Bad News and St. Patrick

I sat down across from my learned friend Campbell, Camp for short, town councillor and owner of ‘Cost Books’, his ‘non-profit’ bookstore and my partner in crime, if drinking a couple of pints at the local seaside pub can be called a crime. He’s also the only one who listens to my diatribes, since I reciprocate by lending his soliloquies a friendly ear. On this lovely second day of spring it was my turn to unburden myself from too much exposure to mind numbing non-sequiturs from the little screen and the printed news.

“Well Camp, I’m dying to hear what you think about Putin’s self-managed landslide win and Trump’s ongoing autocratic, narcissistic and nepotistic flaunting of the rule of law in the good old USA. His latest idol is the Philippine dictator Roberto Duterte, whose solution to the drug problem is to kill suspected dealers in the thousands with impunity; no questions, no trial, no defence. As far as I can tell, Russia is lost to the west and the US is lost to all except the gun toting, flat-earthers, who love his wrestling style of politics.”

“Apart from your being a tad judgemental, you probably watched too much television and I can only conclude that nothing has changed or indeed surprises me. The price of beer remains the same, the world still moves around the sun, milk curdles if left out in the open and Gibsons Harbour is still a work in progress. ‘The George’ is stuck in a frivolous lawsuit and local real estate is at an all time high.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. It just kills me to watch and read the news these days. Like the fact that this year 65’000 will die from drug overdoses in the US alone, 170 average per day, thanks in no small measure to the doctors who have been prescribing opioid derivatives like Oxycodone for years with wild abandon. It’s all so depressing. Makes me want to stick my head in the sand and cancel my TV subscription, but covering my ears, eyes and holding my nose isn’t going to improve anything. I just feel so helpless and frustrated.”

“I don’t watch TV and I’m still pretty much up on the news but I try to concentrate on news that I can either have an influence over or falls into the category of history in the making. Putin’s win was all but predictable and has no semblance of democracy at work while Trump’s angry tweets from the porcelain throne will one day be viewed as an aberration of power and failure of a system,” Camp said, taking a long draught from his pint.

“Did you know he cheats at golf?” I asked.

Camp just shook his head. “You need to find something to make use of your mind before it becomes so inundated and saturated with banality and trivia that even a couple of pints couldn’t cure. It might even drive you to drink my friend and nothing is sadder then a fertile mind feeding on itself.”

“Have no fear of that,” I said, “Clare isn’t going to let me get senile before my time. You’re the only one I can bitch and gripe too. She wouldn’t put up with any of this. By the way did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a meaningful way?” I asked.

“If you’re referring to a few ounces of Jamieson’s, I am indeed guilty as charged. Good old St. Patrick never knew 1500 years ago that he unleashed one of the biggest annual booze fests in the western world when he converted the heathen Irish to Christianity.

“No wonder it drove them to drink.”

“I’ve read that he wasn’t even Irish,” Camp said. “I think his parents were Romans living in Scotland. He was kidnapped as a teen by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland to heard and tend sheep. He escaped to France, became a priest and returned to Ireland where he spent the next forty years preaching and converting. He used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the holy trinity and the unusual forth leaf stood for luck. “

“I knew I could count on you Camp to keep up with the important news. As for myself I don’t really like green beer.”

Just at that moment Vicky put down two green pints in front of us.”

“Left over from the weekend,,” she said, “they’re on the house.”

I wasn’t about to complain.

“Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!”