The Bicycle Tour. Part 2. It’s Really Great to Be Here

[Warning: This one is a bit long. Helpfully, however, it is divided up into manageable pieces, with headings. You can read it over several days. Pretend it is five different blog posts, if that helps.]

At one of our coffee meetings to plan our tour – which I was beginning to refer to as “The Tri-Province Mid-Life Crisis on Wheels” – Scott had an idea.

“I think it would get the audiences positively engaged, more “on our side” right off the bat, Ross, if you started each show with a story specifically about the town or city or region in which we’re performing. You know, like Stuart McLean does on his tours. People just love it.”

“Great idea, Scott. And will you also be composing special songs for each stop on the tour?” I [should have] said, earnestly.

“I’m pretty sure Stuart McLean has some kind of intellectual property claim to this ‘appealing to the locals’ idea. We don’t want a lawsuit,” I also [might appropriately have] said.

“Okay, Scott,” I [actually] said.

So, what follows are the charming bits I said at each of our stops in an effort to get people to like us. I’m not sure how well it worked, though I know it was more effective than starting with an expression that had become my signature opening – “According to my notes, I’m delighted to be here.”

I really had nowhere to go but up.

Maple Creek

My first intensive exposure to this town came on a cold, wet spring thirty-six years ago. I was working on a road crew for the Department of Highways and we were camped in ugly yellow bunkhouses at the gravel pit north of here, half way between town and the Number One highway. I don’t know exactly why we weren’t allowed to set up in town – I’m sure they knew what they were doing.

We camped out there for about six weeks that spring, while we worked on Highway 21.

We worked all day, then ate usually at the Gulf out at the turnoff, which is long gone. We drank beers and “rye presses” and played pool at the Jasper and the Commercial hotels most nights. We mostly stayed out of trouble. I never got into a fight. I never won a game of pool. I don’t know if those two are connected. There were a few Maple Creek guys on the crew – Trent Curry, Grant White, Harold Palmer, the loader operator. In later years, Blair Watson joined us.

I worked on that crew for a long time and we spent a part of each season in this town.

It was out on the 21, and the Red Coat Trail and all the other endless stretches of highway in the southwest, that I found Home.

I’d always been a town kid or a city kid growing up – my Dad was a banker and we moved every couple of years. But, until I spent those interminable hours out there in the sun and the wind, I’d never felt truly connected to a landscape, never felt like I was where I belonged.

It is, I suppose, a cliché to talk about how big the sky is. Until you experience it. There is nothing cliché about it. It overwhelms you. You want to take it all in. But you can’t. The land spreads out in front of you, seemingly forever. You can see everything. And, much of the time, you can’t see any people. You can feel like you’re the only person in the world. When I’m out there, I am so at home and so comfortably alone. Not lonely. Just alone. Complete, in solitude. Out there, if it’s not too cold or too windy – you never want to give it up. You never want that sense of awe and wonder and timeless peace to end.

I have all sort of other connections to this place, of course. My sister, Heather, and my sort-of sister, Lou Ellen, married guys from here – older guys, but nice guys – guys that are probably peculiar to this region. And they raised their kids here – about fifty of them, I think. I’ve been in this church on Christmas Eve a few times, and last year when we said goodbye to Peter’s Mom, Irene. Over twenty years ago, my parents moved to the Park and  attended this church – my Mom still does. I’ve brought my family here countless times to visit their grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins. My kids can’t go past the Red Hen without stopping for five-cent candy. I learned to downhill ski at the Park. I have been on a float in the Cow Town Parade.

My sister, Heather, as you all know, is a very talented musician and organizer of musical stuff in this town. She’s always telling me about these great musical events she puts on – not just the kids’ musical plays, but the concerts where the Dazzlers and others perform. As you know, they are real family affairs. Heather plays and sings, as does her son Andrew and her daughter Christine. Let’s not forget Chelsea, who is, for tax purposes at least, a member of the family. Heather’s  mother [my mother] Jean, plays the piano. Oh what a talented family Heather has.

Well, I am her brother. When we were growing up, it was pretty clear to me, at least, that I was the talented one. And yet, year after year, Heather puts on these evenings – and never once, ever, has she invitee her brother to come to Maple Creek and perform.   Did she just forget how talented I am – just slipped her mind? Or was she afraid? Chicken? How many of you even knew she had a brother?

