Merry New Age to all, and to all, a lead suit

Updated: Dec 23, 2020


It was meant, in my distant salad days as a Sunday columnist, to run as a roundelay to a long-ago New Year, but I have a feeling it never ran.


My editor at the time, who is, today, the newspaper's popular agony aunt, was concerned that her friends didn't "get" my column.


But just this week, in a frootle through an ancient subterranea of paperwork, out fluttered a copy of the draft version of the piece -- typed and formatted and ready for its Xmas 1996 close-up.


Given the hoarfrost of decades, as roundelays go, it may yet be said to retain a dispiriting timeliness.


The players have changed: Hilary Weston had been named 26th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Mike Harris was Ontario premier. The Ontario Liberals had chosen dependable party-man Dalton McGuinty over scary populist Gerard Kennedy.


But the phantoms, the persiflage, the political pantomime, are all still depressingly recognizable. And so are my best wishes for this season...


To 1997: A Roundelay


(Tempo: rousing, upbeat)


I

They're cutting our pensions, they're snipping our net,

Squashing interest rates down just as low's they can get

So we'll bet our last pennies on marketing ventures--

If they crash, we can always go cash in our dentures.


CHORUS

Sing ta-ra and fa-la, sing The Market so golden,

Sing hi-ho to portfolios and old age beholden

Sing brokers and bankers, sing Bay Street, our Lord,

Sing roundelay, slit your throat, fall on your sword.


II

They're locking the shelters, send wives home for beatin'

They're flogging bologna as nourishing eatin'

They're hiring their buddies while melting our jobs

And calling us fat greedy pinko-tinged slobs.


CHORUS

Sing hoo-hah and hee-haw, the new world's at hand,

Sing fie-there and you-there, the new world is grand;

Sing aha, sing hurrah, warble praise for our lot,

Sing bye-bye to old days: 'twas free lunch we got.


III

Deep from the pork barrel, Chrétien fished a rose,

World-famed for her gardens and gardens of clothes.

The deliciousest question, from here clear to there:

At her New Year's Levee, what will Hilary wear?


CHORUS

Sing Hilary's Armani, chant Hilary's LaCroix,

For pressing the flesh of K-Mart-garbed hoi polloi.

Will Calvin or Yves drape the vice-regal body

As she offers the homeless a free sip o' toddy?

So many great outfits, and so little time

For those great photo ops on the taxpayer's dime.


IV

More than halfway across this competitive decade

The eye may be bleared, and the nerve getting frayed:

Mutuals, pari-mutuels, which should be we playing?

If Marketworld Manitou knows, He/She ain't saying.


CHORUS

Sing old age unpensioned! Sing mid-age dank, sere;

Sing youth listless, jobless and flat on its ear;

This great festive season, hey, what could be merrier

Than an ode in rapt praise of our province, Ontario?

On, Mikey! On, Ernie! On, Renfrew and Holt!

Off, old Dave Tsubouchi, poor Spam-spurring dolt;

On, Harnick, Leach, Snobey! On, Al Palladini!

On, Mushinski, and Alboim, co-cultural weenie...


V

Goodbye to Gerard, hello to -- McGuinty?

Better choice, oh Lord, yes, for a Liberal stinty;

Far better a looks-like-Mike platitude wanker

Than a bleeding-heart rally-troops red-eyed food banker!


CHORUS

Sing praise-be for bank chieftains, tut-tut for tellers,

Chant rewards that reflect only who serves profits weller;

Sing fie for Craig Kielburger, nefarious kiddie-o:

Out of factories, those tots would hit arcades to play video.


VI

When's a political promise just misunderstood?

What a voyage of discovery for our greater good!

Here's to Brian and Mila, here's to old pols on boards,

Here's to political weight used for corporate hoards;

Here's to poor gold-mine moguls, alas and alack,

Bought the wrong dictator's kid: can they get their cash back?


CODA

Here's to Mikey the spiker of pop referendum,

Says: Hey we make the rules, and it's we who can bend 'em;

Sing to Henry the Hedgehog, kiddie mutual-fund flogger,

Warble hundreds of thousands more jobs in the bogger.

Chant for entrepreneurs' un-needed products in heaps,

Heigh for bankruptcies, triple-shifts, work while you sleep,

Hum for extra plutonium our Yank friends can't park ,

Thrum for long winter nights when we glow in the dark;

And sing Santa farewell, as he zooms on his route:

"Happy New Age to all, and to all, a lead suit!"


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