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Leonard Cohen’s Birthday And A Trudeau Election In Canada

I take advantage of the fact that there was a federal election in Canada yesterday, featuring a Prime Minister Trudeau, and today is Leonard Cohen’s birthday. I present this excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim, when Cohen was still alive and attending the funeral of a former Prime Minister Trudeau.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from Fame’s Victim

ST is present-bound enough to be aware when the end of the funeral arrives. Vested clergy group at the front of the church and the RCMP poll bearers again emerge. To the mournful strains of the organ they begin to slow-march the coffin along the aisle. He has no desire to mill about to meet the family for he has never met any of them before. He only encountered Le Monsieur the one time, but it was obviously significant for the older man.

     This ceremony of death makes everyone equal, and ST takes his place comfortably among the hundreds of other mourners who begin to leave the Basilica. Their progress along the center aisle is orderly but slow and he has time to inspect the interior of the building. As he looks at statues and woodwork and stained glass, a hand taps him on the shoulder.

     “That’s one of my favourites.”

     ST turns to see Leonard Cohen nodding and pointing to the left. He follows the other man’s finger and eventually perceives a somber painting enlivened with splashes of mystic colour.

     “I see ecstasy.” Cohen’s voice is a low murmur.

     “So do I.” ST immediately understands what the quiet voice means. “It breaks out.”

     “The way death should be.” The poet glances at ST with a half smile. “Something to look forward to.”

     “I’ve never doubted that.”

     “Ah.” Cohen shrugs. “If Pierre could only speak to us now.”

     “Do you think it possible?”

     “No.” His eyes hold ST. “Not the way I mean, at any rate.”

     “The tongue stilled.”

     “Something I will regret.” He leans toward ST. “Do you have plans after the funeral?”

     “Not really.” ST keeps to a muted tone. “I thought I’d look around the city. I don’t leave until this evening.”

     “Then perhaps we could take a noontime stroll to a place of refreshment.”

     “I don’t want such public exposure.”

     “This is the Prime Minister’s day in Canada.  It is understood why you’re here, and you will be left alone.”

     They come out into the sunshine. Media attention is heavy, but it is directed elsewhere. ST is pleased to discover that his companion is adept at quickly moving through crowds. They descend the steps and start along the street, garnering glances but no intrusions. They turn a corner, cross another street, and traverse a Square that leads to a narrower street. ST notes it is Rue le Royer and the pedestrian traffic is slight.

     “A restaurant or an outdoor café?”

     “I’d like food and to be outside.” ST speeds up to keep pace. “But I’m not sure about a public display.”

     “There is a favourite place of mine. We will be left alone.”

     The street enchants ST, much as many of the ornate, narrow streets of Europe do. He can imagine himself standing on one of the small, door-sized balconies looking down as pedestrians, such as two, black clad men, scurry along below. In a few minutes they come into the direct sunshine of a broad avenue. They are on Place Jacques-Cartier, and it is ringed with cafés and restaurants. There are also hundreds of people milling about in the crisp October day.

     “There might be the occasional ‘hello’.” Cohen glances at ST. “Nothing more than a smile is required. Most of these people are on their lunch hour, intent on a bite and a glass.”

     “I’m certainly intent on a glass.”

     “That’s where we’re headed.” He doesn’t point but starts across the square. “There are many tables still free.”

     ST again keeps pace, walking beside the other man as they go up the hill. People do indeed notice them, but after an initial surprise comes a look of understanding. The day still belongs to Le Monsieur.

     The outdoor café has hanging baskets of flowers, many in robust bloom. The tables are of ornate wrought iron and have burgundy table clothes. The chairs appear to be actual wooden kitchen chairs.

     “Perhaps that corner.” ST points to the back.

     “But – non.” Cohen smiles as he grabs ST’s arm. “Here – at the front. We are to watch the street go by in all its tousled glory.”

     “Will they not be watching us?”

     “Give and take.” He begins to steer ST to a table. “We will be taking more than they.”

     A couple of the tables have wide umbrellas open over them. ST prefers one of these but instead is gently nudged to the street front. All of the other patrons do look as they walk among them, but although their eyes linger no one says anything. At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

     “We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

     “If they approach . . . “

     Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

     ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as he has seen in any public place.

     “The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

     “Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

     ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

     “What would you like to drink?”

     ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

     “Champagne.”

time?” Cohen glances at his watch.

     “Will they have something decent here?”

     “They will offer a selection.”

     With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

     “Any food?”

     “Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

     “They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

     “That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

     “Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

     “I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

     “Then we acknowledge?”

     “Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

     “Memory – the ghost at every table.”

