Tuesday, October 31, 2017
We knew this Re-Tour would become its own saga. After the previews and five ports of call (we are in the midst of the fifth), we are beginning to see what that looks like. There remains the possibility, of course, that it will evolve differently, but here are the emerging strands:
Wonderful hospitality and conversations. We won’t mention people by name until we have permission, but they know who they are. Another one this morning at the Regina Public Library where we will talk-and-tell Thursday afternoon before moving on to Saskatoon.
Variable driving weather. We have travelled about 3200 kleacocks so far, with about 450 through the snow and then high winds from Sioux Lookout to Winnipeg, and perhaps another 80 yesterday as we passed Portage La Prairie on our way to Regina. Not bad for the time of year. The rest of the time the conditions have been excellent.
The Laughing Leacock, the one people know about if they recognize the name at all, still holds his charm. People who come to our concerts to hear him have gone away well amused.
The Thinking-and-Advocating Leacock, the one we would like people to discover and remember, is a totally different person. People are intrigued by him, there’s no doubt about that, once they hear. But in general they are not intrigued enough beforehand to come out. Attendance has been sparse at most of our talk-and-tell events, unless they were sponsored by an organization (such as an historical society) that people trust.
The Human Leacock, the man with his own story which is hot the stories and ideas he wrote (even when he was telling his own story — he is a singularly inaccurate teller of that) is proving as interesting to people as we hoped it would. But how can we get the word out so that people will know? By the time our presence has registered in the words of mouths we are gone. All the social media posts, web site posts, e-mails, etc. that were within our means, and all the work of our local partners, may not have been enough. We had neither funds nor time to do more, which is a pity.
Still, the Re-Tour will be what it will be. We will plant the seeds and nurture them well in the months and years ahead. This process, this organized quest to remember properly a great Canadian literary figure, is a worthy cause, not only with respect to him, but many others.
If we, in some meaningful collective sense, can forget Stephen Leacock, and remember him inaccurately in the little we do, then what else that matters in our history can we forget, or remember inaccurately? That is a sobering thought, because if Leacock is correct when he says that the past is included in the present, and if Sellar and Yeatman are correct when they say, somewhat jocularly, that “History is not what you thought, it is what you can remember”, then what are we if our memories are bad? If they are deliberately bad, because powers and influences around us want them to be bad, and we lack motivation to straighten them out?
Memory. Memory. Memory. That’s what this Re-Tour is becoming. Not only itself a remembrance, but a testimony to the need for remembrance.
One further note: When we are at home, in the midst of our “own quiet and measured existence” (Leacock), age does not impinge unduly, An expedition like this, more suited to younger constitutions, brings out the age. Leacock was sick for most of his tour. We understand why. We are not there yet, but we are feeling our age.
But never mind. Onward!