A country resembling Atlantis
I’m very sorry about last week’s article. I think there was something wrong with the air up here in the north tower at the foot of Mechanic Street. As October advances the air is getting too thin, which is more than can be said for myself. Speaking of which, I heard an absolutely unverified story to the effect that Dorman’s ice cream shack is expected to stay open into November this year, rather than shutting up shop in October. If I were a reliable newspapermen I would not print a word of this without checking it out first. But I am done with all that nonsense. Twenty years of having to print only the facts has left me with a healthy longing for anything that might not be true but which sounds good. Heavens, I should run for Congress.
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Earlier this year I saw a few people running through the South End early one morning, wearing those jogging clothes that are intended primarily to stick to you when you are wet. I decided to overlook this outrage, this assault against the peace and quiet of things, on the assumption that these were probably tourists or visitors who could not shake their big-city habits even on vacation. Then later I saw some of them performing improbable physical maneuvers on the footpath by Sandy Beach, admiring each other as they twisted themselves into pretzels. Hello, I thought, in a minute we’ll be hearing an ambulance siren or the sound of a medical helicopter. But no.
And yet this jogging thing has carried on all summer, with people doing it shamelessly all over the neighborhood. I am forced to conclude, very much against my best hopes, that these are either locals or visitors who just won’t leave. Who knows what has overcome them, to behave in this way. I blame television.
It is true that once I went for what might loosely be called a jog around the playing field off Mechanic Street, just up the street from my towers. This was at the instigation of some woman who had her hooks into me who bet I wouldn’t do it, or some such thing. I no longer remember the details, it was 13 years ago for pity’s sake. So we met one morning and by all that is incredible we both managed a full circuit. Well that cured her of some dangerous opinions about me, and we never did it again.
Eventually she had to resort to some more subtle method of being rid of me. It worked.
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Last fall I came across a data base of businesses in this area, and was deeply amused to discover VillageSoup listed under the heading of Accommodation and Food Service. It was between the Trade Winds Motor Inn and the Waterworks. I always thought that if you were going to have a newspaper, it would be best to give it a name that does not make people think it’s a diner.
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The other day I heard from my dear sainted mother who lives in a galaxy long ago and far away. She expressed genuine sympathy for “all the problems you are having in America.”
Let me give you a modest piece of historical perspective on this whole business of who runs a country. About a hundred or so years ago in Great Britain, (a country resembling Atlantis and believed to lie beyond the ends of the Earth in the other direction,) the House of Lords refused to pass the budget that was produced by the House of Commons and the governing party of the day. After a little bit of a stand-off, the prime minister came up with a plan. (Please don’t ask me which prime minister. There have been so many.) He came up with a bill that stripped the House of Lords of the right to vote on the budget. Of course this bill had to be approved by the House of Lords, but in a stroke of genius the PM announced that if the Lords refused to pass the bill, he would cause the king to create so many new Lords that he could pack the upper chamber and get it approved anyway.
Before we get uppity about a nation in which blue-bloods hold a seat in parliament by mere virtue of birth, let me draw attention to the critical feature in this tale. The prime minister, a commoner when viewed in relationship to the monarchy, had the authority to require the king to create new Lords, and the nerve to call out the entire legislative aristocracy on the question of an elected government’s right to control the nation’s finances. The aristocracy capitulated. Never since then has their House had any say in the approval of a budget.
The United States by contrast is Constitutionally incapable of such creative maneuvers. For all our pride in our system, we simply do not have the necessary pieces on the game board. The strange truth is that we do not actually elect a government in the United States, other than by accident. All we can do is to elect three separate pieces of a government — House, Senate and President — and hope to high heaven they can work together. Usually they can manage it. But not all the time. Churchill called democracy the worst system of government, except for all the others. He was right.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.