Monthly Archives: June 2013

Some people simply have no respect for a naked body

lady cop

In my esteem there are a few reasons for getting naked in this life: They include:

–         Bathing

–         Sleeping (in my case, I sleep in the buff)

–         Skinny-dipping (love to do so)

–         Answering nature’s calls.

–         Making love.

–         Artistic posing.

–         Oh, and getting born. We all, even the most puritanical of us are starkers when we pop out of that old canal.

I didn’t, in the foregoing list, go into the realm of nudists (or naturists, if you prefer) as in those who doff everything to get all over tans. I have no problem with nudism. God love ‘em and in an odd way I admire them. I don’t even think nudists are flakes or eccentrics as some assume rather dismissively. Chacun a son gout

And, as for the aforementioned skinny-dipping I have indulged. Have done so countless times, even in mixed company and have done so without a second thought. In the first place I had a house by the sea for many years and we didn’t always bother to put on our ‘costumes’ after dusk for a moonlight swim. Furthermore, at another stage in my life I owned a pool – a big, beautiful kidney-shaped pool (wonder why there are never liver or pancreas shaped pools?). My wife of the day and I would wait until we knew the neighbors were away for the weekend, likewise the daughter and then we would run out as God made us and jump in. It was heavenly and very liberating.

So, I must confess I am not an obsessively modest person. It doesn’t bother me to go in the buff and, depending on the individual, I can rather enjoy seeing a member of my opposite number equally unclad. For esthetic reasons only, of course. Well, sometimes at least. When I did life-drawing sessions I realized it really is true what is asserted about artists and models. I found, that no matter how attractive the model might have been I never thought of her in ‘that’ way. I was more concerned about maybe the curve of her back or the styling of her hair – the head sort, in case you were wondering.

Which brings me to today’s topic: Nudity and People Who Just Don’t Get It.

When my first wife and I moved to England in 1980 we went out for a drive one sunny afternoon with friends who were visiting from Canada. Driving along the Norfolk coast we found an access to a spot called ‘Holkham Beach’. It was a pleasant ‘shingle’ beach and as we strolled along the foreshore we noticed a sign that indicated: Swimming costumes are optional past this point. In a quaintly English manner they were letting us know that this was like Vancouver’s famed Wreck Beach.

Cor! (slipping into a little UK vernacular here) No, not that I immediately stripped down, though I’d have not had a problem so doing. But, there was a chill in the air – North Sea wind puts an almost perpetual chill in the air – so we all refrained. But, how enlightened, I thought. Not that many brave souls were in the buff on this day, but I liked the idea.

I liked it so much that I wrote a freelance article about Holkham Beach for the Vancouver Sun, which they liked and bought and printed. I have it around somewhere and maybe I’ll find it and reproduce it here sometime. However, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to find the photo that accompanied the Sun article.  My approach to the topic was whimsical and included the observation that at a nude beach there seems to be a tendency for those whom one would not object to seeking naked keeping their clothes on, whereas as those who should be clothed – always – strip down with impunity.

Anyway, as time went on I had forgotten about that civilized little beach. And then I saw a brief item in an overseas issue of the Weekly Telegraph last week, which reported that a favorite UK nude beach was getting rid of the garb-less option because people were being – well – icky. And there it was, ‘my’ Holkham Beach.

Seems that randy bon vivants were hitting Holkham, getting pissed up (often with people to whom they weren’t married) and then going at it like animals in heat, frightening away the quaint nudists of yore.

So, they now have gotten rid of the nudity option. Some asshole always has to spoil the party.

That saddened me.

Some people don’t got no respect. If you’re having a tryst then go to a motel, for heaven’s sake. That’s what they’re there for.

Man, that’s a mighty long way down. Dramatic scenes come with a price


I did a painting the other day that I am quite pleased with (‘quite pleased with’ coming from me and directed at something I did is huge praise indeed). Oh, and disregard the bit of wood at the bottom. It’s not part of the painting but part of the easel.

The painting is a scene from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. It is taken from a photo I took in April of 1981 as I stood at the edge of a stunning bit of land-meets-the-sea geography.

I loved the west coast of Ireland and if you haven’t been there, go, that is an order. There is more scenery packed into a few square miles than you might imagine – and all of it is good – and the Guinness is great (I still liked to tipple back in 1981; I probably would like to tipple now, which is why I don’t) and Irish lasses are the prettiest in the world with that damn auburn hair, rosy cheeks, and enticing upper torsi.

I posted the painting on Facebook but if you haven’t seen it there, you can now see it here.                

Anyway, we had stopped at the Cliffs as an aspect of a coach tour that my former wife (heedless of my protestations of hatred for anything bus-like) had gone ahead and booked for us during the time we were living in England.

Fortunately for me I fell in with a roistering Miami cabbie named Christy Murphy and he and I had been sharing pleasingly of the contents of his bottle of Jack Daniels that morning so I was feeling ‘smooth’, shall I suggest?

