I walked along the stormy shore watching in awe as the high winter tide was hurling big driftwood logs against the beach like sticks in a pond. This unleashed force of nature was a serious reminder of how tenuous our existence is in this world. Such were my thoughts as I walked towards our watering hole. I made a pledge that today I would only discuss good news with my friend Campbell, Camp to all who knew him. For this one time I promised myself that I would not gripe, bitch, complain or otherwise vent my frustration at the unhinged world of Trump or the chaos of Brexit woes or the looming civil war in Hungary. No, for this one occasion before Christmas, I would only confine my weekly chat with Camp to positive themes and events. Let joy and happiness rule supreme.
When I stepped into the cozy atmosphere of the pub which was all done up with twinkly lights and whimsical decorations, Camp was already seated at our favourite table on the veranda, looking out at the leaden, stormy waters of the harbour with Keats Island hovering in the dusky light in the near distance. From Camp’s mien I could tell that he was about ready to share his peeve of the day, probably about Trump’s Christmas gift to Putin, in the form of the US troop withdrawal from Syria. I was not going to engage in trash talking, and held up my hand before he could utter a word. “Camp,” I said, “today we will only speak of good deeds and positive happenings, we will only talk about what’s good in this town and this world. For once we will engage with the spirit of the season and be merry, happy and uplifting.”
Camp stared at me as if he’d seen a ghost and then burst out laughing, almost toppling his chair in the hilarity of the moment. “Well looky here Santa buddy, what a novel approach. Did Clare put you up to this? Did she say that Camp the old cynic and sourpuss couldn’t handle a good news story if it fell on his head? Well my friend, I accept the challenge. Here is a positive event, our lovely Vicky bringing us a couple of pints of good cheer.”
“Yes, that’s good news.,” I agreed, “but you probably haven’t heard of the Canadian Don Sadoway, a professor at MIT who has invented a large-scale battery that’s reliable, safe and long lasting. It’s powerful enough to energize whole neighbourhoods. It’s what they call ‘grid-size’.”
“No I haven’t heard about that. What’s so positive about a battery?’ “As you know you can only get electricity from the sun when it shines and wind turbines don’t work on a still day. Hence, the need to store power. Sadoway’s battery is the missing link to renewable energy. Bill Gates thinks so and has invested heavily into the project. This can make the planet a better place, the inventor said.”
“Ok, I have a couple of good news stories as well. One international, one personal.”
“Oh, personal, I’m curious about that,” I said.
Camp ignored me and said: “Last week Mexico’s new president, Lopez Obrador, introduced what he called a ‘Marshall Plan’ to address the root causes of Central American migration. It’s a $ 30 billion initiative to invest in the region and welcome migrants into Mexico with visas, health care and employment.”
“Wow, that’s exactly the opposite of Trump’s approach which is crack down on migration, build a wall and cut off aid to Central America.”
“Exactly,” Camp said. “And he also raised the Mexican minimum wage by 16% to 103 pesos, the equivalent of about Can$ 7.40. Per day that is, not per hour.”
“Wow, that’s about the cost of a couple of margaritas by the beach,” I said. “I guess it’s good news since it is a raise. Ok, now what’s the personal good news story.”
“All right, I’m not supposed to tell anybody about this yet. So, I have to swear you to utmost secrecy.”
“You have my attention,” I said, curious.
Camp looked at me, both eyebrows raised.
“OK, I swear.”
“Muriel and I will tie the knot next year, probably in June.” Camp immediately finished his pint in one long swallow. “Wow, that is indeed fabulous news! What made you decide to take the leap into matrimony?”
“Three reasons: Because she asked me and I’m not getting any younger.” “That’s only two reasons.”
“And I think I’m in love with her.” “That’s fantastic Camp. Congratulations.”
“You two are in a jolly mood tonight,” Vicky said, already bringing us our second round. “You win the lottery?”
“He has,” I said, winking at Camp who scowled at me. “We’re just celebrating the merry season.” “Don’t let me ruin the moment.” Vicky said, “but your bar tab needs paying up before the end of the year.”
“Ho, ho, ho,” Camp chortled, while I desperately tried to keep my positive mood.
“No problem Vicky,” I said,” just not today. It would indeed ruin a perfect evening.”
“Feliz Navidad,” she said, “enjoy the holiday season and be merry and happy.”