Wins and losses

Bob Wakeham
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It was sure as hell obvious this past week (OK, given it’s a time to put Christ back in Christmas, I’ll change “hell” to “heck”) that we were smack dab in the middle of the holiday season.

Costco, for example, was blocked to the eyeballs from dawn till dusk, the box store many have come to both love and loathe, the corporate warehouse that’s mastered, or

Master-Carded, the science of convincing the consumer to drink the Kool-Aid, a brain-washing success story that prompts normally rational-thinking individuals to purchase several hundred bucks in merchandise when all they wanted in the first place was a couple of Bill Rowe books for stocking stuffers.

Scraps of wonder

But aside from the crass, cash-register signature of the holidays, there were also much nicer reflections of Christmas here and there, including, at the risk of swamping myself in mush, the magnificent sight coming down over the hill into Flatrock of dozens of eclectically decorated homes dotting the hills near the harbour, a vision that would make an artist drool. 

And there was the trot in the woods near our home last weekend with the chainsaw, an annual excursion that invariably resurrects incredibly pleasant memories of similar trips near Gander Lake eons ago, trudging through the snow and trying to keep up with “the men” as they searched for the perfect tree. 

But that’s enough schmaltz for one year.

Lots to think about

There were a few random thoughts about the never dull goings-on in Newfoundland that also managed to weave their way through or around those sentimental brain cells.      

• You have to give the RCMP marks for having twisted themselves into a knot trying to improve their track record in dealing with mentally troubled persons.

But ultimately, they flopped in Bay Bulls. After going through extraordinary efforts to keep guns in holsters, and have that standoff end peaceably, they managed to let Leo Crockwell slip through their fingers, an escape that’s made them a laughing stock in many quarters of the province.

There was even a Bay Bulls version of “Aunt Martha’s Sheep” making the rounds of computer land, one in which the mounties were “dreaming about the moose” while “Leo walked right of the doors and now he’s on the loose.” And there was Kevin Tobin’s brilliant cartoon in The Telegram which, in case you missed it, showed a mountie with a bullhorn shouting: “Come out, Leo, we’ve got the front of your house surrounded.”

• Between the time I deliver these pearls of wisdom (or notes of nonsense, my persistent critics will note) to Mr. Editor (Monday morning, Dec. 20) and when they actually appear, there’s no telling what might have transpired in the unpredictable world of Newfoundland politics.

Madame Premier Kathy Dunderdale appears to have taken a shine to the throne, and may actually take a run at the Tory leadership. And even those devoted to the Liberal or NDP causes would have to admit she was quickly accumulating a few credibility points in the last couple of weeks.

Aside from being given a great deal of the credit for solving the high-profiled doctors’ dispute, and the lower-profiled (but shocking) year long strike by those 14 care workers on the Burin Peninsula, I noticed a palpable sign of new-found confidence in the way Dunderdale was handling herself before the cameras and microphones. Now that Boss Dan is not behind the curtain pulling her strings and adjudicating her every word, perhaps Dunderdale has allowed herself to exude a spark of self-assuredness.

• Say what you want about John Murphy (he had many fans, but some townies found his pomposity hard to swallow), the always colourful “Rags” had a love affair with St. John’s that was unequalled.

A reporter friend of mine was flying into St. John’s one spectacularly clear evening and found himself sitting next to the then Mayor Murphy, who was gazing out the window at “his” magnificent city and revealed to my buddy: “God, looking out there at those lights, I realize how much I love being mayor because, you know, it’s better, yes it’s better than sex.” True story.

Merry Christmas to all.      


Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by e-mail at

Organizations: Costco, Kool-Aid, RCMP Tory

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Bay Bulls, Gander Lake

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Recent comments

  • Walter Quinlan
    December 30, 2010 - 14:05

    Bob, You never did catch up to the "men". Walter