Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Wine Standard
David Simmonds

Some people in the County have had just about all they can take of the ongoing Italian, Greek, Irish and Portuguese your-country's-name-here debt crisis. They have resolved to do something about it.

A recent Town Hall forum has attracted a core of members to found a group named "PEC-IUI," which is an acronym for "Prince Edward County - Island Unto Itself." The aim of the group is to immunize County residents from financial ruin precipitated by the collapse of the Canadian Economy, which they believe will likely come when Italy defaults on its bond payments and European and North American banks fail, consequently. "If it doesn't come from that, it'll come from some Republican wingnut who gets elected president and who tries to clear the deficit without raising taxes," said an insider; "either way, we're sunk."

Not sunk in the County, it seems, if we take preventative measures. The nascent PEC-IUI is calling for the de-linking of currency in the County from Canadian currency. How the the heck do we do that, wondered this reporter, with a healthy dose of scepticism? Someone told me, in simpleton's terms, that it all depends on having something that you can produce and trade with others. Gold would be the ideal choice, of course, but failing that, it would be a commodity that Prince Edward County can produce itself in quantity, that others could barter for by recognizing its intrinsic value. and that would be immune from major fluctuations in value.

That sounds like, "Exactly," responded our source. "Wine," I replied with amazement.

Yes, PEC-IUI is proposing that the County use wine bottles, "full ones, mind you," as its currency. "The concept is simple, really" said the source. "A baco noir from estate grown grapes would have a value of, say, $30, and a table quality blend, reisling, would have a value of $10 - except that the wine would hold its value while the cash became worthless. Empty bottles would be worth 25 cents; corks a penny. The only real bugaboo is that it's hard but somewhat fragile currency, more bulky than you'd be able to carry in a wallet. But better to have a fragile currency than a fragile economy." Presumably, you would be able to plonk down your payments.

"But it could work," insisted our source. "You can already trade County wine right here in the County for just about every good or service you can imagine. All it would take is having a few external sources accept our wine in exchange for commodities we can't get here in the County; as coffee beans, the New York “Times” and farm tractors. It should in fact be a piece of cake."

"We could accept the dollar here if we really wanted to, but it would be 'at your own risk'. Not everybody may accept the paper currency, so you could end up on the short end of a transaction holding worthless paper. I suppose you could use Canadian money to pay your federal and provincial taxes. We wouldn't be seceding from Canada. We'll call the relationship between the County and the other governments 'special friendship,' as to make it clear we're not Quebec separatists in disguise.

"Let's face it, who's not fed up of hearing about the looming Italian crisis, never mind Michael Jackson's doctor. Does anyone ask whether Peter Mertens is facing criminal charges using the influence of his vast media empire, or whether Jeanette Arsenault is injected with steroids; of course, not! We're a different and much better world here, so why should we sink with the ship of the outside world"?

Despite the fact that it anticipates both a visceral and affirmative response to that question, PEC-IUI is not prepared to go public at this stage. "We don't want to start a panic hoarding of empty bottles. We still have a number of working committees yet to report. One, for example, is looking at how we can convert Picton parking meters to a non-cash system. We haven't come up with a meter that holds bottles yet. We still have to establish the relative values of County vodka and apple cider. We're doing the taste tests right now. And we haven't even begun to think about what we'll do with all the people who want, post-apocalypse, to come and live here."

The group is also not ready to cater to hangers-on or skeptics: it wants only true believers who will work hard. For that reason, it is working clandestinely. Under relentless questioning, the source acknowledged that forthcoming meetings would appear in the paper as advertising. Just look for the code words "Christmas craft sale" and you'll know you've found the right outfit. Just be sure you offer to pay in wine bottles - or corks.

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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