him, and that's been a strange blessing. Not as good as talking to the man himself, but I did get to build a kind of impression of him from a museum of snapshots.

I like him. Good person.

So here's the journey. It's a bit of a ramble, but that's as it should be, on account of a life's not a small thing.

Here's how it happened.

I spoke with people around him, and heard things that surprised me, which is what I should have heard because people are all messes. Tiernan was an intelligent, well-put-together, calculating mess of a person, but same as the rest of us: He was a glorious mess.

I talked to his teacher Shiva, who also gave him a job. And she said that he was such a hustler. There's the first picture I had of him. Sure, I knew he worked with Kristina, his mum, and I knew that he had a degree in business. Now I knew that those who taught him thought of him as a hustler. Was he always looking for angles? Was he a sweet-talker who gained things by his wit? I don't know for sure. Probably. He hustled, though. He finished his homework and then did work-for-money during class periods, and that caught the attention that made him attractive to them who wanted to build a new school in Madrid. So he helped them. Schools need a kind of loyalty unique to them to get students engaged, and the kind of loyalty they need is usually inherited. If you're inventing an entirely new school ecosystem out of nothing it'd take a weird kind of cunning to force loyalty for it into existence. A weird kind of cunning described Tiernan's mind, though, and he designed a Hogwarts-style system for this new school in Madrid, because he understood how to get under people's skin.

I talked to Pan, who stepped into Tiernan's life early and stayed there in spite of a certain distaste for children on the part of Pan. I didn't hear it specifically, but I imagine Tiernan's something to do with Pan's ability to outgrow the juvenile misunderstanding that motivates the phrase "I don't like kids." Because Tiernan did what any smart kid knows how to do: behave like a human. Tiernan was gatekeeper to the family, even at age 5, and challenged Pan, standing with arms akimbo on the high ground when Pan arrived to beg entry into the family. "You must be Pan," Tiernan demanded. Something to being challenged for entry into the clan, because Pan decided to stick around and rise to the challenge. Yes, he's Pan, and he's willing to stay. You're partly to blame, Tiernan, with your little five-year-old daring Pan to rise to the challenge. Not that it could be any other way. Pan told me that Tiernan had to learn everything for himself, sometimes to his detriment. Like, if there was a big bruiser and he knew he couldn't win the fight, that wouldn't stop Tiernan from getting in that fight--from challenging people bigger than him and then dealing with the consequences. Sometimes the consequences were bruises. Sometimes, well one time, at least, it was better, because the ‘consequence’ was Pan.