Trick Or Treat

Well, that seems to have gotten rid of the trickortreaters for another year. In this neighbourhood they are organised into parties with adult supervisors to oversee the visit. Nearly all are dressed up – some in quite elaborate costumes – and they all seem delighted with the mini-chocolates or snack bags of chips.

I’m happy to participate and the organised nature of it, with a clear flag to be tied onto the letter box indicating that we are trickortreat friendly, makes it a breeze to deal with. None of the kids are mean or rude.

I have fond memories of this in Canada as a child, though scooting through twilight streets in Calgary in October wearing a bed sheet could be a pretty cold experience.

Others tut-tut it…generally complaining that it is a cultural invasion from America that threatens their very British discipline and good manners. Yeah. That’s what it is all right. Those Americans again. Trump. It must all be the fault of Trump. Prior to this it would have been the all the fault of Eisenhower or Truman. So hard to get that nice stiff British upper lip like before the war…

Perhaps a cathedral service and then a dinner round the pub, or a punchup, innit?

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Living Your Own History

I have given up pretending to be other people; I have commenced pretending to be myself. Whether I will be more successful at it remains to be seen, but I know one thing – the clothing bill will be considerably lighter.

Do I have enough life accrued to have a history? And is it notable enough to be worthy of re-enactment? I’m not Dwight Eisenhower or Jim Carrey…so I don’t know whether anyone else will want to see me playing me. But I will still pursue the idea for my own purposes.

What was I? A little kid, then a teenager, than a young man, than a middle-aged man, and now an oldish sort of man. I have never climbed a new mountain, nor discovered a new cure for anything. Equally, I have never murdered people nor stolen money from them. Just an average Joe.

But an average Joe who had a great good time doing several things; taking photographs, reading books, and building scale models. If I re-enact what I did then I will not please or harm anyone else, but I can still please and harm myself…hopefully in equal portions.

This column, and the others I write, are part of the re-enactment I do of success in school. That petered out early, but these WordPress posts are going along nicely.

The Little Studio continues to take dance pictures as well as commercial illustration to the satisfaction of the customers.

The Little Workshop is spooling up to produce more and more scale models that please and delight me. And keep me agile of mind and hand. The activity is totally beneficial.

I may decline to wear the clothing of my childhood – the Howdy Doody vest is a difficult garment to integrate into normal day wear – but I’ve noticed recently that I can rock the flannel shirt and work trousers…and as a retired man I can wear them in more places than you’d think. The white moustache and flat cap help as well.

Reliving The Lives Of Someone Else’s Ancestors…

I used to take a great delight in the re-enactment hobby. I discovered it in the 1980’s as an adjunct to the activities of our local muzzle-loading rifle shooting club.

We’re in Australia, but a section of the country that has little colonial history of note – few battles and none of them famous. Re-enacting colonial times would mainly involve hard work, dirt, and discomfort. It is an unattractive prospect compared to the pageantry and bloodshed of  the United States, Britain, or the European continent. There is little in the way of glamour to it all.

So I reached out – gathering materials to pretend to live in 1860’s America, 1800’s England, and various areas during the Middle ages. There were a lot more things to wear and do when one concentrated on these cultures. At various times you could have seen me as an ACW soldier of either side, a British soldier of 1815 or 1860, a medieval dentist or crossbowman…it was a varied picture. But none of it was a picture of my own life …or of the lives of my ancestors.

Ultimately, this is where the activity failed. It introduced me to like-minded individuals here and now, and I value their friendships….but it had no valid connection to my life.

So what has taken the place of this once all-consuming passion? What fire burns in the grate now? And why is it producing a better heat for me? Read the next post and see.

Worry Sex

When I was a kid I worried about sex.

What was it? What was it like? What did people do? What were they supposed to do? How did they know they were doing it? What happened after they did it? What would happen  if they did it wrong?

Later, when I came closer to the subject, the worries intensified. When was I going to have sex?  What was I supposed to do/say/feel/remember/forget? What if I became pregnant?

Finally I got to worry about what was it all supposed to have been like. What did I do? What did I miss? Did other people do it better? Where was I when they did?

I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever other things sex might be, most of what it is –  most of the time – is worry.

But am I worrying well enough…?

The Disturbingly Cheerful Person’s Guide To Maniacal Laughter

I think the high point of my social life was a dinner I attended several decades ago when the after dinner speeches were interrupted by someone going off on a laughing jag. I lead a sheltered existence and this was the first encounter I had with this sort of thing.

Oh, I’ve seen Disney villains before and I knew that Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha was pretty standard when they had the good guys trapped in their lair. But a suburban hotel dining room hardly qualifies as a lair and when you hear it floating out over the cheesecake and coffee it can be a bit startling. When it changes to a cackle and then settles into a long series of shrieks – that never stop – you know you are not in Kansas anymore…

I did not see exactly how it was stopped – though after five minutes there seemed to be a scuffle and a series of yowlps and it went relatively quiet. I hope they did not need a wet canvas waistcoat. And I know nothing of the subsequent history.

The oddest thing about it all was the reactions of the diners at the various tables. There just is no social convention for this sort of thing. I cannot remember if I said anything, but I can describe the cornices of that dining room in minute detail to this day, and I suspect others can too.

 

” Will You Ever Shut Up? “

When people ask you this assure them that there will come a time, when you do, indeed, shut up. No life goes on forever and even if you leave behind video tapes and recordings of yourself scolding your neighbours and relatives, eventually the recordings will wear out and a blessed silence will descend.

Writers have a better chance of pressing their opinions on others long after they are dead. These may be good things, like P.G. Wodehouse novels or rubbish like Samuel Johnson’s writings. The only real end to a writer’s influence comes when they go out of print and out of circulation – Voltaire is still going and Euclid shows little sign of ceasing any time soon as long as there are parallel lines or right angles.

We might grant some eternal influence to politicians and statesmen but these reputations tend to tarnish and rot more readily than those of the writers. Territories and resources are much more desirable than ideas, and new people will always arrive trying to acquire them. In the process they remove the old rulers, then their remains, and finally their history and their names. The unlucky ones are kept round as curiosities in museums or powdered for Chinese medicines. At least the mummies that may be ground up for this sort of thing have the satisfaction of being able to make some modern Asian fool sicker than when they started out.

I am grateful for the internet as it allows me to monopolise people’s attention for five or ten minutes every morning and no talking back. I suppose one day it will disappear in an EMP but until then I have an extremely small portion of the public eye or ear to remember what I said.

And to ignore it.

 

Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?