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The Path Less Taken

..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greece and it's adventure with the EuroZone..
This issue has been a long-standing topic for my writing..
I need say no more than I have in the past.. nine years I've been warning about the impact of the financial crisis on Greece..

Have a gander back through a few of those years..

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Memory's a funny creature..
 I can recall the summer of '59 as clearly as though it was yesterday.  My father had won a 45 foot grand banks fisher, which had been brought down the St. Lawrence, through the Great Lakes, up to the Kawarthas via the Skugog Riven and the Trent Canals. A full house, aces over queens.
It was a good time; my father was an engineer and the manager of the local Dominion Viscous, a plastic pioneer plant. I never had to think about money; we lived in a big old Victorian house on a hill in a good neighbourhood and my friends and I spent our endless summers playing in the woods behind our house, and the sand pits, a vast desert just half an hour from our front doors.
But the boat. 
It was called 'Manka', which is Algonquin or Chippewa for the Canada goose. It had been well converted into a cruiser which would easily sleep 8, if you were all friends. Powered by two massive, or so I thought at the age of 8, Grey Marine 440 cu/in engines, the Manka could, if pushed, hit 30 knots.
 I was in positive awe of my father, never had he had such stature in my eyes before. I mean we had had our moments, during summers at Balsam Lake at our cottage. He taught me to play cribbage and whist as we wiled away the odd rainy day during the summer holidays. 
 But this boat. This was on an entirely different level. I pictured sailing up the Skugog, up the Trenton Locks to Balsam Lake and our old place. I pictured the looks my summer friends would give us as we moored at our dock, and the fishing trips we'd take to the middle of the lake. I pictured an adventure.
Well, it turned out, that there was a problem. It had originally been a salt-water boat, and being in fresh water for a number of years, had caused the keel, from stem to stern, to rot. So, my father, who was still my image of John Galt (I had read Atlas Shrugged over the previous Spring), hired a long-bed trailer and a Peterbilt , loaded and braced that boat on the trailer, and hauled it through not only downtown Lindsay, but up the steep grade of Albert Hill. We lived at the top of Albert Hill, of course. It took them 5 hours of a Saturday morning, and required not only the permission of City Council, but the attendance of several cops on motorcycles, and as I rode along with my father in the cab of the hauler, several choice expressions found their way into my developing lexicon.
But, after toil and trouble, the route was negotiated with no more than frayed nerves, and the boat, still on it's flatbed with it's bracing holding it upright, as though waiting for Deucalions Flood, stood in our driveway. We had, in retrospect, a huge courtyard, and that 'damned boat' as it became known, took up most of it. Now, as I mentioned, Dad was an engineer. He examined the damage to the keel, crawling the length of the boat past my mothers protests of 'it's not safe Leon' to poke an awl deep into the rotten wood, and quickly decided the Manka was grounded. Literally. However, being the do-it-yourself type, he went to work calculating what material he could use to replace the rot, and after a week or so of thought, decided concrete would be the ideal material. He had considered ordering an oaken beam that would run the length of the boat, but the price was, even then, extortionate. He thought if the Romans could build Rome using concrete, he could cast a new keel for our boat.
He built the form in less than a week, and then we had the added excitement of an actual cement mixer taking up what was left of the room beside our house, as the keel was poured.
My friends were fascinated, and I found them showing up at the house just to look at the 45 foot beached whale of a boat in our driveway. It became the topic of conversation in most of the barbershops, Masonic and Kiwani's  Lodges, and anything else my father had contact with. Most were of the opinion the boat would sink like a stone, what with all that pavement weighing it down, but there were some who booked passage with my father for the maiden voyage. 
I was one of those, with a guaranteed berth.

It strikes me, that those endless summer days, that the social development of the adult male begins in earnest. Friends made during those pre-teen years were almost as close as family, yet as only a few years passed by as we continued on our various roads to adulthood, after only a grade or two had been achieved, we had seen our bond fade, almost losing form and shape until it was only an amorphous memory, with days we thought would be imprinted on our very beings slipping away into fragmentary glimpses of a shaft of sunlight seen through the eyes of a nine year old.
The re-launching of Manka was a momentous day. One of those which promised to be turned and honed by the emery of time. My father had invited all his friends down to Al Wilson's dockyard for a barbecue and general pissup, and to me, from my vantage, it seemed most of the town had shown up to watch this concrete hybrid settle slowly to the bottom of the Skugog and drink my fathers beer. Of course, my friends Larry Lancaster, Brian Broome, and Peter Hall were with me, enjoying the inattention and using it to clamber from stem to stern, touching every item on the boat we thought might be of importance, and being pirates intent on highjacking this worthy bucket.

