Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Count in a Box
David Simmonds

It’s all just a theory at this point, but you can join a few dots and a picture begins to emerge. You start with the County commissioners’ proposal to sell off our libraries, museums and town halls. Obviously, they are trying to find a big fix that will shake up Shire Hall and keep our taxes from rising. What is it that fix?

You then add the misspelling of the briefly erected but justifiably famous “Welligton” sign, a companion to the “Rose Hall” and “Rosehall” signs still standing at opposite ends of that village, and you wonder if municipal officials are deliberately seeking to erode our confidence in the printed word. Why is it, I ask. 

Then throw into the mix the fact that the County has now decided to add a second position to beef up the operation of the geographic information system it decided to acquire in 2009 because, well, it would be neat to have. What was the point in that manoeuvre? 

I had an inkling what the answer might be when I came across a New York Times article that described how the city of Rio de Janeiro, which is to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, has installed a computer controlled city management system developed by IBM that “looks straight out of NASA.”

The article describes how “city employees in white jumpsuits (stand) in front of a giant wall of screens, video streams in from subway stations and major intersections, a weather program predicts rainfall across the city, a map glows with the locations of car accidents, power failures and other problems.” The program spots trends and patterns immediately, and therefore allows better co-ordination. For example, during the annual Carnaval, 425 mobile samba bands perform at some 350 sites over four weekends, and traffic rerouted, efficiently, to avoid chaos. 

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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