(Some New Brunswick Friday entertainment)
(Some New Brunswick Friday entertainment)
I am putting myself forward to be chosen as the next Governor General of Canada. I am open to the job in the natural progression of such things, but can be on call to finish off a term if – well – the need arises.
I am a sturdy Maritimer (I think this part of the country could use the boost); have travelled nearly across this fair land; am a successful artist; and am descended from United Empire Loyalists. I will be more than proud to represent our Monarch.
I also have a stellar idea of how to raise funds for this great country, even in these times of COVID-19 disruption.
I propose to turn Rideau Hall, official residence of the Monarch, into an AirBnB. I’ll be more than happy to live in Rideau Cottage, or even 7 Rideau Gate. I generally live small.
Rideau Hall has 175 rooms and sits on 88 acres. It can easily pass as a Gated Community – with guards. It is set back from the hustle and bustle of the city. Unwanted visitors are removed.
Though it could indeed be party central for the insanely rich, I think more in terms of renovating the interior into a number (admittedly, a large number) of rooms and apartments, suitable for a vast array of the world’s population.
Also, the way things are going, well-done – though admittedly hasty – renovations could turn the building into a grand place for staycations. Proud Canadians from sea to sea to sea can come (eventually) to stay in the nation’s capital. There might be a shuttle service for residents to go to the Byward Market to stock up on provisions.
I throw open this proposal even if I do not attain the high position I desire. It will be a gift to my fellow citizens.
But I think I would look right nifty in uniform
Excerpt from my Kafka In The Castle, where I fill in all of his missing diary entries. Here he is dealing with a time twenty-eight years after the first May Day was declared. Kafka dealt with workers every day of his work life. But he didn’t take their problems home.
By the way – in real life – Kafka is credited with inventing the the hard hat.
27 April 1917
Life seems to offer a handful of solutions which solve nothing. If I could get out of Prague, then I wouldn’t have to get out of Prague.
29 April 1917
Ottla managed to get away, and I’ll be able to visit. The dead man next door (I have since found his name was Adolf) also managed to get out of Prague. Him, I can not visit, but I can follow.
03 May 1917
The thoughts of the living discourage the dead. I spend so much time watching over myself, that there is no one left to watch over me.
06 May 1917
I write to Ottla. I make no mention of her terminated neighbour. I do say “hello” from father. Not an uneven balance.
08 May 1917
If Shakespeare were alive today, and people pestered him about Hamlet, would he wonder what all the fuss was about?
In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.
23 January 1917
The Director talked to me today. About not having sufficient people to run the Institute, and the other shortages caused by the war. And he asked my advice.
And I gave him good ideas – pointed the way. I do know my strengths – although far more familiar with my weaknesses.
And as the Director talked to me, he looked at me. In the eyes – as he so often does.
But he did not see me.
Not the I which I carry around inside myself. Not the K.
He saw an adequately dressed government official, Herr Doktor of Law, a Jew (I think he really does not mind), who knows well the operations of the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. Has, indeed, risen to the rank of Deputy-Secretary.
And that is who responded to the conversation. Made comments Smiled at the Director’s dry humour.
I watched this Jew with interest, and his act was flawless.
I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss. This was partially rectified by using Traveller’s cheques. And though Traveller’s cheques are still available, their use is not recommended, as so many places won’t even take them.
I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged
Berlin, a city (to say the least) that I had heard about, once upon a time. It’s most noteworthy fame, in my opinion, the capital of Hitler’s Germany. And the present, the only city cut in twain by a wall – that infamous wall which causes so much consternation. And I was landing there – and walking into history.
We eventually arrived at the Youth Hostel, or Red Cross building, or whatever it really was. It was a cold, grey, imposing stone structure that reminded me of a second-rate castle somewhere in the Alps. It was plain and simple, there was never any hot water. I was very tired and dead feeling, so I grabbed a bottom bunk and rested/slept for a few hours. I eventually roused myself and went to take a shower. I do not know how the Germans managed to do it (they manage to do many things), but they were able, by some device, to get their water straight from the head ponds of Siberia.
I went out for a walk after my shower, not so much to sight see as to thaw. I didn’t go very far, just looked in some store windows, and went down to the end of the road, a short distance really, for it ended quite quickly with an old, decrepit-looking wall. I thought to myself, that if this were all the East Germans had to get over, there wouldn’t be much trouble to do it.
