03:17:24 am on
Monday 23 Sep 2019

A Sign of the Times
David Simmonds


Downtown Wellington, Ontario, "A happening place."

The sign, erected along Wharf Street, where the former Cribs on the Creek once stood, refers you to the Drake website, where one may read, “Coming soon.” I guess it is official. The Drake Empire is expanding; the Drake Motor Inn will be the first manifestation of that expansion.

► New home construction targeted for Wellington.

The Drake has purchased property that includes the Cribs, the Midtown Brewing Company and last, but not least, numerous parking spaces in the downtown Wellington, Ontario, core. It’s a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of Wellington. It’s a positive future; the evidence is that two developers recently held open houses at which they trumpeted the proposed construction of some eight hundred new housing units over the next decade or so.

Is there a next shoe to drop after this acquisition? Are we likely so see the Drake make a play to purchase the Brewery, rather than just act as its property owner and turn all the locally brewed beers into Drake house labels? After the success of the third annual Barnburner Classic hockey game at the Wellington arena, in February, will the Drake seek to become the owner of our beloved Wellington Dukes? Maybe change their name to the Drakes or seek out exclusive sweater sponsorship and leave our toilet rental and home heating companies out in the advertising cold?

I’m sure the Drake people are perceptive enough to know when they might be overreaching. Here are some of the not-as-extreme-as-some rumours we are hearing, which may have a little more credence.

The Eastern Ontario Major Junior B Women’s Full Contact Competitive Yoga league is making plans to operate in six locations next fall, including Campbellford, Cobourg and Gananoque, and has earmarked one for the County. We hear the Drake already has first dibs on the franchise. When you think about it, the fit is right; the demographic is right, the sport is right.

“Empowering Women with Attitude” seems to be a slogan around which people could rally. As a team name, The Wellington Duchesses doesn’t quite roll off the tongue; The Wellington Hens does not seem appropriate. That means there could be an exciting contest to choose the right one.

► Learn to deal with hipsters.

We are also hearing that the Drake is planning to sponsor a Hipster Awareness Week, this spring, to enable hotel visitors and local residents to get to know one another better. Some of the outreach events planned include a My truck-for-your-mini trade event, where locals arrange for visitors to drive their trucks, mostly Fords, but some Dodges and GMCs, too, down unmaintained roads; visitors, simultaneously will allow country residents the use of their cars, mostly Minis, but some BMWs and Acuras, too, at safe speeds on major roads.

There is also rumoured to be in the works an Unshaven Icebreaker, whereby County males with facial stubble will mingle and compare fashion and beauty tips with full bearded hipsters. Wearers of plaid workwear may exchange notes, as will wearers of headgear, such as ball caps and toques; seminars on trouser tightness and arm and leg length will celebrate differences in what it means to be masculine.

County residents can learn to approach hipsters in distress because they are unable to summon an Uber driver or order sushi delivered on their smartphones, without causing mutual distress. Visitors can receive counselling to assure them it is safe to make eye contact and engage in perfunctory salutations with local residents they pass by, including, for vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian encounters, the use of the County Wave.

Each week, during the summer months, a brief session will explain how to shop at a grocery store that is not Whole Foods. How you can deal with a human bank teller, rather than an ATM. How you can find nightlife after eight, which are euchre lessons in disguise.

Local authorities are convinced all this concern, to make visitors to an expanded Drake empire feel comfortable, will pay both immediate dividends in enhancing visitor experience and future dividends in attracting new residents. “I may even go to the unshaven thing myself,” said one County staffer. “I can teach euchre in my sleep, too.”

► Wellington is a happening place.

If you thought times were good now. If you are barely able to contain your excitement at the erection of the new sign, it’s because such changes surely signal even better times to come. Wellington is a happening place.

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, not infrequently laced with savage humour. 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 Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and 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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