So, whilst there we stood at the edge of those awe-inspiring huge sea-cliffs as the gulls and terns swooped below us and the cold North Atlantic leading all the way to Newfoundland disappeared in the haze in the distance. I recall being quite enraptured by it all.

Yet in retrospect, one particular aspect of the Cliffs came to mind. Those promontories were mighty precipitous. And it was a long way down to the rocks of the foreshore below. Kind of a suicide Mecca, no doubt. Yet, I do not recall feeling bothered by it.

Was it the comforting effects of the bourbon, or was I indeed different about my acrophobia back then? Had it not kicked in with full force yet? I am left wondering about that.

As I’ve mentioned here before I have a preternatural phobia about heights (not so much about the height per se but the hitting of the bottom after I fall which I invariably fear I will do when confronted by a high place). I mean, I even have a hard time looking at photos of elevated places like those classics of high steel workers sitting on suspended girders a million feet above the streets of New York.

Wendy has often said she’d like to visit the Grand Canyon. I’ve told her I’ll wait in the car while she has a look.

But, my point is, I ‘did’ the Irish cliffs. When I was young I used to do odd jobs like cleaning the gutters of two-floor houses of neighbors. No problem. Even as recently as when I first visited Kauai back in the late 1980s I reveled in a trip up to Waimea Canyon. Yet, the last time I went there a few years ago with Wendy I realized I didn’t want to do that again.

Where did my acrophobia come from? I have no idea. Fear of mortality at a certain age? Perhaps. Like most phobias, it originates somewhere and there is no point in trying to apply logic to it. I know they carry out therapies for phobias, but, unlike say fear of flying, it’s not really crippling so I’ve learned to live with it.

Meanwhile, enjoy my view of the cliffs. I certainly did when I went there. Dunno if I could do it now, however.


But once I’d seen her knickers I knew I could die happy


Like many a cub journalist (though I was no longer actually much of a ‘cub’ since I was in my early 30s) when I began my career I was stuck at the ‘obit’ desk.

Not a bad idea on the part of countless editors since it demands the fledgling reporter not only be able put together a few words in a logical and compassionate manner but also that he/she can learn some of the nuances about obituary writing.

Obituaries were always freebies, which meant the newspaper reserved the right to edit that which had been submitted by a member of the public or a funeral home. And one of those nuances is that nobody in the crass eyes of a newspaper ever ‘passes away’, goes to the ‘great beyond’, is ‘at one with Jesus’ or other such polite pleasantries. In newspaper parlance the person has ‘died’, pure and simple. I’ve noticed in recent years there seems to have come about a softening of that style of reporting deaths. I make no judgment on that change, though death itself remains what it always was – pretty darn final.

Oh, and we also used to do that ‘thing’ that outsiders and laypersons tended to find lacking in compassion. For certain ‘notables’ we had prepared obits. The death notice would be written up well ahead of time – sometimes years before if the person in question was very old – and then when the day came the remaining pertinent facts only needed to be plugged in and then the paper was good to go. It was always essential in such cases to check with a funeral home just to make sure the ‘shuffling off the mortal coil’ had indeed actually taken place. Bad time to be in error.

I only bring this topic to the fore because I noticed in the weekend paper that the mother of the girl whom I promised (to myself) to love forever had died. All my yesteryears came flooding back in a flash when I saw the surname and even her first name (which I knew for some reason) in the notice. She had a good innings. She was 95. I am happy for that. I recall her as an awfully nice lady whom I somehow, mainly by being excessively polite and deferential around her (though not in an icky Eddie Haskell way) that she might feel compelled to tell her daughter that she should fall in love with me.

That didn’t happen, of course, and I do not resent the ‘;late’ lady for not having acted to boost my interests.

But, in reading the obit, I did check out her daughter to see what I could glean from the notice. Well, she is obviously alive and well and still sports the same first name that once caused me palpitations.

Of her, I regarded her as more than a mere crush (such a judgmental term for something that is so real) and the fact that her name can still conjure up feelings says something or other. I mean, we were never a ‘couple’ per se, albeit we were quite good friends (which was what she wanted us to be, and no more than that). We never made out, though I once kissed her on New Year’s Eve. And that was about the extent of our carnality. Oh, and I once saw her underpants when she hiked her skirt to dangle her feet in a friend’s swimming pool. I still remember the pattern (so, ha!) and I recall thinking at the time that God could strike me dead at that point and I’d have died happy.

So, in looking at the little bit about her it seems she became a Mom herself and, though it pains me a little to think it, also a grandmother. Sigh.

But, the most telling (albeit slightly painful) point came from the fact that she sported the last name of the guy she had just broken up with when I did my most frantic (not to mention lame) courting of her. Soooooooo, she obviously went back to him.

