When I was growing up there were no cartoons on the TV. There was no TV. But there were comics.
During the World War II, my favourite comics were not published every week, owing to shortage of newsprint; they were, in general, published every two weeks. Not all comics were on the same schedule, so of my favourite three, at least two of them came to the stores weekly. I do not remember how they got to me, but I’m thinking it was by the daily newspaper. In Alderholt, the village to which we had evacuated, they would have been left at Mrs. Bailey’s store at the bottom of our lane. Back home at 29 Little Lances Hill, Bitterne, after the war, it would have been by the deliverer of the Daily Herald, the left-wing newspaper to which Dad subscribed.
So, what were the three?
TheBeano Comic, a British anthology comic magazine created by Scottish publishing company DC Thomson. An anthology magazine includes single or stories too short for individual publication and amalgamates them into an issue. Its first issue was published on 30 July 1938, and it became the world’s longest-running comic issued weekly, except during World War II, publishing its 4000th issue in August 2019. Popular and well-known comic strips and characters include Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, General Jumbo, The Bash Street Kids, Jack Flash, Ivy the Terrible, Jonah, Lord Snooty and His Pals, and Roger the Dodger. Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher, has been running since the beginning of Beano, whose million sales in one week came in December 1945. And the Beano is still being published today, albeit after several different publishers, it has changed a bit in format. Nevertheless, the cover page looks much the same as I remember.
The Dandy was a British children’s comic magazine published by the Dundee based publisher DC Thomson, as was The Beano. The first issue was printed in December 1937, making it the world’s third-longest running comic, after Il Giornalino (cover dated 1 October 1924) and Detective Comics (cover dated March 1937). One of the best selling comics in the UK, along with The Beano, The Dandy reached sales of two million a week in the 1950s. The final printed edition was issued on 4 December 2012, the comic’s 75th anniversary, after sales slumped to 8,000 a week.
Over its 75-year run hundreds of different comic strips have appeared in The Dandy, many of them for a very long time. The longest-running strips were Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat, who both appeared in the first issue, and both of which I remember well.
The Wizard was my favourite comic. The Wizard was launched as a weekly British story paper on 22 September 1922, also published by D. C. Thomson & Co.
During WWII, it became a fortnightly paper. I couldn’t wait until the next issue came, as I loved reading each story of Wilson. William Wilson was born in the village of Stayling in Yorkshire and claimed to be born on 1 November 1795. However, a document dated 11 March 1774 listed him as “clerk to the manor”. He was sufficiently old that when writing, he used an “f” instead of an “s”. His farmer father died in middle age, leaving Wilson £5,000. He studied medicine and biology in a number of countries around the world and determined not to die early as so many he knew had, he worked out a health and fitness regime and learned how to slow his heart right down, using a formula created by people who could live to over 200. He developed his will power and hardened his body by whole winters spent in the open. The first adventure introduced Wilson as a supreme athlete, who joins a race from out of the crowd and manages to record a three-minute mile (a feat likely never to be achieved – although one should never say never). That particular first story is imprinted on my mind and I can see it as well today as when I first read the 2+ page story. During WWII, he joined the RAF and became Squadron leader W. Wilson D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar, who had 25 victories to his name.
The character is depicted within stories as performing a number of improbable events. Wilson was seen in one strip becoming the first man to climb Everest, and another saw him captaining an England cricket team to The Ashes in Australia. Originally hailing from Yorkshire, and living in a cave on a diet of nuts and berries, Wilson exemplified British grit and the stiff upper lip.
There were times when my pocket money was spent on one other comic paper, The Hotspur, but it never became a favourite, although during WWII it alternated with The Wizard.
Thanks to The Dandy, The Beano and other D C Thomson comics which followed, Dundee gained a reputation as a major centre of the comics industry, and has been called the ‘comic capital of Britain’. Partly as a result of this legacy, the city is now home to the Scottish Centre for Comic Studies. The connection is also marked by bronze statues of Desperate Dan and The Beano character Minnie the Minx installed in the city’s High Street in 2001. Designed by Tony Morrow, the Desperate Dan statue, which also features his dog Dawg, is the most photographed of 120 pieces of public art in the city. In July 2001 the cover of The Dandy featured Dan visiting Dundee and encountering his statue. In December 2012 the University of Dundee held an exhibition in partnership with D C Thomson to mark the comic’s 75th anniversary.
Oh, those weekly reading adventures in my favourite three were something to which I so very much looked forward.
[I acknowledge much of the history in this particular Scribblings is from Wikipedia.]
Before CoVID-19, it was a tradition that at least once a month, more frequently if we had guests, after church on a Sunday, we would go to Vernon’s Diner on Hammonds Plains Road.
And gorge ourselves. You know, be a greedy gourmand.
But, since CoVID-19, we have not been allowed, nor allowed ourselves, to indulge in such unseemly dining.
On Saturday, as we were having our dinner, I said to My Beloved, that I had been thinking about going to the Diner tomorrow. I did not know what sort of reaction this would bring, as I know she has been very careful about going out other than to shop for supplies.
However, she tilted her head towards me with that little tiny bit of a smile and said, “You mean actually going to the Diner tomorrow for brunch?” Well, the tilt of the head and the little smile told me without answering her, that she was all in on this idea.
So, yesterday, after the service, and after a customary Duo with the two of our daughters, Jenny and Tanis, who also attend the zoom service from Atlanta and Salt Lake City, I did a very Un-Christian-like thing, and teased the heck out of them by telling them our plan was to go to the Diner, so we would be cutting this Duo short. Oh, I knew I had hit the spot with each of them: I could see it in their faces. Fury? Desperation? Envy?
So, I terminated the Duo face-to-face and My Beloved and I got in the car and drove to the Diner.
There were many cars parked already, so I went in and spoke to a server, telling her that my wife was out in the car, as we didn’t know if they could take us. (I should add that many restrictions have been removed, as the Nova Scotia population has been very diligent in masks, distancing, testing and getting vaccines, so our case count is virtually zero nowadays.) Certainly, go and get your wife, she said, we have lots of room and I will seat you both.
On bringing My Beloved into the restaurant, we were immediately seated at a booth.
We looked at each other. Oh, this was freedom.
Our server, who was still masked, as we still were, asked us if we would like a tea or coffee. My Beloved responded with, “I would love a white wine, please.” To which the server said she wished she could join us, and then turned to hear my request. “A spicy Bloody Caesar, please.” As she departed, I called out after her, “VERY spicy!”. to which she raised her thumb.
Very shortly later as we were regarding the menu, she returned with My Beloved’s white and my Bloody Caesar, but also with an unopened bottle of Lee and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce. As she put it down, she said, “I wasn’t sure when you came in masked, but the spicy Caesar confirmed that you were the couple who used to come in often.” And I said, “And you are Kelly!” She said, “I don’t have my name tag on, but, yes, you’re right.”
