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Parker’s Pen – October 2022

David Parker

Planning – I’ve heard it described as a fundamental management function which involves deciding beforehand what is to be done, and when it is to be done.

To motorists using the best – and one of the few – routes across the north of the city, it seemed to take forever to improve the lane exits and entrances to John Laurie Blvd between Shaganappi Trail and 4th Street N.W.

No sooner all back to normal and it looks as though the orange barriers will soon be up again to install traffic lights to help people turning from Charleswood Drive. Why, if they need to turn west, couldn’t people just take a little more time and use Shaganappi? More importantly, why couldn’t planners have put them in during the first upheaval?

And I bet they will be installed at 19th Street soon after the first tarmac is dry.

Another bad example can be seen driving from the north down Stoney Trail West. When it was built, the bridge over the Bow River was acclaimed an engineering wonder. Why didn’t planners think that the city just might grow and it would need more than two lanes?

I don’t know how much a crane tower costs per day, but four have straddled the river for at least two years, and the new road still isn’t built.

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We all love magazines – don’t we?

But I admit to being unaware of Literary Review of Canada until a friend passed a couple of copies on to me. What a splendid read, and in one edition I was delighted to read a review of Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World.

Flora MacDonald held three federal cabinet minister posts, best known perhaps for being Canada’s first female external affairs minister.

I remember her in her role as communications minister when she graciously accepted the invitation to attend the Canadian Film Celebration held here in Calgary in 1991.

A wonderful storyteller, MacDonald travelled to over 100 countries and I remember being enthralled at her reminiscing over a drink at the Fairmont Palliser about her journeys including being held at gunpoint in Afghanistan where she was most passionate about helping women.

Another review I read in the TLS of another woman, who was certainly in a man’s world, is titled Hemingway’s Widow.

Mary Walsh was the last of Hemingway’s wives who stood by the Nobel Prize winner for literature for 15 years, despite him being a bully, abusive and living an adventurous lifestyle, bullfighting, killing large animals and getting drunk.

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I’m no lover of hunting, especially the trophy kind that show people like one of America’s finest authors standing over a shot lion or elephant. But things get a little too weird when a university in the UK feels it should warn its students about animal cruelty in Beowulf, an epic fantasy written 1,000 years ago in which an evil swamp monster that captures and devours humans is killed.

Really! Hardly deserving of a content guidance notice.

Mind you, neither is there a need for sounding the alarm for students at Warwick University about Thomas Hardy’s cheerful novel Far from the Madding Crowd that “contains some potentially rather upsetting scenes concerning the cruelty of nature and rural life.”

Surprised I ever survived through reciting “four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie” or hearing biblical tales of sacrificing bulls and goats.

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Final words: I thought growing old would take longer.