So, although Scott and I are here in Maple Creek to have fun and see the country and share his music with you and flog his CD – we’re really here because I just really needed to share the stage with my sister, at long last.


I have a personal recollection of Eastend – a story that does not involve dinosaurs or Jack’s Café, or Sharon Butala or actually the town of Eastend, really

I first came to Eastend thirty-eight years ago. Because of a family connection, I was able to snag a summer job with the Department of Highways. That was pretty unusual – highways didn’t usually hire high school kids. All the guys on the crew – and there were about twenty of them – were older than me, and quite a bit, let’s say, “rougher”. I was just out of grade eleven, seventeen years old. A sensitive lad – school choir member, church goer, non-smoker, keen student. No criminal record.

The first night out in the bunkhouse in Eastend with my new colleagues involved a road trip to the next town – Shaunavon – to take in the festivities at Shaunavon’s annual summer fair. I wanted  to appear to be a team guy, wanted to make the right impression. I had to establish that I was not the fresh-faced little mommy’s boy dweeb that I appeared to be – and was, in fact. So we all loaded  up into a crew-member’s big black car with a case of beer and off to Shaunavon we go. I decided it was important that I appear to be drinking, but it was essential that I maintain a firm grip on my faculties. I was anticipating trouble. And there was. A lot of drinking. And fights. With drunk guys. With drunk girls. I remained in the car through much of it, avoiding eye contact with the locals, while mayhem surrounded me.

Finally, having had just about as much fun as can be had on a drunken fair night in southwest Saskatchewan, around three in the morning, we loaded back into the car – a little more crowded now, because one of the guys had fallen in love over the course of the evening and had his soul mate in the front seat with him, and headed out of town with another case of beer, maybe two.

The Mounties stopped us, because this perfect evening just wouldn’t be complete without the involvement of law enforcement officials with guns. As soon as we stopped the car, one of my fellow highway guys got out of the car and ran off. Since this was my first day, I didn’t know his name. I only knew him by his nickname – Herbie. The Mountie in charge,  immediately recognizing me as the weak link in this criminal enterprise, questioned me aggressively about the identity of the escaped Herbie. I was relieved that I lacked sufficient knowledge to betray my new friend – so was spared that particular moral dilemma – but I was concerned that my insistence that I did not know Herbie’s real name was frustrating this Mountie to the point that I might find my young self in jail for the night. Oh how I longed to be in my bunkhouse back in Eastend.

Eventually, Herbie returned. I don’t know where he went, or why he came back. I suppose he figured it would be a long walk back to Eastend, so he might as well face the music. The Mounties gave us two liquor tickets and sent us on our way. No hard feelings. I never did learn Herbie’s real name.

Another thing I think of when I think of Eastend, besides Shaunavon and Mounties, is the Redcoat Trail. Highway Thirteen.

My parents bought a place in the park at Cypress Hills back in 1991. So, every holiday weekend, from the Victoria Day to Thanksgiving, my wife and I load up our kids and head out to the Park.

Back in the early days, the TransCanada from Webb to the Maple Creek turnoff was single lane. I cheerfully referred to it as the “Ribbon of Death”.  It was always a busy, dangerous stretch, but more so on long weekends when there would be an endless stream of menacing trucks and cars  from Alberta carrying people home to Saskatchewan to visit family. Add some darkness, maybe some rain …

The trip was very tough on my sensitive wife, who was raised in Toronto, where people do not drive both ways on the same highway – because they value human life there, especially the lives of children. So, to avoid the trauma of a return trip on the TransCanada, we would often take Highway 13 back home.

What a relief. It’s a bit longer and slower, but it’s a more peaceful, less death-defying experience.  You can’t hurry, so you settle in, relax. You notice that there are people in those cars and half tons you meet and pass on the way. It’s more personal.  When you’re on the Redcoat Trail, you’re not on a highway – you are part of the landscape. You’re not riding above it, you are immersed in it.  The fields and weeds and livestock and the farmers are right there at eye level. And the highway is so soft, especially on hot days.

When it’s over, you feel like a traveler, not a survivor. You’re happy to be home, not grateful to be alive.

Now that the Number One is twinned the whole way – we don’t take the Redcoat Trail anymore. We get home faster. The kids’ whining and complaining and fighting is over sooner.  We feel safer. But I think we’ve lost something in our haste. The Redcoat Trail makes it easier to recognize the truth of that old expression, that it is not the destination that matters, even if that destination is home – it’s the journey.


