SAINTS PRESERVE US
The Calendar on the Kitchen Wall
Ann and I have developed a sort of pandemic verbal shorthand should our conversations careen into the abstraction of a more hopeful future: “Don’t ask me, I just don’t fuckin’ know anything anymore. Fuck.” We are vexed by vaccines, variants and the mixed, conflicting messages issued from various informed or possibly incompetent authorities. Meanwhile, well-intentioned conspiracy theory freakazoids wallow in a false nostalgic reverie: “Iron lungs and polio, oh, how they take me back. Times were simpler then and we were so happy. Forgive me, my eyes are getting misty. Do you have a sanitized tissue?”
If last summer was a covid full-court press, this summer is ambiguity bouncing around like a loose ball. I am unclear on how Canada is able to reopen our border with the United States two weeks before they open their side. Of course, I’m no diplomat, never have been. There must be nuances. The world-famous, legendary Calgary Stampede, a public party second only to New Orleans’s Mardi Gras in North America, went ahead following a year’s covid sabbatical. I wonder if that festival of a sepia-toned Canadian West will shake down as a super-spreader event. England has been paralyzed like a tossed bull rider by “pingdemic,” a wireless public alert system that tracks covid cases and one’s proximity to them. And then there is Tokyo (not the amazing Bruce Cockburn song) 2020 even though it’s 2021: My mind keeps on ringing like a fire alarm!
Warm weather here in Edmonton is gauged by my Crooked 9 Theory of 12 Mows. I will mow our lawn a dozen times between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving. A calendar count puts me at eight already although two were backyard only and so they may be combined and reduced to a one. Lawn mowing decreases in frequency as summer heats up and the grass becomes lazy with unsatisfied thirst. Ann has asked me not to number my mows on our kitchen wall calendar, just indicate them generically so her countdown to autumn during another lost summer isn’t so literal. Fair enough, but Ann’ll still have to proofread this post.
The national assumption is that Ottawa’s minority Liberal government will drop the writ this fall, maybe before I’ve finished mowing the grass. The party’s election platform will likely hinge on how it didn’t completely mishandle the covid pandemic and, as is Liberal tradition, a lot of cash was spread around the country. And there’s more where that came from. Hello, national daycare; I used to worry about the state raising children, but the pandemic has made me realize it’s a better option than home schooling.
Mark Carney, former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, has refused Liberal overtures to stand for election in the fall. Perhaps he realizes the prime minister displays no aversion to sacrificing his cabinet ministers in order to save himself. Still, our charismatic and photogenic prime minister remains something of an oxymoron in designer clothing: an ineffectual autocrat. Perhaps a senior cabinet post doesn’t adequately encompass the scope of Carney’s ambition.
A function of power is the creation of its own behaviours and ethics. Of all the prime minister’s missteps and blatant breaches, it’s the WE charity scandal which has appalled me most. That the charity has paid his wife, his mother and his brother is merely politics as usual; foul, but no harm. What made me seethe was the Government of Canada preparing to utilize a benevolent organization as an instrument of policy on behalf of a segment of Canada’s youth. Given the historical parallels to our horrible and sickening residential school system, I’d like to know who thought this was a good idea in 2020.
Archaic mentality is best left to the Conservatives whose rank and file debates social issues laid to rest when Barbara Frum was still hosting the national news on CBC. The New Democrats are broke, busted, without dimes to spare for a fall election, brother. My anger with the Liberals has been tempered somewhat by my sardonic amusement with the Green Party of Canada. The Greens won three seats in parliament in the last federal election, but one member has gone into the wind, crossing the floor to sit on the Liberal side of the house. The earnest environmentalists’ implosion was sparked by rocket fire into and out of the Gaza Strip. I’m not sure that any Canadian would turn to the Greens expecting a coherent foreign policy statement regarding the chaotic state of affairs in the Middle East.
The Greens’ internal disarray is particularly disheartening as these peculiar times are serendipitous to the party’s raison d’etre. Canada’s wildfire season is like summer in the musical Camelot, ever longer and hotter. Farm crops are withering. While Canadians are used to messages of prevention, especially with health care, there seems to be little national will to prevent or at least mitigate the next climate-related catastrophe. There’s a patchwork national carbon tax in place, but come fall the spectre of carbon border adjustments could be a hot topic on the stump. These fees intended to nudge international trading partners closer to the goals of the 2015 Accord de Paris could just as easily be misconstrued as protectionist tariffs.
My favourite song of late has been “Rain,” that hypnotic, droning Beatles B-side; I guess that’s mostly because we haven’t had any. If it doesn’t rain, the Crooked 9’s grass won’t grow which means I can’t mow the lawn and make a note on the kitchen wall calendar. If I can’t mow the lawn, I can’t talk to myself, think things through. So, as pandemic time flashes toward fall, fuck if I know anything about anything anymore.
meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of social and political commentary since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is out now. Visit www.megeoff.com to find your preferred format and retailer.