COLUMN

Another way to live

Doing the continental and forgetting Canada’s woes

Allan Fotheringham August 24 1981
COLUMN

Another way to live

Doing the continental and forgetting Canada’s woes

Allan Fotheringham August 24 1981

Another way to live

COLUMN

Doing the continental and forgetting Canada’s woes

Allan Fotheringham

The only reason to travel is to put one’s own country into perspective. A journalist footling about Europe in this summer of our discontent is reminded once again of the minor, laughable problems of our so-called constitutional crisis. It proves out as small beer, as most “major” Canadian problems do once viewed from afar, as through the wrong end of a telescope.

Pierre Trudeau disappears among the

bit players at a royal wedding. The name Jean Chrétien excites no cries of alarm from cockney taxi drivers, Parisian waiters or European airline stewardesses. The shouting of “Sterling Lyon”—as hard as it is to believe—causes nary a stir amongst the soccer players on southern European beaches. All is well with the world, others have problems more serious than our imagined own.

The British Labour Party appears doomed, its aging and erudite leader,

Michael Foot—who appears too intelligent and compassionate to be a politician at all—is increas-

ingly despondent at the fanatics of the left. They are led by the humorless Tony Benn, a peer who defrocked himself and now immerses himself in endless pots of tea and tiresome, far-out rhetoric as if to apologize for his bloodlines.

The British Tory party appears doomed, its brittle and inflexible leader, Thatcher-the-Milk-Snatcher, increasingly defied by the old establishment centre of the party which sees its chance for boodle—i.e., re-election— disappear further the more the Iron Lady gooses unemployment with her imitation-Reagan economics. The wonder horse that has won the English and Irish derbies is owned by the Aga Khan.

West Germany, for once confused as the deutsche mark reaches a five-year low against the dollar, is further not amused at the announcement by U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar (Cap the Knife) Weinberger that the Yanks are

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

pressing ahead with the neutron bomb, which is exceedingly tidy in that it kills people but does not damage precious property. Since West Germany would be the principal battleground of such neat housekeeping, the hosts are not titillated.

The most remarkable thing on the London stage is Cats, which is the setting to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, an Oxford grad, of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. It is quite the most dazzling thing these tired eyes

have seen since Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Another Webber hit, Evita—the musical shiv job on Eva Peron—is still sold out. The co-star, playing Juan Perón, is someone called John Turner who, the program informs us, “played his first starring role in the West End in 1956 when he took over in No Time for Sergeants . . . appeared in Hamlet and The Power and the Glory ... his London theatre work has included Keep Your Hair On, Mr. Burke MP, I Claudius, A Month in the Country and Room With a View ... as well as Antony in Antony and Cleopatra ... his Cleopatra was his wife . . . with whom he has played in many classics and has toured their two-handed show The Labours of Love to some 39 countries all over the world, setting a new box-office record in Buenos Aires ... his extensive TV work has ranged from the heroics of knight errant to the villainy of Carver Doone in Lorna Doone.''

On the Strand, a prominent financial institution is the Coutts bank.

In Spain, there is a scandal involving merchants and government inspectors after 89 people died since May as a result of eating lethally adulterated rapeseed oil. In Holland, riot police and naval thugs had to break up a blockage of Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, by protesting bargemen who are freezing 30 other key points in the Dutch waterways.

In the Portuguese crisis, President Antonio Ramalho Eanes has accepted the resignation of the prime minister,

Sir Francisco Balsemao, who has been premier only since January. In Spain, the military prosecutor is seeking 30-year sentences for those playful generals who staged that February televised coup and fired bullets into the ceiling of parliament.

In Britain, the disintegrating Reaganomics of Maggie Thatcher have been helped a lot by her trade minister, John Biffen, a master of foot-inmouth disease, who blissfully announced in a zspeech that all is well «since “the problem of

^overmanning has been replaced by unemployment.” “Swell.

To make matters worse, Sebastian Coe, who is an even more beautiful runner—a condition not thought possible— than John Landy, has a large blister on the outside of the ball of his left foot and is supposedly in danger in the 800 metres of the European finals in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. All is peril.

France, which is now so prosperous it can afford to vote Socialist, has announced through one of François Mitterrand’s ministers that his new government means to nationalize major industries to such an extent that the omelette can never be unscrambled. Britain, which did that under a previous Labour government, now finds British Airways announcing an annual loss of one-third of a billion dollars, British rail unions are promising the worst shutdown since the 1926 general strike and the steel and coal industries stumble like the halt and the blind.

In such cheering circumstances, Marc Lalonde does indeed appear as rather small beer.