LONDON, ONTARIO – A few months back in a sprawling essay on the Brontes, I recalled my delight at visiting Britain’s National Portrait Gallery where I encountered dozens of full-sized portraits of beloved authors that I’d previously seen only as miniature, muddy, black and white frontispieces to classic editions of their works. No single painting in that gallery’s forty rooms was harder to tear myself away from that day than Conversation Piece (1932) by Herbert James Gunn (1893–1964).
LONDON, ONTARIO – Not a big honking screed today so I won’t bother sending this one out to my subscribers but will just slot this note in here to be discovered, incidentally, as it were.
The Baconians had their first banquet this week after a three-year pause for the Batflu. It was great to gather around the groaning board once again but our dinner did come with a couple of jarring signifiers of how relentlessly history keeps marching on, even when you think you’re just going to sit over here on the sidelines for a few dozen months until things get straightened out.
LONDON, ONTARIO – This month the Wrinklings, for the second time in their twenty-seven years, devoted an evening’s discussion to one of the shortest (sixty-four pages) and lesser known titles in the gem-packed canon of British author, Oxford literary scholar and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis (1898–1963). The book we explored once again was The Abolition of Man: Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools (1943). That main title may seem to set off an alarm which the subtitle then tries to muffle. But the seasoned Lewis reader confidently proceeds, knowing that if any writer can make the latter fully redeem the former, it is he. Inspired and inspiring teacher that he was, Lewis’ uncanny facility for revelatory expression enabled him to develop any insight – no matter how abstruse or insignificant it might appear at first glance – into compelling expositions that are thrilling to read.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Well, we’ll see if the increasingly alarmist weather forecasts of the last week fully bear their frigid fruit. It might seem perverse to say so but our hearts were actually warmed by one particular headline which read, “Arctic Blast this Week Brings the Coldest Christmas in Nearly 40 Years”. That old record-holder was thirty-nine years ago to be precise, the Christmas/New Years’ axis of 1983/1984, when we carried our second child and only son home from St. Joseph’s Hospital in a pre-warmed car with my father-in-law at the wheel, my wife decked out in her mom’s fur coat and the world’s newest Goodden wrapped up in enough blankets to approximately double his circumference. His older and younger sisters had the good sense to be born in the spring (of ’81) and the summer (of ’86) when such precautions were not called for.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Following a two-year moratorium on such gatherings so as to flatten the infectious spread of a wicked man-made virus, last weekend we were able to attend a Christmas luncheon at the Delta London Armouries Hotel with a group of unhinged conservatives with whom we occasionally consort. It was great to get together with friends once again. And it was just as encouraging to see the dozens of other small parties (some of whom might even have been Communists or Liberals for all I know) freely mingling with nary a mask in sight at one of the finest smorgasbords in town.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Almost five years and two City Councils since we first examined this issue in one of the first essays posted to the Hermaneutics blog, our civic leaders are once again agonizing over whether or not to strip the name of a London filmmaker from a South London park that was designated in his honour. The post below (the third to appear on this site) gives my take on how the situation stood on January 16, 2018. I will follow up this re-posting with a few observations about the latest developments in this squalid battle and speculate on how things will likely proceed in the continuing campaign to stuff the name of Paul Haggis down the municipal memory hole.
LONDON, ONTARIO – This week I delivered a paper for our first meeting in almost three years, entitled A Personal History of the Baconian Club in Four Obituaries.
A THIRTY-TWO month interruption in the proceedings of this rather unlikely club that I joined thirty-two years ago has been raising some existential questions and challenges in my mind. Like, why did I join this club in the first place?
LONDON, ONTARIO – All through the years of our life together – me a night owl and she an early riser, me usually working at home and she usually going out – it’s been unusual for my wife and I to sit down to breakfast or lunch together. But before we had kids and all through their growing up and in the years since they’ve moved out, we’ve always made a point of gathering for a properly observed dinner which either one of us will have made.
LONDON, ONTARIO – I don’t expect she remembered me from that sunny July afternoon in 1959 when my parents herded their four boys, all decked out in our Sunday best, onto the track-side loading dock of Canada Packers; a perfect royalty-viewing perch that our meat salesman father secured for us across from the old London Arena and not even two blocks west of the Canadian National Railway station. We waved to our yellow-dressed Queen (or was it pink?) and the Duke of Edinburgh who waved right back at us from their platform on the very last car of a train that was slowly pulling out of London en route to points west.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Read any account of a North American boomer’s awakening to the wonders of the 1960’s popular music scene and you’re going to find a reference to The Ed Sullivan Show. And I’ll touch on the giddy excitement of that transforming moment in musical history in a bit. But first of all let’s take a few minutes to consider what a wildly eccentric showcase that staid old variety program of Ed’s was . . . and the grounding it gave its viewers of all ages in all kinds of entertainment whether they wanted that wider purview or not.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :