Rambling on a snowy day

It is always a welcome interruption for me to amuse myself doing nothing on a snowy day.  A snowy day blocks out every routine I normally pursue.  There is for example no bicycling. This is a double-feature because it precludes not only the performance but also the exertion. Though I recall when I was working at my private law office at 77 Little Bridge Street I would sometimes trudge through the snow to work on a snowy day with Monroe my French bulldog.  We both had to leap from one drift to another before finally reaching the liberation of a main road that had been plowed. We later had the privilege of spending most of the day snoozing or playing catch in the front office since my staff was housebound and clients were unwilling to venture out. The tranquillity of the snowy day enveloped the entire building just as it had quelled trade.

I use the word trade – rather than business – intentionally.  When I arrived in Almonte in June of 1976 I was introduced to Raymond Algernon Jamieson QC in whose desk chair I subsequently assumed my role as his putative successor. I was only his putative successor because my employers Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers &c. were the ones who had purchased Mr. Jamieson’s practice; I was simply the one chosen to fill the hole on his retirement after 54 years.  Mr. Jamieson had been called to the bar at Osgoode Hall in 1921. Naturally my appearance in Mr. Jamieson’s old wooden swivel desk chair meant I was commonly believed to be his successor. Subsequently I bought from Galligan & Sheffield the remaining lease and chattels associated with Mr. Jamieson’s practice and continued on my own. Once again the technical omission of “files” from the deal amounted to taradiddle since what drew most former clients of Mr. Jamieson to his office was indeed his office which I then occupied. There’s a reason they say possession is nine-tenths of the law!

Anyway what I was about to say about trade vs business is that when I chatted from time to time with Mr. Jamieson he regularly introduced the conversation by asking, “How’s trade?”  My initial reaction to the question was its peculiarity to the question to which I was accustomed; namely, “How’s business?” I subsequently learned in quick order that the bulk of Mr. Jamieson’s clients – now my clients – were tradesmen, people like carpenters, electricians, plumbers and stone masons.  Naturally many of them operated large operations such as those associated with house building and real estate investment which easily qualified as a business but the overwhelming characterization was trade. The word had the dignity associated with the historical evolution of trades in Europe where membership was a mark of dignity and superiority.  The connotation became all the more clear and noteworthy when I later joined Free Masonry through our local constituent Mississippi Lodge No. 147 whose members were entitled to wear an apron with gold braid and trim because of the Lodge’s existence over 100 years.

The current political affairs in the United States of America are not entirely a non sequitur. One of the other distinctions of Mr. Jamieson – again one which I initially found to be peculiar – was his abiding interest in American politics.  Forty years ago American politics were generally considered a remote observation, certainly not one that competed with Canadian politics.  Whether it is because of the weirdness of Trump or because we have lately spent six months of the year in Florida; or whether because right-wing politics seems to have overtaken the world, I too have become obsessed with the plight of the American people. I am completely incapable of understanding how anyone in their right mind can either believe or pretend to believe the many absurdities propounded by Trump and his acolytes. Equally appalling is the conclusion that the Republicans are only doing it to pacify their base and to preserve their re-election. What remains in either instance is the disturbing conclusion that so many Republican supporters believe the patent lies or are intent upon feeding the lies to maintain their superiority and right to carry guns. The patent irrationality and inhumanity is beyond description! My hope and expectation is that the germ that has percolated because of Trump’s publicity will eventually submerge and remain effectively invisible. I accept that racism exists and that it will continue to do so; but I similarly warrant the success of thinking people to enlarge our more commendable traits. At the moment however there is the very real uncertainty regarding the path to be taken by the minions of the world and our elected officials. Personally I view “Make America Great Again” as a back-step not an improvement; nor do I think there was ever a misunderstanding of that interpretation by Trump’s so-called “base” whether uneducated or financially sound. Similarly I believe the Republican party – about which I first heard nothing but condemnation as far back as 1978 when visiting Cape Cod – is on the threshold of becoming a minor, radical group of losers. Indeed even the current vocal members like Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene constitute an abhorrent example of what not to do. They collectively violate every rule of respectability.

Despite national outrage about Trump’s undemocratic actions, only 10 House Republicans voted to impeach him last month. And most Republicans balked Thursday at punishing Greene for espousing the dangerous lies and violent rhetoric that threaten the future of their party, with only 11 House Republicans joining Democrats in voting to kick Greene off her committees. 

Ornamented by the pretence of victimhood (asserting the violation of the right to free speech) the Republicans have all but assured their descent to a class of distasteful amoeba. Their employment of grass-root supporters who feel ostracized from the establishment is nothing short of parasitic.

Last evening we idly reflected upon the suggested inadequacy of having to remain in Canada for the winter. As much as we can bear the deprivation of winter we haven’t any remorse under current circumstances about having to stay home.  Recently in the news was a clip about a restaurateur in Naples, Florida who openly maintains his disbelief in the number of Americans who have perished as a result of the COVID pandemic.  Meanwhile his patrons were seated at tables closely approaching one another and no one wore a mask!  What perverted sense of entitlement provokes such mad conduct!  Are they totally ignorant of the real world around them, removed by the expensive trappings, protected by the mystique of Bentleys and Rolls Royce parked at the front door of their beachside resorts or condos with automatic water sprays at the garage entrance! We Canadians are spared the attraction of white sand and gated communities by the prevailing absence of private medical insurance. As I remarked last night, when the medical insurers announce coverage availability it will signal the propriety of travel once again because the last thing insurers wish to do is pay out on a policy. They’re in the business of acquisition not disposition.

After now having lingered in Canada since mid-March last, a total of about 11 months, we have learned how much time is required to fulfill many ambitions. Predominantly the leading concerns we’ve had centre about medical matters, certain of which as yet remain outstanding.  But some of the matters are as inconsequential as cosmetic surgery or getting a new pair of spectacles. The once imperceptible advancements of youth have long ago disappeared. One naturally derives a comfort from being close to home. While on the one hand the swirl of novelty evaporates, on other hand the depth of security condenses.