LONDON, ONTARIO – Ex-980 talk radio host and London Yodeller columnist, Andrew Lawton, is reaping a perfect whirlwind of hysterical abuse since tossing his trademark ten gallon hat into the ring as the Progressive Conservative candidate for London West in next month’s provincial election.
Hatred of the Wynne and McGuinty Liberals is so widespread and so pronounced right now as they try to hang on and extend their 15-year reign at the top of the greasy pole that we could well see a PC sweep that will carry Lawton into the office he seeks. But even if he should get elected, it’s all but guaranteed that there will be no post-election honeymoon for Lawton.
LONDON, ONTARIO - Well, here’s a seriously fabulous novel I’d never even heard of until I pulled out a slightly battered but otherwise gorgeous 1969 Folio Society edition from the new arrivals cart at Attic Books a couple years ago. First published in 1827, then refined and reworked into a definitive edition in 1842, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi is the Italian title) is the only novel written by Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873). In Italy, this grand historical novel is revered to this day. No Italian gets through high school without reading it and schools, streets and cinemas are named after its author. Manzoni received a full state funeral at the time of his death and one year later Verdi premiered his decidedly operatic Requiem in commemoration of Manzoni at St. Mark’s Church in the author’s hometown of Milan.
LONDON, ONTARIO – One of my favourite encounters of the year took place in that couple weeks of false spring we had in the last half of February when the considerable accumulation of winter snow melted away and some naïve souls dared to wonder, “Could that possibly be it? Wasn’t that a little too easy?” And then, whump: on came a pitilessly cold March and a mostly frigid and sometimes Biblically torrential April. Here, on the very eve of Mayday, like winter-weary dogs who’ve been repeatedly teased with a luscious green stick that’s yanked away just as we try to bite down on it, we consider the averages and the odds and our knowledge of the way this world rolls along, and resolve that surely now it’s safe to trust that the proffered treat will not be withheld again.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Perhaps providentially, my propensity for racking up unmanageable debt emerged early in life, via the Capitol Record Club which I rashly joined at the age of 14, suckered in by a magazine ad featuring a photo of a winking Frank Sinatra inviting me to help myself to 12 free LPs and then, in considerably smaller print, mentioning that I’d have to buy 12 more LPs over the following year at seriously inflated prices, plus an exorbitant shipping fee. Beneath Frank’s devilishly smiling visage were pseudo-postage stamp reproductions of album jackets by one and two-hit wonders like Freddie and The Dreamers, The Outsiders and Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs. You carefully tore out pictures of the albums you wanted along perforated lines, licked the backs and stuck them on the membership application.
LONDON, ONTARIO – “That all those affected by the tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan be comforted by the prayers and support of those across our country – we pray to the Lord.”
As the second reader at the 10:30 Mass this Sunday at St. Peter’s Cathedral, it fell to me to read out the prayers and intentions at that service. There was a slight catch in my voice as I declared those words (perhaps my wife caught it; I doubt anyone else did) because like millions of other Canadians I’ve been suffused with feelings of pity and helplessness for the bereaved families who are struggling to find a way to carry on after sixteen (so far) members of that community’s junior hockey team died following the collision of their touring bus with a tractor trailer.
LONDON, ONTARIO – It has long been recognized what a nuisance photography has become at weddings. Yes, it’s important to record such an event for posterity but the amount of time and focus that’s ripped out of the most important day of many young couple’s lives while they get everyone in attendance to stand around in different configurations and blandly smile is nothing short of criminal.
Equally widespread and longstanding is our derision for a certain class of tourist so preoccupied with recording foreign vistas that you wonder if they even see the place they’re supposedly visiting until they get back home and fire up the slide projector. It’s like the perceived need to capture some fleeting experience in pictorial form, precludes experiencing the experience.
LONDON, ONTARIO – About six months ago through a link that came up (I think) on the Small Dead Animals blog, I answered a Liberal Party of Canada questionnaire about what I felt were the really important issues that our federal government should be addressing as priorities.
Rejecting all of the usual concerns so beloved by that irredeemably squishy tribe – fiscal cesspits like diversity programs and anti-global warming strategies that are only good for the immolation of billions of nonexistent dollars – I made my way to the bottom of each proffered list to that little box marked ‘other’ and wrote in helpful suggestions and imprecations of my own.
LONDON, ONTARIO – In my stash of Christmas books I received Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II, by Baltimore-born biographer and Catholic apologist, George Weigel, who reflects in a highly personal way on the 15 years he devoted to chronicling the life and times and impact of John Paul II in his two hefty and insight-packed volumes, Witness to Hope (1999) and The End and the Beginning (2010). Weigel’s account of both his own intellectual and spiritual formation and how he came to be invited by the Pope to take on the literary assignment of a lifetime is a tale that emphasizes, repeatedly and powerfully, the idea of providence.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Like most Canadians, I first heard of Jordan Peterson in September of 2016 and the first impression he made on me was very favourable indeed. Could it be that we finally have an academic with sufficient spine and wit to call out the spiralling inanity of our institutes of higher but narrower learning? A clinical psychologist and a very popular University of Toronto psychology professor as well as a researcher in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, Peterson shot to national prominence by putting down his foot. By the simple act of saying ‘no’ to governmental bullying dressed up as compassion and accommodation for those of untraditional sexual identities, Peterson suddenly became headline fodder right across the country.
LONDON, ONTARIO - It’s a little known fact that I attended university for a grand total of two days; just long enough to earn a profound Degree of Distaste. It’s not the kind of accomplishment that I’ve ever been able to list on a CV when applying for jobs. But those two days did constitute an education of sorts and have provided an effective inoculation against the kind of regret I’ve often heard older, self-made people express when they look back over their lives and say that they wish they’d been able to spend more time in school. It also probably explains my uncontrollable sneer reflex whenever I’m in the company of someone who identifies herself (except for the late Roy McDonald, it always seems to be a woman) as a lifelong learner.