Scott and I both live in Regina. We’re very happy to be in Saskatoon tonight.

I know you’re all thinking – well, of course – anyone who lives in Regina is happy to be in Saskatoon. Saskatoon is just way better. The weather is better – especially this time of year. The wind doesn’t howl all the time, blowing dust and garbage and small animals all over the place. Saskatoon has better weather generally – it’s practically “temperate” here – like it’s intended that people would live here and not just animals with hides – like buffalo. The winters are less lethal. The summers don’t bake things till they turn brown and crack.

Saskatoon is also a much cooler place – not “cool” as in temperature, but “cool” as in attitude. It’s a hip, happening place, compared with buttoned-down, uptight, dorky Regina. Saskatoon has this big University – so it’s full of smart people. Regina has the government – politicians and bureaucrats – a different, less cool kind of smart. Saskatoon is big picture. Regina is painful details. Sure, we dress better, but we’re less relaxed. The Birkenstock store can barely make a go of it.

Scott is from Nova Scotia – so he hasn’t grown up with this Saskatoon/Regina thing.

I’m from Swift Current, the second coolest city in the province. In Swift Current, we believed quite strongly that Regina was near the worst place on earth – not just the worst place, but the worst place imaginable. We knew this without ever having spent any time in Regina – or anywhere else for that matter. We knew it with a firm though ignorant certainty. Regina was a dark ugly and dangerous place, to be feared and avoided.

When it came time to go to University, well, duh.  Swift Current kids headed up North to the U. of S.. Saskatoon was a magical place, with a shopping mall downtown, lots of relatively safe bars like the Hop House and the Pat and the Apollo Room at the Ritz, the big beautiful University campus, the river, the bridges, the Bessborough Hotel, Broadway Avenue, Homestead ice cream.

I came here in the last half of the seventies and first half of the eighties. This was before Saskatoon had a jazz festival, but you had to know that if anyplace in this province were to have a jazz festival, it would be Saskatoon. Saskatoon is a jazz place – off beat, improvised, swingin’, cool.

If Saskatchewan were a high school, Saskatoon is the guy who wears skinny black jeans, rolls his own smokes and grooms himself in public with a rat-tail comb. Yes. That cool.

Now, I have lived in Regina for twenty-five years and raised my three boys there. I love Regina and have no desire to live anywhere else. But, nonetheless, in the Regina Saskatoon rivalry – Saskatoon wins, hands down.

Sadly, however, almost out of spite, Regina refuses to participate in this competition – a competition it is so clearly losing. In fact, Reginans don’t appear to be aware that there is a rivalry. Saskatoon is nice, sure, but it’s not Regina. Regina doesn’t compare itself to Saskatoon, any more than Rosthern compares itself to Maple Creek or Medicine Hat compares itself to Brandon. Actually, it is worse than that. Reginans don’t address their minds to the question of which is the better city or which is the best city. Other cities, other places – other people – simply do not exist. Regina defeats the whole idea of competition by being utterly insular and inward looking. Regina is not the best, it is the only.

Sorry, Saskatoon. Smug beats Cool.

I lived in Saskatoon only as a student. I was here for seven years, though only during the last three did I live here year-round. So, my experience of Saskatoon was, and my enduring perception of Saskatoon is, bound up in that time of my life – youth, coming of age, undergrad enthusiasm, the excitement of limitless potential, of the future, of new independence.

Saskatoon’s historical role has been to take custody of the young people of this province at a crucial and impossible stage in our development – that stage where we have seemingly outgrown our hometowns and any and all adults who live there. We are all placed into the hands of your city by our parents, who are confident that this city will finish us off, one way or another, and turn us into adults.

I have been back here countless times over the thirty years since I left, but every visit evokes a flood of feelings – as it does for thousands of graduates all over the world. Saskatoon was a place and a time of innumerable “firsts” in our lives, many of them accompanied by the declaration “I am never, ever, doing that again.”

Saskatoon is the site of our most dramatic transformations, of youthful indiscretions, excessive enthusiasms, earnest inquiry, lost innocence and the seeds of wisdom.

I often think, if I came back and lived here – if Saskatoon became my home –   would I walk around this city with that sense of wonder and hope and faith that falls over me every time I visit?

I hope that I would.

Fort Qu’Appelle

Almost a year ago there was poll published, declaring Saskatchewan to be Canada’s Ugliest Province.

To be completely accurate, the euphemism used was “least beautiful.” And, the designation referred to Saskatchewan’s scenery, not its people.

To celebrate Canada Day, some outfit called Abacus Data invited Canadians to rank the provinces in a number of categories — taxes, government management, friendliness, scenic beauty, business climate, etc. And now, thanks to this hitherto unknown company and its cruel poll results, we are the butt of “your province is so ugly…” jokes.

It’s not a big surprise. If you ask us what we love about Saskatchewan, we’ll say “oh, it’s the people” or, “it’s a great place to raise a family” or, “there’s such a sense of community” or “I got a job and had to move here.” For most of us, then, Saskatchewan is charitably described as “the girl with personality,” the kind of province for whom friends have trouble finding a blind date. We’re the province who took her dad to the prom.

Stubble-jumpers reacted defensively on Internet comment boards, listing all the very beautiful things to be found here. The saddest, but most frequent comment was this: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Right. So is ugly.

In a special betrayal, it turns out that Western Canadians, including Saskatchewanians themselves, were more likely than anyone else to rank Saskatchewan as least beautiful.

How can we expect others to love us if we don’t love ourselves?

How did this happen? Surely, people from Fort Qu’Appelle asked this question more than the rest of us. When you get up in the morning, look out the window, go for a walk or out for a drive, “ugly” is not what you see.

I think we all know the problem – It is the TransCanada Highway.

The really distinctive thing about Saskatchewan, what makes this place so different from the rest of “Oh-So-Freakin’-Beautiful Canada”, is that the southern third of province is dominated by the Great Interior Plains. If you drive through here on the TransCanada, which is all anyone ever does, it’s all you see.

I like the prairies – but eight hours straight of nothing but straight and flat – that’s just too much. The engineers who designed the TransCanada weren’t looking for a challenge. Straight and flat appealed to them. It wasn’t their job to showcase Saskatchewan’s beauty and diversity.

When people responded to this Abacus survey and objected to its conclusions about our lack of beauty – the most common reference was to the Qu’Appelle Valley and how beautiful it is and how, if people just spent more time here, their view of Saskatchewan’s beauty would be entirely different.

It’s true. If the TransCanada just meandered a bit more, dipped through the valley then up through the parkland, into the shield and down through the Great Sandhills and the Cypress Hills – yes, it would take five or six times longer to get to the Rockies, but they wouldn’t be calling us ugly.

Calgary and Edmonton

This is the first trip out of Saskatchewan on this tour.  And, it is fitting that we come to Alberta, because Alberta is where everybody from Saskatchewan goes.

Scott is from Nova Scotia, so he’s not as acutely aware as I am of this cultural demographic phenomenon. I’m from Swift Current, sort of a breeding ground for Albertans. Virtually everyone from Swift Current moves here as soon as he or she can. We drove by Swift Current yesterday – I’m surprised there is anybody left.

I went to law school in Saskatoon; it was the same thing. All the good students moved to Alberta when they graduated. We have our University of Saskatchewan class reunions here in Alberta.

It’s like Saskatchewan has a maximum legal capacity – there can’t be any more than one million people there at one time, or the province loses its liquor license or something. Mostly, it is about opportunity. If you don’t have a job in Saskatchewan, you leave, immediately. Saskatchewan may be home, but it’s not a place you want to be sitting around waiting for something to happen.

We don’t expect people to stay in Saskatchewan and we’re surprised when they do – and slightly suspicious. If you don’t leave home, something is wrong. We don’t even require our Senators to live there. We always swell with pride when we watch football games on t.v. and notice that, everywhere in the league, half the people in the stands are wearing the green and white. That’s right, we swell with pride at the idea that most people from Saskatchewan leave so they can cheer for the Riders in someplace with better weather.

And, it is an easy transition, moving to Alberta. We feel at home here. The people here are very similar. Albertans are really just Saskatchewanians with confidence and money.

