March 22nd 2004
It took a play about South Africa and some colleagues of mine at work to finally drive home the fact that I am still culturally miles apart from the average Canadian.
Two countries divided by a common language to borrow from some wise man.
The play was The Syringa Tree. A one-woman show that, here in Toronto, was undertaken by two different actresses.
One Black. One White.
Whether this was intentional is a moot point.
Originally the show was written by Pamela Gien who, by the sounds of it, led a fairly sheltered, but rich, life in suburban Johannesburg.
I am getting so tired of this need to portray all whites as people who had lots of servants. By my count the playwright had four servants. Including, I might add, a chauffer. Which is way overboard even by most rich South African standards. So to pretend that this play is indicative of the norm in South Africa “during apartheid” is stretching the truth a lot. No matter what the liner notes may say.
I went to the premiere along with what seemed like most of the “pseud hoi polloi” of Toronto. All of whom appeared to be there to flagellate themselves for being white and congratulate themselves on their “part in the struggle”.
Canadian trendies being the only reason apartheid was toppled don't you know!
Thankfully they didn't manage to intrude on my enjoyment of the play until the gratuitous “standing ovation” at the end. And the gasps and titters at the appropriately devastating moments so beloved of all post apartheid writers and their Western supporters. Police raids for a “dompas” and the Soweto `76 riots being the most usual gasp-inducing time. Although throwing in the word “Amandla” inappropriately comes a close second.
As did the need to make gratuitous references to people or companies that may resonate with the North American audience.
The most obvious being the reference to “Marks and Spencer's”, which as any South African will tell you, is bull! Marks and Spencer's never having been a well-known brand, never mind store, in South Africa at any time.
I presume that the author was making a comment referring to Woolworth's but that this would have been incomprehensible to North Americans.
Mainly because Woolies is seen as a “two-bit” store here while in South Africa Woolies is pretty upper class.
Presumably the reference to “Marks and Spencer's” knickers would have had less relevance if they had been “Woolworth's” knickers.
Hence, no doubt, the changing of the name. At least it allowed the local audience to have a quick chuckle
Although, and speaking as a South African Male,…..well perhaps we shouldn't go there!
Leaving aside many of the inaccuracies inherent in the play I thoroughly enjoyed a very stirring performance by Yanna McIntosh (the black actress) who at least made a valiant effort to reproduce the language that my compatriots and I speak.
Which has been likened to gargling barbed wire apparently.
I do think that more effort could have been made to tidy up the pronunciation of the word “Dominee” as it played quite a large part of the proceedings and to hear it pronounced Dwoemoney” continuously was jarring to say the least.
During the performance though I noticed that I was the only one laughing at certain moments. Notably when a particular joke was made or, in one case, when a song from my youth was sung.
Many of you will remember “Ag Pleez Daddy” from the sixties. The Actress made a very good attempt at reproducing the full song. Down to the “Nigger Balls” line as well I might add.
Which was met with a stony silence of incomprehension.
The play itself was moving in that it at least made an effort to try to show both sides of a story. Sadly, while strolling around afterwards listening, the chattering classes seem to have missed that point entirely.
I did find the attempt to put the blame of the murder of the writers Grandparents on the ”Rhodesian” terrorists to be stretching a point totally but no one else was at all interested in that point so I guess that a bit of propaganda is in order here. Although I am hoping that at some stage the atrocities committed by the ANC will be accorded the same scrutiny as others. I guess that will take a few years still.
Still, it was interesting that the playwright had at least moved away from the “bad whites only” portrayal and some of the black characters were unsavoury to say the least.
At least to my understanding, although no doubt the chattering classes will have some or other excuse to make up for them.
All in all it was a thought provoking and entertaining play.
If I have one comment to make it would be that the play itself may be a “two person” play rather than a single actress play
In fact maybe the two actresses tasked with doing the play on separate nights may have been better served with doing the play in conjunction.
I, for one, would like to see the two doing the play together.
I think that might make for a very interesting interpretation
One that, should I be given the opportunity, may just get me to lumber to my feet and give a standing ovation as well.
Meanwhile, and at work, I have a diverse lot of youngsters that I mingle with. We tend to get on very well despite the age differences and I like to think that there is some mutual respect.
Until this week that is when I was informed that one of the fellows felt I was “way out there” when it came to talking and being understood. He is an East Indian! And the others all agreed that when I talk I am terribly hard to follow. Especially when I talk fast.
So now I just wonder whether the camaraderie is merely a fascination at having around some object that babbles away on its own thereby making white noise.
Sort of a “Chat to me Elmo”. For misguided youth.
Which is when I had an epiphany.
Yes. Everyone always says to me that they love my accent, or find it fascinating, but do they actually understand what it is that I am saying or, like all good Canadians, are they merely being polite and nodding at me in case they hurt my feelings?
Is this why it has been so hard to get a decent career started? After all if the interviewer doesn't understand me then what chance do I have?
Although I must admit that I might have been lucky in my clumsy attempts at making the odd pass at the local females who probably didn't understand what I was trying to say. In some cases this has either meant a lack of company, or no slap to the face, so I will call that one a draw.
So what needs to be done to overcome this problem?
Well in Canada there is only one way to solve this.
Learn to speak bad French. That way I will be able to create misunderstanding completely. Even better is that I would then be a great candidate for a Prime Ministers position.
March 13th 2004
Well. Well. Well.
Who would have thought it?
Myself actually. And millions of other Canadian voters. And the Auditor General. But NOT the millions of sheep who have voted this corrupt bunch of jackals into power over the last ten or so years.
For those of you who would like the actual phrase, it is “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Which, given that the Auditor General has just released a report on the total corruption surrounding the Liberal Party and it's actions as the Government of Canada, has once again been proven to be correct.
There have been mumblings about corruption in certain departments for some time and a while ago I wrote about a minister who incredibly, actually got caught and was shipped off to Denmark as an Ambassador. We thought that it was as a punishment for being caught rather than for any wrongdoing. Well guess who was at the centre of this little shindig this week?
That is right. Same fellow. More information though and this time he was sacked as the Ambassador and is currently being bought home. Probably as a scapegoat to protect all those Ministers still in Government who should have known what was going on.
Such as Prime Minister Martin.
He denies this vehemently of course. Which means that, as he was the Minister of Finance at the time, he is either lying or a total fool. Which is not all that comforting when you consider that he is leading the nation at the moment.
I will be kind to Martin and point out that most of the theft of funds took place under the Prime Ministership of Jolly Jean Cretin. He of the Teflon fame. As almost all of the “misplaced” money went to Quebec and more specifically to what appears to be carefully selected Quebec based people who, to put it kindly, were “supporters” of Jean, first, and the Liberal Party later, it comes as no surprise that Martin knew little of what was taking place.
If you factor in the rampant, unaccountable and totally arrogant beaurocracy in Ottawa then maybe he has a point.
In a nutshell what happened was that millions of dollars were siphoned through Crown Corporations to various Quebec based agencies ostensibly to promote the illusion that Canada is a single unified country. This began to take place after Chretien very nearly split Canada in two with his ill conceived referendum back in 96 that was defeated by the narrowest of margins in Quebec.
The concept that an advertising campaign promoting the advantages a unified Canada has is good but what actually took place is not. Simple as that.
Almost all of it was siphoned through the Public Works Ministry, which is where the disgraced Minister Gagliano was in charge, and seems to have used Crown Corporation companies such as Canada Post, VIA Rail, The Business Development Corporation and for some reason the RCMP and the Port of Montreal!
The RCMP is particularly galling given that they are the police agency that is charged with investigating this breach of public trust. In fact they are the people charged with investigation the last little bit of theft that was uncovered by the Auditor General last time. A year later, and, once again, thanks to the good work done by Sheila Fraser (The A-G) we have now discovered even more corruption and that the Mounties aren't above some eyebrow raising activities themselves. Including secret bank accounts, disappearing documents and about $3 million that was given to them through one of the designated agencies used expressly for that purpose.
It appears that all of this was part of the almost $300 million silent slush fund used by the Government to supposedly convince Quebecors that the rest of Canada really care about them. By displaying that famous Canada trademark that we see festooned on every conceivable public event.
How it worked could have been lifted straight from the local Mafia book of tactics on money laundering.
Money was thrown at people and events by using three “lieberal friendly” advertisement agencies in Quebec. The money was given to them from Public Works, they took a “fee” and then passed on the balance to the designated recipient.
In the case of the RCMP $1.7 million was funneled through for a fee of $250,000. Which is not bad going when you think about it.
Even better is that over the last four years this netted these agencies over $100 million!!!
In the case of the RCMP about the only stipulation that was expected of them in order to receive nearly $3 million this way was that the RCMP had to display the Canada Logo at their 125th Anniversary celebrations. Which, to add insult to injury, the RCMP is required by regulation to do anyway!
In fact the only tangible evidence that the RCMP actually put the money to good use are six horses and two new horse trailers.
Other areas of concern were the Indian Affairs department that seems to have forgotten how to track $1 BILLION. As this involved land claim settlements there is some worry about the procedure involved here never mind the competency of the individuals involved in administering that amount of what is a considerable sum of taxpayers money.
Even the $101 million on Government jets (Bombardier, which just surprisingly enough happens to be a Quebec based company or in keeping with the spirit of the intention behind the theft….qu'elle surprise..)
Most of the outcry though involves the hundreds of millions involved in “contracts” for dubious activities that were awarded to the “lieberal friendly” advertising agencies and the fact that they were used to siphon funds to crown corporations, and others, illegally.
In fact you know just how excessive a slap in the face this whole affair has become when even the Toronto Star makes a halfhearted attack on the Lieberals for stealing from the public. Although they did go into damage control mode later in the week.
This week though just seemed to carry on with more and more information coming to the fore about the total lack of responsibility on the part of the Government and the people who supposedly represent the citizens of this country.
Aside from the fact that Martin was Minister of Finance, V-P of the treasury board, a senior Cabinet minister from Quebec, a member of the Quebec Lieberal caucus AND an MP from Montreal, at the time and therefore responsible for all the money flowing out of the coffers there was the even more damaging report that the Liberals had actually “under reported” the amount of money that the Government had spent on Martins shipping companies.
Which have been a source of irritation to many due to the conflict of interest this ownership has created. Even when he “sold” his shares to his children!
Still not to be outdone along comes our Govenor General, Adrienne Clarkson, an affirmative action, political patronage appointment by the Liberals again. She of the typical Liberal delusion of grandeur “let them eat cake” mentality when it comes to believing that she is grander, better and more worthy than the scum she has been appointed to represent. Supposedly.
Last year Her Grand Highness and Empress of Canada decided that she, and an entourage of fawning toadies, would represent Canada in the northern part of the world by arriving in various countries and letting those less fortunate fools living in blissful ignorance there, bow down in supplication and kiss her dainty little claw.
It was reported that we, as Canadian taxpayers should be grateful to her for spending $1million of the taxpayer's money to bring enlightenment to the backward Scandinavian and Russian countries.
Only this week it turned out to be $5million and rising. Another event that was “under reported” apparently.
And their local Ontario Lieberal cousins are faring no better by the way. At the weeks end the Ontario Government seemed set on a course that would have the unions thinking about strikes. In addition, of the 250 odd promises that Dulton and his henchmen promised the gullible of Ontario, only one seems to have been kept. That of raising taxes on cigarettes. Way to go Dulton, you sure showed us your tough side there.
So now we wait while Martin makes the decision as to whether he will call an early election next year. At one stage the leadership disarray in the new Conservative Party of Canada meant that it was the right time to do that but it looks like the average citizen has at last woken up to the fact that they have been lied to, stolen from, hoodwinked and generally abused by a system, Government and political party that thinks they are imbeciles and this latest slap in the face is beginning to be painful enough to make them think at last.
We live in interesting times here.
March 3rd 2004
I think that before too many Canadians start pointing fingers at our cousins to the South they should take a long hard look at what is happening here at home.
The sanctimonious way the local media reacted to the Janet Jackson Nipple episode was unfortunate given that a few events happened back home that are a lot more frightening than the glimpse of a bare boob.
The first involved a fairly colourful character named Don Cherry.
Don is part of a two-man comedy act that masquerades as a knowledgeable talking heads type half-time show on Hockey Night in Canada. Don is the “bad cop” part of the act. Opinionated, arrogant and very incorrect. Politically or otherwise. In other words a total breath of fresh air in a country gone far to far to the extreme when it comes to censoring opinion
Considering that this takes place on the CBC it is even more eyebrow raising. The CBC being the Pravda of the left as far as opinion goes in this country.
Anyway Cherry made a comment to the effect that the only people who wore visors in the hockey league were “the French and the Europeans”. This was in response to a debate on the value of wearing face guards, or clear visors, as a result of all the facial injuries that have occurred in Ice Hockey matches of late.
