LONDON, ONTARIO – London lost her unofficial and utterly ubiquitous town crier earlier this month at the age of 66. Though he was not a man I ever came to know well and (other than a love of London lore and the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan) shared few interests with, Bill Paul did me a good few favours over the nearly fifty years of our acquaintance; favours which I did a singularly crappy job of acknowledging, let alone repaying.
I think we both thought at first that we were going to get along better than we did. That I was three years older needn’t have been an obstacle to friendship, even when we first met in our twenties; never mind later in our lives when such a tiny gap doesn’t signify at all. But somehow I always did feel significantly older than him. Though I liked him and admired his energy and drive – and though I hardly thought of myself as Sammy Sober-sides and have had certain dour souls counselling me all my life to ‘grow up’ or ‘get serious’ – an awful lot of what he got up to didn’t appeal to me very much and, when you got right down to it, struck me as kind of frivolous.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Overcoming her customary aversion to anything resembling a high school reunion, my wife dared to accompany me back to South Collegiate four years ago for a special screening of ninety minutes’ worth of 16 mm films and clips that were produced half a century ago by students in the very first high school film course in the country. That 1970-’71 class was the only one that Kirtley and I ever took together. That it was her second year studying film and my first – I didn’t bother with a second – does not signify that she is the senior partner in our union. It only indicates that she didn’t share my affinity for cramming entire years of adolescence down the garburator by flunking grade nine, quitting grade ten at a different school and then re-enrolling at South with a slightly improved attitude which then conked out for good halfway through grade twelve. So, no piece of parchment from South Secondary School is tacked on my study wall. Nor hers, for that matter; but at least she has one, somewhere.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Let’s start off by acknowledging that some of the most tiresome people in the world are those who insist on being wildly ‘original’ in everything they do. A subspecies of these ‘one-of-a-kind’ bores that is proliferating on the interwebs just now is a dour herd of adolescents (some of whom appear to be in their 30s and 40s) who post gormless videos in which they earnestly explain how they are defining their sexual identity this week and then list their preferred pronouns for you to memorize. I admit my complicity in driving up the viewership numbers for these grebes because I not only find their clueless self-absorption oddly mesmerizing; I also feel this wonderful burst of gratitude that my own youth was never troubled for a second with this kind of paralyzingly ponderous bullshit.
If you would like to contribute to the ongoing operations of Hermaneutics, there are now a few options available.
THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :