The Heat Made Me Do It

August 1, 2021

I am not one for sodas or soft drinks of any kind. In a usual month I drink only tea, water, and the occasional beer. But in the last few weeks I have discovered the inestimable joy of the peach quencher at Timmies.

Tim Hortons launches new Tims Real Fruit Quenchers in Strawberry Watermelon  and Peach flavours to keep Canadians refreshed all summer long!

Don’t want to sound like a jingle or an ad, but it is a great drink — not at all sweet, with a powerful peach flavour, and totally deserving of the name “quencher”.

I know that by summer’s end I will have drunk far more of them than I should. Oh well.


Shooting The Moon, 52 Years On

July 20, 2021

On this day in 1969 I was in Yugoslavia working as a Third Assistant Director on a movie called “Kelly’s Heroes“. I was nineteen years old and having a wonderful time working with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Telly Salvalas, and a whole wild bunch of American actors. like Harry Dean Stanton and Dick Davalos.

We were living at the Petrovaradin Hotel in Novi Sad and most nights I joined the Americans in games of high stakes poker. We took over one of the small banquet rooms and several of the hotel staff were deputed to look after us with drinks and food. These games were a useful but expensive education for me; over a few weeks, I managed to lose several months’ worth of per diem expenses.

Apollo_11_bootprintOur game on the 20th July 1969 coincided with the first manned landing on the moon and we arranged to have a black and white TV set up in the room  so we could follow the action.  I remember that, just as Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle and on to the moon, we were in the middle of a game with a good-sized pot of American dollars piled in middle of the the table. We agreed to pause the game to watch the historic moment.

Several of us took the opportunity to stand and stretch for a moment. As I did so, I noticed that the American actors were glued to the TV screen intent on cheering their countrymen while the hotel staff ignored the TV and were all staring at the big pile of money, mouths agape.

It was an unforgettable night.


Celebrating Canada Day?

July 1, 2021

Talk about conflicted!

In a month or so I will have been a resident here for 42 years. I have been fortunate enough to live and work all around the world, and there is no place I would rather call home than Vancouver. One of the proudest days of my life was 35 years ago when I became a Canadian citizen; I cried with joy that day, and I am tearing up now as I think of it.

So far as I recall, I learned nothing about Canada at school other than the death of Wolfe and the bravery of the “colonial” troops at Dieppe. Canada only began to exist for me as a real country (as for so many others my age) when Pierre Trudeau, the patrician-hippy, launched himself onto the world stage and danced around the Queen. When I got a job and first landed here in 1978, Canada was genuinely a new found land for me, so different from the class-bound society I grew up with.

In the last four decades I have tried to learn as much as possible about this country and its history. In the beginning, I was proud that Canada’s treatment of the First Nations did not descend into the genocide practiced by the Americans. Like many others I have been aware for a long time that the Residential School system was a despicable attempt to rob the original peoples of their land, their language and their heritage. That was bad enough, but theft, discrimination, and forced assimilation seemed to be the limit of it. Now, especially now, we know that that might have been the least of it.

The unmarked graves of one thousand children have already been found, and I am certain those numbers will grow by leaps and bounds once proper searches are completed. It is certain already that many or perhaps all of those “schools” — operated by “Christians”, for God’s sake — were in fact factories of death and degradation, designed to eliminate the indigenous population one way or another.

Combined with the ongoing refusal to this day to provide proper housing, education and water to many “reserves”, the legacy of the Residential concentration camp system is a deep and indelible stain on our history.

I am proud to be a Canadian and I love so much about the place and its people. But that stain makes it impossible to sing our praises on Canada Day.


Celebrating Canada Day?

June 24, 2021

Talk about conflicted!

In a month or so I will have been a resident here for 42 years. I have been fortunate enough to live and work all around the world, and there is no place I would rather call home than Vancouver. One of the proudest days of my life was 35 years ago when I became a Canadian citizen; I cried with joy that day, and I am tearing up now as I think of it.

So far as I recall, I learned nothing about Canada at school other than the death of Wolfe and the bravery of the “colonial” troops at Dieppe. Canada only began to exist for me as a real country (as for so many others my age) when Pierre Trudeau, the patrician-hippy, launched himself onto the world stage and danced around the Queen. When I got a job and first landed here in 1978, Canada was genuinely a new found land for me, so different from the class-bound society I grew up with.

