I'm not long back from a flying visit to Canada where I attended three reunions and a wake. As in that wonderful film Four Weddings and a Funeral, there were tears and laughter and many many magical moments. The 40 year reunion of my Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde group - Malaysia Year One - was held in the Muskoka region of Ontario. Yes, that particular experience was the inspiration for My Blue Country. Hilarious to see all the photos from way back then and to acknowledge with some consternation that despite all the wear and tear of life we were not really that different! Here's a pic of me at 19 years of age with my first true love. Un beau jeune homme, n'est-ce pas? In fact, he was the inspiration for Jean in The Book of Dreams and it was after our 30 year reunion that he helped with the mythology of French Canada, sending me books about la chasse galerie (the flying canoe) and the loup-garou (French Canadian werewolf). My next post will tell of another reunion in Ottawa with my old navy gals.
I'm reading four books at the moment (not bragging, I just need variety) and this is one of them. It's the fourth in the truly brilliant series Canopus in Argos Archives by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing. She calls the series "inner space fiction" and it is breathtaking in its scope, beginning with the microcosm of humanity and ranging out into the vast reality of the universe and universes. (In the second one, she has dimensional 'zones' attached to Earth or Shikasta/Rohanda not unlike the Buddhist notions of bardo realities.) Each book is quite different in tone and subject matter though loosely joined together by the over-arching presence and observation of Canopus. I thought at first this last one was boring and 'small' in comparison to the others, but the more I read it the more hilarious I realise it is. A scathing attack on the folly of humankind, more particularly man-kind, and the machinations of politics and the absurdity of sentimentalism. Most of all I have learned, myself, a lesson in the dangers of rhetoric and how one can get carried away by one's own words. She presents rhetoric as a form of illness, of madness. One has only to think of the ridiculous nature of political conventions with their meaningless speeches and infantile flag-waving calculated to rouse the rabble.
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.