09:53:14 pm on
Friday 07 May 2021

Big and Small
David Simmonds

Source: differencebetween.info

The feat of producing an approved vaccine for Covid-19, let alone two or more, in a year after the pandemic was first declared reminds us how capable we are of successfully battling threats to life. 

At the other end of the spectrum are the trivial and banal annoyances that persist in bothering us because they should, by comparison, have been fixed a long time ago. For example, the oft used example of our failure to cure the common cold. It’s comparing the great with the small.   

Let’s try a round of my new parlour game.  The structure is simple. “How can they X, when they can’t even Y?” One player states the “X” proposition while another fills in the “Y.”

Here are some examples.

How can they land a rover on Mars when they can’t even make plastic garbage bags that don’t take ten minutes to open so I can line a garbage pail?

How can they decode the molecular structure of the Covid-19 virus so definitively when they can’t even get people to respond to public health instructions?

How can they make freezers to keep vaccines stored at minus 70 degrees when they can’t even put a setting on my toaster that will toast my English muffin without burning it?

How can they make medical ventilators that save people with lung infections when they can’t even make a medical mask that doesn’t fog up my glasses?

Let’s not limit ourselves to pandemic matters.

How can they build a whole new subdivision in Trenton when, over the same period, they can’t even decide on the future of the Wellington corner store?

How can they use spit samples to find my ancestors when they can’t even prevent my sock from losing its mate in the laundry?How can they market a computer that will send an e-mail to New Zealand in three seconds, when they can’t even come up with a way to prevent idiots like me having to spend half an hour looking for their password to get the access needed to send the e-mail in the first place?

How can they invent an up-side-down ketchup bottle that makes it easier to get the middle third of the ketchup out when they can’t even find a way of getting the last third out of the bottle, either way up?

How can they make wind turbines, with a wingspan of 200 metres, but can’t make an umbrella that will open into an average wind without breaking?

How can they use laser to cut materials in thousandths of an inch thicknesses when they can’t even put a cutter on cling wrap boxes that doesn’t tear your piece to shreds and give you an abrasion to boot?

How can they make a phone that will organize your whole life for you when they can’t even make a feature that finds you a sharp pencil when you need to take a message?

How can they say that Picton, Ontario, is as hip as Wellington, when Picton can’t even sustain a Steadman’s store?

That last comment was perhaps a bit mean spirited. The Toronto Star has written that Picton has been “somewhat overlooked” in the rush to embrace a “fashionable and hip” Wellington and “quaint, delicious” Bloomfield.  The Star calls Picton a “bustling, charming little town” that will “expand the County’s already substantial appeal.” 

Instead, let’s be gracious. Let’s say to Picton, “Welcome to the big leagues.  Better late than never. You’ll get used to it after a while.  If you need any help in being fashionable and hip, let us know and we’ll have our people contact your people - if it’s not keeping us too busy.” 

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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