In the last four decades I have tried to learn as much as possible about this country and its history. In the beginning, I was proud that Canada’s treatment of the First Nations did not descend into the genocide practiced by the Americans. Like many others I have been aware for a long time that the Residential School system was a despicable attempt to rob the original peoples of their land, their language and their heritage. That was bad enough, but theft, discrimination, and forced assimilation seemed to be the limit of it. Now, especially now, we know that that might have been the least of it.

The unmarked graves of one thousand children have already been found, and I am certain those numbers will grow by leaps and bounds once proper searches are completed. It is certain already that many or perhaps all of those “schools” — operated by “Christians”, for God’s sake — were in fact factories of death and degradation, designed to eliminate the indigenous population one way or another.

Combined with the ongoing refusal to this day to provide proper housing, education and water to many “reserves”, the legacy of the Residential concentration camp system is a deep and indelible stain on our history.

I am proud to be a Canadian and I love so much about the place and its people. But that stain makes it impossible to sing our praises on Canada Day.


Day Trip To M’Hamid

June 22, 2021

It is so hot in Vancouver this week that I was reminded of a really hot day decades ago.

* * * *

Late May, 1971, and I had been living in Zagora, for a few weeks already. Zagora lies close to the indistinct border Morocco shares with Algeria.  Further south, and the last habitable oasis before the Great Desert, lies the village of M’Hamid.   During the months I had lived in Marrakech, I had heard tell that the camel trains to Timbuktou gathered at M’Hamid before heading south for Mali and the Upper Niger.   I was determined to find out.  In fact, I was determined to get to Timbuktou.  To do that, I decided to hitch a ride to M’Hamid on one of the heavy trucks we had seen occasionally head south.

Zagora, an oasis famous in the history of the western Sahara, is a hundred miles or more south east of Marrakech, and on the farther side of the High Atlas.   My friend Ken and I had gotten here by hitching a flatbed truck south all the way from Djema el-Fna in the big city.  We had no idea that the truck would take the steep and curving mountain roads at 100 miles an hour, nor that we would literally have to tie our belts to the truck and then to our wrists simply to hold on as the flatbed careened wildly from side to side.   I was only 21 but I knew right then that I would never be so scared again in the whole of my life.

After the incredible noise and crush of Marrakech, Zagora had turned out to be a zone of peace.  A garrison town, it had a couple of thousand or so permanent residents, a few hundred conscript soldiers, an assortment of Taureg coming to and from the weekly market, and a half dozen hippies.    Ken and I, two Frenchmen and two Dutch girls lived on the south side of town, in a grove of trees along the slow, brown Dra River.  The Dutch girls lived in their VW microbus, while the rest of us slept on the open ground.  During the day we hung our groundsheets in the trees to create shade, and we kept the few groceries we could afford — watermelon, mainly — in the river.

I had left England the previous winter with a small army pouch, a bed roll and thirty pounds.   By the time we arrived in Zagora, I still had my bedroll, I had no clothes but the djelaba I wore, and I had the equivalent of five pounds in dinar.  Life was good:  We ate cheaply and well at the local cafes, drank orange juice by the bucket, mixed with the locals, made friends with the Bluemen, made fun of the occasional Land Rover Adventure Tourists.  We were stoned all the time, from morning til night, each of us having stocked up on the necessary supplies before leaving Marrakesh.   Life was indeed good.  But now I wanted to move on.

The road to M’Hamid was also on the south side of town, bearing off from the river road, the two paths demarcated by a low stone chip wall.   I arrived at the junction in the early dawn.   The view was bleakly magnificent:  dunes, rock slabs and shimmering dust hanging in the sunrise.  I sat down, leaning against the wall, rolled a thick joint, and waited for a truck.

By eleven the sun was high, bright and scorching.  The hood of my djelaba was pulled low over my face giving me the only shade available.   I smoked another joint and watched a local farmer mercilessly beat a donkey about half a mile away.  For the longest time I couldn’t work out what he was farming.  Then, with a flash of kif wisdom, I realised he must be farming for stones.  And all the time he beat his donkey.

I must have fallen asleep because it came as a shock to me that the sun was so low in the sky.  I was sitting in a wide pool of dampness, the sweat from my body soaking my djelaba and the ground on which I was sitting.   I tried to stand up, but couldn’t. I wasn’t sure why, thought it might just be a stiffness from sitting so long with my knees hugged to my chest — the better to create a tent-like space under my gown.  I tried again and my feet just wouldn’t push me upright.  

