Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

A Gros Bonjour
David Simmonds

All has been silent on the County economic development front for several months. Armed with statistics from the 2011 summer season, County officials are getting ready to roll out an exciting new initiative. Perhaps, they wish to confirm we don't need a marketing genius to lead us into the Promised Land.

The stats have revealed what most people know from experience. The francophone tourist is becoming very important to the County. Hence, County officials intend the weekend of August 17-19, 2012 to be styled "joie de vivre" days. The aim of the program is, of course, to make francophones feel welcome by hosting francophone-friendly events and getting the local populace to think franco-friendly.

The keystone event will be a salute to outgoing Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe. Duceppe, now out of office, is to the honouree, as the 'father of the new Dukedome.' Key players involved in the construction process say that without Duceppe, the Dukedome would not be. It sounds implausible, but work through it: without Duceppe, there would have been no Liberal Bloc NDP coalition; without the coalition, there would have been no threat to the Conservative minority government; and without that threat, there would have been no infrastructure program, and therefore no Dukedome. And now that we have a Conservative majority government, at the federal level, the only infrastructure we'll see built around the County is to get our water fountains and bird baths refinished if Tony Clement hosts some trade meeting or other in Marmora. Provincially, all we may get is revenge.

Those in the know say Duceppe will be the honorary Parade Marshall in a "celebration of cheese-making" parade between the fifth Town cheese plant and the Black River cheese plant. "That man sacrificed a lot of his personal dignity by putting on a hairnet and touring a cheese plant. We owe him one, although it would be nice if he wore the hairnet one more time to entertain parade watchers," explained an official.

Individual residents in the County will do their bit, too. Those not fluent in French will be asked to master one common French expression from an approved list, which includes such favourites as "comme ci, comme ca; "je ne sais pas"; "je ne sais quois"; "les toilettes sont seulment pour les patrons"; "maudits anglais" and "tabernacle." Those who can't master a single phrase will simply shrug and gesticulate in the manner of an old master, Rene Levesque. Banned from the Country, for the duration of the event, are Toronto Maple Leaf and Ottawa Senators hockey sweaters, although no one has ever seen such a garment. Grade school children will read Roch Carrier's "The Hockey Sweater." All County residents, for the weekend in question, will display their joie de vivre by greeting one another in the European, air-kiss-to-each-cheek style. In April, Picton, Milford and Consecon set a schedule of open registration workshops to help residents acquire the requisite technique.

Of course, our entertainment and food industry is getting in on the action. Popular Montreal mascot, Youppi, has been booked to play the Accoustic Grill, and, rumour has it, recording a live album. The Waring House will be featuring for the first time an act that is popular throughout Quebec, called "Danseuses Nues." French toast, French bread, French onion soup, French fries and French dressing will all be prominent on County menus, as will, of course, poutine. 

That's just the beginning. On the lookout for bold new initiatives, County officials noted that 2012 marks the 80th anniversary of the ever-popular Jos Louis bar, named after the two sons of Joseph-Arcade Vachon, who founded the J-A Vachon et fils company in Quebec, in the hope of persuading his sons to return from New York State in their search for employment. Vachon is now a cog in the vast Saputo corporate empire. The idea is: challenge sommeliers from around the County to match a County wine with an appropriate J-A Vachon treat. A Jos Louis bar with a pinot noir, for example; a Passion Flakie with a rose or a Vanilla Half Moon, with a chardonnay. The Vachon website already contains a "suggestions from the chef" section, which includes such delicacies as Jelly Logs canapés and the May West club sandwich.

"Your first reaction may be to recoil", said the County official. "But just think of the markets that would open up if wine came to be thought of as an appropriate complement to snack food. And if Saputo were to market it.' His voice trailed off in awe.

So there you have it. It’s a a project, with the potential of a soufflé, on the downside and on the upside. Let's get in the joie de vivre together and help the soufflé rise! Who needs economic development strategies?

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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