When Jody Comes Home

JWR Opens Up

The site took rare advantage of an opportunity to re-visit the University Women’s Club of Vancouver in my old Shaughnessy hood on McRae there at “Hycroft”, courtesy of an invite from the Liberal Party of Canada.  The Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Vancouver Granville was taking a meet and greet with constituents in the lower ballroom of the venerable old institution, site of many weddings over the years.

The last time I’d been here was some years ago to attend a wedding.  It was a fine wedding with all the pomp you’d expect of a wedding at Hycroft and the marriage lasted one year.

Many are the memories of me tricycling around “The Crescent” when we lived close by before Dad had to go to jail and our family became destitute.  The Crecsent was lined with cars tonight but we found a spot not far from the venue and eased in our beautiful old car.

We’d thought first to walk up from our residence down the hill several blocks but with the threat of rain, a threat we took seriously, the car it was.  I had my own, personal reasons for coming to a thing like this.  Not only had I voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election but I had never been to anything like this before in my life and I was curious.  And it was Hycroft.  In my old Shaughnessy.

I’d had invitations before to functions like this because I’m a pretty important person to the Liberal party.  I give and no donation is too small, which is a good attitude.  In a fit of reverie one lost night I’d thrown the party a fiver in hopes they’d call off their dogs and stop hectoring me for a donation.  It didn’t work but I guess that’s politics.

And politics can be good in minute doses infrequently, and in my case, very infrequently. And this was a case of that.  And she was with me.  My consort had attended that old Hycroft wedding and had also voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election.

It must be admitted we were also here because our MP was a pretty important person and one who had also recently experienced some pretty intense, career-altering events.  These events, as everyone knows, have been all over the news all over the country.  Jody Wilson-Raybould, until recently, was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the reason she was no longer in that fine position, to a lot of people, had some unseemliness attached to it.   A lot of controversy had erupted and, you guessed it, politics.

So it sounded like fun and we both had the evening off and it would be an opportunity to be in close proximity  to the very public person of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville.

Even though the event is more than two weeks ago the Honourable Member’s saga won’t die.  It wasn’t dying before the event either.

It was a good-sized crowd.  There was wine and beer at the bar by donation and most people from what I could see were donating a fiver.  I didn’t see what brand of beer was on offer but the only wine label I could see was “Oculus”, a retail $135 a bottle red Bordeaux-style from Mission Hill in the Okanagan.  Everybody knows that.  We took two modestly filled glasses from the barkeep for a fiver each and were well pleased with our adventure.

Occupying seats against the wall near the grazing table it was scant minutes before a nice gentleman in his mid-forties, impeccably dressed in business caj and sitting to the right of my partner initiated conversation with her.  I wasn’t close enough to hear exactly what he was saying above the hubbub prior to the start of the show but it turned out he must have surveyed the cut of my Kitten’s jib and deemed her harmless and was sharing a few jokes with her.  Something about lobsters and surfing or something.

He was most pleasant, a largish white guy with french cuffs, monogrammed, and nice looking links on his sharp, blue stripe shirt under the dark blue jacket below which, right again, were blue jeans.  He’d introduced himself and we’d done the same but his name blew right past me and I didn’t catch it.

It developed that he was a member of the legal profession, had worked in Ottawa but was now back home working downtown.  I gathered he’d been a supporter of the federal Liberal Party for some time, but then, in reality, so had we with the one difference that up until tonight we had pretty much been closet liberals but not our  jovial friend.

I always wonder in a crowd if I’m going to run into somebody I know.  It happens, right? So it was gratifying to see Leslie Hurtig happen by.  Leslie and I are old friends and contacts from the book business.  These days she’s doing an excellent job as artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Festival.  We chatted a second, joking about marriages at Hycroft and other stuff.

The constituency president came to the podium and said a few words then a middle aged gentleman in a light grey suit took over and introduced Jody Wilson-Raybould to the assembled multitude to enthusiastic applause.  But not before mentioning that the event was being held on the land and traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Jody Gets down. Baldy guy unknown

She looks just like she does on TV and in the newspaper.  Exactly the same and her visage, as above, has been splashed all over everywhere these weeks.  Jody Wilson-Raybould comes across as a very solid, down-to-earth person but no less a polished professional at ease at centre stage.  She was relaxed.  One of the first things she said was the acknowledgment that we were on traditional territories meant a lot to her hearing it.

