Lighten up Doug Ford! Thanks to Margaret Atwood, at least you’ll get a footnote

Margaret Atwood on the picket line, shortly before reprimanding your blogger. Below: Toronto’s Ford Brothers.

Lighten up, Doug Ford! It’s good to be given a sound public thrashing by Margaret Atwood. It’s proof that your hitherto meaningless existence has been recognized!

After all, Ms. Atwood is an author of historical stature, the sort of person journalists describe as an icon without even bothering to look up the word. In other words, she’s someone who, unlike you, history will remember as more than a footnote.

So you should treat the talking-to you’ve just received from her as a blessing, a gift from the Gods, proof that you are not merely a gnat, no matter what the rest of us may think.

Let’s pause here for a little background: For Western Canadian readers who may have missed it, Mr. Ford is a Toronto city councillor of a particularly odious neo-Con stripe and also the brother of that unfortunate city’s mayor, Rob Ford.

The Ford Brothers are the sort of people who make the folks who surround Prime Minister Stephen Harper seem like nature’s gentlemen. Alas, somehow they managed to get elected, and now they are busy wreaking havoc in one of Canada’s nicest cities – up to now, anyway.

As the sort of person whose supporters find their lips getting tired when they read, Doug Ford has lately been on a campaign to close public libraries. Ms. Atwood, who can be quite prickly herself, got up an effort to stop him, which by all accounts has been rather successful, with more than a quarter million people sending Tweets to support her.

This in turn got Mr. Ford’s back up, and he responded with this stunning Tweeted riposte: “Well, good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.” Well, duh! Of course you wouldn’t!

Brother Rob Ford, by the way, has also been in the news, accused of flipping “the bird” and mouthing obscenities at a woman who scolded him for talking on his cellular phone while driving. He blew it off as a misunderstanding, also in a Tweet, but let’s stick with Doug Ford and Ms. Atwood and their Tweeted and re-Tweeted fuddle-duddle battle for the time being.

Getting back to you, Doug: When the bug spray has settled down after the next Toronto municipal election, history will likely not have much to say about you. Ms. Atwood, on the other hand, is someone whom history will remember. But a public slapdown by Ms. Atwood means that at least you might get a mention in a good book or something of the sort that would be kept in a library.

Anyway, as cranky as it makes you feel right now, I can personally attest that the sting will pass away in time. You see, I too have received a good crack across the knuckles, metaphorically speaking, from Ms. Atwood for a mistake less horrifying than wanting to close public libraries, but nevertheless deeply humiliating.

The circumstances were as follows: During Ms. Atwood’s visit to the Calgary Herald picket line some years ago, a matter that oddly enough came up in another context in this blog just days ago, I took it upon myself to tell her how much I had enjoyed the Robber Bride, which had been published not too long before.

Alas for me, I referred to a memorable character in that novel as Xena (as in the warrior princess), not as Zenia (as I really ought to have remembered).

Ms. Atwood regarded me with an icy stare, corrected me sharply in a voice that may be fairly likened to a hiss, and promptly decamped to discuss matters with a picketer of more literary alertness. Perhaps if she were to Tweet about it today, she would say it was all a misunderstanding … but, to her credit, I doubt it.

At that moment, Doug, my mortification was profound! But as time has passed, I have come to see this little vignette as verification of my humble existence.

Indeed, in retrospect, I think I would have forgiven her if she’d knocked out a tooth! I don’t expect you to try reading one of her books, but you really ought to man up and get over it. You’ll be a better man for it!

Remember, Doug, as Oscar Wilde so famously said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” (And if you don’t know who Oscar Wilde is, ask a reference librarian.)

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NOTE: Sometimes the speed and accuracy of my predictions is frightening. (Then again, might as well just say it, there was the time I forecasted a Barb Higgins victory in the Calgary municipal election.)

Just the other day, in this space, I observed that since all six Alberta Tory leadership candidates were unanimous in their view that there must be no provincial support for a downtown arena in Edmonton, we could safely draw the conclusion that “as soon as the leader is selected, the provincial election past, and the eternal Alberta Conservatives safely restored to power, provincial taxpayers will be ponying up for a new Edmonton arena.”

The Edmonton Journal reported yesterday that “Premier Ed Stelmach signalled … money from a provincial infrastructure fund might help pay for Edmonton’s downtown arena.”

The deal will be done even before the leader is chosen, saving whoever wins the embarrassment of, as they used to say, having to publicly change horses in mid-stream.

This post also appears on rabble.ca.

4 Comments on "Lighten up Doug Ford! Thanks to Margaret Atwood, at least you’ll get a footnote"

  1. Libarbarian says:

    Atwood doesn't suffer fools gladly I think, and in the Ford brothers she is confronted with a couple of epic fools.
    Couple of notes: Atwood has a quarter-million followers on Twitter (rather than getting a quarter-million tweets). Doug Ford's line about not knowing Atwood was a verbal response to reporters rather than a tweet.

  2. Filostrato says:

    Tweedle-Rob and Tweedle-Don – the pair that terrifies Toronto. The Ford Nation are a pretty scary bunch. When Don Cherry hung the chain of office around The Rob's neck at the mayoral induction ceremony and capped it all off by by berating pinko cyclists in Toronto, (kitted out in bright pink upholstery – sorry, made-to-measure jacket – geddit?), the Yahoo Administration began.

    Rob, Don and the Pinko Cyclists

    Does Don Ford even know a reference librarian, what the job entails or even what it means?

    As for Atwood's protagonist in The Robber Bride, you could always claim Zeniaphobia. (I'll go away now.)

  3. Filostrato says:

    Sorry, make that DOUG Ford.

    To Don Ford, whoever you are, my heartfelt apologies.

  4. John Newman says:

    I came across this blog post by chance while looking for a portrait of Marg Atwood by an obscure portrait artist on Google images. Amazing where one can get! I still haven’t found the portrait. I like what you were saying to Doug, if he could actually learn something, but Margaret, let’s call her Marg as I’ve met the crusty old girl and though I don’t suffer fools like Bob and Doug well either I don’t suffer snuts and snobs well either, grumpy or otherwise. Besides, she can’t read her own material, lots of authors are not good, she is a monotonic nightmare. Anyways we were all with her on libraries.
    Someone who could read his own work and do an imitation of an old testament prophet at the same time was Robertson Davies. Davies once had a little laugh at my expense when I was newly out of school and for work was bar tending at Massey College, UofT, where he was the Master. I don’t remember much other then I used “not as such” in response to a drink request and he did a long low little laugh. I told him I didn’t mind him laughing at my use of english as he was probably visually illiterate and that that made us even. He looked at me long and hard, not use to be talked to like this and was very polite after that, talking about painting whenever ordering drinks there after… and I didn’t even have to remember any of his wonderful characters names! Anyways, I am rambling. I appreciated your use of prose regarding Bob & Doug in this blog entry and not to worry Doug didn’t read it, I’m sure the comics are a trial for him as he sips his Timmy’s!

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