Gibsons was in the clutches of an Arctic deep freeze this past week that convinces even the hardiest local climate deniers that yes: It does snow in Vancouver and yes, winter tires are a good idea and no, Vancouver and the lower mainland are not prepared for accumulative snow falls and have inadequate or no snow removing equipment. Despite the brazing weather I’ve made my way faithfully to my Thursday meet-up with my friend Camp at our pub which was empty except for our stalwart waitress. ‘I don’t get paid if I don’t show up,’ she said with a shrug. Camp eventually walked in looking like ‘The man that came in from the cold’. Before I could even ask about the store he said wryly: ‘Been closed all week due to climate emergency,’ while extracting himself from his soaked overcoat. ‘What’s on your mind besides the weather this week,’ he asked.
We’re into the January blues. The weather, the stock markets and the local economy can only improve. Those who can, flee south towards the sun and those who have to stay behind can only imagine what it would be like. I have a picture in my mind of a sunny beach, toes in the sand and margarita in hand. Such were my musings as I ambled towards our table on the glassed in and heated veranda for our Thirsty Thursday get together over a pint or two. Campbell, or Camp as we all call him, was unusually late and after checking my watch noticed that I was early. The good news is that the days are getting longer and Clare is still working, leading a productive life and bringing in a few shekels. Tax season will soon be upon us and the beer isn’t getting any cheaper.
“You’re early,” Camp said, while taking off his old woollen tweed coat and his fisherman cap, stepping aside to make room for Vicky who already had two foaming mugs at the ready. I guess we’re easy marks, no surprises there.
‘Hard to believe we have a water problem here on the coast,” Camp said, shaking the water off his hat. “It’s a management, infrastructure and political problem, not really a lack of water.”
“I read that the 5 million dollar water meter project will reduce demand by 20%. Which doesn’t really address the supply issue,” I said.
“Yeah, between new reservoirs, rainwater harvesting, some new wells and lowering the water intake at Chapman lake we should be able to support another couple of thousand multi-bathroom houses on the coast.”
“What do you make of all the howling coming from the White House. Not a day goes by without some new and distorted news flash, always coming from the same source. He who shouts the loudest is the most right,” I said.
“He, who every morning tweets from his throne, without knowledge, is king of the ignorant,” Camp said.
“Did you just make that up?” I asked, taking a sip from my beer.
“Well yeah, you can quote me if you like. It is a serious business, this president who wants to take the institutions and instruments of the state like the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon and Homeland Security and make then all into instruments of the office, his office in particular.”
“Along with better access to the nuke button and a supreme court that will rule from the top of the mountain for the rich and powerful for years to come, forgetting about that we’re all supposed to be equal,” I said.
“Just last Friday Carl Bernstein warned us that these could be the darkest days since Joe McCarthy. He said something like: We have the unprecedented situation of one of the main political parties backing the president in the belief that he is above the law.”
“It’s ignorance,” I said, the fact that millions of people in the US have no clue of world history, other cultures, languages, geography, never mind philosophy or literature. It’s a lack of general education. You cannot fix or build anything without the proper tools,” I said.
“You’re right of course, public schools in the US are over crowded, under funded and are closing at an alarming rate. And then there is Betsy DeVos, who wants all science vetted against scripture and is a big proponent of school vouchers, which gives parents the right to use them for private and religious schools, basically taking the money right out of the public schools. I read somewhere that over half of black young men who attend urban high schools do not earn a diploma. Of these dropouts, nearly 60 percent will go to prison at some point. That’s a pretty bleak and sad statistic.”
“Education is knowledge and knowledge is power, not power to rule and strike fear but power to understand and tolerate,” I said, “and you can quote me on that, Camp. And while growing up they get their news-bites from Facebook and Twitter.
“Not a lot of laughs in this corner today,” Vicky said, who surveyed our empty mugs with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, we’re talking about the ignorant and under-educated masses who make up the Trump army,” Camp explained.
“Really,” Vicky said, I believe most of those senators and members of congress are lawyers and have university degrees.
“Well, eh, right you are, I guess it’s more a case of the white old men holding on to visions of aristocracy where the working poor are also the ignorant and docile, like sheep or cattle.”
“You boys need to lighten up. It’s not all that bad. More people are working, and have more choices in America then in most other countries, except of course Europe and Canada. And they have the best contemporary music. Ever heard of Khalid? He’s got a song called ‘Young, dumb and broke’ or how about Bruno Mars?”
Both Camp and I were speechless which doesn’t happen often. Camp cleared his throat and pointed to the two empty glasses. “How about a couple refills Vicky?”
“You bettcha,” she said, turned coyly on her heels and sang: “ Young, dumb and broke…”