Fear Not


            Fall is here with all its colours, the rains, the pumpkins and shorter days. Usually this is the time to book flights to warmer destinations for the winter. Instead I’m looking at discounts for ski passes and winter tires for the car. 

            A segment in the CBC evening news caught my eye the other day. It raised the question if we are focusing on the wrong kind of testing here in Canada. I wanted to know what Camp, my reliable drinking companion, thinks about that.

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Phone Drama


            I wanted to tell Camp about my recent experience with my cell phone provider. I’ve been a subscriber to Telus for the past 25 years and I’m not the kind of person who switches banks and utilities at a whim. I’m too lazy and a bit cynical, thinking that they’re all the same but claim to be different then all the others. 

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Year One


            Muriel and Camp were already at our usual table when Clare and I walked in. This felt like a proper social gathering, instead of the usual lament or as Vicky once pointed out in unflattering terms: a man-bitch session.’

            Instead of the usual grumpy peeve of the week we exchanged pleasantries and talked about the weather and Muriel briefly complained about the ongoing tiresome but seemingly necessary protocols on the ferry, the grocery stores and public spaces.

            ‘No bitching or complaining at this table,’ I said, scoring a point for Camp and I, ‘we only talk about positive and humorous issues, isn’t that right Camp?’

            ‘I think I’ll start a new calendar,’ Camp said, looking over at Muriel who along with Clare agreed to join us for this one time, for our usual Thirsty Thursday.

            ‘I’ve already heard it,’ Muriel said, taking a sip from her white wine spritzer.’

            ‘What calendar?’ Clare asked.

            ‘Well we have the Muslim Calendar, the Mayan Calendar, the Gregorian Calendar which is the one we use and now I propose the Covid calendar which starts at year 1. BC would be Before Covid, AC After Covid and so on. What do you guys think about that?’

            ‘I think I need a stronger drink,’ Clare said.

            ‘The First Nations could also have their own calendar, BC, AC just like us but based on Before Contact or After Contact,’ Muriel said, ‘and cheers, this is fun.’

            ‘Since we’re a bubble, we don’t have to distance or wear masks, except Camp, who has contact with the public in the store,’ I said.

            ‘I don’t wear a mask, since I’m always behind the counter, at least six feet away from any customer. Most of them wear a mask but I don’t have an official policy and I keep the doors and windows open. Not quite sure yet how this is going to work in the coming months. Winter is coming and so is Christmas in year 1. Even Santa will have to wear a mask and no bouncing kiddies on his lap.’

            ‘Ok, you two,’ Muriel said, taking a sip of wine. ‘Get it out before you burst. You must have some thoughts on the latest episode of ‘The White House’. 

            Both Camp and I answered in stereo. ‘Worst show ever.’

            ‘A culture of ignorance,’ I said.

            ‘Hubris, egos and maniacs,’ Camp added.

            ‘No brains, no class, no respect,’ I said emphatically, emptying my first pint.

            ‘I’m glad we got that out of the way,’ Clare said, winking at Muriel.

            ‘Did you guys see any wild life on your road trip,’ Muriel asked, steering the conversation away from swampy and treacherous territory.

            ‘We saw a marmot, a few mountain goats crossing the highway, lots of birds but no bears, moose or caribou.’

            ‘You do know the difference between black bear and grizzly bear scat?’ Camp asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. ‘Black bear scat looks more like some hippy berry or apple crumble and grizzly scat is the one with the bells and whistles in it.’

            We all looked at Camp and it was Clare who got it first. ‘Funny,’ she laughed.

On the Road Again – Part 3


            Banff was pleasantly accessible and didn’t feel crowded due to the lack of international tourists. A bonus for us visitors, a calamity for the local businesses. It will be a hard winter for many: from shop keepers to students, teachers to restaurateurs. We said farewell to our friends who both are connected to the Banff Centre, the artistic and intellectual heart of the  mountain village, which in a normal year would bring in hundreds of artists and students from all over the globe but now sits mute and closed; its staff and students furloughed until past-Covid times it seems.

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Madness


            ‘How was the trip,’ Camp asked me after I sat down.’

            ‘I loved being on the road and it made me forget about the madness all around us,’ I said, ‘and we live in a beautiful, diverse part of the world. Just like our license plates say.’

            ‘Welcome back to reality,’ Camp said. ‘Let me tell you about an article in the New York Times which quoted Charles McKay who wrote ‘Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ in 1841. A rollicking chronicle of how humans go bonkers in crowds, who with wild-eyed passion go crazy for prophecy, fortune telling, magnets or alchemy. Surely the 13M viewers who watched a Trump endorsed video of a doctor who claimed demon sperm and alien DNA as the cause of covid-19 fit right into one of McKay’s ‘Popular Delusions.’

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