Like Saskatchewan, Alberta has the two main cities. We have Saskatoon and Regina, you have Calgary and Edmonton. Naturally, there’s a rivalry. You have the Flames and the Oilers. The Stampeders and the Eskimos. The Dinos and the Golden Bears. We wish we had rivalries like that in Saskatchewan. There isn’t enough people nor enough stuff for a two-city rivalry in most things. No NHL. One CFL team. One big university. We do have a lingerie football league franchise in each city – the Saskatoon Sirens and the Regina Rage – but that rivalry hasn’t caught our imagination just yet.

We can’t really decide what the rivalry is – Saskatoon wants the rivalry to be about which city is more scenic and beautiful. Regina wants the rivalry to be about which city really cares the least about what the other city thinks of it. Regina wins that one hands down.


The Bicycle Tour, Part One: A Rough Beginning

As you will know, if you read the last post, I have spent the last month traveling around the prairie with my friend Scott Anthony Andrews, hawking his CD “Faith is a Bicycle” We had a couple of gigs in Regina, another couple in Saskatoon. Maple Creek. Eastend. Calgary and Edmonton. Selkirk and Winnipeg. And Fort Qu’Appelle. Mostly, audiences were small; sometimes tiny. I’m pleased to report that, at none of our stops did we outnumber those who paid to attend. I believe that is the generally-accepted standard of success for things of this type.

We performed at United Churches in these places – except in Fort Qu’Appelle, where we appeared at the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts

To review: We were performing in churches; Scott was performing sacred music; Our Scott Sings / Ross Talks things had always been around religious themes. This Faith is a Bicycle Tour project was steeped in religiosity. So, in preparation for our first gig at Eastside United in Regina, I set to work writing pieces about faith.

I am not religious. I was raised in the United Church and have been involved in the church for much of my adult life – Sunset United Church in beautiful south Regina. When it comes to the United Church, I’m an insider, but with respect to faith matters generally, I’m on the sidelines. I don’t have a detectable spiritual pulse. I am interested in theological issues and have great affection and respect for many people of faith – some of my best friends are religious – but I would characterize myself as a practicing non-believer. When I write about these things, I write observations about – not expressions of – faith.

And. I try to be funny.

Sometimes, this combination of religious outsider perspective and attempted humour works. Sometimes, it does not work. Sometimes I sound like an earnest, respectful but amusing, fellow-traveller on the journey towards enlightenment. Sometimes I sound like a smug asshole.

I’ll let you guess which Ross appeared at our first gig at Eastside United.

Despite my good and respectful intentions, I delivered a performance that leaned towards offensive. I appeared to be mocking the faithful, ridiculing religious belief and suggesting that to be “spiritual” was to be, well, flaky. I dismissed much religion as “goofy” and “nonsense” and “toxic” and noted that “people who appear to be perfectly normal and rational can have a lot of whacky religious silliness rattling around in their skulls.”

I made fun of the notion of sin and the idea that Jesus DIED for those sins [“like we didn’t feel bad enough” I said]. I suggested that the reason that young people aren’t drawn to religion is because most churches prohibit sex – you’re not allowed to do that thing you most want to do. I used the expression “The Church of the Unscratched Itch” to characterize this self-defeating phenomenon. I belittled the difficult struggle the United Church has waged towards becoming inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities – saying that our discomfort with the subject was based, not on any religious principles, but on the fact that the United Church is very WASPy and uptight. We are  uncomfortable talking about sex AT ALL. We just wanted the conversation to end. “Okay  fine – gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons – you’re all in. Now, can we please talk about something else?”

I also appeared to dismiss strongly-held views of church members on social issues and environmentalism – saying that “we’ve dispensed with religious things that make us feel bad, like sin, and replaced them with a leftist political and liberal agenda – one that emphasizes inclusion, feeling good and sensible shoes.”

Now, all of this might have worked, had I done a better job at first establishing that I was actually a nice, likable guy and not an asshole – or had I been working towards some over-arching unifying view of spirituality that somehow justified all these cheap shots.

But no. I died.

I felt bad. Especially for Scott. This was the first stop on our nine-performance tour. Was he going to have to watch me die another eight times? His performance was great, by the way, as always. [If you haven’t bought the CD yet, let me know.] Scott was gentle in his assessment, suggesting that I could perhaps shorten things up, be a little less “preachy”, maybe stop calling the audience stupid, that sort of thing.

