Summertime prose and priorities

Bob
Bob Wakeham
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I could, I suppose, offer a few words of profundity this week about that fella out in redneck territory with an obvious, severe case of arsehole-ism and a pathological dislike for Newfoundlanders whose rant to the editor of a Calgary newspaper produced exactly what the whacky Westerner was pursuing — a  few column inches and a couple of on air minutes of notoriety, along with a Wanted poster in this smiling land of ours.

But if I was to do that, I’d be playing the game according to that idiot’s self-serving rules.

And given that this nincompoop is definitely not worthy of all the attention he’s gotten, and should be dismissed as a frustrated born loser, a classic whiner like many (not all, but many) letter writers in newspapers happen to be, I think I’ll punt.

What I would suggest in passing, though, is that the admission by the newspaper’s boss that he actually contemplated killing the letter doesn’t say a hell of a lot about his editorial thinking process.

The letter writer may, indeed, be an illiterate jerk with insecurities and hangups a mile long, but his, or anyone else’s ramblings, for that matter, shouldn’t be dismissively tossed from the editor’s desk into the trash simply because a group of people — in this case, the people of Newfoundland — would be upset.

That’s a slippery slope of political correctness that should have danger signs at every turn. (I’ve been the recipient over the years of an occasional letter writer in a newspaper or 30 seconds from a feedback contributor on radio and television with a lack of fondness for material that was my responsibility, but I always have, and always will, defend his or her right to be read or heard, no matter how foolish or nutty or inane or nasty, or all the above, the comments happen to be).

So there — no column on the cuckoo cowboy from out West.

Or I could, I suppose, write about the doubts of Muskrat Falls’ viability once again raising their head.

Muskrat Falls is like a jack in the box, the issue staying quietly in its place for periods of time, much to government’s delight, then jumping up to scare the hell out of many in the province, leaving them to wonder, with way too much regularity, whether Muskrat is a white elephant, a Newfie joke, a project with the potential to make the Sprung Greenhouse debacle, for instance, look positively enlightening by comparison.

Now, only a complete fool, or a politician consumed by partisanship and expedience, would hope that Muskrat Falls is a flop.

What rational thinking person wouldn’t want it to succeed?

But, at this point, all we can hope is that the dire predictions of failure from a fair number of credible sources here at home, and the legal moves by Quebec, and the regulatory question marks starting to pop up in the Maritimes, are not as frightening as they appear, and that all will be OK in the end (a bit like whistling by the graveyard or pissing in the wind, I admit).

But the barn door of debate was closed on Muskrat Falls after Danny Williams had escaped on his white stallion down the road to retirement, his saddlebags conveniently carrying a Lower Churchill agreement he said he needed to complete his legacy. There was no pulling back the reins then, there’s no pulling back now. The Muskrat ride has already cost a fortune, and that means government and Nalcor would never reverse the plunge at this point, even if they felt it was the sanest move to make. Muskratus interruptus is not in this particular book of foreplay.                           

So there — no 800 words on the muskrat swimming its way upstream, being hit by the debris of disconcerting apprehension at every turn in the river.

What’s left to write about, you might ask?

Well, how about dogs and fish? Mundane to many, of course, but the fact remains that a puppy and codfish have provided an oasis of pleasure for me during these dog days of August, to coin an expression of baseball parlance (speaking of which: the woof-woof days started for the dramatically underachieving sooky babies, better known as the Toronto Blue Jays, extremely early — in May, in fact — a pathetic and disappointing performance for fans of the blow jays, including me).   

I’m talking here about two upbeat, but decidedly personal subjects: the addition to our home of one of the cutest puppies in Newfoundland canine history, and evenings spent hauling in cod over the side of our boat just off Flatrock.

That’s what matters most to me in recent weeks (along with doing whatever I can to facilitate the moving of my father to a nursing home bed, an emotionally draining experience, to say the least), not some bore in Calgary with too much time on his hands or a government in danger of costing us a bundle on a power deal that was virtually signed, sealed and delivered before we, the public, had hardly a look-see.  

The pup is called “Mister,”

a cross-breed, a mixture of a Labrador retriever, a Jack Russell terrier and a cocker spaniel (his aunt had him, as they say), but looking mostly like the Labrador, as gloriously yellow as a daffodil with tiny dark eyes and a personality right out of a Disney flick.    

He’s stolen the hearts of my wife and me, but is still viewed with some consternation and a bit of jealousy, it must be said, by the two dogs already in residence in our home.  

And when he does collapse

from exhaustion, toppling over with almost scary suddenness into a deep sleep, after an hour-long, all-out attack on anything chewable within his range, it’s an opportunity for us to head down to the wharf and steam out of Flatrock Harbour in the family boat to fill our quota of cod, sometimes while watching a magnificent sunset dancing on the rocks of Red Cliff.

Yessir. I have my priorities straight.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email

at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: Toronto Blue Jays

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Calgary, Quebec Flatrock

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  • Pativut
    August 12, 2013 - 16:30

    A sobering reminder to focus on the important aspects of out family lives and nature. The columnist did not dwell on the fact that the Calgary Sun letter need not be "killed" by the editor to have been buried by more civil or meritous correspondence. Freedom of speech does not enforce an obligation to publish. Nor did he make any connections between Muskrat Falls and the same aspects of nature and life enjoyed by the fine people downstream dispite reference to one beautiful Labrador crossbreed. It's not the "cowboy" bore, it's the biased editor. It is not the monetary value of bad hydro deals, it is the cost to nature and lifestyle of those that enjoy it. Inuit and Inuit-Metis know what is important to them and long ago, some say we used to put the elderly infirm off to the other side on an icepan. Let's not send common sense adrift when referring to media-induced bigotry and mercury river ruination for carbon offset credits.

  • saelcove
    August 10, 2013 - 10:30

    Well he sure is bothering you actually you do not sound much different than the idiot you talking about

    • Eldorado
      August 13, 2013 - 09:40

      I agree with you SAELCOVE. That Calgary Cowboy is not worth a few column inches to Wakeham so he gives him half a page. Thick egos are inclined to get carried away a lot. Oh yeah, next week (if he shows up) I'll be described as gutless for not using my name. Suck it up Bob.