Mayor’s reflections on ‘Life with Donald’ and musicals in general

Plus a 'goodbye' to friend David McPhail

My cynical friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, (Bob) wonders why Donald Trump didn’t have two inaugurals–one in Washington, DC and the real one in Moscow.

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Often asked about the election of President Trump and what does it mean for a border city like Sarnia and for Canada? Answer is I have been wrong on predicting Trump for the last year as a candidate and a President-elect so have given up predicting. Will note that in the reign of Trudeau the First (Pierre) his observation to Americans was “Living next to you in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Those words were true then in 1969 and even truer today, although the quote today would be “affected by every Tweet, twitch and grunt.”

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“You’re never truly gone

The door is always open

And the kettle’s always on.”

Lyrics from “Welcome to the Rock” – “Come from Away”

Got off the WestJet plane in St. John’s, Newfoundland, last April or as an experienced flyer like myself (two flights or more) would say “de-planed.” First greeting at the airport was from a cabbie who said “You have come from away”.  Thinking, a fine deduction Sherlock, as I stood outside the terminal of an international airport carrying a suitcase, along with a carry- on, laptop, and a garment bag. Soon learned the phrase “come from away”, as it was repeated over and over again, was a warm, affectionate greeting from Newfoundlanders to greet visitors.

The words are now also the title of the new hit Canadian musical “Come from Away.” It tells the story of the people of Gander, a small Newfoundland town with a large airport, and how they opened their hearts and homes for days to over 6,000 people who were stranded there on September 11th, 2001 after the Twin Towers were destroyed in New York.

David McPhail

All flights in North America were immediately grounded to the nearest airport till it was understood when it would be safe for airlines to fly again. When the town folk found out they were the stars of a musical, one, with typical wit, said “You are making a play about us making sandwiches?” The reviews of the play from friends who have seen it are all glowing, saying it was emotional, witty, moving and uplifting. The play has now left Toronto for Broadway.

So sorry I didn’t see the play as I fell in love with the people of Newfoundland during the visit last year but was scarred as a kid by a musical and have never recovered. My parents “sentenced” me to watch “West Side Story” after a minor indiscretion when I washed the family cat (remember the cat wasn’t crazy about it, and I got fur all over my tongue). If I had a good lawyer could have beaten the rap but the only retainer I had as an eight year old was the one in my mouth. Have never understood musicals compared to real life. In “West Side Story,” the tough guys are walking down the street snapping their fingers looking for a rumble.  Next thing you know they are jumping around, dancing on cars and singing.  Try doing that in real life and more than likely you will end up being taken away for an assessment. In “West Side Story”, the song Maria-a-a-a-a goes on for eternity.

Vowed in 2017 to break the aversion to musicals to broaden my cultural horizons and see one. Was going to see the movie “La La Land” but thought it would remind me too much of Queen’s Park.  Am now going to wait for “Come from Away” to return and see it. Hopefully, whoever is singing the song “Maria” will have stopped.

Exchanged e-mails with one of my new Newfoundland friends from last year, Seamus Noseworthy, about “come from away” and their hospitality. He shared a recent story with a twist on the “Come from Away” story.  It must be true as a resident of The Rock would never mislead a mainlander or pull his leg (although think the being-screeched ceremony comes close).

Seamus said the story shows The Rock residents’ confidence no matter what the situation.  According to Seamus, President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office in the new Washington Trump Tower wondering what country to invade next when the phone rang. “Hallo, President Trump”, a heavily accented voice said, “this is Archie, up ere at the Harp Seal Pub in Badger’s Cove, Newfoundland. I am callin’ to tells ya dat we are officially declaring war on ya. “Well Archie”, Trump replied, looking down at his small fingers, “how big is your army?” After a moment’s thought, Archie said, “Right now there is myself, me cousin Harold, me next-door-neighbour Mick and the whole dart team from the pub. That makes eight.”  The Donald paused and said, “I am telling you Archie I have a million men in my army waiting to move on my command.” “Jeez” Archie says, “I’ll have ta call ya back.”

Sure enough he does the next day and tells Trump “I’ve managed to acquire some infantry equipment and we now have two combines, a bulldozer and Harry’s farm tractor.”  Trump laughed between snorts and said “Archie, I have 16,000 tanks and increased the army by another half million people in the last few days.  “Lard T’underin’ bye,” said Archie, “I be getting back to ya.” Archie called back the next day to tell Trump “the war is still on. We have managed to get ourselves airborne. We up an’ modified Harry’s ultra- light plane with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit and four byes from the Legion have joined us.” The calls went on for a few more days with Trump upping his numbers (just like his casino books) about the number of troops every time Archie called. Finally, Archie called back to say “President Trump, I am sorry to tell you that we have to call off this war.” Trump asked “why the change of heart?” “Well Sir,” said Archie, “we’ve all sat down and had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and come to realize dere’s no way we can feed two million prisoners.”

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After years of sipping around the edges of the social media watering hole took the full plunge to enter in 2017.

A Website www.mayorbradley.com 
A Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/mayorofsarnia/
A Twitter account https://twitter.com/mayorofsarnia 

The Twitter account brought this rejoinder from “Deputy Mayor” Janis that “only twits tweet”. Didn’t have much of a defense on that point as she noted the Commander-in-Chief of Tweeter Twits and she wasn’t referring to me for once.  The new social media sites are set up to send information, ideas and issues out to the community.  To respond directly to any postings on social media use mayor@sarnia.ca (If you are worried about security on the e-mail address, can reassure you it is as safe as a Hillary Clinton e-mail account, if that helps). While some in politics worship at the altar of social media, I keep it in balance to communicate using traditional media and social media. The facts support why. A professional survey in Sarnia last year showed radio was the primary source for local news and information (47%), internet in general (18%), television (13%) and hard copy newspapers (13%). When people were asked locally about their social networking, Facebook was at 37% use and 8% for Twitter.

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Was at Metro grocery store at Northgate when Lynn, the cashier, said she had just heard on the news Dave McPhail had died.  She said he was a favourite customer who was always smiling, polite and had a joke for her. That was Dave. Can’t write about Dave without mentioning his wife Sharon who was his friend, partner and biggest supporter for 40 years. They were inseparable.  During the reception following the funeral service at Redeemer Lutheran someone noted the Lutheran service was very similar to the Catholic mass and Dave used to joke the Lutherans were Catholics without the guilt. That was Dave. The community knew him as an inspirational teacher, principal, author, Chair of his church, the Chamber of Commerce, and as a political candidate, among many other accomplishments. I knew him for all those things, but more importantly, I knew Dave as a friend. He will be greatly missed.

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If you have any ideas or comments please call me at 519-332-0330 Ext. 3312 or 519-336-8092 or mayor@sarnia.ca

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