Later, as he sips a midnight tea on the flight back to Ottawa, John Reid will look into the coming months and allow that television “will make me or destroy me.” He will not mention luck. Nor will he realize how fortunate it was that there were only a couple of nervous Instamatics to record his first official speech as Canada’s minister of state for federal-provincial relations.
It was “Eid-i-Miland-un-Nabi,” the 1,409th anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed and, across three continents, the fires of Islam flared like angry birthday candles. In Iran, a white-bandaged guerrilla leaped onto a sandbag barricade in Tehran and fuelled the final hours of the revolution with G-3 rifles tossed out to the seething mob, shouting, “You are the soldiers of Allah.”
As the teams warmed up for the third and decisive game of the Challenge Cup the second weekend in February, the National Hockey League All-Stars blasted randomly bouncing pucks at a goaltender who had just stepped onto the ice. Youngsters hung over the boards screaming for some little acknowledgement from their demigod heroes.
Eighteen months ago, it would have been hard to convince Toronto actress Sarah Torgov that her rising star could be brought down by anything including gravity. At 22, shewon an Etrog best-actress nomination for her performance in the CBC-TV drama Drying Up the Streets (to be aired Feb. 28) and although she didn’t win (Chapelle Jaffee took it for One Night Stand), Torgov was positive her career had been “launched.”
The British are themselves again: asking for more in all departments. Proof of their recovery is their gloom about the London stage. While sterling tottered, they clung for consolation to possession of the world’s finest theatre. Now that North Sea oil and Arab petrodollars are flowing in, they have resumed their traditional, grudging conviction that the best is only their due, and none too good.
The frozen North has many legends from Dangerous Dan McGrew to Diamond Lil. But the Yukon has never seen anything like Terrible Ted Turner and his “super” TV station. The sourdoughs just love it. Not that Terrible Ted—a nickname he picked up while shocking blue bloods with his appalling manners—ever ventures into the territory.
Ottawa in winter, with its tattletale grey dumps of snow looming like beached whales on its streets, turns inward on itself. Topics become even more constipated. The town, secure in its belief that it not only controls but “possesses” all the conventional wisdom in the land, talks to itself.
The Neanderthal axiom, “If you can't beat ’em in the alley, you can’t beat em on the ice,” has pervaded hockey like the “take no prisoners” line in B movies. The Canadian consciousness has long associated the sport with missing teeth and an antiquated brute machismo.
Non-Orientals born in China who tried to enter the United States in the 1950s and ’60s might have had an easier time of it had they been carrying suitcases of Legionnaire’s Disease. Some, when asked for place of birth, would mutter “La Chine” in the vague hope that U.S. border officials would think of Quebec, not yellow peril, communism and fireworks.
Hemingway would surely cry into his wine if he could see it. No need to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for the old Madrid where the wine was strong, the matadors brave and the siestas lasted forever. The Madrid where traffic was sparse and life had a small-town intimacy and you could live like a pasha on the change left over from Paris.
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