I think he should have added “and intelligent people” to the list but then maybe he has had a puck too many to the head himself. Anyway that was his opinion to which, I might add, he is fully entitled to have one.
Not so according to the PC Nazi's. All hell broke loose.
No sorry! Let me retract that. All hell broke loose a week later when certain offended parties had woken up to the fact that he had said that. No doubt it took that long to permeate through to the collective conscious of the effete chattering classes that someone that they would never watch may have said something obnoxious to their sweet little ears.
Suddenly the usual suspects were demanding that he be censored, fired and made to apologise.
In fact the CBC, ever one to slavishly follow the left wing apologist line, had an attack of the major guilt trip and told everyone that they would censor Cherry with a seven second on-air delay.
Now what happened next is the really telling part of this affair.
Suddenly up popped a Commissioner in Ottawa who apparently is the “Languages” Commissioner and she (at least I think it is a she) was going to start an enquiry into Cherry's “hate speech”!
“Even if it took months” as she put it. After all why not. Wasting taxpayer's money on petty Quebec politics is the name of the game lately. Interestingly I, and most of the Canadians in this country have had no idea that such an animal existed. Even more interesting is that apparently it is OK to be anti-English but not anti-French when it comes to investigating “hate speech”.
But…..the most interesting point of it all was that by sheer factual statistics alone Cherry was correct in what he said!
Were there any apologies? Did the seven-second delay get rescinded? Did the Language Commissioner call of the hounds? Not a chance. Facts mean very little to these people.
Unfortunately this whole affair was buried a week or so later when a visiting American late-night entertainer blew through Toronto and managed to insult the Quebecois even more than Cherry's perceived slight.
Suddenly there was san even better target. And it was a hated American as well! The chattering classes refocused their anger and took off on another wild goose chase.
This time I was fascinated to watch the whole drama unfold.
In the beginning Conan O'Brien, who hosts a late night show on some American channel, was paid $1million (of taxpayers money I might add) to come to Toronto to do a week of shows. Ostensibly to help Toronto market itself post SARS. Hence the taxpayers money no doubt.
The fawning was quite nauseating.
Every newspaper attempted to out do the other with “we love you Conan” articles. It was as if a collective schoolgirl crush had suddenly developed in the GTA. And it seems that Toronto is so starved of someone to fawn over that they will pour their adulation out on even second-rate TV stars. Ah well.
If Toronto wanted to show that it was a witty sophisticated urbane city that needed to be put on your itinerary for a holiday, they failed miserably.
I am not sure where they managed to get the ignorant yobbo's who seemed to populate most of the audience but it certainly looked as if every bad Canadian stereotype was out in full force. What a bunch of cretins.
Although I will admit that any show that has a masturbating bear mascot and a hemorrhoid man probably does attract this type anyway.
Which is why what happened when they sent a dog puppet into Montreal should have come as no surprise to the masses at all. After all the puppet has been used before to attack all sorts of people and causes in the past.
But …. And this is the real problem I guess….this time the puppet insulted the Quebecois.
Suddenly the press who had fawned and brow-nosed Conan earlier were out in full cry. It was disgusting (Again. HoHum) and racist and hate speech(Again. HodoubleHum) and the major number one insult of all…it was an American making fun of Canada.
How dare he??!
Canadians are insulting and rude to and make fun of Americans. Not the other way around!
This even got to be debated in Parliament. The usual suspects stridently and shrilly decrying this insult. This being the same Parliament where certain members once referred to Americans as “bastards”. This also being the same Parliament where millions of stolen taxpayers money is of less importance than a perceived insult to Quebec.
We live in a really interesting country.
Including I might add how the chattering classes have managed to infiltrate even the suburbs.
By the weeks end and almost buried away in the papers by Gaulish angst was an article about someone out in Cambridge who had approached the city council to change his street name.
The street was named for a World War 1 hero named Arthur Fach.
It is the Cambridge City Councils intention to name new suburban streets after local war heroes.
However this imbecile has petitioned the council to change it because” I am sure one recognizes that the name has certain unpleasant connotations”.
No. Not because of the war connection but because it sounds like a swear word much beloved of the Canadian youth.
What an absolute brain dead, arrogant and ignorant idiot. And so typical of the selfish aspect that permeates so many people who live here.
There are far too many people in this country that are hell bent on putting their own views on everyone else. Trouble is it seems to work. More's the pity. When they wake up to how their civil liberties are being eroded it may well be too late.