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Friday 12 Jul 2024

The Unknown Saviour
David Simmonds

Wellington County certainly had its share of the spotlight over the past few years, but it could soon be taking more bows; on Broadway, no less. The County forms the backdrop of a new musical conceived by Toronto resident Gillian Spigott. The play, tentatively titled, The Unknown Saviour, grounds in a recent real life adventure of Spigott.

• Wine tasting in the County.

Spigott is the maid of honour for the forthcoming wedding of her friend. The bride to be and Spigott, along with four other bridesmaids, rented a car in Toronto last week to take a day-long wine tasting trip to celebrate the forthcoming event and select the libation of choice for the reception. Things went well all day, until, well, I’ll let Ms, Spigott take it from here.

“We had tried so hard to be careful; we weren’t going fast. I should know. I was the driver designate. On the way home, somewhere between Hucyks Point Road and Rose Hall, we ran into whiteout conditions.

“The next thing you know we were in the ditch. None of us had on warm coats and it was getting dark. We were staring to panic. I didn’t want anything to go wrong on my watch. Yet here we were.

“Roughly five minutes after we got stuck, it seemed like it was half an hour, this truck comes along and sees our flashing lights. The driver stops. At last, someone to help us.

“The driver has some rope in his truck and he ties it first to our rental car and then to the truck. Then he guns the truck and pulls our car out of the ditch. It only takes him a couple of minutes.

“Then, just like that, he is off again. He doesn’t introduce himself and won’t take any money from us. We still don’t know ‘Who was that man with a rope?’”

Perhaps we can help. How would you describe him? “Burly. Either wore a beard or hadn’t shaved for a while. Wasn’t wearing a suit; more like the sort of clothes you would wear if you worked out of doors?”

• It was getting dark.

Okay, that narrows it down a bit. What kind of truck was it? “I don’t know: it was just a truck. They all look the same to me. Remember, it was getting dark.” Well, maybe he’s going to have to stay unknown.

Spigott wants to make the actions of the unknown saviour the focal point of her new play. Inspired by the musical, Come from Away, she wants to create a work that celebrates the generosity of spirit of County residents. She is planning a multi-actor production, with roles for the six women and the truck driver; as well as the mayor, the local councillor, and a busload of nearby residents cast as extras. There’ll be plenty of music. “This could be another Lion King,” she gushes, “especially if Sting would portray the truck driver.”

Spigott hopes a work-shopped version, of her play, will be ready for the wedding reception. Thereafter, it’s on to the Toronto big stage in 2020, with a possible New York engagement the following year. Imagine if Sting would play the truck driver.

For some reason, folks in Wellington County have yet to warm up to the story, if they’ve heard about it at all. “That truck driver was just doing a common County courtesy,” said one customer at a local diner. “Why should I bother going to see a song and dance about it?” Another customer said, “I don’t get it. Now, if the bride had fallen in love with the truck driver and realised it wasn’t really true love between her and her fiancé or if one of the bridesmaids had gone into premature labour, then you might be on to something.”

Deterrence is not for Spigott. “People will pay to see a feel good story. Put yourself in our predicament. We didn’t know when the truck was going to come along; if he would stop; and if he would help us; if he could pull us out successfully. How do you locals put up with all that stress all winter long?”

• All part of the County.

Spigott doesn’t know the half of it. I’ve heard tell of people who’ve suffered the same fate, in the same area, who have abandoned their vehicle and shown up unannounced on the nearest doorstep. Their unsuspecting hosts have opened up their home to them, warmed them, dried them, fed them and put them up for the night. That’s all part of being a resident of the County, no musicals necessary.

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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