12:43:10 pm on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

My Bumstead Years
David Simmonds

A generation from now, young people will ask their grandparents “What did you do in the Great Covid-19 Wars of 2020 and 2021?” We’d better have some good answers ready for their inquisitive minds.

Foot soldier in the times of Covid-19.

I can honestly say that I was a mere foot soldier in the cause, taking my direction from senior officers like Theresa Tam, David Williams, Piotr Ogles, Steve Ferguson and, ahem, Doug Ford, I complied with the stay at home, do not have friends over and keep your distance orders, faithfully. I was doing my bit, small though it may have been.

Indeed, I’d like to think I endured the lack of social contact with dignity and resolve. When I could have been out gallivanting around the intellectual salons of Picton, I was forced instead to stay home and watch television. I didn’t complain, much.

Large chunks of my days were taken up watching CTV News Channel for the latest breathless crisis briefing to the troops from the above-mentioned senior officers. There was more to my television use. I consumed every episode ever produced of Escape to the Country, an English reality show about Londoners wanting to sell out and move to Dorset to raise pigs. I also got hooked on Better Call Saul, a soap opera about a lawyer with no ethical compass, if that’s not a redundancy.

Cynics might say that doing my duty in this manner was code for getting a licence to do nothing but rest on my couch for sixteen months. To them I say: sit a while in my slippers before you cast the first stone; I was just following my marching orders or really, my non-marching orders. Maybe I was Dagwood Bumstead sprawled out in his chair, but I was also on duty.

Civic duty performed during lockdown.

Not all my screen time was downmarket. I also did my civic duty by assiduously watching our County Council meetings on Zoom. The great thing is, you can watch the same meeting as many times as you like, picking out all the pearls of wisdom that drop from the lips of councillors.

Watching the meetings, I felt sympathy for our beleaguered councillors How would you like to sit still for more than three hours listening to thirty-eight speakers in a row, most ignoring the relevant issue and knowing that if, you ask them any questions, you will just be prolonging the agony? The only thanks you’ll get is to be accused of cowardice for not acting sooner or risk being strung up to the nearest lamp post for voting in favour of no parking signs.

I also did do some useful jobs with my time at home. I can point to my near success in reorganizing my sock drawer. I had a bold idea: why not separate my socks into two groups; left foot socks in one drawer and right foot socks in the other?

Then, when I woke up groggy in the morning, I would have no trouble knowing which foot a particular sock went on. Unfortunately, I had to abandon the effort halfway through when the sock classification process was more challenging than I anticipated.

When the post-pandemic era does come along, people like me are going to have to listen to those annoying people who followed a strict self-improvement regime. “Oh, I figured this was going to last a while, so I enrolled in an online intensive eight-month post-graduate course in Swahili and earned an MA. For the rest of the pandemic, I was riding my Peloton and watching encouragement videos to prepare for running the County marathon next year.”

Those people will get the jump on us lazy people. Imagine interviewers looking to hire employees who are motivated. Who would hire me over our Swahili-speaking marathoner? My main hope would be that one of the interviewers also happened to speak Swahili and could call the diploma-holder’s bluff.

My Dagwood Bumstead years.

Real life will begin again soon enough. For now, I’m going to enjoy the last few weeks of my Dagwood Bumstead years. I just hope my grandchildren will never have heard of him.

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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