That revised my opinion somewhat that this statement regarding First Nations “traditional territories”  heard at the beginning of just about any event of any sort now was already in a state of tiresome cliché with barnacles of political correctness all over it.  The Honourable Member is First Nations herself.  I already knew that and that she’d done a lot of growing up here but she brought the message home somehow.

She said she’d been in politics five years and had been drawn to the idea of doing politics differently, which, as everyone knows, was a campaign concept from 2015.  Jody added that she was also drawn to an idea of, “non-partisanship to grapple with the serious problems we face.”  And that, “The last five weeks have been hard on me and my family.”

I don’t know why, but I felt myself choking up slightly because with those words Jody Wilson-Raybould  got choked up just very slightly herself for an instant.  I know it’s difficult to believe the hard-assed administrator of samoyeddogs.net has feelings but I was thinking here is a human being.  This is the person, not the TV and newspaper packaged semi-cardboard cut-out for consumption.

The member for Vancouver Granville said she’d been very proud to be the minister of justice and attorney general and proud to be the minister of veteran’s affairs.  There were a few more words.

Photo Op Post Address

And that was more or less it.  We strode purposefully up the stairs and out into classic grey month of March twi-nite Vancouver rain.

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Proust Remembered

Really going to the dogs around here.  I keep seeing fluffy white hounds but they don’t seem to see me so I’m hoping that’s a good thing.  Paranoia strikes deep.  So old school.  So old.  You can’t be concerned.  You just can’t.  You just have to get through the therapy.

Dying time again.  I keep tearing bits off the site before they try to grow back.  It’s slow, painstaking work and like all of you out there I hate pain.  “Take the pain!”  I wish I knew.

Even now, at this late moment, you remember the people that remembered you reading Proust although they can’t remember now because they’re dead.  I remember.  Too bad. Who cares?  Get out.  Bar’s closed.


I wouldn’t have thought to think about it if I hadn’t.  Proust’s first English translator dressed up as a Scottish soldier.  What is this?  How’d he get permission?  For years I knew nothing about this.  I became concerned.  What else didn’t I know?  Royal Scots.  Great War.  Hundred years.  Zzzzz…  Time out.  Remember “quicksand”?  Sinking in quicksand? You never hear about quicksand anymore.  As a young lad I was terrified of quicksand. Never saw it, encountered it.  Saw it in movies and on TV.  Never heard about Scott Moncrieff either.

So I acquired this biography of the guy who translated À la recherche du temps perdu.  It had to happen at some point.  The  cover is the Farrar Strauss and Giroux edition, 2014. Great bunch of guys.

The Marcel Proust I read, for obscure reasons, was translated from the French by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.  It’s indisputable.  Who turns out to be rather an interesting character for a lot of reasons beside his translation of Marcel’s massive work of art.  Less on him later.

He was also a poet, although he didn’t think much of himself as one, an opinion shared by a smattering few, but others enjoyed it.

I read half the Proust translation in Chatto & Windus paperbacks published in London too many years ago because we don’t have all day.  Farrar, Strauss and Giroux take the field against Chatto & Windus.  That would be a match-up for the ages.  Luv to see that!

The poem prefaced one of the Chatto & Windus volumes.  As I sold off these volumes years ago at a trifling loss and am too lazy to check a library copy and anyway continue with a deep sense of revulsion for libraries generally, I can’t recall which volume it was exactly. Doesn’t matter.  The theme is remembrance.  I think it was the second volume.

How’s the ancient Greek mythology coming along?  Mine’s so-so.  You plant teeth from some dragon and warriors sprout up from the dirt.  Goes on from there.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense but there it is.

“Remembrance Day”. “Remembrance Sunday.” “Veteran’s Day”.    Some people are criticizing the thing saying it promotes war and killing.  All that’s happening there is these folks getting high on the rising tide of ignorance.  It’s either that or they’re communists. Pitiful.  We forgive them.

 


To K. S. S.

