08:48:14 am on
Monday 15 Jul 2024

Chinese Time
David Simmonds

You’re not the only one who’s been wilted by the heat, despite employing maximum air conditioning. The deep strategic thinkers at the Ontario government, worried about this one-two punch of the loss of productivity and high energy use, are on the case.

According to research conducted by the Queen’s Park bureau, of the Wellington Times, three levels of intervention are being considered.

The first is an outright summer-long ban on the wearing of neckties. “The tie serves no useful purpose,” said our source; “just wearing it makes the temperature of the head area rise an average of 1.5 degrees, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you convert it to dollars, it’ll cost us about $846 million this year. And before you say it sounds like a dumb idea, remember: Toronto banned the plastic bag, so we know how low the bar has been set.”

If this move takes place, it will be stiffly resisted by the Ontario Neckware Coalition, a hastily formed but tightly knotted alliance among tailors, dry cleaners, dandies and civil rights activists. The Coalition’s motto - “a stately neck is manhood’s manliest part” - is attributed to former American Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Coalition regards wearing a tie to be an issue that engages the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and notes that the decision will send an already battered tie-making industry farther offshore than it has already gone. “It’s the thin edge of the wedge,” said one Coalition member; “first the necktie, then the cravat, then the pocket puff: where will it stop if we don’t stop it?”

According to polls conducted by the Liberal Party, however, the move will pay off politically, as most men regard the wearing of a tie as creating a pain threshold similar to passing a kidney stone or giving birth.

At the second level, planners are taking a hard look at a form of enforced idleness, the Spanish siesta, the short nap and long afternoon rest at home enjoyed by many residents of that Mediterranean country. The advantage, of course, is that it pushes more frenetic activities into the late afternoon and evening cool, while inactivity enables one to cope with the heat better.

One’s instinctive reaction, of course, is to say this would not work in Ontario. If they had had air conditioning in Spain 100 years ago, say critics, the siesta would not be a tradition. Moreover, the thought of everyone working in southern Ontario having to rush home to Brampton and back again during the course of the working day seems logistically impossible.

Again, our sources say, you have to dig a little deeper. Air conditioning is part of the problem, not the solution. Putting a siesta in the day, far from creating a commuting problem, will solve it by creating a disincentive to commute and a reason for the Toronto condominium boom to continue. And indeed, some businesses are looking at the idea quite seriously. “We already require our associates to put in 18-hour days, not counting bathroom and meal breaks,” said the managing partner of one Bay Street law firm. “If an afternoon siesta helps refresh them and enable them to get back in harness to log in another 12 hours or so, then we’re all for it. They practically live here anyway. And besides, we could write off the cost of the sofas, beds and comfy pyjamas as a business expense.”

The third - and perhaps the boldest and most innovative suggestion is the adoption of a “Chinese Time” summer clock instead of a “Daylight Savings” clock. Instead of adjusting our clocks by one hour to allow for a later day, so the theory goes, why not go whole hog and move the clock 12 hours, backwards or forwards, whatever public opinion wants? Most of our business would then get done in the cool of the evenings: the expenditure on floodlighting would be readily compensated for by savings in air conditioning costs. “China is the world’s most dynamic economy,” said our source, “and we’re in the process of selling them everything we’ve got to offer anyway. So why not operate in the same time zone. Besides, if our farmers find it inconvenient to grow corn by flashlight, they can always switch to mushrooms. And you’d get a lot more people going to nightclubs.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty is understood to have expressed interest in the idea. But Is he not worried that he will be tagged as the ‘man who kept Ontario in the dark’? Not at all, said our source: he sees this type of measure as the type of inexplicable but bold leadership stroke which, beginning with the Green Energy Act, has been his trademark.

It is rumoured that an experimental trial of switching to Chinese Time will be conducted next summer in the Greater Toronto Area; with the rest of the province following suit in 2014 if the experiment proves successful.

Necktie bans, siestas and Chinese Time: whoever said adversity breeds creativity hit it right on the money!

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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