Appeared in the North Shore News – August 28, 2015
We in West Vancouver put the world’s crises in calm perspective.
Global markets falling. Faith in the prime minister shaken, or stirred, depending on your martini recipe. Is Greece collapsing — still, since the Peloponnesian War? Is UBC’s ivory tower only plastic? Is Justin Trudeau more than a pretty haircut? Mike Duffy, saint or sinner?
The above do not ruffle West Vancouverites. The great issue recently rattling our teacups was:
Yes, the construction bump on Lions Gate Bridge. It threatened to destroy Western civilization, even West Vancouver, which is harder. (Did it affect North Vancouver people too? We didn’t notice.)
Bump, bump, bump-a-de-bump. Bumps without the grinds.
Someone must be screaming: “This would never have happened if the transportation plebiscite had passed!” Others bellowing: “I blame Stephen Harper!”
Only in West Vancouver would this amount to more than a hill of beans.
Jiggling our crystal set, we learned of this impudent bump while on an island where the gods forget to wind the clock. On returning to what is called reality, the bump crisis led us to consider driving home via the Second Narrows. But, in my dedication to investigative journalism, I chose to brave the bump.
No question. It was a bump all right. As Gertrude Stein memorably (if you remember) said about a rose: A bump is a bump is a bump.
My long 29-year-old English car might have undignifiedly scraped bottom. No problemo for our workhorse domestic van, though.
The road people said they’d fix the bump. Didn’t. Some drivers claimed they made it worse.
A second shot at smoothing the man-made pesky pothole was declared a success. But irreparable damage has been done to public confidence. In West Vancouver.
• • •
L’affaire Arvind Gupta, the University of British Columbia’s abruptly departed president, is so mysterious that I repaired to 221B Baker Street in London to consult the genius whose profile is said to be the most recognizable everywhere in the world: Deerstalker hat, curved pipe, aquiline nose.
Speeding from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station, I soon found myself in the reception room where Mr. Sherlock Holmes was debating the effects of his daily cocaine fix with his pleasantly dim foil, Dr. John Watson. I explained such facts as were known.
Holmes, emitting puffs of his paralyzingly foul-smelling shag, his powers of ratiocination undimmed by age, wasted little time.
“There is not one mystery but three, entwined,” said Holmes. “First, Dr. Gupta’s hasty departure. Second: The unusual incidents of three UBC vice-presidents leaving in obscure circumstances during Gupta’s brief presidency. Third: Why haven’t the hotshots in your local media tracked down those three men?”
I was struck by Holmes’s very un-19th century use of the word “hotshots.”
“Surely the greenest reporter could winkle out some pertinent information from them that would likely lead to the solution of the Gupta mystery. Find those men,” concluded Holmes, accompanied by a wincing, as if stabbed by pain.
“Mr. Holmes has been suffering from an ailment,” Dr. Watson explained.
“And what is your diagnosis, my dear Watson?” Holmes asked, with a touch of asperity, or possibly amused condescension, or perhaps both.
“Holmes, you should have consulted me sooner. I have quietly observed your habits. My diagnosis is that you have sat around solving mysteries in cold Victorian rooms for so long that you have developed a chronic blockage. In simple terms, constipation.”
A vast new respect for Watson invaded Holmes’s face. “Wonderful, absolutely admirable! And how did you come to that conclusion?”
“Alimentary, my dear Holmes,” replied Dr. Watson.
• • •
For a less frivolous take on the Gupta matter and the insane developments therefrom, above all the media’s gobbling up the self-acknowledged ignorant remarks — plain ideological cant — of a woman gender and feminist issues professor and vomiting them up as the imminent crumbling of UBC’s alleged worldwide reputation … for that, read Pete McMartin’s gorgeous column in the Aug. 20 Vancouver Sun. Not to be missed.
Damaging revelations may emerge about this issue, but these aren’t. Maybe what this country needs more than Senate reform is a wholesale cleaning out of the newsrooms, with our reporters’ and editors’ (and of course columnists’) tired orthodoxies, our reflexive seizure and escalation into pseudo-importance of any cause or nitwit remark issuing from what the late Denny Boyd beautifully called the “higher purpose persons.”
Have you noticed, fellow journalists? The media are necessary, but we’re not popular.
• • •
Which appropriately leads to a mea culpa. In my last time at bat, I stated that the North Vancouver Community Players’ home is Presentation House. Not. It’s the Theatre at Hendry Hall, a classically enthusiastic and doughty little theatre. A strange forgetfulness — a few years ago it graciously offered a reading of a play of mine that, like my life, is a work in very slow progress.
© Trevor Lautens, 2015