The faintest tingling in my feet made me look down.  My toes looked like tiny stalks of stewed rhubarb, purple and fat.   While I sat there through the heat of a desert day, the hem of my gown had failed to cover my toes: they were badly sunburned and I had immediate and detailed and horrifying visions of rough amputations taking place at the fort medic’s office.   I gently covered my toes with the edge of my gown and wondered what to do.   Just about that time, Ken and one of the French guys came looking for me.

It was about a mile to our river encampment and they carried me every step of the way.  Once there, they gently placed me in the river so that the heat in my feet could be dissipated in the cool stream.   I screamed at first, but quickly relaxed, lying full length in the water.    Later, the Dutch girls brought me food from the nearest café and made sure I drank as much water as I could.   Even later, we were joined at the riverbank by one of the locals who had become a regular visitor, sharing our kif and telling us news from the outside world.  he listened to my story, a smile playing across his face.

“The caravans have stopped for the year,” he said.

“What?”

“Sure.  They finished last month.  They start again in September.  No one tries to cross the erg in summer.”

I looked at my blackened toes, took another toke and learned another lesson.


Happy Father’s Day 2021, Dad!

June 20, 2021

He has been gone 21 years now, but I seem to speak with him more often these days than I ever did when he was alive.  He was a wonderful man who saved my ass more times than I can count, and was, I now recognize, a marvelously supportive parent; an attribute that I was too dumb to notice far too often when I was younger.


Our Compost Flower

June 7, 2021

A couple of years back, when the City started collecting organic waste, we rather gave up on our apartment compost bin that we had nurtured for almost twenty years. The part of the balcony where it sits is always closed off during the winter months, and what goes on in there tends to be left to its own devices.

Now that I have re-opened the area for the summer, I discover that a plant has colonized the bin in quite spectacular fashion.

It sits next to our long-suffering but always abundant clematis and together they give the area a beautiful look of greenery from the part of the balcony where we sit and contemplate.

The plant also has these delightful flowers. I am sure someone will be able to tell me what it is I am growing here.


Being and Nothingness

May 31, 2021

Fifty-five years ago this week, a Vietnamese nun poured gasoline and set fire to herself in Hue. Twenty-five years ago today, Timothy Leary died in his sleep.

After all these years, I honestly don’t know whether Dr. Leary’s work helped us understand why the monk’s death was important to us, or whether he helped mask us from the true meaning by taking us elsewhere. Many saw no conflict in actively protesting and actively tripping. In fact, many claimed then that the “enlightenment” received through herbal and chemical stimulation was an important component of our political activism. These days, I wonder more often whether we were just bullshitting ourselves and simply following the pleasure principle.

In the end, of course, both the revered Buddhist martyr and the revered western materialist trod the same path into being and nothingness.


The Longest of Memories and the Highest of Mountains

May 29, 2021

everestToday is the 68th anniversary of the first successful climbing of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.  News of the success arrived in England the day of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and I remember my father, who was very excited by the news, telling me all about it.  For years thereafter Edmund Hillary was the greatest hero of my young imagination.

I have one or two memories about my brother and me that pre-date May 1953, but Hillary on Everest is the earliest I can recall anything outside the family.  I know from photographs that there were massive street parties I attended to celebrate the new Queen: I remember none of that.  But Hillary on Everest has stuck with me all these years.

The picture is of Tensing Norgay taken by Hillary.  There are no pictures of Hillary on the summit because Tensing didn’t know how to work the camera and, as Hillary said, the summit of Everest was no place to start teaching him!


Memories of Bob Dylan and the Hawks

May 24, 2021

Happy 80th birthday to the one and only Bob Dylan.

In two days, it will be fifty-five years since I went to the Albert Hall in London to see Bob Dylan.  There were walk outs and cat calls in the second half as Dylan went electric accompanied by the earliest iteration of The Band (most of whom were from The Hawks).

I have a memory-sense that I enjoyed both halves of the show just as well, though the second half, the electric half,  was still unexpected even though one knew it was going to happen.


Betwixt’ here and Mars

May 20, 2021

I recently realized that I had become addicted to Twix bars. It has reached the point where I have to consciously stop myself from eating more than one stick a day. This is quite a new thing and I am not sure how it started. However, this new habit reminded me of one of my earlier great loves — the Mars bar, and something I wrote way back in 2008:

“Back in the day, the Mars Bar was the true king of chocolate bars.  It took a long time to eat and satisfied every umami receptor that one had.   The original Mars was a substantial eat:  a thick wall of chocolate that took some biting through encased a vault of the thickest caramel that coated one’s teeth and gums.  It was a real treat and the greediest kid couldn’t eat more than one at a sitting.

