Last night we slept with most of the apartment windows open. The uncommonly arid and cool air this morning was a shock as we hastily prepared for our customary bicycle ride. The venture was however annoyingly curtailed for me when I discovered another flat tyre, the fourth in as many months. No matter. Our trusty confidant Bill Barrie, owner of Almonte Bicycle Works the “special place in the heart of cycling country to the west of Ottawa” is but a stone’s throw from our place. I spoke with Bill Barrie; he sees nothing nefarious about these latest punctures. At some length he reviewed with me the types of tyres available (we have subsequently agreed that he will order “puncture proof” tyres for installation). I left it in his capable hands – which is to say I obscured myself from the matter and told him I awaited his call. One other little thing, he saw no reason to get a new bike. Apparently the one I currently have (an Electra) meets his expectations.
The buzz of the day had just begun! It was our plan to attend the Community Centre (Poll No. 601) to cast our vote in the provincial Advance Poll. We soon learned to our moderate displeasure that we we weren’t the only ones on this exceptionally fine day who thought likewise. What is that propels universal avidity in these matters! I have no doubt that barring this first day of the Advance Poll, the other three days will be far less congested – especially at any other time than the opening hour of the day! Editor’s note: They was still a line-up when I drove by later this afternoon!
While His Lordship walked my mutilated bike to Bill Barrie (about two blocks from the Community Centre) I drove there, parked then joined the line of prospective voters already extending outside along the wall to the main door. The affair from beginning to end consumed a minimum of one hour. It left me wondering why, if complicated financial affairs with banks can be conducted on-line, the act of voting cannot be standardized on the internet. I suspect part of the reason is because of some misapprehension by the political elite that the groundlings insist upon line-ups and personal appearance, the privilege of crossing the “X” where required, in order to preserve their quaint sense of democracy in action.
Apart from that hissing private enquiry the endurance was mildly amusing. Initially while standing in line I rocked back and forth to remove the strain on my spine and the stress of standing upright. At other times I merely stiffened my knees and tightened my thigh muscles in an effort to restore a semblance of standing posture. When not enjoying the warm sun’s rays, I pondered annoyingly (and inwardly naturally) why the line wasn’t adjacent the wooden rails (upon which one could briefly alight for relief) alongside the driveway instead of leaning in the direction of the outer wall. Our cattle-like submission is a marvel of Nature!
Eventually His Lordship joined me in the line (a priority which I thought might trigger popular abuse or outrage but it did not). I clung to his shoulder – an act which in turn I hoped would demonstrate my complaint and subdue any uncharitable opinion. If we approached a hand rail or one of the few chairs set out, I would momentarily profit by the availability. By the time I climbed the stairs in my limited capacity and got to the main hall where the voting booths were located, I had nearly exhausted my maintenance. Younger people offered to assist. Nice though it was of them to do so, they unwittingly crowned my arrival at that class of person (usually an old fogey such as I not a damaged Olympian) who has “mobility issues”. Worse, I didn’t thwart or crawl from the inadequacy. I am now officially beyond public castigation or other insinuation. My athletic image is ruined!
The remainder of the afternoon was unexpectedly pleasant. I completed my usual 5.91Km bicycle jaunt. The weather was marvellous! I chatted along the way with W. Ross Taggart, Ontario Land Surveyor and Robert Smithson, fellow Masonic Lodge brother and son of the late J. C. Smithson, Land Registrar. The sequel to that performance as always was a drive in the automobile this time punctuated by a dip into the newest butchery in town where I bought some filet mignon, sausage, freshly baked sour dough bread, Prince Edward Island butter with sea salt and chocolate chip cookies the size of frisbees!
The curious upshot of this moderate diversion was a sudden absorption in the idea of driving across Canada to Victoria for some or all of the winter.