LONDON, ONTARIO – Although I never did earn my high school diploma and assured each of our kids when they were growing up that quitting school on their 16th birthdays was fine with me so long as there was some honourable study or pursuit to which they were prepared to commit themselves, I also have to admit that if it hadn’t been for a certain teacher of English, I might never have taken hold of my aptitude for writing and developed it into the primary vehicle by which I have experienced and interpreted my own life and the world around me.
LONDON, ONTARIO – My wife and I met as fellow students in film class in high school. For our very first date in January of 1971, we saw Five Easy Pieces at the Hyland Theatre. As a pastime, the claim could be made that going to the movies is built into the most primary strands of our connubial DNA. And one of the ways we commemorated our 40th wedding anniversary was to buy one of those nameplate plaques which they affix to the arm of a cinema chair in a scheme that the re-opened Hyland came up with to help pay off the heart-stopping cost of their new projector. But nearly half a century into our relationship with the movies and each other, we do have to acknowledge that we simply aren’t knocking back new flicks at the rate that we used to.
LONDON, ONTARIO – It was three years ago this fall (on the very eve of Donald Trump’s spectacularly upsetting electoral victory) that Leonard Cohen died in Los Angeles at the age of 82, leaving a hole in the world of music and letters that never will be filled; not even temporarily by the release next month of what will be Cohen’s 15th studio album of original material. Cohen's son and latter-day producer, Adam, has diligently gathered and dressed up some leftover tracks to compile one final album, entitled Thanks for the Dance. I confidently say that the hole never will be filled because – for me, at least – the real glory of Cohen’s music and poetry (I never made much progress with his novels) has always been a richly suggestive Zen-like emptiness that haunts the imagination. Cohen was a master of audaciously expressed intimations, impressions and allusions that you can’t quite take hold of to analyse how or why they work so brilliantly well.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Back in June of 1995 when I was editing SCENE magazine and my wife was doing the layout, I turned a review of Susan Wallis’ just-released book, Bicycle Day Trips in and Around London, into a full-length column which I entitled Recovering the Thrill of Messing Around on Bikes. Wallis’ book had inspired me to drag the Raleigh ten-speed which I had been ignoring for almost 20 years out of our garden shed and take it for a spin. It was then I realized how much I’d never liked that bike and how much I preferred the old one-speed coaster bikes of my youth which didn’t require me to crouch forward in a way I found unnatural and uncomfortable.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801–90) who was elevated to sainthood on Sunday, October 13, is widely regarded as one of the supreme prose stylists of the English language; a distinction which is avidly accorded him by temperaments as diverse as G.K. Chesterton and James Joyce. Less central to the reputation of this remarkably prodigious thinker and writer is the poetry he occasionally tossed off on the side. Newman had no illusions that his poetic gifts were of any accomplishment or significance. He took to poetry as nothing more than a form of recreation; a different modality in which to exercise his literary inclinations.
HAMILTON, ONTARIO – My wife and I went down to Hamilton last Sunday in a bus full of supporters from the London Ontario area to attend a fund-raising rally for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) being held at the McIntyre Art Centre on the campus of Mohawk College. Though the party – founded last fall by breakaway Conservative Quebec MP Maxime Bernier – has candidates running in every riding in the country, they had to fight to get Bernier a slot in the two nationally televised leaders’ debates taking place this week (one in English and one in French) and the party and its candidates are routinely given short shrift in both local and national news coverage.
LONDON, ONTARIO – In the final analysis, eco-warrior Greta Thunberg’s greatest gift to mankind might turn out to be her uncanny powers of clarification. Those powers are most certainly not manifested in anything that the George Soros-scripted, 16 year-old puppet actually says. Indeed, all of her alarmist tirades of imminent ecological Armageddon have been heard before ad nauseam. They long predate what we can only hope will turn out to be her fleeting notoriety. They also predate her birth and are not growing one iota more convincing by dint of their endless and hysterically escalating reiteration.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Faithful readers of the Hermaneutics blog may recall our second essay from January 2018, in which I rose to the defense of a London Police officer who was being hounded by the witless jackals of political correctness for the crime of dressing up in African ceremonial garb for Hallowe’en during her student years – a full decade before joining the London Force. I won’t recapitulate my argument here; suffice it to say that I do not accept the calumny that racial hatred is the invariable (or even a common) inspiration for dressing up like someone you are not. Incredibly enough I think it’s got a lot more to do with a sense of fun and adventure and even admiration. You can check out that essay at this link if you’d care for a refresher: http://www.hermangoodden.ca/blog/making-the-case-for-insensitivity-training
LONDON, ONTARIO – Saturday night was the seventh evening in the last ten days when our household’s quality of life was seriously impinged by seven-hour blasts of blaring tedium emanating from Harris Park which is situated a mere four doors and one river to our east. The closing night of Park Jam was the loudest of them all and as it was futile to push against the aural onslaught with in-house programming of any subtlety or nuance, we fought back in a culturally masochistic way by electing to watch – and cranking – a 2001 concert film on YouTube, entitled Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration.
To commemorate the 144th edition of London, Ontario's Western Fair, here’s an old short story of mine (at least 50% fiction) inspired by a childhood visit to the Fair circa 1960.
It was unusually cold that night at the Fair, more like Hallowe’en than early September, and I felt the excitement of any eight year-old who suddenly detects the approach of another season.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :