Grave new world or pop goes the weasel

The Compass - - NEWS - — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

Dear­est Duck and I were driv­ing across the Til­ton bar­rens to visit Pa’s Tara in Spa­niard’s Bay when we heard the news from Pla­cen­tia.

I was ex­pound­ing in depth about the au­tum­nal splen­dor and the abun­dance of crim­son dog berries and their omi­nous fore­telling of win­ter weather when Dear­est Duck turned up the ra­dio and said, “Harry, my lo­qua­cious love, hush up for a minute.”

“My Duck?” said hushed voice.

“They’re mak­ing a big an­nounce­ment in Pla­cen­tia. Just lis­ten.” So I did. So they were. Mak­ing a big an­nounce­ment, that is.

The Dun­der­land Deities, along with a par­tial team of Husky En­ergy hon­chos, the whole crowd pissin’ their pants with ex­cite­ment, had de­scended from the can­vas-draped tower atop high Dun­der­land Hill to min­gle with mor­tals.

And be­hold, parch­ment had been un­furled and a de­cree had gone out to the pop­u­lace: A well-head drilling plat­form for the White Rose off-shore oil project would be con­structed in Ar­gen­tia.

The deities beamed I bet. The pop­u­lace cheered.

Ah, new pros­per­ity was com­ing to the aban­doned erst­while naval base.

“Harry,” said Dear­est Duck, “that’s good news in­deed.”

There is no deny­ing that the an­nounce­ment brought good news.

But part of a sin­gle word had caught my ear, and I poked at the ra­dio but­tons un­til I found the news­cast on a sec­ond sta­tion. I lis­tened care­fully but just as De­ity Dun­derdale spoke a crackle of static scram­bled her speech and all I heard was, “grave…Ksssh…dock.”

“What’s that?” said about a grave?”

“Grav­ing dock,” said Dear­est Duck. “They’re go­ing to build a grav­ing dock.”

I obe­di­ently,


in a



I feel no shame is say­ing my ig­no­rance is bound­less.

A grav­ing dock was be­yond my ken. Un­less it was a wharf of some sort to which souls were moored to await the ferry ‘cross the Styx. I didn’t need Dear­est Duck to tell me that made nary a wit of sense. Mr. Google knew though. The mo­ment we parked in Spa­niards Bay, even be­fore hand­ing for­bid­den candy to our grand­daugh­ters, I dashed off to Mr. Google’s house.

There I learned “grav­ing dock” is sim­ply a spruced up name for a dry dock. Not such a grave thing af­ter all. Sim­ply some­thing new in my im­per­fect world.

Days later at The Mall I sat on the bench out­side The Bank while in­side at a wicket Dear­est Duck shuf­fled her pen­sion cheques. I sat back-to-shoul­der with sev­eral other cur­mud­geons.

This time we didn’t talk about our var­i­ous surg­eries. The re­cent an­nounce­ment of plenty was the sub­ject of dis­cus­sion.

“That’ll only cost us money,” said one old codger, scrub­bing a hand across his fa­cial liver spots.

“T’will,” agreed his bent-boned com­pan­ion.

“Drive our whiskery wag. So the ban­ter went. As it is wont to do, my loosely tied mind drifted. To thoughts of childhood nurs­ery rhymes.

Pappy used to re­cite this adap­ta­tion of




third an old English rhyme: “Up and down the South­ern Shore, The mon­key chased the weasel. Ev­ery time the mon­key jumped, Pop goes the weasel.” There were vari­a­tions on this theme. This next verse in par­tic­u­lar is the one that bur­bled in my nog­gin out­side The Bank, on the bench with the gag­gle of grum­blers, the uni­ver­sal sour­pusses: “Ev­ery morn­ing I get up, Break­fast on the ta­ble. That’s the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel.” Dear­est Duck just called from some­where within earshot. “Harry, are you al­right? Am I hear­ing Pop goes the Weasel?”

All slip­pered and con­cerned, she fol­lowed her ques­tion into my ‘puter room, and glanced over my shoul­der.

“Not a grain of sense,” she said and scuffed away again. Might be some sense here though. Pros­per­ity and plenty ar­rive on any scene like new­ly­weds, or some­thing equally shiny and bright. Their ra­di­ance blesses the mul­ti­tudes. That is a good thing, eh b’ys? Sadly, how­ever, like the iconic clut­ter of rusty tin can tied to the new­ly­weds’ limou­sine, grave dis­trac­tions fol­low. The worst of those grave things is crime, I s’pose. The least grave thing is a bunch of old men grip­ing at The Mall.

Bet­ter they talked about their op­er­a­tions, eh b’ys?

Kurt Von­negut, my favourite dead writer, says this to shrug off worry about in­evitable events: “So it goes.” I say: “Pop goes the weasel.” Any of the above make a grain of sense? Thank you for read­ing.

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