Private lives in peace

By David Grima | Nov 11, 2019

Poor Lord Prez Trumpleton, now is the winter of his discontent come early, seeing as how it’s not winter yet but the Impeach Mints are rattling in their little tin boxes.

Really, I wish he would at least listen to my advice from time to time, but the truth is he has never asked me for it. However, my first suggestion would be that he just go to bed and stay there for the rest of his term and leave his Twittervator with somebody else. It’s obvious he has few friends left, mostly those whose own jobs depend on him being Lord Prez, along with a few other random souls who cannot quite yet see what’s what.

The biggest shock he has suffered lately, so he tells me, was showing up at the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium during the recent World Series only to be soundly booed by the ungrateful masses there gathered. I told him it would probably be a mistake to appear before a crowd without a microphone, but he was not inclined to listen.

* * * * *

How complex modern life has become! I am thinking about buying a simple cup of coffee, and the rigamarole of choices it has turned into these days.

Imagine, to take a very old idea that is now almost lost to history, if buying a newspaper were as complicated as buying a cup of joe.

“Hi, I’d like to buy a paper please…”

“Sure, pal, what sort of political slant would you like your news to come in?”

“Er, how about some kind of centrist flavor with an intelligent view of both extremes?”

“Okay, what kind of newsprint would you like it on? Something traditional, or some kind of heavier stock that will last for months?”

“Just the regular kind please.”

“Humph. Well I’ll see what we’ve got. So, any particular font you would like? Calibri, Times New Roman, Gothic, Fried Golfball Classic?”


“Now, do you prefer the photos to be in color or black and white?”

“I don’t care.”

“Okay, wise guy. How about soy ink, or regular chemical?

“Regular, please.”

“Isn’t that a bit non-eco-friendly? To say the least…”

“I’ve stopped listening.”

“Well, what about the size of print? Large, small or miniscule?”

“Yes. One of them.”

“And do you want to read the newspaper here, or have it to go?”

“That makes a difference?”

“Sure. If you are willing to leave it here, we can sell it again.”


* * * * *

Speaking of newspapers, which in fact are far easier to buy than a cup of coffee, there were two items in last week’s Courier about a Veterans Day dinner being held at the Legion Hall. One was in the calendar, the other was in a brief paragraph on the opposite page. Both said the Legion Hall is on Limerick Street.

Stuff like this makes me ponder on the nature of modern automatic newspaper production, as compared to the time when all our mistakes were made by people. Me, for example. I was responsible for all kinds of typos and such stuff in my day as a real newspaperman. For example, trying to write “Samoset” would often end with the computer altering it to “Swimsuit”. We had to be alert to that one. This blunder, confusing Limerock Street (which we have) with Limerick Street (which we don’t have) just seems to be a question of spell-check being left to its own devices and simply gone amok.

Mercifully, modern readers cannot probably tell the difference between a human mistake (my kind) and a machine mistake. If we’re lucky, they will probably still assume we are all as daffy as we used to be, and move on to the next story.

* * * * *

I was recently handed a turkey feather when setting out on a journey to try and learn some facts about my job. The feather was given to me for good luck, which I appreciated.

However, what to do with the turkey feather after the learning experience was over? It’s still in my car, obviously.

Which is why, about a week later, it occurred to me to use it to dust the entire dashboard and other fittings inside the car. It worked perfectly! Three or four years of accumulated dust vanished as I swept the feather up and down, left and right, over all the gadgets and dials.

Such a useful thing, the turkey. Will I ever be able to bring myself to eat one again?

Oh, probably.

* * * * *

I am reading a book I bought last Saturday at the St. Bernard’s fair. It’s about the good old days when English Protestants were burned at the stake by Catholics, and English Catholics were burned at the stake by Protestants, in the ever-so-jolly 16th century.

The main problem back then was that nobody could be quite sure which side of the flames they would stand during one of these rituals. Who would be most likely to say the wrong thing, and so end up being burned alive? Hard to tell.

Part of the problem was Henry VIII, who wanted to rid himself of the Pope so he could enjoy his absolute favorite pastime of marrying and divorcing women. Can you imagine? And for poor England the question was how far it could go in turning Protestant. Everyone who assumed Henry was all for turning England thoroughly Protestant was rather surprised to find he was not interested in doing that. His basic idea was a Catholic England but with him in charge instead of the Pope.

Quite a lot of people who did not get that subtle distinction were dragged to the flames in a rather confused--not to forget terrified--frame of mind.

People who were all out for the new independent-minded Protestantism came afoul of the King’s men when they rocked the boat by preaching this new idea that had been cooked up by Luther and like-minded fellows. (I probably shouldn’t say “cooked”.) People who were staunch Catholics, naturally believing the Pope should still be in charge, were equally confounded. At one point, just to make this all perfectly clear, the king had some Protestants and Catholics burned at the same time.

Today, of course, we don’t burn each other. Not literally, anyway. Instead, the opposing parties resort to a metaphorical “flaming” of each other in such absurd forums as Facebook, or in the comments sections of online opinions.

Funnily enough, the name of Jesus, and more generally the idea of God, is still being invoked in this modern version of heretic-hunting. Dare I say “witch-hunting”? I probably shouldn’t, as most people will probably get the wrong idea. Of course, our beloved New England has its roots firmly in this business of burning heretics in the name of God. Now it all seems to be back, if only in online form. We can all be thankful for small mercies.

There is no doubt that Henry was a monster of the first degree, although he died in his bed. It took the English 102 years to the month after he died to actually chop the head off a problematic king. How the tables had turned. But let’s not kid ourselves too much. These days, under our democratic system, it seems we are all free to be little monsters.

England did also rid itself of another king in the 17th century, largely because he wanted to turn everyone Catholic again. James II got the boot because, on the whole, people were simply fed up of being pulled this way and that in the question of their religion. What they longed for was a return to normality, desiring more than anything to lead their private lives in peace.

I think a great number of us feel just the same way today, both in England and the USA.

I suppose we can call it progress, although I think we still have a long way to go.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 13, 2019 15:05

My mind is spinning and your ramble has something to ponder!

Posted by: Donald Mills | Nov 12, 2019 09:50

Nailed it! Thank you, David Grima, in the concrete Towers of Mechanic Street, where you are forced to live. I look forward each week to your pearls of wisdom.

Don Mills, your neighbour next door in New Brunswick (Canada)

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