Yesterday morning I was feeling a low blood sugar moment coming on and I bought a Mars bar to get me through it.  First up, the size wasn’t what it should have been.  The original Mars bar was a hefty piece of work that filled one’s hand.   What I got yesterday was a disappointingly short stick that weighed hardly anything.  There was no resistance at all as my teeth bit through the chocolate skin, and the bitten piece just seemed to melt in my mouth.  It wasn’t what I expected or wanted.

Looking at the thing in section it was easy to see how thin the chocolate coating was, and how the caramel had been reduced to a slight sliver squeezed into place on a soft whipped mass that filled the bar.   It was just terrible!

Kids today, of course, know no better because the old bars just aren’t available for them to compare. They should sue the bar makers, I say.  Sue them for taking away one of the great joys of childhood.”


The Death of Idols

May 7, 2021

I was born in 1949 and so I came of age in the 1960s, but it was the 1950s that informed and coloured so much of my early life and tastes.  A year ago this week, we lost two of the most influential figures of that time: the Beat poet Michael McClure, and Little Richard, one of the true originators of rock and roll.

McClure was one of the organizers of the Six Gallery reading in 1955 that introduced us to Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia and Kenneth Rexroth, gave us Allan Ginsberg’s Howl, and began what is called the San Francisco Renaissance.  In his semi-fictional account of that night published as Scratching the Surface of the Beats in 1982, McClure recalled:

“The world that we tremblingly stepped out into in that decade was a bitter, gray one. But San Francisco was a special place. Rexroth said it was to the arts what Barcelona was to Spanish Anarchism. Still, there was no way, even in San Francisco to escape the pressure of the war culture. we were locked in the pressure of the Cold War and the first Asian debacle — the Korean War.  My self image in those years was of finding myself — young, high, a little crazed, needing a haircut, in an elevator with burly crew-cutted, square jawed eminences, staring at me like I was misplaced cannon fodder. … We saw that the art of poetry was essentially dead — killed by war, by academies, by neglect, by lack of love, and by disinterest. We knew we could bring it back to life.”

““It was the critical moment for the Beat Generation, the grouping together of five young proto-anarchists and Buddhists,” said McClure of the Six Gallery Reading. “As we spoke, we realized from the results that we were speaking for the people. We were saying what they needed and wanted to hear, and that encouraged us. We drew a line in the sand and decided not to back off that line.”

I only learned of that event many years later when McClure became a key part of the late 60s revolution, reading at events such as the Human Be-In, the Band’s Last Waltz concert, writing Mercedes Benz for Janis Joplin, and his later close association with Ray Manzarek of the Doors.  I wolfed down huge amounts of McClure and it has stayed with me.

He published more than 30 books of poetry and plays. He died at age 87.

And then there was Little Richard.  In just three years, 1956 to 1958, Little Richard created both a sound and a bravura that would mark rock and roll for ever.  His squealing, his heavy gospel-inspired piano pounding, his quasi-erotic lyrics, his pompadour and flashy clothes, and his androgynous sexuality  set the style from which almost all pop and rock has followed to this day.  “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,” Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973. “I didn’t ever want to be anything else.”

He had already retired and become a preacher by then time I was really listening to music, but his songs — Long Tall Sally, Tutti Frutti, Good Golly Miss Molly — were covered by the Beatles and just about everyone else I followed in the early 60s. He and Jerry Lee Lewis gave us excitement.

Little Richard was also 87 when he died.


A Truly Brave Man

April 12, 2021

The first hero that I remember having was Duncan Edwards, the Manchester United footballer who was killed along with many others in the team in the Munich air crash of 1958.  The second was Yuri Gagarin.

Sixty years ago today, Yuri Gagarin entered history as the first human being in space. A few years earlier, just before my 8th birthday, my father had taken the time to get me interested in the Soviet Union’s feat in putting Sputnik into space. I was entranced and remained an avid follower of the space race for decades. I followed the Russian dogs going up, and Gagarin’s flight was the obvious next step.

