“Being a Swiss of Viking and Celtic extraction I thought you have this innate, Teutonic compulsion for precisions and exactness,” Camp said, as I sat down. “It’s not like you to be late.”
“I’m not late Camp, you’re early, probably haven’t adjusted your inner clock to the daylight savings time. In case you haven’t noticed it’s now getting dark at five o’clock. I really don’t like walking in the dark. I think we’ll have to move up our cocktail hour to get in synch with the daylight.”
“I wish they would just abolish the whole thing. Drives everybody crazy adjusting all the clocks and it’s not my inner clock but the one in the store I forgot to adjust and here I am, an hour and two pints early all by myself. “
“First thing tomorrow, adjust that clock,” I said. It’s just typical of you Camp, the distracted, cerebral professor.”
“This doesn’t sound like a compliment. By the way how was your book tour to the Island? Did the crowds go wild?”
“Well, we didn’t have to bus them in,” I said, “I was able to persuade a couple of bookstore owners to take a few book on consignment and I gave a couple of copies to the library. It will be their coveted door prize for the Christmas raffle.”
“I take it the tour was a smashing success,” Camp dug the hole deeper and I was about to shove him into it. “No need to beat yourself up though. Even Stephen King was rejected dozens of times.”
“He was in his twenties. I’m in my sixties.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I admire your aplomb, putting yourself out there.”
“Yeah, I wonder what the hell for.”
“Fortune and fame?”
“No, lucky for me I don’t need either. It’s to tell a story, to create a painting with words, maybe make people laugh or cry, make them think about something else than their daily grind. Entertain and distract I guess or even inspire. At one library some generous soul even supplied chicken and egg salad sandwiches, on soft white buns. I ate three of them just to show my appreciation.”
“I’ve only ever seen those type of sandwiches at funerals,” Camp said.
“And at book readings. Apparently.”
“Wow, you’re a cynic, not a romantic after all. Let me buy you a beer.”
“Best offer I had. By the way did you vote for the referendum?”
“Not yet,” Camp said. “I’m still not decided but I think I’ll vote for the status quo, winner takes all or First Past the Post (FPTP).
“I’m leaning towards PR, Proportional Representation, but it’s too complicated with the three versions, two of which have never been tried and none of which have been determined or explained,” I said.
“My biggest fear is that the voter participation will be so low that very few people will decide how we vote in the future. The whole thing is a conceptual disaster. A binding referendum like this should require a minimum voter participation, say 40%, and of those an absolute majority of maybe 60%, in order to change the way we vote.”
“I think you’re right,” I said. “I read that only 2% of the ballots have been returned to date and by the end of the month they all have to be in. Doesn’t look good. At least it’s not pushed by the Russians on Face Book.”
“Yes indeed since censoring them would look like censoring the right wing only. Face Book is not so much a problem here as it is in the third world, places like Kenya or Indonesia, where Face Book rules. It’s where the young people get all their news, their information and their personal communications from,” Camp said.
“Just because it appears on their personal little screen doesn’t make it true.”
“Face Book is a monster and it’s loose and dangerous.” Camp said with a dismissive shake of his head. We both took a long swallow. “What did you do for remembrance day? he asked.
“I went for a long walk along the bracken, shallow shore. Watched eagles and a sea lion and a couple of herons. Then I went to the local legion after lunch. Very busy place, cheap beer and lots of old folks reminiscing and drinking. You know it’s been a hundred years since the big one ended. Did we learn anything?”
“It’s been almost 80 years since a major world war. And we prospered, invented personal computers, the internet, microwave ovens, dental floss and beer in cans, and the world populations has increased five fold. I would say people live a much better life today then in 1918. Don’t you agree?” Camp said.
“Consider that all of us peasants live like kings, I guess you’re right, but is the world a better place to live on?”
“I believe there is price to pay for higher living standards and that it is directly proportional to the wear and tear of planet earth,” Camp said.
“Something like if there is a finite amount of booze and the party keeps growing there will be guest who will not get a drink?”
“You have a way with words. Something like that. Let’s ask Rosie what she thinks.”
“I heard my name but I just brought you boys a refill.”
“We want to ask you if you think the world is better off today then let’s say it was for your parents.”
“My parents had a house, travelled in places where there is war and misery today and retired early. I can never afford to buy a house, am divorced, a single mom and I do my travelling on the internet. You tell me who is better off?”
“I guess it’s all a matter of perspective,” Camp said, after Rosie had left.
“Yes, and not everybody is better off today then yesterday.”