     The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

     “They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

     “There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

     “In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

     “That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

     “It should be the news of the world.”

     The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

     “You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

     ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

     “We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

     “By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

     “By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

     “With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

     Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

The Inviting Lights Glow On A Friday Night In A Distant Port

Except the port is


Not that distant.


I don’t even need


My spyglass


To see the street lamps


Well-lit,


Especially the Three Sisters Lamp,


Lined up straight with


The steeple of Trinity Church


To give the captains


Of the ships


Somewhere to aim.


For they all aim,


Past me,


In my lighthouse


At the mouth


Of the harbour.

.
And they all


Go past me


To safe haven

,
And Friday night


Deviltry and celebration,


And rum galore!


Whilst I can


Only watch


From a distance.

{I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}
DE BA. UEL

Major University Reunion Ends In Virtual Reality

I had some designs on actually attending this significant University Reunion a number of years ago. I did know it was on its way. A pandemic covering the world put a stop to that.

But, since my graduation year hit a milestone, I decided to see what was going to happen online. I fully accepted that the lobster boil was not going to be on the menu.

When all is said and done, this past weekend’s events were fine enough. Zoom takes one to sundry places and I heard a couple of talks, and saw a tour of the campus. Not greatly different – I knew where I was. One residence built in my graduation year has since been totally renovated. I have not.

I was /was not surprised by the number of participants at the class reunion of my year. Twenty (20) to start the hour, seventeen (17) at the end. One of whom I actually knew. I said my two cents worth in passing.

I regret not sharing this story at the time, but didn’t want to hog the hour.

I had gone to a couple of earlier reunions , one where I was told by a server of the lobster boil: “I like your style.” I believe I was being praised for my gusto.

It was at my first reunion that this event happened. Tables were set in long rows, filling a hockey rink surface. Each table (and in certain places, a number of tables)had a large sign announcing the year of graduation. My year had three tables end to end, the year on each of them. I’d guess seating for 50 -60 folk. All the place settings were there, and each table had three bottles of unopened wine present. What was lacking were members of my graduating class. I would say there were fewer than a dozen.

And even they started to trickle away, I assume a few went to sit with friends. I know a number went to sit at the table where Anne Murray was seated. She was getting, I believe, an Honorary Degree (and a literal carved wooden chair). She was a legitimate graduate from years before, in Physical Education.

So, shortly before the food was served, I was left by myself at my Graduating Class table. But with most of that wine (some folk scooted off with a bottle or two). Decent hefty red – Marechal Foch.

I believe I finished two bottles.

At the end of the meal, there were ceremonies. I believe that is when Anne got her chair. However, there was something called “The Roll Call of the Years” I quickly discovered that, when each year was announced, all the folk from that year stood up at their table, by their year sign, and were applauded by everyone present.

I sat alone at my table.

I did not wish such attention paid me, but I had a dilemma. What was most obvious, to keep sitting (for everyone could read the class year), or to stand on my own?

Ladies and gentlemen, it helps to have two bottles of Marechal Foch giving you good cheer.

I rose from my seat at the announcement of my year and clasped both hands over my head, waving enthusiastically. I was cheered to the rafters.

I was even asked by a couple of other tables if I might want to join them.

I declined.

There were still unopened bottles at ‘my’ table.

Happy Birthday To Me / Hippo Bird Day Two Ewes

 

happy-birthday-1-728

There will be scampi on a plate with breakfast for my birthday.

     Quarts of wild strawberries will float in flagons of cold Rhinish wine. Blueberries will be hidden by thick cream, and golden honey shall trickle from plates of buttered toast. Braces of quail and brown roasted turkey will be surrounded by steaming heaps of new potatoes and tender ears of corn. Joints of beef and lightly curried lamb will stand between bottles of red Anjou wine and jugs of red Italian fire.

     A smoking, suckling pig will have bowls of dry, yellow squash at its feet and stacks of cheeses at its head. Pastry and pies and a foot high chocolate cake will stand among jars of brandied fruit. A cask of aged port will remain, to do justice at the end.

     Then I shall settle back to patiently await my dinner.

[Image] https://image.slidesharecdn.com/brthdy-1225815250925041-9/95/happy-birthday-1-728.jpg?cb=1225786507

Canada Day Is Really Dominion Day – But A Beaver Remains The Same

s-l300

We know that Canada Day is really Dominion Day.

But – that said – there is still no better symbol for Canada than the industrious beaver. But even hard-working beavers hard-working beavers need their time at play. This is what I saw.

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.

It was one of those noises which, when I found out what it was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river.

First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands.

Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’.

And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the river.We both saw another beaver approaching.