It wasn’t revealed for forty years that the cosmonaut ejected from the capsule before it crash-landed, parachuting to earth. And it was definitely sad for Gagarin that he was thereafter too valuable to put at threat and so he was never allowed to return to orbit. No matter.  That first flight was a glorious triumph for mankind!


Anniversary Post

February 3, 2021

In the 1980s and 1990s I ran a number of BBSs (you have to be ancient to even remember what they were), and I opened my first actual blog in September 2001. This version (v.3) of Jak’s View from Vancouver is 13 years old today.

Over all that time, the top five posts (by view) have been:

Lucian Freud

The 2012 Summer Olympics Are Already With Us

Venice Becoming A Ghost Of Itself

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Les Sapeurs du Congo

However, since the beginning of 2019 when it was first published, this post about Love and the Oxford Comma has swamped all others with its popularity.

Here’s to another thirteen years!


Spies: A Memory of 60 Years Ago

January 24, 2021

When I was eleven years old I lived in Ruislip Gardens which is a tiny suburb of Ruislip which, in turn, is a small suburb hanging on to the western edge of London.  I had a newspaper route which I took care of seven days a week starting at six each morning.

In London in those days we had a dozen or more daily newspapers and each subscriber to our delivery service could receive any permutation of papers. Most houses took two papers, and some many more. Sorting the right papers into the the right order in the right bags was a vital part of each morning’s routine at the shop.

By Christmas 1960, I was one of the senior delivery boys and had thus inherited a long route that covered the main road from Ruislip Gardens to Ruislip and included several side streets along the way. It took almost two hours and I sure earned my breakfast every day. On school days, it was split between two boys.

One of the side streets to which I delivered newspapers every day was Cranley Drive. And at 45 Cranley Drive lived a Canadian couple, Helen and Peter Kroger. I know I delivered papers to them but I don’t recall them at all, not even from the Christmas tip. However, in January 1961, the Krogers were arrested, and I do remember the street being closed off one cold morning by police cars and constables. It was revealed over the next few months that the Krogers were really Russian spies Morris and Lona Cohen, and that their basement on Cranley Drive included a sophisticated radio communications setup with Moscow.

It seemed exciting to a young kid in those dangerous days of Atom spies, the Third Man, Checkpoint Charlie. And I have kept my fascination with moles and sleeper cells ever since.


Memoir: King

January 19, 2021

 

The dusty road had held us all day long. Huge trucks belching choking fumes had raced past us, barely missing our outstretched thumbs by inches it seemed. Sometimes they blared their industrial strength horns at us, scaring us, pushing us away from the road edge. There had been very few cars, and those mostly tiny SEATs already filled with farmers and dogs and kids, and certainly not looking to pick up two hippies dirt-encrusted from too much unsuccessful hitchhiking.

I guess we managed to walk three or four miles that day, in the blazing sun, just south of Valencia. We had expected better luck (“Gibraltar by evening!” had been our war cry as we emerged from a night in a roadside culvert) and had not prepared for such a long long day trudging through heat and dust and flies. We were exhausted, and more, we were dehydrated, the half dozen blood oranges we had each consumed notwithstanding.

Ahead of us we could see the outskirts of a village, and a village meant a cafe and Coca-Cola and even iced water, perhaps. It was one of those days when we knew we were willing to spend a few of our remaining pesetas. We stumbled forward, the dust scuffing beneath our feet, coughing. We must have looked liked ancient mummies straight from the desert as we finally collapsed into the two canvas chairs set out under the tin-roofed patio of a tiny cafe. I can only imagine the thoughts that were flowing through the old man’s head as he took our order for two Cokes.

We had been sitting for some minutes before we realized that an old radio was scratching its way through the late afternoon heaviness. And it may have been a minute or so more before we understood that it was speaking to us in English. American Forces Radio, probably from Germany. “…And as the crowds begin to gather from all across Memphis, we remind our listeners that President Johnson will speak to the nation this evening, on this day when Dr Martin Luther King has been shot and killed on his hotel balcony…”

The Cokes, glistening as the ice melted down the sides of the bottles, stood unremembered as our tears washed black gullies across our cheeks.


JFK and False Memory Syndrome

November 22, 2020

Fifty-seven years ago today, my mother and father visited their closest friends, Ron and Betty, who lived a few miles from us in West London. I was in the backseat of the small black car.  It smelled of leather and my parents’ cigarettes. I was sullen because I was just turned 14 years old and I had far better things to do than visit my parents’ old fogie friends to play cards.