That men in armour may be born
With serpents’ teeth the field is sown;
Rains mould, winds bend, suns gild the corn
Too quickly ripe, too early mown

I scan the quivering heads, behold
The features, catch the whispered breath
Of friends long garnered in the cold
Unopening granaries of death,

Whose names in solemn cadence ring
Across my slow oblivious page.
Their friendship was a finer thing
Than fame, or wealth, or honoured age,

And—while you live and I—shall last
Its tale of seasons with us yet
Who cherish, in the undying past,
The men we never can forget.


There was probably a lot of women he never can forget but they were possibly not uppermost in his mind at the time.  Romantically, certainly, he preferred men.  Interesting guy.

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Mad Micky Packs It July 26

Nobody called him that.  “Mad”.  Except my father-in-law whose mother, Amelia, was Edward “Mick” Mannock’s cousin.  “Micky” yes, but surely not “mad”.  I was re-reading ole father-in-law’s autobiography after 20 years, one of 37 books he published, and I didn’t recall him calling him that from the first read-through so it stuck out.  Everything’s twenty years.

Major Mannock 1918

But today, July 26, 1918, it’s “Major Mannock”.  But it’s still good ole “Mick” to friends unless they’re dead.  Dreary stuff, Eleanor.  I seem to have taken over 85 squadron at St. Omer, France.  Why would anyone want to do a thing like that?

It’s all getting a bit vieux chapeau, Gertrude.  Stupid war.  All this bloody killing. 1918 and we’re still bloody going at it. I’ve had it.

I’m not sure why a “Major.”  What else have I been wrong about?  He was too modest.  Staff sergeant Milliby said: “If you’ve been gazetted a major, Major, then you’re bloody well a major.”  So that’s the reason why.


Mick didn’t take a course in killing German airmen in WWI.  He was self-taught.  He killed with a ferocious efficiency.  Early on at 40 Sqd. returning from a patrol the right wing on his plane fell off at 700 feet.  Rather than die he managed to crash land.  After that nobody wanted to talk about how Mannock didn’t know what he was doing.

Gentlemen, always above, seldom on the same level; never underneath.”

And don’t follow your kill down.  You can get shot up from the ground.  Especially true for Mannock because he always attacked from the east and his combats were always over German-held ground.  He was the top “Ace” of the Great War.


I have my own theory about what happened to Mick Mannock that cheerful July morning over the lines under low cloudcover at five am.   After those two bastard enemies in the German flying contraption were killed.  The Kiwi, Inglis, was in on it.

“Both my guns were going full out, when suddenly the Hun’s tail shot up in front of me.  A chill ran through me as I pulled up, just missing his tail and wing by a fraction.  Looking back I saw my first Hun going down in a mass of flames.”


The Blue Flame

It was a special trip because the squadron usually didn’t open much before 8 a.m.  But Inglis needed a first Hun and the major, who by now wasn’t just a legend in his own mind but a greatly respected leader and teacher, and, sine qua non, survivor, wanted to help the Hun-less flyer out. Of course he did.

“We circled once and started for home.  The realization came to me we were being shot at from the ground when I saw the major stop kicking his rudder.  Suddenly a small flame appeared on the right of Mick’s machine, and simultaneously he stopped kicking his rudder.  The plane went into a slow right-hand turn, the flame growing in intensity, and as the machine hit the ground it burst into a mass of flame.”

“I saw no one leave the machine and then started for the lines, climbing slightly and at about 150 feet there was a bang and I was smothered in petrol, my engine cut out so I switched off and made a landing 5 yards behind our front line.”

Nice Pants

That’s not Mick, of course.  He’s dead even if it is only five-thirty in the morning.  That’s the after action report of Inglis, who’d come all the way from the southern hemisphere to give battle, but hadn’t killed anybody before this morning.

It’s quite evident.  It’s never been precisely determined where the Germans buried the major’s body. It’s another one of those things that happened 100 years ago.  Birth, death, it’s all the same.  If things had gone a bit different, and Major M. had got through this morning, he could still be alive.


Quotes from “MANNOCK The Life and Death of Major Edward Mannock VC, DSO, MC, RAF.  By Norman Franks and Andy Saunders. Published 2008.

Posted in Certainties, I'm gonna cry, Inevitabilities | Tagged | 2 Comments