Now That’s Blue!

March 10, 2018

I took a walk around the neighbourhood today, taking advantage of the splendid weather. I have been sedentary most of the winter, so it was a lovely feeling to catch up with the streets and buildings once again.

Perhaps it was the startlingly clear bright light, after so many months of grey and gloom, but I really hadn’t noticed before just how blue the house on the corner really is.  I love it!


Nor how yellow this block on Salsbury:

That’s the way to brighten up a neighbourhood!


Eurasian Collared Dove Comes Calling

March 5, 2018

The birds have been flocking to our feeders this winter, and they are mighty welcome.  For only the second time in three months, we had a gorgeous Northern Flicka here this morning.  Unfortunately he was too skittish to allow me to close and get pictures.

I was luckier with this guy …


He and his partner have been around for the last few weeks. It looks like a dove when flying and walking, but its colouring was more like a pigeon. However, the colours and patterns didn’t fit seem to fit either with any certainty.  Now, I have finally figured out it is a Eurasian Collared Dove.

They are more than welcome whoever they are!

The Strange Itinerary of Some Chinese Fast Food

February 12, 2018

This took place in 2015 but I thought it was interesting enough to republish:

The ever-loving and I were in Pacific Centre mall and decided to get some coffee from the food court. It was busy and we shared a table with a couple of young Japanese kids who were eating large plates filled with Chinese food.  One of the kids didn’t eat much of his and after a while most of his order was left sitting on his plate.

I watched a street person take a soda cup from the trash, clean it out the best he could, and then get a free drink at the refill station. Enterprising, I thought.   He then came over to our table and politely asked the kid if he had finished his meal. When that was confirmed, he took the plate of food and his soda over to another table and began to eat.

Excellent, I thought; that meal isn’t going to waste.

A minute or so later, a bunch of mall cops showed up. They were after someone in the A&W line, but the street guy got nervous, took his soda and left in a rush.  The Chinese food still sat on the plate.

Almost immediately a chap came along who looked for all the world like an affluent student.  However, he fished a clam-shell container out of the trash and cleaned it off.  Then he sat next to where the plate of food was sitting. Over the next few minutes he gradually incorporated the plate into his sphere, sliding it closer and marking off his space with his small bag.  He then proceeded to fill the clam-shell with the Chinese food and walk off.

One meal, three users. That is efficient food distribution!

The Death of Manchester United

February 6, 2018

When I was 8 years old, my parents had very little money and we lived in what today would be called a slum. We couldn’t afford magazines or anything of the sort, but we did get the Daily Mirror. The walls of my bedroom were covered in smudgy newspaper black-and-white photos of my heroes, Manchester United, and, most especially, their young superstar Duncan Edwards.

Sixty years ago today, an aeroplane carrying the team on a flight from Munich back to England crashed on take-off in the snow. Twenty people died at the scene, including ten players and trainers, and three others, including Duncan Edwards, died later from their injuries. It was a tragedy that brought England to a standstill.


Clubs didn’t have huge bank accounts in those days and the disaster almost caused the club to fold.  In the end it took manager Matt Busby (who had been seriously injured in the crash) ten years to rebuild the team and win another championship.  Being young, I didn’t have the patience to wait and I had already switched my allegiance to Chelsea by then.

The Day The Music Died

February 3, 2018

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.


You have to be almost as old as God herself to remember this, but 59 years ago today Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens died in a snowy plane crash at Clear Lake , Iowa.  I, too, learned about it from the headlines I read during my paper route the following morning.  It’s a long, long time ago.

An Oasis of Electronic Silence

January 20, 2018

The everloving and I went to the Skylight this morning; the best value (and best tasting) breakfast on the Drive. It was packed with regulars, which is very good to see, but we were lucky to get a table next to our good friend Eric Philips, one of the most helpful, hardworking, and obliging men I’ve every known and a true treasure of our neighbourhood. It was good just to chat with him and his companions and enjoy the food.

On the other side of us was a family — mother, father, girl about ten years old. They were remarkable because all three were reading books — real books — when they weren’t chatting. There was not a sign of technology anywhere. It is a melancholy statement on modern society that their unusual electronic silence was what made them noticeable, but I am so glad that oases of old-fashioned quietude can still be found.


January 14, 2018

I have always loved writing, words, languages. It is one of the great joys of my life that the final chapter of my working life was as a professional writer.

I remember with the clarity of the senile the day in 1960 I first discovered Roget’s Thesaurus. It was a moment of sheer ecstasy for a 10-year old boy with undiagnosed OCD and an over-developed love for words. Pages of words. Lists of words. Lists of words in clever categories. Words referring back to other words. I spent several months reading it from front to back. To hell with God, this was heaven.

This nostalgic torrent was unleashed through the agency of Jonathan Yardley’s review of Joshua Kendall’s biography of Peter Mark Roget. From the review I was fascinated to learn that the Thesaurus for Roget was a form of therapy for depression.

“As a boy, he stumbled upon a remarkable discovery — that compiling lists of words could provide solace, no matter what misfortunes might befall him. He was particularly fond of cataloguing the objects, both animate and inanimate, in his environment. As an adult, he kept returning to the classification of words and concepts. Immersion in the nuances of language could invariably both energize him and keep his persistent anxiety at bay.”

I’m sure I know exactly how he felt.