Friday, December 17, 2010



Current commentary: The world we live in... My God, the world we live in... We sit on the cusp of innovative genius and Kafka-esque irrelevance. I think Kafka is winning, which isn't to say it all isn't somewhat funny.

This story that I wrote in 2004 reminds me of Bob Mellor, the curmudgeonly editor who mentored my fledgling reporter status with the Low Down. I quite missed him when he passed away. We disagreed fundamentally on a number of issues. He was more right wing and I was more left wing. Just as one example I remember being horrified the day he wrote an editorial where he "composted" the mayor (digging a hole and burying him), but in retrospect, as I am somewhat older, it was a bloody funny editorial, cutting and to the point. (And I have to give credit to then mayor Perras for accepting political satire with some grace that didn't involve lawyers.) Of course, it's a very different world we find ourselves in now in Chelsea... the "lawsuit happy world of the privileged" almost closed down freedom of speech in the region but that of course is another story for another day but I certainly gain comfort in knowing there are a few people left in the world who will do what is right even when it scares the hell out of them...

Mellor taught me not to give a flying damn really and encouraged my fearlessness which at that specific point in my life was in short supply. Now, whenever I write a column or a story demanding an unflinching kind of courage I recall the "composted mayor" and find the courage. The only problem of course is that I'd rather be a humorist. In other words, I choose to be happy. For now...

I am content to watch the politically astute and the rationally gifted handle the dark side of Chelsea. I've done my bit I figure. And more than once. But then again I have some kind of inherited genetic tendency to protect the little guy. I think it has to do with my Cape Breton heritage... the place where the first unions in Canada were formed. So I say I'm a humorist... but that's today. For now... And 7,000-taxpayers-handling-a-double-digit-million-dollar-water/septic-thing-on-Old-Chelsea-Road-largely-for-the-benefit-of-developers-determined-to-change-the-rural-nature-of-the-region-at-such-a-juncture-in-the-history-of-world-economics and all-the-shenanigans-going-on-at-all-sorts-of-different-levels-by-all-sorts-of-people-to-rationalize-such-behaviour... well... I'm doing my best to remain quiet. It ain't easy. But dammit... I'm going to be happy if it kills me. And it probably will.

The reason this story reminds me of Bob Mellor is that I sent it to him on a whim... all 2,369 characters... and he spent the better part of a week turning my 2,369 word story into 600 words. Editing at its finest! Mind you, when I'd call him about some story or another, he'd be cranky as all get out. When it was all done he said he couldn't talk as he was "in the cups" implying of course that the work on my story drove him to drink. But of course, that was his hobby... down at the Black Sheep gathering the real news because the local pub, he said, is where all journalists need to go if they are worth a tinkers damn. It's a good thing that he fearlessly edited this piece down and ensured its publication because I believe this was the story that turned me into a humorist. It is also the story that many of my fans (okay, fan... named Colleen) remember as their first and favorite. Here it is... unedited...


This column is no longer available on the website. It is contained in the new book available for a mere pittance from

7 April 2004 Valley Voice

PAINTING: Passages / S. Shawcross / Oil on canvas / 30 x 24 / $1195

Have you heard of the new "flash mob" phenomena? Here's a good introduction:


cvallance said...

That story reminds me of my interactions with a certain telecommunications company. Which reminds me, I need to stoke that fire a bit.

Quick funny unrelated story with the same company. Got a text message from them telling me that I get free calling to anyone on the day of my birthday, 11th of December.

Nice! Sweet deal right?

One catch, guess what date they sent me the text message... 12th of December.


Sylvia Shawcross said...

It's deliberate I'm absolutely certain. It's that old "image counts" thing. We'll offer you this and you'll be all pleased but in reality there are all sorts of strings attached and deliberate miscommunications. Bastards! One and all... but that's another story.