Our next stop was six days later at our home church – Sunset United, in beautiful south Regina. Blessedly, my role was somewhat reduced for this one, because we were sharing the stage with a swing choir called Cadence. I would do just a couple of bits and otherwise just act as M.C. for the event.

In the days after Eastside and before Sunset, I despaired. If only giving up were an option. It wasn’t. Scott was counting on me to accompany him on this three province tour. I had no choice but to pull it together somehow.

I had to figure out why I’d so badly bombed. After a lot of feverish, late-night ruminating, it came to me. I suck. I’ve always sucked. My big mistake was thinking otherwise.

It was in that “I suck” state of mind, that I composed a piece that I delivered as my first offering at Sunset.

It is called “Janet’s Story”, for reasons that will become evident:

For most of my life, I didn’t do much public speaking. I didn’t have any confidence – for good reason. Any time I did speak in public, the response was tepid. Polite at best. At worst, annoyed and vaguely offended. I have a sense of humour that is not always funny.

That all changed about 16 years ago, right here in this sanctuary. It was the spring of the very first Benefit Concert for Regina’s Anti-Poverty Ministry. Somehow, I found myself on the planning committee. I am terrible at planning anything and worse at being on committees – so being on a planning committee was a special kind of nightmare. But church is where you do things you’re not very good at. I wanted to contribute in some substantive way, so when it came up that there would be a reception after the concert – well, I jumped at that. How hard could that be? Get people to bring baked goods, get the Church ladies to make coffee. A breeze.

The weekend before the concert, I got up at announcement time and I made a request that congregation members bring some goodies for the reception. I wanted to make the announcement entertaining, tried to play on the word “dainty”

That announcement changed my life.

That was the first of what became known as “The Dainty Speeches”. People loved my announcement. They thought I was just the cleverest, funniest guy. I became known to everyone as The Dainty Guy. Many people did not know my real name. Many still don’t. On the strength of that first announcement, I became the go-to guy at Sunset for anything that involved talking. I did about six more Dainty Speeches. I pop up at announcement time, whether I have anything to announce or not. I’ve MCed retirement parties and farewells and tribute nights. I’ve spoken at weddings, during services, at faith gatherings during Lent. I even gave a sermon. I write a couple of blogs now. I quit my job. All of this can be traced to that fateful morning when I asked for your dainties.

It was because of the reputation that grew from those dainty speeches and the confidence I gained from it that I agreed to partner up with Scott for this Faith Bicycle Tour.

Well, we had our first stop last weekend at Eastside. Scott did a wonderful job. The songs are great and he performed them well. My part went okay – but something wasn’t quite right. For some reason I wasn’t connecting with the audience quite the way I’d like.

In the following days, this vague sense of unease grew into a frenzy of self-examination. What has happened to me? Have I lost my Dainty Guy mojo? Forever?

Then, I sat down this morning and wrote the first draft of this monologue. That first draft outlined my early triumph in the baked goods procurement business and how I’d gone from that to what I was now describing as a humiliation at Eastside. I suggested that perhaps I had misinterpreted the response to the Dainty Speech – maybe it was all a terrible mistake – I’m really no good at this.  I wrote a heart wrenching tale of existential crisis. It ought to have been entitled From Dainty to Disaster. I thought it was beautiful, though dark. Personal, yet universal.

I read it to Janet, my wife, and awaited her praise – both for the quality of the work and for my courage in telling my story.

“Are you out of your mind?” she said.

That wasn’t the response I was expecting.

“You don’t like it?” I asked.

“You absolutely cannot do that piece. People will think you’re crazy.”

As she was describing in detail how I could not possibly deliver my pathetic and self-indulgent, mid-life induced idiocy, I had an epiphany. I love it when that happens. I realized what had gone wrong last week at Eastside. I had worked very hard on my pieces for that night – and, like today with the first draft of this thing, I was very pleased with the result.  But, last week, I had not run my script past Janet – because she’s been laid up by a concussion and I didn’t want to bother her.

I have always run things past Janet and she frequently saves me from myself – because, although I’ve been blessed with many gifts, judgement is not among them. It turns out that Janet is my Mojo. I can’t be Dainty without her.

So, much to Scott’s relief, I have jettisoned most of what I worked so hard on, and I have started from scratch. Janet will henceforth have the final say. The future of this project is now safely in the relatively competent hands of a woman with a head injury.

You just sing and play, Scott. We’ll be fine. Really. Trust me.