LONDON, ONTARIO – I’ve been revisiting two of my favourite American writers of fiction this month, Willa Cather (1873-1947) and Flannery O’Connor (1924-65), and have been fascinated by what each of them has to tell us about an explosive problem which currently bedevils our planet – the question of how people of markedly different backgrounds, temperaments and convictions can peacefully coexist when they are brought together in the same locale. Something else which links these radically different authors is the high regard they both had for the way in which the Roman Catholic Church addressed this complicated and heavily freighted question.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Last month for reasons that are starkly unfathomable to me, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was invited to give the commencement address at New York University; an event which takes place each year in the academically hallowed venue of Yankee Stadium. I do wonder just what the agenda is of the University’s board of governors in selecting a speaker so lacking in intellectual, moral or even oratorical heft. Do they regard such speeches as a species of light entertainment; an opportunity to let the kiddies feast their eyes on somebody who’s famous for being famous and what does it matter if he has nothing of actual value to impart?
LONDON, ONTARIO – About a month ago following the spring banquet of the Baconian Club, I made my way through the snarled up construction zone at Dundas and Richmond to the Scotiabank’s ATM cash booth. Just outside was a lavishly tattooed gentleman who stepped right in front of me and asked if I wanted to make a hundred dollars. “No thanks,” I told him.
Even if he’d been decked out like Daddy Warbucks, I would’ve given his proposition a pass but this pushy guy was obviously skint and up to no good. As I squeezed my way around him he said, “All my ID got stolen but if you just cash this cheque for me, you can have a hundred dollars.”
LONDON, ONTARIO – I regaled some friends this week with the story about the time I got the strap and I was struck anew by a couple of things. One was the remarkably convoluted chain of events that led to my persecution at the hands of my public school principal. And the other is the aura of fascinated horror that now attends such accounts; the appalled disbelief, particularly pronounced in younger people, that we ever allowed our schools to dispense corporal punishment.
Believe it or not, they didn’t have to send a note home first to get permission from one’s parents. They didn’t even have to check in with their own superiors in the Board of Education’s bureaucracy. They had complete autonomy to act as they saw fit and if some kid in their charge was being a complete pill, then it was okay to lay into him with a leather strap.
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