What I do is a little like skateboarding on thin ice, a cup of strong tea in one hand and a print-out of the local headlines in the other, searching for speed without managing to fall on my ass in the process. Some days it works; other days it doesn’t. Last Friday was the other day.
Out of the blue, and without warning, the news dropped: The Moncton Times & Transcript would no longer require my five-times-a-week column (occasionally six-times-a week), which I have been producing since 2010.
Oh well, I thought, this is merely the writer’s life: easy come, easy go. On the other hand, in this business, in this era, you had better grow a hide as thick as a rhinoceros’s. Otherwise, to paraphrase the late, great Warren Zevon, “They’ll rip your lungs out, Jim.”
From what I was told in a two-minute conversation, the decision had nothing to do with the quality of my work but rather an ephemeral policy shift governing the direction of the Op-Ed pages. And, to be fair, I did resign some months ago, expecting to move back to Halifax and be closer to my parents and kids, before being persuaded to hang in for the foreseeable future.
The future has changed, but the past is written. So, before I go, I’ll take this one, last opportunity to regale readers with some of my pithier comments this column supported over the past year
On New Brunswick politics, I wrote: “Every morning at about 5:30, after I awake and dress for the day, I embrace the singular displeasure of feeding an aromatic breakfast to ‘Sid the kid’. No, he’s not a hockey star from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, but in Moncton he moves like one. In fact, he’s a five-year-old house cat who can, and does, fly up vertical inclines as if he’s a dragon fly. He’s also a marvellous arbiter of important news during my morning coffee.
“Whenever New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant hits the early radio news, he rolls over and wants a belly rub. Whenever Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest spout from Ottawa arrives as the sun slowly rises, he arches his back, begging for a good, hard cuddle. Whenever, Donald Trump tweets the latest outrage from the fringes of American democracy, he runs to the barn, not to be seen until noontime.”
On New Brunswick economics, I wrote: “Be honest. Who doesn’t love a good acronym these days? Why, a whole generation of kids lives for them. They message them, tweet them and even pepper their casual conversations in coffee shops with them. Even POTUS (that would be ‘President of the United States’) prefers this short hand of the modern age over, say, actual sentences.
“Who am I to buck the trend? As the subject of what to do about New Brunswick’s anemic economy comes around, as it so often does, I will posit an acronym of my own. Call it HOT, which stands for Hope, Opportunity and Technology. Maybe this will grab some attention.”
On the general condition of Canadian democracy, I wrote: “Official pronouncements from the parliaments and assemblies of Canadian democracy have a tendency to send me into a deep sleep. I slept extraordinarily well last night. Then, I heard this from federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau in his well-timed fiscal update: We’re doing great; the country is going gangbusters; there’s nothing to see; move along people; go about your business.”
See you, dear readers, in some other version of the ‘funny papers’. This is Alec Bruce, still skateboarding on thin ice.