Such an interesting word

By David Grima | May 16, 2019

Last week I wrote in quite a different vein about the abandonment of faith by many poor modern Christians in exchange for a piece of the fleeting glory that surrounds my friend Lord Prez Trumpleton, even to the extent that they seem committed to desperately defending the old boy’s numerous scandals.

I am confident that under normal circumstances nobody changes their mind, their politics, or their relationship to the Kingdom of Heaven just because they read something in a newspaper. It is also the case that I do not write in order to change people’s minds, but rather as a kind of witness.

In other words, whoever has the misfortune to read my stuff when I write like that can never claim they were never told, or that it never occurred to them how much they have been terribly mistaken.

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The box of free books at the city library this week held an omnibus edition of four sci-fi novels by Jules Verne, the French chap who wrote about James Mason kidnapping Peter Lorre and Kirk Douglas (and some other fellow whom nobody recalls) and taking them on a long and mischievous voyage under the sea.

That story is in there, along with one I had never heard of. Now I have.

The novels of Jules Verne attracted me when I was small, and helped create a taste for imaginative writing, which, as you can surely tell, has not quite abandoned me these decades later. Jules Verne is one of dozens of authors whose portraits hang on one damp wall of the cardboard box at the top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

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Recently I have seen a scraggly white cat that seems to be living on the streets of the South End. It appears underfed and shabby by normal domestic cat standards, and last week I saw it halfway up a maple tree while three or four wretched squirrels screamed and chattered violently at it from above.

I was on the cat’s side, but in the end it had to give up. This week I saw it again, patrolling the places where squirrels go.

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Met a man the other day who told me he had just spent 24 hours in Rockland, had dined at Café Miranda, where he was astonished at the extent of the menu, and decided that Rockland reminds him of what Portland looked like 20 years ago.

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Our city roads continue to terrify all comers. On Monday morning, for example, a hole had opened up so deep on Water Street near the former Boston Financial offices that a traffic cone had been placed in it. I watched in dismay as the traffic cone sank almost out of sight.

Certainly, construction work has begun on South Main Street, making it interesting to drive through the neighborhood right now. Isn’t “interesting” such an interesting word? It can mean so much, and in this case it certainly does.

For example, it means the police are unlikely to stop anybody for drunk driving in the South End at present, because now we are all forced to drive like drunks, steering wildly left and right to avoid the various pits, chasms, crevasses and gorges that lie in wait for us like hungry mouths.

I recommend that the police, if they want to do anything at all, start pulling over any driver who seems to be traveling in a straight line. Much less likely to have his wits about him than a sober driver.

However, I should caution all drivers, sober or otherwise, that the work now being undertaken on South Main has nothing to do with making repairs to our catastrophic streets. What they are doing now, installing new sewer pipes under the street, is merely the earthquake that comes before the volcano, if you want a poetic way of putting it.

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I see the world-famous Free Press has decided that it is permissible to use the F-word in a story, and to print it on the front page.

Rather unfortunately, I think the story that appeared two weeks ago was some kind of report on the sale of cannabis-related materials. I call it unfortunate because instead of identifying the Free Press as a forward-looking, free-thinking defender of real speech, the paper just ended up confirming the standard reactionary and derogatory stereotype of people who live and love in the shade of the mighty marijuana tree.

Oh well.

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In our Foreign News report this week, I give you an anecdote from English author Julian Barnes, who wrote dispatches from London for a while in the New Yorker.

In one of his essays, included in the book called (rather brilliantly, I thought) “Letters from London,” he says that a survey undertaken in June 1993 of British domestic consumer habits concluded that the British people were the “scruffiest dressers” in all of Europe.

Possibly, I suppose, this is the real story behind the current eternal saga known as Brexit, in which the entire UK is completely unsure whether it genuinely wants to stay in the European Union, or leave, or not. Possibly, or possibly not, the British are just really cross at being outed as such bad dressers, even after all this time, and are so moderately embarrassed about it that they no longer wish to be associated with Europe – unless maybe they do.

I heard not long ago that a French government minister, a species not necessarily known for its penetrating humor, had bought a cat and named it Brexit, because it would sit at her door all day howling to go out, but when she opened the door for it, the creature would not leave.

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If you had inherited a cool $100,000 and could dispose of it any way you wanted, the only rule being that not a penny can go to yourself or anyone you are even slightly related to, how would you spend the money?

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I hear that the decorators were called in to the Farnsworth Art Museum, the other day. I hope somebody has checked to see that no joker on the paint crew has added whimsical little beards or mustaches to any of the portraits.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Eric Thurston | May 21, 2019 19:41

You may find it "interesting" to note that "the other fellow" who nobody remembers was probably Paul Lucas, who played Professor Aronnax. That is if the internet is correct, which it most assuredly almost always is, or it isn't.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | May 16, 2019 17:29

You do make me chuckle David!  Love reading your witticism each week! Keep your parachute on just in case you

get lost in a deeper hole while trying to zig-zag down the street.....

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever- 0:)

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