I had to admit to her that I had cheated about knowing her name: I had texted Jenny in Atlanta and asked her if she could remember our preferred server’s name and she came up with ‘Kelly’. What a memory! Kelly remembered well the blonde with the tall son who loved very spicy virgin Caesars. And she remembered the redheaded daughter as well. We have all said many times in the past that Kelly has a most remarkable memory concerning people and our favourite choices from the menu.
How nice it is to be remembered. She got an extra special tip later.
En passant, many years ago, we were moving from Winnipeg to Montreal and I was lodged (at my employer’s expense, I quickly add) in the grand luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel for several months. Every evening after work, I would go to the bar and order a very spicy Bloody Caesar. A couple of years later, when a friend from Winnipeg was visiting us during the Montreal Olympics, I took My Beloved and our friend to the bar in the Ritz. The bartender remembered me and how I liked my Bloody Caesars very spicy. He delivered.
Back at the Diner, we both ordered the VERNON’S BREAKFAST SKILLET Two eggs (any style) with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage, served over breakfast potatoes and topped with a Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese blend with two slices of 22 Carrot Bakery bread. 13.99
Eggs over easy, bacon and whole wheat toast were our choices. And was the end result from the kitchen as good as expected? The esurient duo thought so.
Kelly, as manager of the day, was extremely busy and was as professional in helping our her staff as she had always been in our experience, but still found time to come and have a couple of little chats with us.
We decided there was enough room left in our stomachs to split a Chocolate Torte. A chocolate cake with masses of chocolate frosting all over it and a tablespoon of whipped cream with chocolate to add to the torte and another whipped cream with caramel.
Kelly will not be disappointed in that we will certainly be back to our tradition again.
Indeed, what might I have been doing now? I wonder.
It seems I have been so fortunate in life to have had many a CHOICE.
Mind you, I had no CHOICE in who my parents were, but I’m glad they were my parents and not somebody else’s. Let’s skip the early life where they influenced so many of my CHOICES or made them for me. So, starting from where mid-teenage boys know everything better than their parents, while on holiday from school or, later, university, I was a bus conductor on Southampton, England, transit. By far the majority of that life consisted of hanging out the back platform waiting for the next stop and asking people for their fares, whereupon, I would strike a lever on my ticket machine, slung around my shoulders, and give them a ticket equivalent to taking them a certain number of stops, or fare stages, as they were termed.
As most of our buses were double deckers, I was kept busy running up and down the stairs, trying to get all the people’s fares up top before the cheaters down below could get off without paying.
It was certainly a job I enjoyed, even though it was all split shift work, sometimes starting really early to catch those going to work, then a rest for six or seven hours, during which I could enjoy a pick-up game of cricket with a few friends, then going back to ensure that all the workers get home safely by bus. In the three summers I did this, I had the same driver for two of them, a wonderful man who had been a driver for many years, but whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. Let’s call him Jim; and Jim and I bonded, even though he could have been my grandfather while I was sixteen. A gentle man who drove as if he was driving a limousine for the queen.
Quite the opposite was Harry Martin: he was middle aged, but thought he was still a teenager driving in the Monte Carlo rally. When I was ‘up top’ and he was driving around bends in the road, I soon had to learn the best skills of balance without catching hold of anything other than my ticket machine and leather purse into which I dropped the pennies and threepences and sixpences and shillings and florins and half crowns or an occasional paper note and having to withdraw the correct amount of change and striking off the ticket for the customer. At the end of the route, with Jim we’d lounge around the engine or in the bus regaling each other with thoughts of the day: it was different with Harry, he would immediately light up his cheap Woodbines, which he rolled himself, and offer little conversation. Except that when he first met me, he was, “Oh, !***!, a kid!” Well, our relationship never got anywhere near that of Jim and me, but he did mellow when he realised that I was fast with taking the fares: apparently in previous experiences with ‘kids’, the kids were slow, so this meant that he would have to wait sometimes at stops while some of the passengers’ fares were collected as they got off the bus instead of being taken quickly inside the bus. That meant he was late or never early at the end of the route, so did not have time for a Woodbine. That never, but never, happened with speedy me, so he did mellow quite a bit and, as I recall, he didn’t swear or blaspheme at me ever again, though he did at people who cut in in front of the bus and made him brake hard.
The next CHOICE was EITHER to stay at university studying Music, English and German and where I was enjoying myself learning to fly in a
and get paid for it in the university Air Squadron – similar to the University Officers’ Training Plan (or UOTP or ROTP) in North America – OR join the regular Royal Air Force. You know which CHOICE won out!
As this is a piece about CHOICE, I will omit the years in the RAF, where you didn’t have CHOICE, but do as you were ordered.
After leaving the RAF, I had another CHOICE: I was offered a job as a test pilot, as back in Canada, I had been awarded the Top Pilot cup, but having just got married, that was considered by me as too risky, although it had tremendous appeal. Besides, we had jointly made the CHOICE to emigrate to Canada.
So, for about a year, while waiting for a ship to bring us to Canada, my CHOICE was to learn the business of being an optician’s technician. I measured eye centres using the frame the client had chosen so that the lens would be centred with a simple ruler and to measure the length of sides needed. When the new lenses came back from the factory, I had to check the lens was in accord with the prescription using a focimeter, a device to measure the power and axis or axes of an optical lens, then shape them by grinding them on a wheel until they fitted the frame the customer had chosen.
I would then ensure by heating and bending the sides that they were a comfortable fit, a trick I have used many times since to adjust friends’ frames. I also learned to make sure the tiny screws did not come out by filling the holes with acetone (nail varnish if you don’t have the real stuff). We made our own acetone by melting down old frames. No, not metal ones!
I enjoyed being a technician and enjoyed the staff of Husband’s, except for the pompous optician who was the manager, a retired army Captain. The other two opticians were very nice and one would sometimes take me at the end of the day in her little Morris Minor and drop me off at my home. The sales girls were delightful: I well remember one, Shirley, a pretty dyed-yellowish blonde, frequently singing the popular song of the moment, Love and Marriage (go together like a horse and carriage), for she was going to be married soon after My Beloved and I had left for Canada. I remember leaving her a wedding present before we left.
Another CHOICE, whether to get the first available ship, which was from Liverpool, or the ship which would leave from home port, Southampton. The latter was obviously the one, since our friends could stay on the quayside and wave goodbye to us.
So, we arrive in Canada and take a train from Québec to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, “Four days on a train?” mouths My Beloved, to astounded to voice the words.
We had no jobs, but we had many friends I had made in my over one year of pilot training there. several years before. The CHOICE then was one of three:
Join the RCAF – they would have snapped me up as I had been ‘top gun’ in my course.
Join Max Ward’s bush pilots up in Edmonton and the North. Later he formed Wardair, subsequently WestJet, and I could have been a pilot for it.
Look for work in Moose Jaw.
My CHOICE was 3.
My Beloved found a position immediately in the local hospital, where, knowing she had been trained in England, a doctor snapped her up as a lab tech.
A fellow trainee pilot had married a local librarian and not returned to England and his wife’s grandfather knew the owner of the local radio station, “CHAB, Moose Jaw, eight hundred on your dial”, Syd Boyling. Syd, a great fellow, hired me as a newscaster to put together and read the news every half hour from six in the evening until midnight.
After Earl Barnholden fired me after just six weeks of newscasting for running the 1956 Hungarian revolution as my lead – to me that was important but Earl considered what the Women’s Auxiliary down the street were doing as most important – Syd called me in to his office and said, “I know you and Earl have had your differences, but I want you still; I would like you to become a producer.” Another CHOICE.
Well, the only ‘producer’ I had come across during my six weeks was a fellow named Lawton or Lawson, who used to come in at the end of the day and say he had produced three more ads, or however many he had produced that day. He meant he had been out selling ads to the local businesses. I had no intention of becoming an ad salesman, so I turned Syd down. Had I known then what I discovered later that Syd had meant me to produce programs, I might well have taken the job. How a different CHOICE there might have changed our lives!
Instead, I accepted a CHOICE Trev Seaborn, who ran one of the largest insurance agencies in the province, offered. That certainly set me on the track towards being an agent in Moose Jaw, and after a couple of years, a CHOICE to become an underwriter in, and a move to, Winnipeg and…………
As a liability and surety underwriter, I was privileged to analyse the books of construction companies for insurance and surety companies. One, BACM Industries, a family-owned company was on the cusp of becoming a very large international multi-faceted manufacturing and construction company. In fact, a couple of years later, it did become public and went on the New York stock exchange. As it turned out, I was the only person in the family’s trust, so I was allowed to go to the family’s head office to review the books, while the broker had to sit outside and wait.
Another couple of years and I left my job as underwriter with the General Agency, Osler, Hammond and Nanton, and the CHOICE was to join Prudential of England as an inspector. One week after joining the Pru, the Treasurer of BACM entered my office, shut the door and said, “I don’t know what you came to Prudential for in the way of remuneration, but we will double the salary and throw in a good car of your choice. Will you accept?” Yet one more CHOICE.
My Beloved and I chose a smashingly beautiful 1961 Pontiac Parisienne Hardtop – cream outside, scarlet leather inside. A great CHOICE and still one of, if not the, best CHOICE of cars we have made.
Five kids later (our mutual CHOICE), BACM, having changed its name again, was bought by a company of the Belgian Royal family, became GenstarLimited, and we were moved to Montreal.
That time, we really had NO CHOICE.
Another CHOICE came when, in 1976 in the midst of separatism in Québec, Genstar moved its Head office to Vancouver and its Executive Office to San Francisco. I would have been moved to SF, but another CHOICE was made for me: I did not get along with the unimaginative Secretary of the company, so we came to a mutual parting of the ways. Otherwise known as being fired. Again.
After a couple of years working for a company as a consultant Risk Manager, a family conference had me opening our own Melanber Inc. That was a CHOICE we have never regretted.
One more CHOICE was to accept an offer of a Nova Scotia family business to come to Nova Scotia and help them. Another CHOICE we have never, no, not ever, had second thoughts about.
Was our CHOICE to retire? Not totally, as we still have one active client which seems to want to keep us. Also church and volunteer work have also been our CHOICE. We are constantly busy.
But not too busy to eat and have a good meal at home or at a restaurant, which inevitably leads to a CHOICE…………but NO CHOICE during CoVID-19, at least during the various lockdowns we have had and are experiencing now. We have ordered a few CHOICE take-outs over the past year and a bit. But that is not the same as going to a restaurant or having friends in for a meal.
And so my CHOICE today is to avoid the CoVID-19 issue and leave it for another post, meanwhile wishing you in the USA a Happy Memorial Weekend. And for the rest of us who had a long weekend last weekend, make a special Happy Weekend for yourselves. And, in the way of our former Premier, “Stay the blazes home and get vaccinated!”
Growing up in England, I was a cyclist, so much so that my Mother always said that if I could have ridden my bike upstairs to bed, I would have.
However, at age sixteen I got my driving licence and, in those days, that allowed me to drive by myself or take passengers with me. My Dad had purchased a 1934 Austin 7.
It was a neat little car which would do 50mph going downhill. After a while, I was allowed to drive it to school – while my Dad walked to school. But his school was not even a mile distant from home, whereas mine was some 5 or so miles. Note that I have been showing the speed and distance in miles, whereas I normally talk about such things in kilometres: that is because, I think using the statute system is more in accord with the time about which I am writing.
One big advantage of having the car at school was that in the lunch hour, I had time to drive over to My Beloved’s (Beryl, as she was then) school and meet her; even take a quick drive over to a common. And then get her and myself back to our respective schools in time and on time. That meant that I had not had time for eating my lunch, butt what did that matter? I was seeing the one I loved, even for brief minutes.
A much different use of the car was being able to get tickets to Wimbledon and take three friends with me to watch the tennis.
Another time, I took Bill (Musker), Allan (Driz), George (Bell), all sadly deceased, and Ken (Dommett) to Bournemouth, about 30 miles from my house to see an opera. We all loved music and this was just one of the trips, others to such as Drury Lane in London. Each drive was an exhilarating experience. The Austin 7 was not built for speed indeed, it’s average to get anywhere was between 35 and 40mph. So its centre of gravity did not have to be low. It wasn’t. it was somewhere up in the sunshine sliding roof. However, although designed for four passengers, we often had three in the back seat. This meant that they, back there, were jammed in. The time we drove to Bournemouth, on arrival at the door of the theatre, I will never forget the face of a policeman as he watched Ken jump out the passenger door and the three in the back climbing up and out of the roof. His face was classic incredulity.
On the way there, Ken was always in the passenger front seat, on going down a hill through the New Forest (a little steeper than the pic) at max speed and on seeing an approaching left bend, I told Ken to open the door and hang out to balance the C of G. Over time, he got quite good at it. (Remember, it was right hand drive.)
Another best friend, Michael (Ridges, whom I chose as my Best Man at our wedding), lived just a few minutes from me and our ‘Gang’ used to hang out there quite often. I well remember Mrs. (Betty) Ridges standing at the end of her driveway as I drove up and then proceeded to drive along the sidewalk chasing her son. She declared one day she was going to tell my parents what I was doing in the car. Mothers don’t know everything about their prodigy’s behaviour. She never did tell and she gave us as a wedding present, a great big bowl of beef drippings. On toast with Marmite I used to adore it and she knew only too well that I did. Those days are long gone of course. Nowadays, it’s salmon and salad for dinner.
So, yes, I did have a car in High School, or Grammar School, as we knew it. And it served me, let alone our family of Dad, Mum and me, very well.
It was the same car in which I had an accident years later, after I had returned from pilot training in Canada, and Beryl and I were going somewhere local in Southampton, when a dog jumped out in front of the car. I pulled sharply to the left, hit the curb and, as the C of G was so high, it tipped over onto my side of the car. I, stupidly, tried to put my arm out to stop it from tumbling to the ground, but the car got the better of me and trapped my arm beneath it, breaking it in the process. Several people arrived on the spot and lifted the car back upright. No damage except to my arm. Beryl was fine, despite the lack of seat belts then. I ended up at an RAF rehabilitation hospital, Hadley Hall. But all of that is another story.
My Beloved and I are well-known for our proclivity to dining out. But for 14 months of CoVID-19 we have been unable to do so. Until we got our first shots.
While we appreciate that the first shot does not provide total protection, it does provide much better than no immunisation, so when Karen said Dee was leaving for Ontario at the end of the month of April and were we up to a lunch to bid her farewell, My Beloved and I said, since we had the shots two weeks earlier, we were: with apprehension.
After anticipation lasting a couple of weeks and after due discussion as to whether Karen and Peter were going to walk to the restaurant or we would pick them up, Karen said, since you don’t know exactly where the Restaurante A Mano is, pick us up and we will walk back afterwards.
Well, Italian is not my first choice – or even my second or third – but since our guest of honour had requested it, Restaurante A Mano it was.
So, we picked up our friends and, after zipping out of their street, which means accelerating asap left across two lanes when there is a gap in the traffic into a, hopefully, empty lane, and after turning across in front of a cyclist and having an oncoming car trying to make a left turn across our bow in a traffic light intersection and having him honk at me – the cheek of it – we turned into the courtyard wherein is Restaurante A Mano and a zillion other restaurants and there, as Karen had predicted and as she now shouted, ‘There – there – at the end of those cars on the right – oh and there are two on the left!” – I pulled into the blue wheelchair parking space on the right. All safe and sound.
Now, the entrance to Restaurante A Mano does not open onto the courtyard, which maybe explains why there are no blue parking spaces near it, only those ‘over there on the right’. So, we hiked across the courtyard and up to Lower Water Street. To be fair, we found out after the meal that there is an exit onto the courtyard, which cuts off half a kilometre.
Excitement rose to My Beloved and me, along with greater apprehension than we would have thought necessary. Our minds, however, directed our feelings. So we sat at a very nice window table Karen had reserved. It was a gorgeous day and I could see all through the meal people enjoying themselves in a patio off another restaurant. Karen had originally said on hearing my initial apprehension, maybe we could sit in the patio at Restaurante A Mano. Apparently, they had not yet opened their patio. Maybe just as well, for it might have been too cool outside, the temperature being about 14C. Whatever, we had a lovely table with our lovely best friends. Awaiting the arrival of our guest, Dee.
Now, while being a bit of a linguist, my knowledge of Italian is limited to trying to figure out the Latin root of words. And knowing that left hand in Latin is that very sinister couple of words, sinister manus, I thought Restaurante probably meant Restaurant and A Mano very probably meant ‘by hand’. It does, but I also did my M-W (Merriam-Webster) search along with my friend Google Translate and found out that a mano, as an adjective, which it could be referring to the noun Restaurante, also means carry-on. Well, we were not going flying, so that rules that translation out and leaves the first translation. It’s a restaurant by hand, whatever you think that means.
Thank God Dee arrived. Not that we were not enjoying Karen and Peter’s company, but My Beloved and I were still feeling maybe a trifle uncomfortable and had not taken our masks off since sitting down.
We haven’t seen Dee since she arrived at our front door one day just before Christmas, when she backed away from us on our opening the door, but she had put a lovely bottle of Port and some daughter-made jam on the deck for us to pick up. She kept her distance, knowing we were being very CoVID-19 correct. What a friend!
So, it was good to see her again and her arrival quickly put a stop to any hesitations about taking masks off a tavola (at the table). My Italian is improving.
As the wine and the food arrived – and got consumed – any inhibitions about dining in a restaurant seemed to diminish and, eventually, disappear.
I recall that Karen and Peter shared a pizza. They had no inhibitions, having been to this restaurant a number of times before, even being known by the staff. Dee had some form of an insalata (my Italian broadening again). My Beloved and I shared a garlicky soft bread with a dip, while, simultaneously, she had calamaretti fritti – flash fried calamaretti served with lemon garlic aioli and my additional choice was the Crostini Trio – Goat cheese, honey, fig & pistachios – Gorgonzola, roasted pears, and mascarpone – Ricotta, basil pesto, pomodorini confit.
Pomodorini, you ask? So did I, my Latin being totally useless, since tomatoes of any sort, especially cherry tomatoes, which this word turns out to mean, had not been introduced to Europe until the early 16th century.
Well, it was, Italian or not, all exquisitely delicious.
However, My Beloved and I had not finished: we wanted, nay, needed, a desert. We shared a decadent Torta al Cioccolato e Arachidi – Chocolate cake with not one, but two layers of peanut butter icing, chocolate ganache, candied peanuts and we added a scoop of chocolate Gelato.
It was a wonderful re-introduction to living the way we like it. Thank you Dee, Karen and Peter for not only getting us back into the flow of things delectable, but for introducing us to another great restaurant.
The only issue from the lunch was that we came home and slept for over an hour. And later, I must admit to a little bit of nausea, which disappeared quickly, in the middle of the night. Food I am not used to and so rich.
So that was, as I said, our re-introduction to dining-out.
Our wedding anniversary was two days afterwards, on the 9th April, so I mooted to My Beloved that it might be an idea to dine out again. It did not take too much urging. Seems like our apprehension of a few weeks back was nowhere to be found. I had had a hankering for fish and chips for some weeks and this was the time to go for it.
Lefty’s. A family style restaurant (no Italian necessary) just ten minutes away. We checked if we needed a reservation, but, no, they do walk in or take outs.
On arrival, we were welcomed and shown to a booth immediately. Pinot Grigio for My Beloved and Malbec for me. Small glasses only. It did seem strange, however, to be back at one of our customary spots again after so many months.
Two pieces of beer-battered haddock and chips for me;
honey-garlic chicken wings for My Beloved.
In times past, we would have ordered garlic toast as an appetiser. Not nowadays.
So, we enjoyed this dinner and gave thanks for the fact that in Nova Scotia, people have been very good over the pandemic, resulting in relaxed regulations. Friends, Gloria and Ken, from the church came in while we were eating and were shown to an adjacent booth and on answering the question, we replied it was our anniversary dinner except for the lunch two days previously, it had been fourteen months since we last did this.
And then came the time for paying. I gave the server my card, only to have him return it, saying, it has all been taken care of by your friends in the next booth. Oh, how wonderful to have such friends. Bless them for their generosity and love.
So, getting back to dining out has been an adventure we have enjoyed with five great friends. We consider ourselves so lucky to have such friends.
One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. Lucius Annaeus Seneca
When did CoVID-19 really get going so that our normal disappeared?
Well, it seemed like eternity had passed when My Beloved and I decided to go out on a date to a restaurant – AT LAST!
Where we live, there is not much choice: Lefty’s, The Finer Diner, Wing ‘n It, Trellis or, a relative newcomer to the scene, The Rustic Crust pizzeria. Yes, just five. Our old friend, Smitty’s, unfortunately folded three years ago, and now Wing ‘n It. Well, we know what three of the four present for eating – and drinking – but we had no idea how this newcomer, The Rustic Crust, which had been open only since last Fall, had survived the CoVID crisis, nor what their menu was. I could have looked it up, it seems, but we thought we would go and find out for ourselves.
On arriving, we saw there were plenty of tables, as in picnic tables, available and we were told we could select any one. Our server took us to our selected table and placed paper menus on it. Only to see them being blown off. No problem once they were collected and placed under napkin and cutlery.
On reviewing the menu choices, we were very pleased: there were five Starters and a small or large Caesar Salad, fifteen different pizzas (after all, it is a pizzeria), and three desserts. While looking over the menu and trying to decide which of the pizzas we would share, our server brought us our chosen wines, a Tidal Bay 9oz for My Beloved and a Padrino Rosso 9oz for Yours Truly.
Parenthetically, for you wine snobs to whom I talked in my last post, Tidal Bay is a registered Nova Scotia appellation, just the same as Beaujolais or Gevrey-Chambertin or Sauternes. “A wine with Nova Scotian character, Tidal Bay brilliantly reflects the terroir, coastal breezes, and cooler climate of its birthplace.
“Officially launched in June 2012, Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and one-of-a-kind for North America. A racy, aromatic white wine, it displays the Nova Scotian characteristics of our cool climate region and pairs flawlessly with the local seafood we’re known for. The name Tidal Bay was inspired by the influence of the sea and being home to the biggest Tidal changes in the world.” (https://winesofnovascotia.ca/tidal-bay/)
As My Beloved and I sipped, we could not decide on a starter: Garlic Fingers or Wood Fired Pepperoni? We settled on the latter and chose a pizza entitled Salsiccia comprising San Marzano Tomato sauce , fior di latte mozzarella, fennel seed , sausage, roasted red peppers, pesto and aged Parmesan on a thin whole wheat base. Our server asked if we wanted the starter first or together with the main course: I responded ‘first’, but subsequently discovered that it was such a large starter that it would have accompanied the pizza beautifully. Next time.
The pepperoni was cut into numerous slices and sauteed in the fire oven. Very tasty, I might add. As for the pizza, it was simply delicious. We love thin crusts and The Rustic Crust pizzas are all very thin. We did not know what San Marzano tomato sauce was and I still don’t, but it seemed to us that it was like any other herbed tomato sauce.
While we ate, and while some parents were presumably chatting, some children were pleasantly enjoying themselves using chalk to make a hop-scotch route or just chalking a picture of something on what once had been a paved driveway. It was great to have them there close to us and see them enjoying themselves so much. Much better than having them run around inside a restaurant, as some are wont to do under uninterested parents.
Of course, there has to be a dessert and even more certain when the choice includes genuine Gelato. So, My Beloved preferred strawberry, I preferred chocolate and asked our server if that could be provided. “Well,” she said, “our ice cream always come with three scoops, so I’m afraid I will have to add our neopolitan scoop.” Oh, what a shame, we said! We’ll have to eat all three scoops.
So, our first visit to The Rustic Crust was a rousing success. We will certainly be going back. Before the cold weather comes and threatens to shut things down. Actually, we are meeting a couple of our best friends there tomorrow, Friday.
POSTSCRIPT In my last post, I recounted (viz below) a story from my past, in which a certain then-colleague and I submitted ourselves to a plethora of wine. His response below:
“For those reading your delightful and informative post, the recounting (and that word was chosen deliberately) of consuming 5 bottles between 2 persons at dinner is accurate. As to the wine referred to therein, that particular vintage comes from France when the Pope was living there because it was too dangerous to stay in Rome. It literally means “The Pope’s new castle”. It is located in Avignon (the bridge made famous in a children’s song) in the Rhone appellation. The “Avignon Popes” were actually there for about 70 years, but I digress. “The beloved author of the post/column/rant also introduced me to Barolo wines. One of Italy’s finest wines. Although well meaning, I cannot ever forgive him. I am just a poor country boy and as I have frequently commented, “once you go to Paris it is really hard to go back to the farm”. Having been seduced to try this wine forever changes you and one now are saddled with a refined palette or at least an addition to your oenophilic experiences. It is not the education that I regret but the cost of the wine today. In our liquor stores they range from $36.80 – $92.50 a bottle. Like Mel, I am no wine snob but this pricing is just not sustainable if you want to enjoy wine in satisfactory quantities over the long haul. “In my not so humble opinion the author justifiably is critical of wine snobs, the verbiage around them and other related sins. He refers to reds and whites, etc. There is only thing you need to know and that is the best wines are the ones we drink with friends. Yours very truly, Robert the Red.”
It was, as usual, a pleasure writing to you again, so, until next post, keep healthy, stay safe, keep your mask on, except when dining, and bon appetit.
Adieu until next From time to time…. Please mark me as being followed by you, or say you liked.
This lovely wine’s nose of lavender with a shade of parsnips simply asks to be be sipped to enable you to balance the elegant forestry redwood nose with the delicate weediness of dandelions and stinkweed palate, all brought to your table from, since one year ago, our family-owned winery.
I am positive you have all read something along those lines when seated in a restaurant (when you could go there without a mask, which might have helped in covering the ‘nose’) and preparing to taste the wine the sommelier brought to the table.
Of course, it may not have been quite so caustic or drastic as that which I have composed as an example, but what I have read many times makes me almost want, to use a good old English word, to puke. Descriptions like, “lofty white floral aromas and fragrant minerality on the nose; while on the palate the wine is plush and full-bodied, superbly fruit-forward with generous mixed red berry fruit, mineral and earth tones, integrated sweet oak spice, augmented by sagebrush undertones with gritty tannins, zippy acid and a persistent finish,” (courtesy Vivino.com).
Of course, if you cannot read French, then the information on this back label, of which more later, will not help you establish of what the nose comprises.
There are a few of my friends who can tell the difference between a red and a white, except by colour. And having said that, I’ve lost my wino friends, save those many who don’t care which it is as long as it is a red or a white. Oh, well. I think they know whom I mean. One of them has had many an experience in the past with me, when we were much younger and could drink at least five bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape over a dinner and then be able to find our way back to the hotel. Of course, neither of us could – or would have wanted – to afford even one bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, but, in days of yore, we were on an expense account.
A ‘nose’, of course, means what the wine smells like, while a ‘palate’ could simply be stated as what the wine tastes like. In fact, to obtain the nose of a Chardonnay, a wine of which I do not like the palate, you have to stick your own nose so far into the glass to get the nose, you may cut the bridge of your nose open, or, at least, bruise it. And that’s the reason I don’t like the wine, the palate of it is, in my opinion, zero, tasteless.
Are you a wine snob? Oh, yes, such people do exist. But not I. I think at one time in my life some years ago I must have had Wine CoVID-19, for my sense of ‘nose’ and ‘palate’ regarding wines seems to have disappeared. I can smell bacon frying and love the taste of salmon, but as for the nose of any wine and then the mandatory sip to get the palate, I may as well not waste the sommelier’s presentation and time. Oh, I can tell a good Malbec from an awful Malbec, but to tell a Malbec from a Pinot Noir, I would have to concentrate hard and come up with, likely, no decision.
But to get back to the wine snob, he, for I have never come across a she wine snob, always presents the bottle for inspection, I would say shows it, to his guests and announces what it is; he always then makes a show of uncorking the bottle and placing the cork on the table for examination before he decants his wine, or to put it in less snobbish tones, he always pours the wine out of the bottle through muslin or some other filter, but never a coffee filter for a wine snob, into a flagon or carafe. From there, he will ask who would like to taste it. Now, this is where the wine snob shows his snobbish expertise. He will watch you like a hawk to see how you pick up the glass, by the stem or by the bowl; how well do you observe the colour; how you take it to your nose to get the nose; how long you take to nose it; how long do you take to taste the palate; and, finally, how do you replace the glass on the table and mumble, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ Of course, you can tell whether he is a wine snob, too, for while you are doing your job, he should be silent, watching you, not making lame jokes with the rest of the table.
Now, if you come to chez moi (that’s a snobbish way of saying, my place), we will usually use my home made wine. No snob here. Unless it’s to use a bottle of wine brought by a guest. But my home made wine is of exquisite quality with a fine nose and noble palate. And, besides, you do not have to go through the rigorous business of being presented with the bottle or nosing or tasting it. No. Because, bottling is a waste of time and as soon as my wine is ready to bottle, I put it back into one of the plastic bags in which the concentrate comes, stick a rubber tap on it and shove it back into a box in which it or some other concentrate came. I call that boxing my wine. No snobbish procedure there. By the way, I get three 7-litre boxes (over 20 litres) out of the one box of concentrate. Works out about $3.50 a litre.
There is one other sign of snobbery, that being the labels. Here is one example:
and here is another:
Let us compare the labels. Note that the former says it is from Brengman Brothers Estate. My label says it is from Chateau Melville, and, elsewhere on the label, at the home of Mel and Beryl. The former specifically states it is a ‘white wine’, nothing special in other words. My label states it is a Malbec. The former says produced in 2016. My label say this month, August, 2020. But it adds it is a Reserve. Oh, my, that’s almost being snobbish. I have no idea what is on the back label of the former, but my wine does not have a back label, but simply states that it was made for two particular people, although it is quite likely that others will drink out of the same box. But my label also states that it was made with our own hands and no feet were used in the process.
So, you can see that there is a great deal to say about wine critiquing and, with these words of a wise man I leave you until my next post:
So there above you have it: since I have been self-isolating, about 4 pm most afternoons, you will find me walking the rectangular deck in the photo.
I don’t walk every day, but today I started at a couple of minutes after four in the afternoon with 1,100 steps on my pedometer. I walked for 25 minutes and 1,900 steps, giving me a total of 4,000.
Can I say I walked around our deck? I don’t think so, as it is rectangular, so I rectangularised our deck? How about, I walked rectangularily? Although I usually walk using my Nordic poles on a trail or along our road, being a bit of the lazy type, if I walk on the deck, I don’t have to lace on walking shoes, I can walk in my slippers. Oh, my Chiropractor won’t like that – but they do have hard soles, Andrew.
And while walking rectangularily, what do I think of? First in my mind is the Nordic pole instruction to hold your head up. Do not look at the ground ahead of you. On our trails that can lead to stepping on horse dung, but it’s nowhere near as sticky or messy as dog poop. You can even pick the balls up and throw them like snowballs at targets in the hedge so the next poler won’t step on them. Anyway, no horses on our deck. Although some might think there is an ass rectangularising.
Next, looking straight ahead, I see the trees separating us from our neighbour to the north. And I can hear the tchk, tchk of the black-capped Chichadees, giving me a good telling off for preventing them from coming to the feeders. So, I turn right and see some azaleas and our rhododendrons. Oh, they are not in bloom yet, but I have looked at the buds and know it will be a brilliant display – like these pictures of azaleas and rhodies from last year.
Some time in late November or early December, after hurricane season and I can be sure of no more wind damage, I wander around, yes, around, the rhododendron bushes – almost trees after forty years of growth, adding one or two little plants each year – and I check how many buds are on them. In the Spring, there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing all those buds bursting out of their winter hiatus.
Then I make another turn right and see the ocean and islands as shown in the featured pic at the top of this post. Pretty bleak, isn’t it? Not even a fishing boat out there. Who can blame the fishers? Fishers? Oh, yes, in this day of me too, you never know who will be on that boat you can see. In days of yore, it would always be men or boys on board, but today it could as easily be women and girls. Or it could be a mix of genders.
And that’s what I could be thinking as I continue my walk. Or, it could be making up drivel like this, I wonder as I wander my rectangled deck how birds at the feeders go peck after peck and empty my feeders and bank account too yet I love them and ne’er want to bid them adieu.
My, how low have you sunk, I think to myself, for dreaming up such stuff as I complete my 50th rectangle. (Could I sneak a word like circuit in instead of rectangle? Likely not or some smart Alec – and I know who he is and his name is not Alec – will come back to me saying circuit is a circular route that starts and finishes at the same place.) I reverse direction every 25 rectangles and I was surprised the first time I did that everything looks different. I don’t get to see the water as well; I see parts of my neighbour’s house through a thick barrier of trees; I get to see my reflection in the door to the sun room. What a sight, that is! The wind has been blowing my extra long hair and I look like a creature out of Harry Potter.
My mind also does a turn-around as I find myself saying, 50 in 16 minutes, that’s lets’ see…. Oh, I don’t want that, I want to know how many paces in one rectangle. So, it’s the number of paces divided by the number of rectangular walks. Or is it how many minutes in an hour? See how my mind shifts? No, it’s nineteen hundred divided by fifty…….hmm, there are two fifties in a hundred and I have nineteen hundred, so double nineteen. Hmm, after a moment or two, thirty-eight.
Having solved that immense problem in my brain – wow, I still have one – what do I do with the answer. Answer: absolutely nothing. The answer is useless information which may just exacerbate the fact that my brain is retaining less and less because the storage room is diminishing.
Fifty-one, I say, as I pass go and do not collect a parking ticket; fifty-two I say; and a few seconds later, fifty-three. I see the crow waiting for me to go inside. I know he hates me. Even when I have been somewhere in the car and return to the parking lot, he sits on top of one of the tallest conifers and squawks at me. He thinks I hate him. He’s known me now for nigh on twenty years. Perhaps he’s right: I don’t hate him. Perhaps I just dislike the way he tugs on the large feeder and shakes it to make the seeds fall on the ground. And I don’t mind that too much, for the pheasants get to feed. But, he goes on and on until I chase him off.
I did 75 rectangulations today. It’s not a lot, nowhere near as far as when I am on the trail or road, but it is half an hour and it is almost two thousand steps. It kept me interested and discovering sights and sounds in my immediate vicinity. And I didn’t have to be aware of animal poop.
It had been snowing and we had been out shopping – oh, yes, this was before, what does Trump call it, the Chinese Disease? How ignorant! No, he’s changed to the Invisible Disease. Before COVID-19, anyway.
Not only had it been snowing, it had rained on the snow and then frozen some of it into ice. That slippery substance.
We got out of the car, not together: My Beloved out of her side and I out of mine. I said across the top of the car, be careful and follow in my footsteps. So, we edged towards the trunk which was open and had bags of foodstuffs – reusable bags, not plastic ones. Sobey’s nowadays has no plastic bags in the store, so you have to use your own. Reminds me of going shopping with my Mum before WWII where Mr. Fruen would cut some rashers of bacon off a slab, place it in a piece of newspaper and hand it to us to put into our bag.
I led the way very carefully across the icy patch where I could put one foot after another onto a patch of sand I had previously thrown down. The rain had melted some, however. Which again had refrozen, so it was a patchwork of sand patches. Hm! One step after another, I edged my way towards the steps where I could see safety, reminding My Beloved to step into the steps I had gone. I had almost reached the steps when a foot slipped and I couldn’t move forward or backward without fear of not only falling here, but sliding all the 50 metres down the driveway on my butt. I had done that on my front some years prior, much to the delighted chuckle of My Beloved. So, as I seemed to be temporarily stuck, My Beloved decided I was there in perpetuum. She tried to move around me, safe on her boots with spikes in the heels.
Nope! She was who ended up on her butt, sitting on wet ice, soaking up the water in her slacks. I must point out that My Beloved has knee and back issues which prevent her from getting up from the ground without support. I was the support.
Nope! I, or rather we, could not raise her from her decidedly cold, wet perch. Well, I said, there’s only one thing around here which will help. Silva, the car with the open trunk and rear-view camera. Oh, I had to shut the trunk on order to have the camera showing where I was going rather than up into the cloudy heavens.
So, I went back and put it into reverse and hoped the accelerator wouldn’t stick as I edged towards My Poor Beloved. And that the brake would work. Slowly, Silva backed up, even more slowly, as we approached the target. Well, perhaps that’s the wrong word: the supplicant, might be better. With her feet just about under the rear fender (bumper for you Brits), the brakes worked. Together, we were able to get her hands into the trunk and she could pull herself up. Then, by stepping very carefully on her spiky heels, she reached the steps and we got Silva unloaded and parked.
So you may be wondering what the featured pic is at the top of this post. One day, at the end of February a knock at the door meant the UPS man had brought a totally unexpected box. On opening it, we discovered all of the items shown: a bag of Liqorice Allsorts for Gramma, a Toblerone for Grampa, some caramels for both, two bags of seasonings, a jar of marmalade for both, I think, but it could have been for Grampa, and some photographs of her, ourselves with her, and a framed one with her between us. And additionally, a beautiful card telling us she had been passing by a store, went in and suddenly saw a number of items she knew would appeal to her grandparents. So she bought them, packed them and UPSed them. Out of the blue from a granddaughter – yes Cierra. And we were so astonished we cried.
But, back to the present, two weeks ago, after shutting the door of the Commercial Enterprise Centre, where I volunteer, we went into self-isolation.
Actually, we have had lots of practice at this. For some forty years, our risk management consulting business has been run out of our home, so the two of us have worked very easily and satisfactorily side by side for all that time. We’ve never had an issue ending in a nasty argument. Reasonable discussion has always ended well. And we’ve never gone to bed without saying I love you – and meaning it. So, the only difference is that we cannot go out together and, say, shop. Or go to the theatre. Or go to church.
I say, only difference: however, it is not until the first two weeks have passed that we realise how large a difference it is. Previously, we have been able to go out together to shop, to the theatre, and to church. And to other places, like a friend’s place for dinner. One day, a week ago, it was Sunday, Saturday had been gorgeous, at least we Nova Scotians though it had been. It was; it was a pleasant eight degrees Celsius. So was Sunday. But the wind was strong and the anticipated pleasant walk along the beach would have been rather cold, so we sat in the car, opened the windows for fresh air – and fresh, or rather windy, it was – so My Beloved’s window got closed fairly quickly, and we took in the view from inside Silva.
Look at the beautiful blue sky in the photo; it looks so lovely. But the beach was empty except for a lady and her little child and they look huddled up. That didn’t surprise us. Nor you? Oh, you may see two others and a dog way down the beach. Certainly, those on the beach are maintaining their required 2-metre distance of separation.
I believe that only one person now is allowed to go out to get essentials, such as food or medicines, but we don’t: (a) for people of our age (87), it is much too lethal if you get it and (b) we order from the store, pay online, then, at an appointed time, go to the store and they put it in your trunk. So far, we’ve had to do this only once. Before we did that, a couple of friends had bought and delivered a few items, but we don’t ask them any more, as we consider it too dangerous for them to go to the store for us and we don’t want to put them in danger.
Yesterday, I phoned a large order of food at the Superstore and they have given me an appointment of Saturday, April 4th between 10 and 11am to drive to the curb and they will put the order in the trunk. Times are interesting.
I have been taking the non-regular walk with my Nordic poles when weather allowed, say ‘Hi’ to the odd walker or dog-walker across the other side of the street, saying how sad it is we can’t stop and chat these days, and, two days ago, after returning, I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves and sat on the main deck in the sun for another good hour. This afternoon, I simply walked around the main deck 50 times, registering 1,600 paces in 15 minutes.
Also, I have been preparing a PowerPoint presentation for every Sunday service for four years now and, as we have now gone to on-line ZOOM, I am still preparing it for every Sunday, only it’s changed to Morning Prayer instead of Eucharist. If you’d like to join us, go to our web site http://www.stnicholasanglican.ca/virtual-church/ and click on the church at 9.30am Atlantic Daylight Savings. In the UK that would be 1.30pm and in San Francisco, 5.30am so, note the time difference.
Other volunteer work includes being Chair (Beryl is the Treasurer) of a large Adult Literacy/Numeracy network and up until a few weeks ago, too, we were still busy with it. Not now: it is basically totally shut down, but at least one of our teachers is maintaining contact with students virtually.
Although I didn’t like our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he was elected and though he has started employing shut-down and financial assistance somewhat, in my opinion, a bit late, I have been impressed recently both by the new emergency programs enacted and his daily conversations with the nation followed by answering of press questions outside his residence. An American friend recently told us that Canadian citizenship is a certainty now simply because of the way he has been handling the COVID-19 issue and his daily reports – particularly as compared to Mr. Trump. And as for the economy: it will recover. That’s my prediction having seen “Black Monday in October 1987, in 1994 and 1998; the Latin American, then the Asian currency crises, then during 2001-2003; the Tech Crash, and of course, 2007-2009; the global financial system meltdown” to quote from a financial advisor friend. All of those My Beloved and I rode and came through safely, so I still believe the economy will recover.
A really big event occurred two weeks ago, before we were self-isolating: My Beloved applied for and got her Blue card to hang in the windshield, so we can now park in the best spots. Large benefit for an unfortunate life-changing mobility issue, which she has dealt with without complaint for well over a year now.
Our dining-in has been very varied, for our freezer has been overly-stocked for ages and it is about time we started using some of our comestibles. A daughter and son-in-law, Tanis and Robb, buy us a whole lamb from an old school and military friend, Sharon, every year. So far, every year, anyway. No guaranties, I guess. So we still have a lot of Brutus left. But, for lunch, I will vary it from yogurt and unsalted roasted almonds or cashews to peanut butter and tomato sandwiches to the plate below.
And with that, I bid you keep safe and free from the COVID-19. By the way, you did know how it was named by the WHO, didn’t you? Of course, you knew it was from coronavirus disease of 2019.
What is the relationship between Madrid, Spain and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada?
You probably cannot answer that – in fact, I am positive you cannot answer that, but I can. I like all sports to some degree or another, but there are some I love. Now, my father taught me never to use the word love about inanimate objects, but I consider sports as very animated, so ‘love’ is the correct word for cricket, tennis, some forms of aquatic sports, Canadian football and soccer.
And yesterday, Sunday, 24th November 2019 was a spectacular day. Naturally, church came first after breakfast, followed by some nibblies and a cup of tea. Then My Beloved and I headed home, determined to spend the rest of the day watching our beloved sports. Yes, I say ‘our’, for we both love the same sports.
Tennis Canada was formed in 1890 and four years later, it started a program for training boys of eighteen years of age and under. In recent years, of course, that has been opened to both boys and girls and operates in three centres in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Beneath the level of these training centres are sixteen Training Development Centres, which are funded by grants, corporations and other sources. The result of all these developmental programs is that Canada has been producing young world class players.
The Davis Cup, named after a Harvard University tennis player in 1899, is the most preeminent tournament in tennis. Interestingly, Davis’ name was given to the cup, yet it is almost mythical for he himself had almost nothing to do with creating the tournament and his name dropped into obscurity. Nevertheless, the Davis Cup is something every male tennis player wishes to be part of and play for his country. (The equivalent for women is the Fed Cup.)
Canada has never won the Davis Cup, nor even reached the final, but this year our young team comprising Denis Shapovalov (20 years young), Vasec Pospisil (29), Felix Auger-Aliassime (19) beat some of 135 countries to get into the finals in Madrid. In the week before yesterday, Canada beat Italy, the USA, Australia and Russia to reach the final against Spain.
So, that’s why My Beloved and I high-tailed it home after nibblies and tea, to sit down and watch our young Canadian tennis players try to achieve the until now unachievable. Young Felix put up a great fight against the veteran Spaniard, Roberto Batista Agut (31), but lost in two sets, although the first went to a tie break. Next up, Denis Shapovalov against the world number one and only, Rafael Nadal.It was close: first set went to Nadel 6-3, but the second set went to a tie break and finished up 7-6(7) meaning after the score reach 6-6, the tie-break went to 9-7 for Nadel.
WOW! To quote Tennis Canada, “What an effort. What a week. What a team. “They won’t be coming home with the Davis Cup trophy but in reaching the final of the 119-year-old tournament for the first time in the country’s history, the BMW Canadian Davis Cup team will surely have inspired the next generation to pick up a racquet.” Were we disappointed? Slightly, but to have achieved as much as the youngsters had was in itself a joy for us and the country, according to the sports news. Many are looking forward to achieving something like the USA and its 32 victories! Let’s not be greedy, winning as many as Spain’s 6 would be good.
But that was only the afternoon’s entertainment. Did you know that the chair umpire of a match such as the final of the Davis Cup or a Grand Slam is paid £3,500 and could, through all major tournaments, earn an annual income of £170,000. The line umpires for the quarter and semi finals of a Grand Slam earn £1,500 with an annual maximum through all the major tournaments of £40,000. Hm!
Dinner, a new recipe of My Beloved’s, a ground pork meatloaf: very juicy with roasted sweet potato and sauteed broccoli. And wine!
Then our eyes again went to the TV set at 7.30pm for the Grey Cup.
The Grey Cup is a trophy produced by Birks Jewellers that has been part of Canadian sports since 1909, when it was donated by non-mythical Governor General Earl – that’s not his name, that’s his royal title 🙂 – Albert Grey for the Canadian football championship.
Many years ago, when I was young and charming (Gilbert & Sullivan for those not familiar with G&S), My Beloved and I moved from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now it is said that Winnipeg is the coldest city in North America and perhaps we proved that by producing five children. You have to keep warm at nights. I have always said our son could and did play hockey on outdoor rinks from the beginning of November to the end of March. Besides being cold in winter, it can be very hot in summer. I loved our 18 years in Winnipeg, for the city had everything one could wish for to enjoy life: great restaurants, and you know that is us, multi-cultural events, an excellent symphony orchestra, a to-die-for live theatre, a world-renowned ballet, a lovely park with a zoo, and, best of all, wonderful people. (Despite what you have heard about the record number of murders this year.)
And a great football team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers. However, the last time they won the Grey Cup was way back in 1990, 29 years ago. And yesterday they were going to play Hamilton Tigercats, who hadn’t won since 1999. So the game was called Break the Drought game.
Until yesterday, Blue Bombers had made 24 trips to the Grey Cup and won 10 times, so the interest was exceptionally high throughout the country. I recall one very odd Grey Cup win for the Blue Bombers. The game took place in Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in 1962 over December 1st and 2nd. Over two days, you say? This is not cricket. Football lasts only four 15-minute quarters, not days. However, I will never forget watching the game on TV. As it progressed, a fog began to descend over the field and, as time ticked on, the goal posts became hidden, then the players at the ends furthest from the cameras disappeared into the gloom. Finally, it was difficult to see anyone, so the Football Commissioner pulled the game with 9 minutes, 29 seconds remaining and the score, Winnipeg 28 and Hamilton, yes the same Hamilton – different players, though – as we played yesterday, at 27. The game resumed the following day, but the score remained the same. A game never to forget.
Could our team yesterday, after 29 cup-less years break the jinx and win an eleventh? Hamilton were favoured to win by 4 points. But what do the bookies know? I, however, in my gut felt that they might be right.
No, no, no! Right from the opening play, Winnipeg got a turnover and never looked back as they added touchdowns and field goals and My Beloved and I added more fluid red calories.
So, we were worn out, exhausted from the stresses provided by superb aces, double faults, great backhands down the line, then switch games to turnovers and just inches to go with Winnipeg stopping them more than once and touchdowns and conversions. Wow! What a day!