What on earth could he have had that I didn’t?

Well, I was 18 and didn’t have much, and I recall he had a pretty decent car. If such things were her criteria then who am I to quibble? And considering the fact they are still married may have made him a better candidate for matrimony than I’ve proved to be considering my matrimonial track record.

Keep them smartass scientickers at bay or they’ll be wantin’ t’ake over


For those of you who don’t live in these parts the activities that take place in the Centre of the Universe education site at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria won’t mean a great deal.


But, let’s just say it is another case (among cases that have become all too frequent in Canada of late) of ‘Dumbness Triumphant’ for the sake of saving a few pennies for a federal government that likes to make those pennies bleed as they squeeze them – unless those pennies are going in the direction of Big Banks and the Big Petro Cartel.

Just sayin’.

So, what are we talking about in terms of bucks here? $245,000 for the wages of three staffers per annum, plus a further 32K for housekeeping and maintenance.

Two-hundred-and-forty-five grand! For crissake, that’s about the equivalent of Mike Duffy’s lunch tab for a week. What is wrong with us?

I want to know what has happened to a country that used to be at the forefront in scientific and medical research? Yet, research stations of all stripe are holus-bolus being slashed by the Harper feds, leading to challenges for the medical profession and environmental bodies and, obviously in this case, the realms of legitimate science.

Is there some political delusion that Canadians don’t want to see their tax bucks go in the direction of “them goddamn scientickers.”? Or are the supporters of such expenditure cuts folks that had problems with their 8th grade science courses that they were immersed in shortly before leaving school for good to become car-wash attendants or airport security scrutinizers?

And forgive me for suggesting, but I’m not convinced I’m wrong, but might not the reason for a decision made by people who occupy drone offices in an ugly town with a dreadful climate across the river from Hull be found in the fact that the Dominion Observatory is in Victoria – a far away land of which Ottawa knows little and wherein there might indeed be dragons?

I cannot help but think if the observatory in question were positioned in Ontario and definitely Quebec the fed bean counters wouldn’t have dared touch it.

I rarely venture into the political darkside in my blog since I hold the belief that in a democracy people are entitled to their beliefs at the voting booth. But when I see my country being, for the sake of fiscal prudence (maybe), depleted of its scientific prowess in a perilous time, I cringe.

Of course, those who gained most from the Centre of the Universe facility have been kids down the years.

Aw, to hell with them. Feed them sugary fizzy drinks in large containers and give them electronic games and they’ll be happy.

Hey, here’s a thought. Have the feds looked into the costs of our school systems across the land? Now, if you really want to save the big bucks, you know.



‘Look — up in the sky — it’s a bird — it’s a plane — damn, I’ve gotta get my %$#** eyes checked. Got no idea what it is’


So, Superman is 75-years-old.

Big whoop. He’s a comic character, folks, so I am finding I cannot get all that worked up about it.

Anyway, I was always more of a Batman kid. His process was more believable and he didn’t have ‘superpowers’, he was just highly skilled and applied himself well to his task without being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I never quite understood how Superman flew. Did he have a rocket engine in his ass? He didn’t seem to flap his arms, so was it some king of anti-gravitational thing he applied. Not too up on his mythology. Which leaves me with the question concerning the incident in the original (and best) Superman movie when he tells Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane that her undies are pink, how did he see her nether garments? If he had genuine x-ray vision wouldn’t he just see right through her. Or, was it a case of ‘selective’ x-ray peepers so he could voyeuristically scope out panties or even naughty bits when he chose to. Superman may have been a bit of a perv, kids.

I looked at Superman comic books and the daily strip in the paper when I was a kid and I watched the original TV show starring that slightly pudgy and ultimately tragic actor George Reeves who ultimately found he was not immune to a self-imposed bullet to the head.

Even sadder was the case of filmdom’s Christopher Reeve and we all know his tragic tale of a horseback ride gone tragically wrong. I liked his version of Superman because it didn’t take the nonsense very seriously and the casting of any of his films was superb and wonderfully played.

After that, I have no interest whatsoever in the SM oeuvre. They are kiddy stories regardless of how many versions they trot out. I am even more troubled by a society that sees a need for superheroes. How about extolling some genuinely mortal and homegrown ones who lend themselves to the forces of rectitude on the planet? They do exist. They just don’t wear capes or their jockey shorts on the outside of their tights. And come on, did the donning of specs and a business suit really fool everybody as was suggested? We saw through that ruse when we were kids.

And, speaking of kids, why is virtually every film produced these days one that could only appeal to arrested development of chronic juvenility? What has happened to grownups? Do they still exist, or are they just deemed worthy of ignoring.

Superman at 75. Meh. Collect your pension and let it go, pal.

