Essays in Idleness


Month: March, 2014

The catfish chronicles

Up here in the High Doganate, where we have been rather ill this week, to the point of seeking medical attention, Lent proceeds apace. With illness comes a form of writer’s block: not a failure to write, but instead, a failure to write anything remotely publishable. If one has been a hack journalist through too […]

Four quatrains

We (and I still sometimes use this plural to indicate, “all of my personae, considered as a choir”) were asked only yesterday, by a gentleman who had previously been asking about Stefan Zweig, to describe the degree of our aloofness from current events. He (the emailer, not Herr Zweig, who has been dead these last […]

Labour law

Recently I attended the wake of an old friend, a certain Randall Telford, who was so unwise as to predecease me. He was a labour lawyer, and usefully so from my point of view, for he brought a charge of “constructive dismissal” on my behalf before a former employer, so nicely that it never went […]

News & the weather

On a sour note of feigned optimism, I post this upon the vernal equinox, a cold blustery miserable overcast day in Parkdale, under plausible threat of blowing snow, after the coldest winter in memory. Spring is not yet in sight. But one must take the longer view, in which these parts were for millennia under […]

The day after

Well, I can come out of the High Doganate now, I think St Patrick’s Day is over. Toronto, or as I prefer to call it, the Greater Parkdale Area, was once well supplied with essentially peaceable, law-abiding bona fide Irish immigrants who went to their jobs in the morning, and to Mass on Sundays if […]

Biblical exegesis

One of the most useful passages in the Bible is in Saint Peter’s second general Epistle (3:16, if I may be so pedantic). There are quite a few parallel passages, but in this his second “encyclical,” our first Pope says explicitly that there are passages in Scripture hard to understand. The ignorant and the unstable […]

That age shall not weary them

It is true, today is the first anniversary of the election of the present Pope. Fortunately no one asks me to appear on talk shows any more, where, given as little as five minutes to blather, I’d be sure to say something wrong. God bless Pope Francis! May he become the very embodiment of our […]

Paradigm change

According to some statistics, 6 per cent of the world’s Catholics live in the United States. They account for 80 per cent of the annulments granted in Rome. Add Canada into that, and I begin to wonder if the Church actually has a serious “annulment problem,” yet. She certainly would if she allowed our American […]

A mood

A score of years, at least, has passed since I had my last glimpse of Richard J. Needham. This was in the old Harvey’s hamburger franchise (since bulldozed) opposite Varsity Stadium along Bloor Street. It was where we met for our dinner dates, at his insistence. Needham was once a celebrated columnist in the Globe […]

A dinosaur for Lent

For the moment, at least, it appears this website is functioning again, which I mention for the benefit of my Commentariat. They may resume fire. The season of Lent has interposed since my last effusion. Several readers had wondered if I’d fall silent for the duration of it. I will not, especially as I have […]

Feast of St David

Really there is no truth in the allegation, made privately to me by a woman who may have known me too long, that I am, like Louis-Ferdinand Céline, fatally attracted to ballerinas. It would be more accurate to call them coryphées. The cat can look at the queen, as my mother used to say, and […]