Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Balcony Scenes
David Simmonds

Several hundred tons of concrete later, the refurbished Wellington Grill is about to open under the guidance of the redoubtable Kimberly and David. For their next trick - the first one having been to attract swarms of people to Wellington as an eating destination - they will launch an Italian trattoria to bring in those legions of Vespa-riding, open-shirted, necklace-dangling, espresso-swilling Italian food lovers who have been holding out on us. Heaven only knows how we will be able to cope with the traffic chaos.

What intrigues me most about our soon-to-be-open venue lies above street level, in the distinctive Romeo and Juliet-style balcony that faces out on to Wellington Main Street. What do they have up their sleeve for it, or better still, what should we have up our sleeves for them?

To begin with, the balcony would be a perfect reviewing stand for parades. No more would our Darryl Kramps and Todd Smiths have to march alongside the pipe bands and baton twirlers; instead, they could wave down from above and perhaps even, in the style of William and Kate, embrace affectionately. With that quite regal perch, we could look to trade up. The next time the Wellington Dukes win a major trophy, what's to stop us from inviting a luminary, such as Don Cherry, to bestow his graces on the passing throngs? Maybe Margaret Atwood could come back to the County to just wave, and thereby raise more funds for the Purdy A-frame Trust.

As an alternative idea, what's to stop using the balcony for political speeches? Going retro is all the rage these days. The next time there is a mayoral contest our candidates could do a whistle stop door of the County by truck and stop by in Wellington for a pep rally for the troops. The lofty altitude might precipitate speeches that are more inspired. Which prompts me, along with Rex Murphy (cue the scowl, please), to note the shocking decline in the standard of public oratory over the past few years. Could Wellington become the testing ground for a National School of Oratory; a school where would-be leaders, of all persuasions, rest and relax at our various hotels or bed and breakfast inns? Therein, fortified by a hearty serving of spaghetti Bolognese and County wine. After which, they let loose on an indifferent crowd darting in and out of the Foodland to pick up a few groceries? Could this become the inspirational stimulus to restore confidence to our economy?

A furthering the idea, pick a name drawn from the balcony itself. Niagara Falls has the Shaw Festival and Stratford has its Shakespeare Festival, so why couldn't Wellington have its own Festival of Things with Balcony Scenes. Every year, of course, we'd put on a production of Romeo and Juliet with the famous "wherefore art thou, Romeo" scene, but we could draw on such other stalwarts as Don Giovanni, Phantom of the Opera and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In the off-season, we could have entertainment by assorted poets, jesters and minstrels. All we'd have to is close down the main street at the traffic light and reroute the traffic, and line up 30 or 40 rows of chairs in each of four directions. We'd be in clover before we knew it. 

Now I doubt whether Kimberley and David have yet conjured up all these possibilities. In fact, I doubt whether they intended to make as major an investment as they did in Wellington's real estate infrastructure. I am hopeful they will not resort to using their stylish new balcony simply to hang an inflatable dancing ravioli noodle or have a Don Corleone stand-in proclaim the evening specials to the world. Even if they do, I thank them for their confidence in Wellington and for going to the expense of putting in something pleasurable to the eyes and that lets our imaginations wander.

Of course, I wish them best of luck in their new endeavour. I'll be the first to call in with a reservation for two under the name 'Capulet.'

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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