Friday, May 08, 2015

'A most amazing result' is how one pundit has put it..
David Cameron and the Conservatives have been elected to form a majority government in Westminster. In the wake, Ed Milliband of Labour, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage of UKIP have all resigned as leaders of their respective Parties.
To make this particular election even more interesting, Scotland, almost all of Scotland, voted in the SNP. Fifty-six of fifty-nine seats followed the Nationalist banner, increasing their presence in London from 6 in the last government, to this staggering number.
While the Conservative majority is outright, it is slender, and with issues the likes of the European Referendum coming up, the backbenchers will take on a long awaited prominence. 
I cannot find it in me to envy the Conservative Whips in this Parliament. But I am comforted by the outright majority David Cameron has wrought..
Let's see what evolves.. if nothing else it should be.. interesting..

Wednesday, April 29, 2015



Now it's not that I miss the feel of an old hat, but with our General Election a week away, it demands attention, if only to record current sentiment.
It was back in 1979 when the Labour government of Jim Callaghan was ousted in a vote of non-confidence.. Callaghan made one comment that is forever engraved in political bon mots, to the effect that 'it was the first time turkey's voted for an early Christmas'.. Never has that epithet been more apt as in this election, in particular in Scotland. 
The latest polls indicate the SNP could sweep the country, taking all 59 Scottish seats. Mind you, the leader of that Party will not be among those standing for a job in Westminster, she'll be too busy pulling the strings in the back rooms of both Hollyrood and the Palace in London. But what amazes me as one who considers himself British, is the weight a separatist group has gained. 
Sadly, it is a close parallel to the rise of the PQ in Quebec.
Point being, when all's said and done, is this rise of 'nationalism' we've seen of late throughout Scotland, is counter-productive, and the continued pursuit of independence by a major political force will only lead to years of unrest and division. And now to make it even more insulting to the rest of the UK, a block of Scots will now hold significant sway on issues which don't even concern them or their constituents.

This is a trend which cannot be allowed to develop into the status quo now in place in Canada, where it was agreed the entire country would be officially bilingual, with the exception of Quebec itself. Where the Quebec Assembly could pass a Bill 101, while the other provinces were bound by Federal Law.

Not here. Not in Scotland.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Not long now 'til the General Election, and this one's going to be hard to call.. It's expected David Cameron will maintain a plurality in the Commons, but an outright majority is a long shot. The one thing the Conservatives have going for them, is their economic long game. It's demonstrated results indicate a steady recovery, albeit a slow one, and this should be enough to give the Conservatives another kick at the can.
The problem looming, is the majority projected for the SNP here in Scotland. That Party could take as many as 60 seats, all in Scottish constituencies, representing a sizeable voting block in Westminster. They, under Nicola Sturgeon, will be led to oppose anything the Tories propose, and while they're nowhere near as influential now to cause any worries in the blue camp, the possibility of there being a marriage of convenience in future votes makes them a annoyance.
Nine days and we go to the polls.

Monday, April 13, 2015



A point worth considering.. it may well be one of the symptoms of ageing.. that the most profound thoughts on life, the past, the future, come just at the cusp of sleep.
I find, as my eyes are finally really losing focus, that my mind is gaining.. that the acuity of what could be called revelation is vastly heightened past the mundane levels of the day.

If I could but drag myself from the comfort of my bed, and make my bleary way to the computer to record these weighty thoughts, I could possibly found a religion.

In fact, having dragged that old saw out from it's dusty jacket, the concept of 'faith' is often one of the many flashes darting through my mind as in the dark I lay. I'm becoming more and more aware of my own mortality, as an actual entity.. Not quite the elephant in the room stage, but growing faster than a Labrador pup..
I have watched many of those who were close enough to me in age to be called contemporaries slip away this year. Many were prominent, too many familiar and known to me. Now the thought of leaving this shell does not give me pause whatsoever. I cannot believe the 'spark'.. both literary and literal.. which is in each of us, can be destroyed. It's analogous to a house being removed from the electrical grid. The power from that house merely returns to the flow, until there's another light to be lit.
Sounds more new-age than I'd like it to.. I suppose I'm as close to a follower of the Albigensian Heresy  as anything else.. Be that as it may, it is a 'faith'. It affords me peace, in that death does not frighten me. I have attended the funerals of enough of those close to me, to understand a basic fact; death comes for all. 
And if all those who have gone before can take that step with equanimity.. who would I be to do less.

And I'm not even in my bed yet..



Thursday, March 26, 2015

This day deserves marking before it comes to an end..
Today the second of my children left this island, and returned to Canada. My youngest son joins his slightly older sister in forging a life in what I still believe, even after 20 years, is a gentler place.
Canada is not paved with gold.. it is not a paradise.. it is however a country which allows you to make the best of yourself if you're willing to put the effort in. Ability is appreciated and rewarded, at least for the most part.
I wish my son all success. I am sure and safe in the firm belief all my children are prepared.
Sure. From this keyboard to God's printer.



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