Winning Friends And Influencing People

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

A column written by Lori Martin, the editor in chief of Torstar Communities in Simcoe County (better known up here in the boondocks as Orillia Today) is so true I just had to comment on it. It was entitled Thick Skin Essential In Newspaper Business. I knew she is one of my people when she mentioned the foamy head on a Guinness, anyone who drinks Guinness is OK by me.

Lori’s column was excellent by the way and could be boiled down to “you can’t please everyone,” which is far too simple for all that she wrote. I have always been amazed about what upsets readers. I’m sure that not everyone who reads my ravings agrees with me all the time, some never, and I no doubt offended some people over the past 24 years. You will be surprised to learn that I was wrong once. That will come as no surprise to anyone with a hint of intelligence, not the ‘once’ part. When I realized what I said about a civic official was not quite correct, but was in fact, shall we say, B.S. Rather than admit it and write an apology the following week like a normal person, I just hoped it would all go away. A few years later I brought it up with that same gentleman over a beer. He said, “I didn’t know about it; I never read anything you write anyway.”

Way back in 1996 a reader sent a letter to the Orillia Packet editor asking how much longer the public was going to have to put up with Foster’s drivel. I have no idea what I had written that infuriated this poor soul, but it really doesn’t matter because the man was dead wrong. I do not write, nor have I ever written drivel, something stupid maybe, asinine perhaps and possibly even the ravings of a monkey with a typewriter, but drivel never.

Oh, oh, I just looked up drivel and one of the meanings is twaddle. In that case I guess he was right, but it matters not since he died three or four years ago and I was still writing for the same paper, so I guess I outlasted him.

On the other hand, Paul Godfrey and the other scoundrels who run the Post-Media empire took it upon themselves to close the Packet and dozens of other newspapers just to get rid of me, so maybe he won after all.

I wasn’t all that controversial and as I said last week, I rarely attacked politicians mainly because most of them are certifiably insane and that would be cruel. (Not you Bruce, although I am beginning to wonder about your new boss) I don’t know if anyone remembers but years ago I said something insulting about Paul Deviller’s red campaign bus that was seen everywhere. Whatever I said didn’t matter anyway since he won. A year or two later I met him at the Leacock Home and he bought me a beer. Had he not retired I would have supported him forever or at least until another politician bought me two beers.

I rarely had problems for anything I wrote. Where I got into trouble is what I said, particularly in my annual message of Hope and Inspiration every December at the Leacock Museum. My comments about the shepherds and their relationships with their sheep were not always considered in good taste and several packed up their crooks and left. My vicious attack on the Little Drummer Boy whacking away on a tin drum while Mary and Joseph were trying to get the baby to sleep was a little off the wall I admit, although all the mothers in the audience were on my side.

Well, how would you feel? They finally got rid of the Three Wise Men and their camels, the shepherds and their flocks were off to the hills. The shepherds had to bring the sheep they couldn’t just leave them to fend for themselves. There were lions and wolves up there. Actually all the shepherd had to fight them off was a stick. I’m afraid I would have left the little darlings to their own devices. The cattle had stopped lowing whatever that means. We can’t forget the heavenly host were up in the sky singing at the top of their lungs, it was bedlam. Finally they all flew away, somebody turned off the star – and then this little jerk shows up. I know where he would have been had he been hammering away at 6 in the morning on our street. He’d be waddling down the street with two drumsticks sticking out… I’m sorry I forgot our on-line newspaper is family-oriented.

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