So here we are, New Year’s week, 2019, that time when to-be-pitied souls are fresh into their soon-to-be-broken resolutions to maintain a healthier lifestyle, replacing delicious cinnamon and raisin bagels with tasteless Weight Watchers bread, refreshing Corona with buzz-challenged, non-alcoholic beer, delightful, drool-inducing naptime on the couch with demanding, decidedly miserable walks on the slippery sidewalks of downtown St. John’s.
As for me, I’ve never been much into the New Year’s resolutions game.
But it could be forcibly argued that, in retrospect, a good healthy shot at sobriety on any given New Year’s Day during my drinking career would have been quite a sensible move.
However, that was not to be. For one thing, I was just so delighted when the amateurs of the inebriation world, the minor league imbibers who upchucked after four or five beers, returned to the sidelines of normal tipplers after the Christmas holidays and discontinued their efforts to cramp the style of real pros like myself, that any notion of temperance was replaced by the desire to get back in my Babe Ruth position, hitting clean-up on the Newfoundland drinking team.
Contemporaries of mine have sometimes referred to my drinking as “legendary.” Nothing to be proud of, I guess, but it did prompt a good friend, the former journalist, labour leader and politician, Earle McCurdy, to pen a poem in homage to my boozing prowess:
Dominion, oh Dominion
Oh golden frothy brew.
Oh where, on Sunday mornings,
would I be if not for you?
My Fridays would be dismal
If my gut I could not fill,
With a whack of cold Dominion,
That golden frothy swill.
Those who’ve been fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on your tastes) to hear me rattle off the “Dominion poem” would be aware that there are numerous other stanzas, none of which I have the space for on this occasion; but I’m sure you get the drift.
And, as regular readers would be aware, as well as just about everyone I’ve known over the decades, my drinking career eventually came to a halt, a desire for normalcy and longevity far superseding the pleasures of getting drunk. Those amateurs I referred to got the last laugh when I was forced to the sidelines myself 35 years ago. (But who’s counting?)
Now, back to the question of New Year’s resolutions (after that characteristic tangent above): there are a couple of preoccupations I did consider this week that I might put on pause now and then during the coming year, as a way of giving my existence less exasperation and anger, one of those issues in our own backyard, and the other in that gigantic backyard to the south of us.
I’m talking about Muskrat Falls and Donald Trump.
As to the latter, I’ve thought for some time now that there should be a 12-step group to help those of us addicted to CNN coverage of that hellish American saga, especially for the white-haired geriatric crowd with way too much time on our hands to observe hours on end the latest Trump assault on civility, intelligence and tolerance.
I know — the television gods know I know — that I have to merely switch the channel to get away from the Trump insanity, but it’s as if I can’t help myself, like gawking at a bad accident.
So maybe, just maybe, I can try for a New Year’s resolution to at least cut back on my Trump viewership.
As for the Muskrat fiasco, well, that’s a whole different story, as maddening as it is to contemplate and absorb, and to write about, for that matter.
I’ve actually heard people say that we — reporters, commentators and columnists — should give Muskrat a break, that Newfoundland and Labrador has seen and heard enough, that the media has given Muskrat Falls more attention than it deserves.
Needless to say, any inclination of that sort would be downright dangerous.
The inquiry into Muskrat Falls has shown us, in unnerving ways, that this financial catastrophe, brought about by politicians, their mandarins and Crown corporation employees, was the result of a disgraceful combination of arrogance and ignorance, a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil philosophy that will cost us taxpayers, billions upon billions of dollars.
So, no, there won’t be any New Year’s resolution on my part to give Muskrat Falls some observer slack.
Or to reduce vigorous commentary on our political leaders. (A resident of a senior citizens residence cornered me for a minute over Christmas and exclaimed: “Loves your column; the saucier the better.”)
It would be a mistake to give our politicians even the slightest break; just take a gander, for example, at the profound prognostications made last week in The Telegram for the coming year: Dwight Ball doesn’t want to be “perfect,” just “better”; Ches Crosbie wishes to “restore faith” in the system; and Gerry Rogers wants “unity.”
The calming effect throughout the province was palpable.
Happy New Year.
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org