Excerpt from: China Lily
Matzerath’s mother rarely shared her thoughts with anyone. She is as elusive now as when he was a small boy being raised within the shadow of the religious buildings where she still works as a cook. Bishops and abbots come and go, and red-robed Princes of the Church make their visits, for which she must dress appropriately – but she remains. At least Matzerath assumes she is still there, though he has not been back for five years.
Matzerath is small in stature and taken to be younger than he is. At thirteen he is treated as seven. He allows this because he finds there are more advantages then penalties. He knows far more than is expected of him, and avoids many pitfalls through the guile no one expects he has. He also achieves more than is expected from him, and is given much leeway for a child. Had his real age been obvious, he would be perceived as dim-witted. Because he is thought of as a child, he is considered gifted.
Matzerath’s mother is aware of how her son is tolerated – she even encourages his guile. He is treated better than most children, whose father is absent months at a time sailing the North Sea.
Matzerath is also getting an education of sorts, which is generally restricted to the children of nobles and the wealthy. He has learned how to read and write, along with the rudiments of mathematics and geography. He also pokes his nose into the stables, and the smithy, and the carpenters, picking up their basic skills.
He follows his own mother with interest, and can chose, prepare and present many of the dishes she serves at the Monastery. For the notables at the cathedral, and other clergy, she is expected to produce more sophisticated fare. Matzerath has even acquired some of these skills, but a puny child is forbidden to appear near the high table. He does get to nibble the leavings but notes – as he also does at the Monastery – that very little is ever left.
Matzerath does not possess an abundant affection for his mother – not for anyone – but he realizes that regardless of the amount of work she extracts from him, she generally does what is best for him. He pays attention to her instructions and her observations and her warnings. She also encourages him to tell her what he sees and hears. As he becomes older, she also wants to know what he thinks about the things he sees. Matzerath realizes she is using him as a spy, but he does not mind. He knows his mother sometimes manipulates the information he brings for her own well-being, but these rewards also come to him.
Matzerath heeds the warnings his mother gives about some of the priests and monks and their interest in boys. He discovers this himself upon a couple of occasions, and even satisfies one priest just to see what it is like. He shares this with his mother because he knows she sometimes does the same.
Franz Kafka (in the daytime) was a government employee who looked after the welfare of workers for the Imperial government. He was on the side of the workers – among other things, he is credited with inventing the hard hat.
In my novel about him, Kafka In The Castle, he has an encounter with a worker who needs assistance. This is how he would react.
Excerpt from Kafka In The Castle
16 February 1917
There was a commotion at the office today. It was late morning, and from far below, coming up the stairwell, I could hear a voice bellowing: “Doktor Kafka. Doktor Kafka.” It was a terrible voice, full of blood and darkness. I got from my desk and went to the door. There were other voices, trying to calm, saying: “He can’t be disturbed.” But the voice was louder, more horrible, close in the corridor. “Doktor Kafka – for the love of God.” My secretary wanted me to stay inside, hoped the man would just move along the corridor until the police were summoned. But – I was curious; the man had my name, and his voice was … terrified.
I opened the door and stood in front of it. “I’m Kafka,” I said. The man lunged at me, and went to his knees. “Doktor Kafka?” he said. “Yes, I’m Kafka.” He reached out, grabbing for my hand. “Jesus, Jesus, for the love of Jesus – they say that you’ll help me.” He was a heavy man, and looked as if he had the strength to pull off doors, yet the tears burst from his eyes. “I can get no work. I fell from a bridge, and my back is twisted and in pain.” He slumped against the wall, looking at my eyes. “I have a family, Doktor Kafka. A baby not a year old.” “You were working on this bridge?” I asked. “Yes.” His voice slid down his throat. “I was helping repair the surface.” “Then you deserve your insurance. Why can’t you get it?” He straightened up, and tried to stand. “I have to fill in papers; the doctor can see no wounds; the foreman said I drank; because my brother is a thief, I am not to be trusted.” I held out my hand, and he slowly stood. “I’m telling you the truth, Doktor Kafka.” “If that is so,” I said, “you’ll get the money due you.” “I’m so tired,” he said.
I gave instructions to those standing around – no other work was to be done until this man’s case was decided. I took him to my office, where he sat. He sat – practically without a word – for five hours. I summoned a prominent doctor to look at him. The doctor prodded, and the man screamed. Officials from his village were telephoned. I helped him with the details on the forms. His truth was in his pain. He left our stony building with money in his hand, and his worth restored. The people who assisted me had smiles on their faces. A man had needed their help.