What if Granny had taken the Lusitania? Then where would I be?

lutitanierMy grandfather, was a noble son-of-Empire and all that Kiplingesque Victorian rubbish went off a-soldiering in South Africa to fight the good fight in the Boer War at the turn of the previous century.

He told me years later that he thought South Africa was one of the most beautiful places he’d ever seen and he seriously considered settling there. But he didn’t.

Then, a number of years later, in 1915, when Granddad was off soldiering once again in the muddy, bloody trenches of the Western Front in the Great War, he got himself wounded. And my grandmother, with three children in tow went back to England from Canada to be with her invalided husband.

But, while she was waiting in New York to embark for the UK her kids came down with measles. They were put under quarantine in their hotel room. So, my grandmother, in effect, missed the boat. That boat happened to be the RMS Lusitania due to set forth on what would be her last journey as she was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with many, many people lost.

But, I was supposing about the accidents of fate or of birth. If my grandfather had stayed in South Africa, would he have linked up with my grandmother and produced the kids they did? And, if he hadn’t and my grandparents had met, and she had taken the Lusitania, where would I be since my mother wasn’t born until 1920, five years after the shipping disaster?

What if my parents’ first date hadn’t worked out? I’ve had first dates that haven’t worked out. More fool the girl, I say. Did I ever tell you about the time I kicked a pretty girl out of the car at the tail end of a blind date? But that’s a whole other matter. But she was such a rude asshole, I tell ya.

Back to topic.

Birth is accidental by its nature. Many elements must come together to make that human entity of body and soul. It’s the soul part I’m wondering about here. I am me, and you are you, and we are conscious of being us. We are ‘who’ we are. Would it be possible for ‘us’ to be somebody else had our accidents of gestation and birth not transpired? If your parents had never met, would you still have been born? Would I still have been born? It’s that damn George Bailey syndrome all over again.

Is there a big departure lounge in the sky in which all the pending souls hang around until the circumstances of their conception are right? Which ones of the lucky stiffs get to travel business class once they’ve passed security?

In other words, if you believe in the concept of a ‘soul’ (my personal jury is confused about that issue) then following that logic (or illogic) then you are up there in wait and you will be born when the time is right; either to the comfy home of your parents, or in a Calcutta backstreet if you didn’t make the business class cut.

I’m admittedly a dunce when it comes to metaphysics. But, on that topic, so is everybody else, regardless of what they might happen to believe. Unless you’ve ‘really’ toured the ‘beyond’ and come back to this realm, you are only talking conjecture.

I like to think I would have been born, regardless of how circumstances had played out. But, that’s all. I’d merely ‘like to think that’, as if I were somehow an important soul.

 Well, I am important to me because I’m the only one I’ve got.

Climb every mountain? I think not. Anyway, it’s already been done, and done, and done


I’ve never much wanted to climb Mt. Everest.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

-The first one is the fact I’m pathologically acrophobic. Heights make give me vertigo and stark terror of the sort that makes me want to pee in my pants, or worse. It’s not so much falling I’m afraid of; it’s hitting the bottom after the fall.

–         The second reason is because it has become so commonplace that it’s no longer the feat it was when Hillary and Norgay did it way back in 1953. So many people are now climbing Everest that it has become as congested as an LA freeway on the last leg to the summit. Like so many things in life, conquering Everest has become as ho-hum as an intimate encounter with Marilyn Monroe was reputed to be back in the day. In other words, everybody’s done it.

Oh, and there’s a thrid reason. And that’s that it probably involves a certain amount of tenting. That wore out its welcome with me a couple decades ago.

And that reality only leaves me with the sneaking suspicion that it was always easy. The conquest of Everest was a big scam mounted by the Nepal Tourism Authority to attract people to their hotels and fast-food joints and to give a bit of work to itinerant Sherpas.

“Right, mate, that was a piece o’ cake,” said Sir Edmund to Tenzing after they’d completed their feat back 60 years ago.”

“Just don’t let on, boss,” Tenzing replied, “Or everybody will be wanting to do it.” (I don’t know how to reproduce the Sherpa accent, but I believe his comment went as shown.

I’ve never much understood the impulse to climb mountains. I mean, I like mountains well enough – from afar. They can make a wonderful backdrop. But I’d rather stay down below, like I do in this community where we have the amazingly lovely curtain punctuated by the Comox Glacier. Magnificent. And I have flown over the Glacier and that was cool. But, I have no need to wend my way up there. I suspect there are crevices and other nasty causes of premature death.

I have seen other mountains, too. The Cascades punctuated by Baker, Ranier, Hood and Shasta. Dazzling all. I’ll ponder them from the bottom. Mona Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island is exception and, if measured from the sea floor, is considerably loftier than Everest. I’ve also seen the Rockies, the Alps, the Apennines and others. Just nifty, from down below.

“Because it’s there,” is the cliché excuse for climbing Everest or other crags.

So is Jupiter, but again I’d rather ponder it from afar.