Dearies, after much dithering am committing pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.
After watching the sumptuous John Oliver interview the equally yummy Dr. Stephen Hawking on the brilliant new “Last Week Tonight”, have been inspired to write my first blog post. Have also had a few glasses of champers…so here goes
It has been quite the week. Honour killings in Pakistan, Iraq descending into hell once again, cannibalism at FIFA World Cup Brazil, Mayor Rob Ford’s return from rehab, all counter-balanced by the sublime sounds of Sachal Music, Dragon Boat Races in Vancouver, the joyful documentary about Roger Ebert “Life Itself”, and the knock-out performance by Emil and Dariel on America’s Got Talent.
And then there was the Scrabble Nazi. Lately, have been winding down a tough day in the trenches, by playing a few games of online Scrabble. Have always loved the game, and find that there is generally a global community of like-minded folks out there on the net. It helps keep the old brain cells active. Since the game is being played in the ether, there are often tech and even human-beings-behaving-badly issues. So, one is required to “Ask a helper”…
Although my life pretty much revolves around sarcasm (from the British side of my family), have been startled and somewhat dismayed by the ongoing sarcastic non-help offered by ISC’s so-called helpers. Granted, it’s a tough job just waiting by the screen for some inane question, comment or winge to appear, but hey…you volunteered.
The most relentless of these “helpers” calls himself CariBOUman, and he brooks no nonsense from players. He is smarter than they are, and he can dish it out, but Dearies, he can’t take it. One of the joys of playing is that you have to see conversations between the helpers and members of ISC whether you wish to or not, while you are involved in a game. It can be distracting and downright annoying.
Recently, after a particularly long stream of sarcastic remarks to players in various states of confusion, added my own comment, between firing up the tiles, that “sometimes your sarcasm drips too much”. The response was immediate and vicious. Which is interesting, considering they either ignore your query or respond with totally unhelpful info. As a paid member (to help kep this enterprise afloat), I find this offensive.
My point is this, Dearies. If I wanted to pay to be abused, would find a good S&M parlour. Sarcasm/humour has a place, i.e in this blog. It really should not interfere with the Not-Quite-Beautiful-Game. And if you don’t like hyphenated words, then you shouldn’t be reading this. Ohoh, CariBOUman is rubbing off on me!
Cannot end this inaugural blog post on a sour note. For something far more uplifting will close with a few thoughts about the 100th Anniversary of WW1. “The Shot Heard Around the World” reverberates yet today.
But it was a simpler time. My grandfather uprooted himself to join the British Army, and survived to tell the tale. He never talked of the unspeakable horrors of trench warfare. He transplanted himself from Russia and England, to Canada, where he started a family. My grandfather published ” The Daily Ragweed” and doted on my grandmother.
He would often drag me to Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, built by that titan of Canadian Industry, E.P.Taylor (who also bred the great Northern Dancer, Dearies). We both loved the horses. We were buddies when I was little. The one and only time he ever spanked me, was when he found the 5 year-old Miss M smoking his cigars (and loving every moment of it).
That world was complicated to my grandfather, but he engaged it on his own terms. Am glad that he is not here now to see how truly complicated the world has become. He fled the pogroms of Russia. Now it seems, the world has become one big pogrom, from Africa and South Asia to Bosnia and beyond.
Grandpa never lost his thick Russian accent through it all. This embarrassed his children, I think, but never concerned me. He was a short, wiry man who could type-set a column while puffing on his cigar. He helped in his small way, to set the stage for the world as we know it. He was brave, he was hopeful, he was pragmatic, he was kind.
These are all traits that I hope somehow have been passed down.
All three of his sons followed in his footsteps and enlisted to fight during WW2. My father lied about his age and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. North Atlantic convoys were treacherous. German U-boats were everywhere. But the danger was momentarily forgotten in ports of call like Glasgow, Scotland.
In that very port on the River Clyde, one Sunday afternoon, he and several of his friends accepted an invitation to “come home for lunch” from a dapper man (with a decidedly Hitler-like moustache, of all things). Little could my father guess, that 3 lovely daughters would also be sharing lunch.
My grandmother had created a magical feast from limited rations. She welcomed the three Canucks with open arms. One particular daughter caught my father’s eye, and he hers. It was love at first sight. My grandfather regretted making that lunch invitation until the day he died.
Promising to reunite after the War, as many did, my parents married in Glasgow. They faced a brave new world together. It seemed so much simpler then, evil had been vanquished and the future was bright and unknown…
The point of all of this Dearies, before I get too misty-eyed and tedious, is that we are all part of History, however unwilling we maybe. The world is a dangerous, volatile place. Of course, it always has been.
We continue to bear witness to the worst and the best of human nature. Evil will always be present, in forms and ways that are familiar and unimagined. It is how we confront it that matters. Each in their own way. Our grandfathers and grandmothers shared a strength and grace that the world so desperately needs at this moment.
To them and those who followed, I raise a glass of champers. Cheers Dearies, Cheers!