Tuesday, 15 November 2016



Pulp fiction master Edgar Rice Burroughs is best remembered for his Tarzan tales. An equally compelling series of stories relate the adventures of John Carter, a Confederate army captain who was mysteriously transported to Mars, Barsoom in that planet’s vernacular, whilst sheltering in a cave. Another literary character from the same period of American history, Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, awoke one day only to find himself stretching his tired limbs in Arthurian Britain.

Present times are peculiar and I’ve the disconcerting sense that I’ve hit my head and am consequently now somehow caught up in the fantastical strands of a parallel, alternative narrative to reality. Sunday morning I stood outside on the rear patio, its chairs stored and its tables tipped, contemplating the blue sky and green grass. My coffee smelled good and tasted better. I studied the bare branches of the trees and the shrubs expecting to see tiny green nubs of buds. Surely the month was April and not November?

The United Kingdom has turned its back on the European Union. The Chicago Cubs are baseball’s World Series champions. Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Donald J. Trump is the president-elect of the United States. The Edmonton Eskimos are playing in the Canadian Football League’s Eastern Final next week. The Rolling Stones will release a new studio album. It’s even conceivable that Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front (the party’s name should tip you off as to its ideology), could be the next president of the Republic.

I am as discombobulated as a fictional Reb or Yank, a stranger in a strange land. Black is white. Up is down. Right is left. I cannot make heads nor tails of things. Sinners are saints. Wrong is right. Nothing quite computes. Still, here I am in the middle of it all and it’s impossible to look away from the absurdity of life’s rich pageant.

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