I remember this all so clearly because, just as we pulled up outside Ron and Betty’s row house, the car radio broke off its normal programming and a solemn voice replaced the happy chatter.  The voice announced that President John F. Kennedy of the United States had been shot and probably killed.  I can still feel the goose-flesh that crawled over my skin. I remember the loud gasp as my father realized what had been said.  John Kennedy was one of my father’s heroes, and he was mine too. He was our hope for the future, and now he was dead. Nothing else about that evening do I remember. I’m sure my folks and their friends discussed the assassination, but that has passed from recall.

Within two years of that day, though, JFK had — in my eyes at least — fallen from the pedestal upon which his charisma, his beautiful family, and his martyrdom had placed him.  He was quickly revealed as just another centre-right US politician who was happy to send the boys to war, who was happy to squander the nation’s wealth on weapons and imperialism, who had no answer to segregation but brother Bobby’s federal agents.  We also learned (perhaps we always knew) he wasn’t quite such a great family man, either; that Camelot was an expensive sham.

Kennedy and his people lived in the tuxedoed world of High Society that was soon to be swept away by the real world of Soul on Ice and Revolver.  We might have hated that big Texas bully who followed Kennedy, but it was Kennedy not Johnson who pushed the US into South Vietnam, and it was Johnson not Kennedy who brought forward the Civil Rights Acts. Looking back, we can now see that both Kennedy and Johnson were equal participants in the cabaret that is America the Superpower. Unfortunately for the truth, Kennedy will always have the smile, the beautiful wife, the cute John-John and Caroline, while Johnson will always be pulling the ears off those damn beagles.


Remembering A Day of Infinite Possibilities

November 9, 2020

Thirty-one years ago today: It was 9th November 1989 and I was watching TV, watching the news from Berlin.  And soon a dozen people are hacking at the Wall from both sides and the party has begun and CNN’s cameras bring this extraordinary and historic wish-fulfillment into the living rooms of the world, and my living room in particular that November night.

And within moments, it seemed, there were thousands singing and candles blazing. And even though I was in Vancouver at the time, my heart was with them because at heart I was and remain a Londoner. And Berlin is VERY close to home to Londoners, especially to those who had spent decades watching people die as they tried to go over and under and around the Wall. And I wept openly and for days when the Wall came down.

It was a day of ultimate possibilities because here was an impossibility happening in front of our tear-misty TV-mediated eyes.


Battleground Grandview is Now Available

November 8, 2020

If you are interested in Vancouver politics and urban development — and the future of Commercial Drive and Grandview — this book takes you into the nitty-gritty of how City of Vancouver Planning Department and the Vision-majority City Council ran rough-shod over a community, pushing through major changes in the look and feel of a successful and well-loved neighbourhood against the wishes of a significant number of residents.

It describes how public “consultation” was corrupted into nothing more than a public relations exercise, ticking all the progressive boxes while actually delivering the pre-determined outcome preferred by the Planners and Vision Vancouver’s financial backers. CityHallWatch calls it “an X-Ray into the City’s planning” process.

The 288-page book includes detailed coverage of the 2014 civic election, and shows how the Grandview debacle fits in to the trajectory of similar anti-community planning exercises in Mount Pleasant, Norquay, Marpole, Downtown Eastside, the West End, and Oakridge.

Battleground: Grandview retails at $25.00 and is available at:

  • People’s Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive
  • SuperValu, 1st & Commercial

You can also get a copy direct from me at jakking@shaw.ca — $25 including postage — via Interac Email Transfer, adding a mailing address to the message.


On Being Seventy-One

October 29, 2020

Today I am seventy-one years old.

Just saying that feels unreal.  When I was born in 1949, average life expectancy for a man in the UK was about 65 years; I have somehow managed to beat that.

I am part of the generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty, and who made terribly dangerous choices on a regular basis throughout their thirties and forties. By the 1990s, what with all the drugs and the booze and the carousing, I was certain I couldn’t possibly reach fifty, and I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to.

Now, I have kids in their late forties, grand-children in their mid-twenties, and I am sure that great-grand-children can’t be far away.

The fact that I am still here, walking and talking and pretending (to myself at least) to be young, is astonishing, a wonder, a miracle of modern medicine, and a tribute to the Everloving who takes such good care of me.

My future keeps catching up to my present and I hope it keeps doing so for a long time.  After all, I have promised myself my first ever Big Mac on my one hundredth birthday!