Let’s all sing like the birdies sing

I knew we were in trouble this summer, when I picked up a newspaper and discovered that the experts – the ones who used to provide me with opinions – are no longer talking sense. No longer do these pundits “write,” “say,” “state,” “speak” or “opine.” Now they “tweet.” At least that’s what the Globe & Mail reports: such-and-such an expert on civil disobedience, intoned the noble rag, had weighed in on the subject of riots in England. “’The world is going to hell in a hand-basket,’ he tweeted.’” Or words to the effect.

My, the British are having an exciting time. So am I, and it isn’t only rehearsals for The Circle that are keeping my adrenalin high. Half an hour ago, Juno the Dog came racing in from the garden pursued by a huge black buzzing insect that instantly transferred its interest to me. Juno watched with interest from the top of the stairs, while I ran briskly three times around my own living room, whimpering with fear while the creature buzzed in hot pursuit. It disappeared, and I thought I was safe, when all of a sudden I heard a big BUZZZZZ in the folds of my blouse. The neighbours were shortly thereafter treated to the sight of me erupting from the back door, more or less unrobed and waving my blouse frantically in front of me. That was too much for the bee or whatever it was. It lit out for home, and I retreated inside, where nature cannot get me. You probably think I make these things up: I don’t. Gospel truth.

Not for nothing do they call it “nature, red in tooth and claw.” Have I mentioned that I nearly drowned this summer, thus putting the annual play in considerable doubt? Again, it was Juno the Dog’s fault. My family meets for a week every August on an island in the Big Rideau. I know: it’s a reckless thing to do, spend seven days on a 200-metre island with 13 close relatives. Still, that’s the kind of mad fools we are. One day, a number of us decided to relieve the tension by heading for the mainland for the afternoon. Imagine me, if you will, seated decorously in the bow of the boat, suitably dressed for an outing in civilized Westport. I was even wearing shoes.

Not for long. As we chugged out of the bay, a black triangular head was seen cleaving the waves in the distance behind, brown eyes glinting with desperate determination. Juno the Dog. We circled and headed back, with everyone loudly exhorting the dog, and me, and the driver. Juno caught up and tried to claw her way into the boat, forgetting to swim as she did so and sinking. The boat swung around, the object being to keep the propellors away from my puppy, and my sister – always helpful in an emergency – cried out: “She’s under the boat!” I rose to the occasion – or rather, I fell to it. Fully dressed, I plunged into the lake, taking a deep breath just as my head went under the water.

In fact, Juno wasn’t under the boat. At that very moment, she was on top of my head, all 87.3 pounds of her. This fact became unpleasantly apparent as I tried to surface in a maelstrom of black fur and plunging claws. I went down again, cleverly taking another deep breath of water as I sank. Time, I reflected, to come up with a new policy. To hell with Juno. I struggled to the surface and struck out for shore, somewhat hampered by the fact that I couldn’t breathe and with Juno following me anxiously and trying to claw her way up my back. I made it to the beach, and Juno joined me, uttering joyful whimpers to the effect that she was glad I had changed my mind about going into town. As soon as I could speak, I told her weakly that, in my opinion, she was a bad dog.

These real-life incidents are part of the reason why comedy speaks to me. When big black insects pursue you through your own living room, dogs try to drown you with love and the stuffed shirts start “tweeting” about earthquakes and riots and the rising price of dish soap, you know that something funny is going on. And by that, I mean “strange” and “odd” as well as “comic.”

It has occurred to me that, if I really want to have a good laugh, I should establish a Twitter account myself. Maybe it would help give Linden House profile in this world of woe. It makes sense, but I’m sorry: I can’t do it. I have already embroiled myself in enough social mayhem on Facebook. I may have mentioned that somehow I have ended up with four accounts there – two for me personally and two for Linden House. I don’t know how it happened, and I don’t mind admitting that it preys on what I like to think of as my mind.

Did you ever read the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam? It was written in 12th-century Persia but, astonishingly, there’s a juicy bit in there about Facebook:

The moving finger writes
And having writ, moves on.
Nor all thy piety and wit can cancel half a line
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

That, as I would tell the poet, if he hadn’t fallen off the perch a thousand years ago, is exactly my situation in ref. the social media. My moving finger writ and four accounts sprang to life. As a result, I have somehow managed to become my own FRIEND. I suppose it could be worse. I could be my own WORST NIGHTMARE. (Just wait.)

Moving a thousand years forward, have you read Harry Potter? I love Harry Potter. In the last book, he and his sidekicks raided a vault in Gringott’s Bank where the enchanted treasure burned red hot and multiplied every time they touched anything. Now, doesn’t that ring a bell? Don’t you find, whenever you are standing in a swelling tide of scorching metal, you tend to flail about a bit and suddenly everything is worse? Well, that is precisely my experience of Facebook. Every time I touch it, I suddenly acquire a new account. (Come to think of it, I AM my own worst nightmare.)

I have tried to get out of this quandary with my dignity intact. Only last week, I took myself sternly in hand and addressed myself to the “delete this account” option. At the last moment, I got cold feet. The warnings that emitted from the machine were dire. In fact, it took me back to my early days on a computer, when I first saw that wonderful message appear on the screen: “You have committed a fatal error,” it said coldly. “Exit the program immediately.” Words to chill the blood.

I haven’t learned much about computers since then, but enough to know when I am beaten. Cluck, cluck. I chickened out. When it comes down to bedrock, I simply cannot face the prospect of losing all those friends – many of whom I have actually met. Go ahead, laugh. But now at least you know why I hesitate to plunge any deeper into the seething cauldron of social media.

Of course, on the plus side, not all my technological forays lead to disaster. As I told you, my brilliant nephew in Denver has finally got around to revamping the Linden House website. Now, when you go to www.lindenpro.ca, you can see the poster, get the times and dates of performances and even enjoy the odd typo and syntactical lapse. And that’s not all. Now you can also BUY TICKETS ONLINE! Through PayPal. Now isn’t that something? The Linden House Theatre Company has entered the 21st century, dragging me along by the hair! All this for a woman who has never, ever, not once in her life, uttered even the faintest little tweet and has no desire to so. You’ve come a long way, baby.

Before closing, let me remind you – in case you could ever forget – that Linden House is producing a play, The Circle by Somerset Maugham, and that it opens on October 20 and runs until October 29. I have just looked at my calendar and see with some horror that this is just over four weeks from now. (Loud scream!)

Just ignore me. The play is in fine shape. The costumes are entering the final phase of development, and they are FINE! We have a set with a Palladian theme emerging from the workshop even as we speak and, in a spirit of antique frivolity, we are painting it deep RED! We raided the IODE Laurentian Chapter Garage Sale last weekend are now the proud owners of: two gold picture frames, one giant bouquet of silk rhododendrons, one gold-framed mirror, one large vase, one glass decanter, one purple dress and one gold beaded purse. The actors are also hard at work. Some of them actually know their lines, and the annual nervous breakdown has taken place right on schedule and with no loss of life.

All that remains to make us happy is an audience. So think about buying tickets. You can purchase these at Books on Beechwood or, even better, online, thus confirming my company’s arrival in the 21st century. Or if, like me, you prefer to stay rooted in some other century, use the telephone: 613-842-4913. (I’d be especially glad to hear from you if know anything about Facebook.)

Come one, come all: the ticket office is officially open for business.