06:17:07 am on
Saturday 13 Jul 2024

Lake with a Legend
David Simmonds

Did you catch that news item the other day as it related to the study of Loch Ness, in Scotland, for DNA from exotic or extinct species? Although there was a surfeit of eel DNA, there was nothing untoward, only expected. This study concludes that if there is Loch Ness Monster, it is probably just a 4XL eel.

We prefer the allure of a legend.

That is a sad conclusion for those that prefer the allure of the legend. It’s also bad news for the Loch Ness tourist industry, as a Loch Ness Giant Eel, although tempting, doesn’t stir the blood the way a Loch Ness Monster does. Every cloud has a silver lining and, if the County is on the ball, it may stand to benefit.

The Scots have their hands full these days, what with Brexit and a Conservative government in London. Mot everyone has the wherewithal to visit Scotland. Why not seize the moment and start a rumour that one of the lakes in Wellington County has an unusual example of marine life?

Make the story strong enough to bring out curiosity seekers, who will want to believe it true and who will spread word of what they think they’ve experienced. This, in turn, will create more tourist traffic in the County?

Given the state of photoshopping as an art these days compared, say, to what it was in the early days of the Loch Ness Monster legend, it should be easy to develop a credible photographic image to support the rumour. It needn’t be a full-blown Monster. A Giant Jellyfish or Super Squid would do the job quite nicely.

That’s not the way things get done in Wellington County. Given the potential tourist draw, Council will assert its right to control the development of any lake legend. It will, after putting out tenders, of course, engage a consultant with a $30,000 contract to determine which lake in the County is the best candidate for an official legend. The consultant will evaluate the ability of residents to invent stories and act as tourism ambassadors and consider the ability of the local economy to withstand an increase in tourism, with reference to parking and short-term accommodation.

Months later, the report will come back to Council, which will vote to receive the report and refer it to staff for further analysis and recommendations. The staff person that would normally review the report has left and the position is not filled. The report sits around for another year or so.

A camel is a horse built by committee.

Eventually, a report comes back to Council, sitting as Committee of the Whole, with the staff recommending the Fish Lake Giant Tuna legend. The Lake on the Mountain People get wind of the matter and send a deputation to argue that the staff analysis was flawed; the winner should have been their Giant Prehistoric Crayfish.

After a passionate debate, Council votes in favour of the Lake on the Mountain Giant Prehistoric Crayfish option, overriding the staff recommendation. This is turn enrages the Fish Lake Giant Tuna people, who bring the matter back to the full Council meeting two weeks later and are successful in having the original staff recommendation in their favour adopted.

When it comes to offering budgetary support for the project, the Lake on the Mountain Giant Prehistoric Crayfish people strike again, arguing that nobody’s legend should either be the official County legend or receive financial support from Council. In the end, Council decides the whole matter is too politically sensitive and washes its hands of the whole matter, voting to give $500 to any lake booster group that wishes to have a legend developed. None comes forth to claim the money.

By this time, of course, Amherst Island has approved and developed its Giant Otter World Amusement Park, with “spectacular wind turbine thrill rides,” which is so popular that the provincial government has taken the Glenora Ferry out of service in order to meet the demand and our Council is called into emergency session to try to get ferry service restored.

Then, council duly meets and discovers it is hopelessly deadlocked. It therefore returns to subject to which it is more comfortable, that is,  - a study of the size of Council. It decides, in a burst of inspiration, to turn its debate into a major tourist attraction called, Giant Democracy in Action Theatre. For some reason, that idea, solid as it is, never catches on.

Softball replaces the monster.

In the end, the denizens of Fish Lake and Lake on the Mountain make peace and decide to have an annual softball tournament and picnic. It’s a Giant Monster Tournament, with tons of salads and desserts. The County, even without a lake legend of note, regains its lustre as the best place on the planet. To make the story end even more happily, the Loch Ness DNA study is eventually scientifically discredited, which means that the Loch Ness people can once again peddle their Monster story to a public eager to believe in it.

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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