He said we must love them. We don’t have to like them. Christ never asks for the impossible.

And, tough love is the best.

This, in response to several correspondents who think I’ve been riding a little hard on the liberals, lately. Nonsense.

To paraphrase Doctor (“the first Whig was the Devil”) Johnson, much can be done with a liberal, if he be caught young.

I am falling, ever falling behind my correspondents, some of whom ask quite straightforward questions, so I will devote today’s post to standard, boilerplate replies.


A frequent question is, “How do I subscribe, so that I can get your ‘essays’ the moment they are posted?”

The answer is, I don’t know. I am not a techie, and my son, who has the webmastery, also has a steady job, so that I don’t like to bother him too much. My only idea is: make me your homepage.

And yairs, to another question: I am now posting daily. I resolved to do this upon the Feast of Saint Andrew, one hundred and thirty Idleposts ago, and for as long as I could keep it up. For being then at a loss what to do, given a worldview that makes me completely unemployable, I consulted my Guardian Angel. It was her idea.

And yairs, I try to post every day by noon, but this is not always possible. Sometimes, for instance, I have to teach in the morning, though that is no big thing.

And yairs, among other motives I was rather hoping that Gentle Readers would take the hint, recognize me for a Brother in some long forgotten and defunct, mediaeval Mendicant Order, and start dropping cash into my begging bowl. Some of you have, indeed, started: and I am very grateful, including the thought of you with grace before each meal.


“What does ‘yairs’ mean?”

It means “yes,” I gathered, from my perusal of an obscure Australian novel, some decades ago, in which it was assigned to the mouth of an elderly lady from the steaming outback beyond Brisbane in the tropical far north. Since, neither I, nor any Australian acquaintance, has been able to trace the reference. But the word appealed to me, so like some pretty shell from a distant shore, I decided to keep it.


“What is the ‘High Doganate’?”

That is where I live, in an ivory tower, suspended one hundred feet above the Village of Parkdale, a formerly incorporated municipality extremely proximate to the City of Toronto, by which it was annexed perhaps a century ago.

I love Parkdale, once full of mansions and the provocatively rich, but now, thanks to municipal planning, full of the poor, the unfashionably ethnic, and the mad. To say nothing of the communists and perverts.

Yet often, in my walks around the Greater Parkdale Area (also known as the Greater Toronto Area), I have thought that Parkdale is the only part of the conurbation that will come well out of the Rapture.

I think of the High Doganate as a kind of Institution, to which I have committed all my various personae, including the pseudonyms, for the time being. At the last census, the population was 1; but that did not include the purple finches on my balconata, nor the “speros,” nor the pigeons, nor the more recent buzzard. Nor the spiders, nor the flies.

The name “High Doganate,” of course, is derived from the stem, “Dogan.”


“What is a ‘Dogan’?”

Ah, now, there is a controversial question.

According to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, and probably all the others, it is a slang term for a Cath-o-lick, from the Maritimes, not originally meant to flatter. For an etymology they guess it must have been the surname of some Irishman.

They lie. According to my late mother, who was certainly from the great Island of Cape Breton, and incapable of error on any point of fact, the word was a gift from Presbyterian missionaries. Proceeding from Glace Bay, they penetrated the wilderness of West Africa, until they had reached the Dogan tribe (variously spelt). The Dogans were, they noticed, a highly imaginative tribe, already quite religious if not exactly Christian, and much given to the adoration of statuettes, which weren’t exactly Christian, either. People of marvellous aesthetic vision, and artistic skill.

Now, prominent among the Dogan goddesses, or so-to-say “idols,” was a figure so carved with child, as distantly to resemble our Blessed Virgin Mary. The Presbyterian missionaries, amused by this discovery, wrote home that they had found mariolators in “DA” (Darkest Africa).

Recipients of these letters were also much amused, and took to calling their Catholic neighbours “Dogans.” If the shoe fits, wear it, is an old saying, and upon discovering what the word suggested, their Catholic neighbours soon took the title for themselves.

From Glace Bay, it spread up the western coast of Newfoundland (where Cape Bretoners then went for logging jobs), and of course, quickly down to very Catholic Antigonish, then west at least to Pictou.

It is a proud title, indeed, and since becoming a Dogan myself (initially to my mother’s shock and horror), I have clung to it along with my cricket bat and my bibles.