Wednesday, 28 November 2012

stay what you are

If I were a Rob Ford supporter (now there is an unlikely sentence-opener ... reminds me of a conversation I had a while back where I caught myself saying, The good thing about Nickelback ... and started to cough because I was laughing so hard) I might be able to respond to his ouster by saying that he was being railroaded for being true to himself. Mountains out of molehills, I would say. We elected him because he seemed like a regular football-loving guy who didn't care about politics, didn't mind what he wore, hated the artsies and the gays, wanted to save money and look after the suburbs.  
All that is still true.  He may have bent a few rules but, hey, who doesn't?  (Do you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth on your income tax?  You do?   Good for you.  So do I, in case anyone from Revenue Canada is reading this.  Those trips to Vegas were all research! Fascinating place, Vegas.  My next book may be set there.)   Ford has not changed in the couple of years he has been mayor.  We liked him then - why not now?

Comparing the response to the Ford news to Obama's re-election is interesting. The same kinds of people are smiling because the "good guys" have won.  In the Obama case the smiles are from relief.  In the Ford case the smiles are tinged with this sense of wonder.   

Now, the thing about Nickelback is that ...

 ... well, come to think of it it's the same as the thing about Ford.  They are what they are.  When you walk into a strip joint (I am going to have to work on my sentence-openers) and hear Nickelback playing, you know where you are.  The world makes sense.  The time to worry, to check over your shoulder, to maybe run like hell, is when your strip joint is playing Justin Bieber ....

Monday, 12 November 2012


So I was at the Packaging Your Imagination conference in Toronto yesterday -- me and a couple of hundred other writers for children.  And you know what I remember most vividly about the day?  Lunch.  It's not that I didn't have a great time hanging out with old friends and making new ones;  it's not that I didn't learn stuff at the master classes, and get a kick out of prancing around on stage (yes, sadly, that is me in the photo) and making myself and others laugh.  But lunch marked a real change for me.  Not the meal itself, which was sandwichy salady straightforward.  It was the venue.

The conference took place at a college on the University of Toronto campus.  Lunch was in the dining hall, and there was a High Table and I -- this is where my eyes widened and my breath quickened slightly -- I was instructed in no uncertain terms to sit myself there.  

Are you sure?  I said.  
Yes, said the bossy lady with the bundle of sticks, standing in the doorway.
I've never eaten at High Table before, I said.  Are there rules?  Do I have to talk to the person on my left first?  Can I swear?  Do I have to finish my meal before I can get a dessert? 

She frowned, gestured, and I took my plate in my trembling hands, made my way up (yes up -- High Table is actually two steps above the level of the floor) to my place.  I sat between two people who were so at ease that they were clearly used to High Tables.  They were not a bit snobbish, and answered my questions very naturally. By the end of the meal I was able to make a small joke -- one of those zen master and a rabbi  and a necrophiliac jokes -- and the polite laughter all round the table told me I had hit the right note.  Then we dispersed to our afternoon sessions.  It took my blood pressure some time to come down.

All right, maybe I am making this a bigger deal than it was.  But I was not comfy up there.  I had a moment thinking, I am not a High Table guy.  There's nothing special about the way I eat lunch -- nothing to mark me out from the other lunchers.  If I ran the Packaging conference --- well, it would be a complete failure  because I would forget to book the venue or get the date wrong or something --  there wouldn't be a High Table.  Or, better yet, there'd be High Tables for everyone.  And no fascists telling us where to sit.

I ran into a very energetic forward-planning lady at the after party.  She is already thinking about next year.  She asked if  I had any suggestions.  Packaging Your Imagination is perfect, I said, except for one thing.  I turned to get my drink and when I turned back she was gone.  Oh well.  I wonder if she reads my blog?