The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and sniffed each other. They then swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see.

However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.

Perhaps they had just had a date. Perhaps they had just arranged for a date. Whatever the case, I had the distinct impression they were more than friends.

A Flash Mob of One

flashmob

It is difficult to be,

Or, to do,

(Hard to say which is more accurate)

A Flash Mob of One.

Particularly the alto parts.

But that is all

Which is allowed

In these times of

Pandemic.

Six feet (two meters)

Apart.

Multiplied (x)

By who knows

How many people.

So,

Ya gotta be community safe

(So much better than sorry),

And do it all yourself.

This does, however, make those

High-kick routines

Much easier to

Choreograph.

(image) https://reputationtoday.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/flashmob.jpg

 

 

Waiting For The Dead On Halloween

115116d1339798513-vintage-halloween-photos-5277724533494196_ewnwqjb0_c

It is Samhain, and we lay in wait for the dead.

Not to flee from them

Not to hide from them.

But to be prepared.

The moon is full and the trees are bare and the old year ends and they come to dust us with their cold hands. To seep away a little of our warmth. To have just a taste of the life they once had. Blood in their veins. Breath in their mouth. Tears in their eyes. From the cold.

Of course, we are fearful of their touch. We are told they might have the stench of the grave upon them. We are told their skin might slough off on our own. We are told their rotted clothes might fall from their bones, and we will see things to make us scream.

We are told the fresh decay of our parents and uncles and aunts and grand folk will be the worse. They have had their year in the ground and are beyond any excuse to linger. They are the most reluctant. They have the clearest memories of what it is like to live. They, more than all the others, want it back. They might wish, if they can, to suck life right out of us and feel warm once again.

It is best we disguise ourselves from them.

It is best if we hide our faces with masks and wear clothes not our own.

As a last resort we can fill frightening faces with flame and scare them away.

We are all prepared for that.

And when the day passes over into the night; and the full of dark, and the promise the cocks will again bestir themselves to start us into the cold of winter: we will light pyres of wood, and open the cask of ale, and have a feast with dance and song.

If we manage to get through the night.

[Image] 1.bp.blogspot.com/-f9TFFXhu8f8/UJFA-Bj2R4I/AAAAAAAACCQ/pMvabFcW3d4/w1200-h630-p-k-no-nu/115116d1339798513-vintage-halloween-photos-5277724533494196_ewnwqjb0_c.jpg

Are These Three Cruise Ships Birthday Bound?

september-19-md

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
I didn’t see all three cruise ships coming in, only the last one. But, even so, why not assume that they have arrived for me on my birthday? And if it puts me in the company of Jesus and Mary, I’m more than happy to have them along. And if “All the bells on earth shall ring” and “All the Angels in Heaven shall sing”, well, I’m happy to ring & sing along with them.
 
An additional jog to this nautical (though not celestial) theme is that today is also International Talk Like A Pirate Day (which attempts to usurp the wonder of my birth). And, I bet if we search long enough, we’ll find that no pirate no where ever said “Arrr, Matey!” Still, one takes what one can get, so “Arrr, Happy Anniversary of my birth to me.”
Oh – and, yes – 19 September is indeed classed under the perfect Virgo sign.
 
Google informs me (*personally*, of course) of the high points and low points of the day (103 days left in the year)(English forces under Edward the Black Prince defeat French at Battle of Poitiers and capture the French King during the Hundred Years War)(first commercial laundry established, in Oakland, California)( Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony premieres in Prague).
 
I am also informed of those famous folk lucky (and, I assume, more than happy – if not ecstatic) enough to be born on the same day as I am. So far (for some reason) I am not gathered into their ranks, but Time is a fickle master and I’m not holding my breath.
 
So, later today, I will go to the harbour and cruise along beside the Cruise ships. I doubt I’ll be invited aboard, or even offered to quaff some champagne.
 
Some things, even on your birthday, you just have to do yourself.

A Beaver Tale For Canada On Dominion Day

canada2b52bcents2b1948

We know that Canada Day is really Dominion Day.

But – that said – there is still no better symbol for Canada than the industrious beaver. But even hard-working beavers hard-working beavers need their time at play. This is what I saw.

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.

It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river.

First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands.

Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’.

And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the river.We both saw another beaver approaching.

The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and sniffed each other. They then swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see.

However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.

Perhaps they had just had a date. Perhaps they had just arranged for a date. Whatever the case, I had the distinct impression they were more than friends.

[Image] https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AuCz15l2mk0/VtYoT60BuQI/AAAAAAAAPKg/Zcu976hYp7Q/s1600/Canada%2B5%2BCents%2B1948.jpg

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