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Thursday 13 Jun 2024

The Mabel Smith Story
David Simmonds


If you've read the book Fifth Business / you know that it begins
With an ill thrown snowball bringing on / a multitude of sins

This ode's no less ambitious / a snowball rashly hurled
And hanging in the balance / the future of the world

Part One

Put yourself in England / in 1959
Where food itself is punishment / and it drizzles all the time

Imagine your narrator / short pants and Prince Charles ears
The school's been told it's snowing / the largest storm in years

A snowball war's a certainty / and hostilities break out
So they tell us "spare civilians / or we'll thrash you till you shout"

I've barely left the schoolyard / when a snowball hits my chin
Thrown by Suzie Mulligan / with her noxious Suzie grin

If you know her like I do / you'll respond the same as me
Get her back and get her good / she can't get off scot free

The rage wells up inside me / I form a shrapnel shell
I pitch it back at Suzie / and yell out "rot in hell"

But I've been out manoeuvred / she deftly steps aside
And I hit some sweet old lady / right on her backside

If I was more a gentleman / I'd rush up to her aid
Instead I act the six year old / and run away afraid

I don't know my victim / so I conjure up a name
I call her Mrs. Mabel smith / and wallow in my shame

She's persevered through two world wars /
through times both dark and dire
She's earned herself a quiet old age / not death by friendly fire

By remarkable coincidence / I'm stricken sick in bed
My mother fusses while my fate / is spinning in my head

"Young thug turns on helpless gran" / the rags will point at me
"Bring back the strap don't spare the lash / see sunshine girl page 3"

But no court martial waits at school / which isn't such a shock
If Suzie dares to tattle tale /she'll join me in the dock

But what will Mabel Smith do? / I fret both long and hard
The papers, cops or parents? / she holds a few high cards

But she chooses to play none of them / I live another day
Will she just turn the other cheek?/ my instincts cry "no way"

So my hunch is some years later / as she shuffles off this coil
She tells St. Pete "theres someone / who still makes my blood boil"

She recounts the Suzie incident / and he pulls his cold case file
Checks with St. Nick and Interpol / and the rap sheet's long and vile

"Always takes the biggest slice / breaks his brother's toys
Tries his hand at music / just produces excess noise"

My conclusion, though I wasn't there / is Mabel Smith was told
"We'll make him pay and don't forget / revenge is best served cold"

Part Two

Several uneventful years pass by / I keep my profile low
Till my father tells the gang one day/ "to Canada we'll go"

It takes some getting used to / the humidity and heat
But winter's freeze and bright clear sun / have dreary rainfall beat

I'll say this with a straight face / it's useless to deny
My wife and I move willingly / to the land of Colonel By

We love the miles of skiing trails / and endless rinkless skates
The exotic dining places / The Place Next Door and Nate's

But we start to notice winter change/ around the Y2K
You can't count on snow and cold / to give you chance to play

The snow falls in your driveway / you shovel and complain
Your neighbour waits - his flushed away / in the next day's heavy rain

So you vow to act much smarter / check the weatherman's advice
Wake up expecting melting / and confront a sheet of ice

You give in and hire the specialists / it snows they don't arrive
You're told "your contract's 5cm' /and we've had just 4.5"

Or you get a massive blizzard / the outcome's just as bleak
"we're running at capacity / we'll get to you next week

Real men don't wear ice creepers / I'm sure some wag has said
But they also hate to slip and fall / And smash their hips or head

There's no two ways about it / winter's turned to hell
We must learn what's behind it / So my tale I'm bound to tell

I'm sorry to confound you / Mr. Dion Mr. Baird
But there's an explanation/ for which you've not prepared

It's really all quite personal / the Al Gore stuff's a myth
God's made my winter miserable / to pay back Mabel Smith

I never knew my snowball mulligan / ( I was just six at the time)
Would send the earth careening / to calamitous decline

So I implore you God and Mabel / (if I may be so bold)
Forgive me all my youthful sins / and bring back our winter cold.


So we await the outcome / what will she decide?
And if she grants forgiveness / will it turn the tide?

If she does but still the elements / wreak their merry mess
I'll have to ask - do some of you / have sins you should confess?

And if we're all let off the hook / for every hurt or slight
Things still get worse lets face it / Al Gore must be right

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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