The Diary of a Canadian Nobody
Neither child’s university career may happen because Arthur’s biggest worry lies at work where his previously pleasant Canadian employer has just been taken over by Americans and they’ve replaced the local executives in order to introduce new ways. Arthur can see the new executives don’t think he’ll ever be new again. One particular new way that is worrying Arthur is IT and the Internet, which has become ubiquitous in 2001 and an ill-prepared Arthur is somehow supposed to lead his troops through this minefield. Arthur hires a young temp, Lydia, to help him but she only adds to his worry. He worries about her wish to be closer to him, which isn’t allowed in the new ways, and he worries she is just drifting through life without proper direction, which isn’t a good thing in Arthur’s old ways.
All these immediate, personal worries aren’t helped by a truly serious one. A modern ‘Mad Mahdi’ has just killed thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center and Canada has agreed to join America and Britain in invading Afghanistan. Arthur’s sees that the world needs someone who can clear the confusion, make the complex simple and package it into manageable pieces -- it needs a diarist. Arthur maybe a nobody right now but in centuries to come he feels he could be considered the ‘Samuel Pepys of the 21st Century’.
Best Book Bit:
Thursday, February 14, 2002:
On the ‘world’s only radio station for rednecks’ were a couple, who happen to be sexologists, giving Valentine’s Day advice. They practiced Tantric (I believe it’s the Oriental word for Extreme) Sex, along with such famous stars as Sting apparently, and all I have to do to be able to have sex for 5 hours at a time is practice Kegels, three hundred times a day. I remember Kegels because Alys did them after, or before, or during (I can’t quite remember which) her pregnancies. Kegels are exercises for the ‘floor of the pelvis’ as the suddenly coy experts described them. The way you do them is to pretend you are preventing yourself wetting your pants and it’s not as easy as it sounds, which makes me wonder why more of us aren’t walking around in diapers. I resolve to start immediately and reach twenty before feeling so nauseous that I have to stop. I’m determined to do thirty today and work up to three hundred in thirty days time. You can do them anywhere, in your car, at your desk, at the dinner table, anywhere, provided you don’t grimace as you clench.
But who has a spare 5 hours for sex? I don’t think Alys would be pleased if I start taking that long. I didn’t discuss the subject with Lydia because young women can’t be expected to understand about these things. They’re still at the ‘isn’t it all wonderful’ stage, rather than the ‘isn’t it wonderful it still works’ stage.
I had my blood pressure tested and gave a blood sample at the clinic before work. They remembered me from last time and let me lie down for the sample — results next week.
Lydia and I celebrated Valentine’s Day, and my good blood pressure results, with a walk in the park and a bubble tea from one of the local Chinese restaurants. Bubble tea is a cold drink with large frogspawn sized black tapioca balls floating in it; they should sell it to teenagers as ‘frog spawn coke’. It would do well because kids will do anything to gross out their parents. The park was empty, this being early February, and we had a bench to ourselves. Snuggled up against the grey misty wind, Lydia and I looked like a couple of illicit lovers from an old black-and-white spy movie. It was very erotic.
Our diarist, Arthur Lakelady lives in Ontario with his wife Alys, daughter Gwen (Guinevere) and son Lance (Lancelot.) They reside in a middle class suburb on Merlin Crescent. The diary starts with the month of the world-changing 9/11 attacks in the United States. For many of us, these attacks marked the end of one world and the beginning of a new and uncertain world. Arthur may have felt that same, but by the time September, 2002 rolls around, he concludes that his life is uneventful and he likes it this way. However, Arthur kept his duty to his diary because, “posterity and history demands that it be told.”
Arthur is articulate and funny. He is also drifting through life, and his thoughts on his day range from snarky, to spot-on, to clueless. There is a diary entry to offend everyone who reads this, although readers will be chuckling as they cringe.
I read this book in less than a week because of my review schedule, but I suggest (strongly!) that readers save this book for those 10-15 minutes where they would like to have something entertaining to read- in the doctor’s office, work break, or before bed, etc. Most of the entries are repetitious, with the same topics- like most of life- although the book’s wit did grow on me. “A mistress is something between a mister and a mattress.”
Almost every day Arthur ponders his:
Job and World Affairs- “There must be too many people in the company because nobody’s stopped working and yet nothing has stopped working.”
Wife: “No spoon-hugging tonight!”
“Alys went to see her friends again tonight.”
Children: His daughter Gwen is a senior in high school and is quite perturbed about her mother’s dalliances. Lance is an eighth-grader. Both kids have some kind of sport event EVERY DAY- skiing, soccer, hockey, practices, games, championships that Arthur must drive them to. “In the evening, Alys and I helped Lance with his homework. We took turns sitting with him because if we leave him for a moment, he plays video games.”
Extended family- Arthur calls his Dad and brother in Great Britain every week. The two always have some kind of malady.
Projects: First there was a kitchen remodel, then various repairs.
“Spent all day waiting on the phone for an IP service rep to answer, without success.”
His affairs: with female junior staffers.
I encourage you to give this book a try!