04:25:32 pm on
Friday 12 Jul 2024

Confined to Barracks
David Simmonds

I have every confidence the public health officialdom is doing right telling us to stay put or else. What could be better than to have time at home to appreciate our loved ones? What could be better than to finally get to those little jobs that have been withering on the shelf of good intentions?

Flying through Dickens.

As for me, I have pulled off that shelf my long-held desire to read every book written by Charles Dickens. In the last few days, I have thoroughly consumed Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, Great Expectations, The Old Curiosity Shop, The Pickwick Papers and A Tale of Two Cities. I shall tackle Barnaby Rudge, next, before finishing off the Dickens inventory by Thursday. Then it will be on to Margaret Atwood, whose entire output I hope to finish by the end of the weekend.

I will also be repainting the ceiling in every room in my house and fix the transmission on my car. I will send an intimate personal letter to every living, breathing relative I have on this planet. These tasks will take another full day, maybe.

Just a caution. Don’t believe everything you read in this column. I make up much of it; it may take an extra day or two to finish off Dickens.

The fact, unfortunately, is that if you keep me at home and deprive me of my routine, I will surely to goodness find a way to waste my time. In my best-case use of time scenario, I will start to compile an inventory of my socks. I will separate them into categories; matching and mismatched, summer and winter, argyle and non-argyle, colourful and staid, with cross referencing where a sock falls into more than one category. I will not, of course, finish the inventory. I will tell myself can wait until next winter, although I know that by then I will have to start afresh.

Glued to television during pandemic?

In the worst-case scenario, I will be glued to the television, watching as Rosemary Barton parades forth the latest announcement of death and doom. Tiring of it, I will turn to a sports channel and watch a replay of the 1982 Grey Cup Eastern semi-finals or a highlight show of the 50 Most Unforgettable Sports Bloopers Off All Time.

If I can last until late in the afternoon, I’ll not miss Escape to the Country, a series about couples that dream of buying a place in the idyllic English countryside. but can’t bring themselves to make the move. That will see me through until Vassy Kapelos sticks her barracuda teeth into the victim of the day.

I must face up to it. Left to my own devices, I am a disaster. My wife is the opposite: she can spend a spare half hour completing her income tax, preparing a roast beef dinner for fifteen people and calling our daughter, in Vancouver, for an extended chat. You might say she is getting a little more out of life than I am as a result.

My failure at making productive use of my time puts me in the position of admiring our Prime Minister, whose 14-day self-isolation, a while back, was inspiring. Apparently, it is possible to stay housebound, tend to an ailing housebound spouse while avoiding contact; parent three rambunctious children; run a major industrialized country and still have the wherewithal to conduct a news conference on your front doorstep every day looking fresh as a daisy and sounding confident and in control. How he managed to avoid getting tied up on the phone, with Donald Trump, say, when it was bath time for his son Hadrian is an accomplishment I hope he’ll address in his memoirs. 

PM helping with the sock drawer?

Now that he’s well back in circulation, perhaps Trudeau has a little free time, he could come to help me with my sock drawer. I’m sure he could whip through it quickly, perhaps while l I have my bath. Donald Trump would surely stay on hold if he happened to call. While I am on the point, I should extend my appreciation to all the people who are treating this business of fighting the coronavirus as a 24-hour a day job.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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