How this will translate into Canadian, I’m not sure

My colleague Bob Waite got good coverage last week with the release of his nostalgic book Ipswich on My Mind.

He’s technically a colleague because we’re fellow columnists for the Ipswich Local News, but really I just like calling him my “colleague” because it sort of brings me up to his level.

Bob is a remarkable fellow for a lot of reasons. Even a cursory inventory of his accomplishments would run me over my 700-word limit. But high on my list of reasons to admire Bob Waite is that he served as press secretary for two standouts of American political history: the late Massachusetts Senator Ed Brooke, whom I admired, and the late Kansas Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, whom I didn’t, but whom I voted for nevertheless because he ran back when I still thought Democrats had horns and tails.

I am also impressed by Bob Waite because of his journalistic gymnastics. He writes, by his own reckoning, “an ‘Insidah’ column as a kind of companion to the popular ‘Outsidah’” — yet he doesn’t live in Ipswich. He doesn’t live in Massachusetts, nor even in the United States of God Bless America. You see what a world we live in when the Outsidah lives in town but the Insidah lives in a foreign country. One more thing to blame Trump for.

Not a complaint, though! I look forward to Bob’s column every week, with pleasure. Sure, the occasional Canadian spelling error may slip past the editors, but I can figure it out without much effort. I have Google Translate on my phone.

But because of Bob Waite’s eminence, I confess to having felt some pressure. I certainly want to serve the newspaper well; I don’t want to be a slacker, a hanger-on. And I do want to be a worthy colleague to the internationally adroit Bob Waite. (The pressure is nothing serious, really; nothing requiring medical attention. It’s just that if I don’t stay resolutely focused during the day, my thoughts tend to wander: How to be more like Bob, how to be more like Bob?Then, in the dark of night, OMG. The dreams! When I’m Bob, I’m awesome.) 

So it occurred to me that it might be good for the paper — and it might be fantastic for my own pitiful insecurities — if I were to file a column from overseas.

Of course, since Covid struck, I haven’t engaged in any international travel whatsoever, unless you count South Dakota. (I learned there’s a reason they call them the Badlands.)

On the other hand, my work has sometimes led me into foreign countries in the past — and as luck would have it, I was needed in just such a place this very week. And just in time for my Ipswich Local News Outsidah deadline.

So here I am! Hello! I’m over here!

Unfortunately, I’m on a confidential assignment for a professional client and can’t release the details of my location — which undercuts the hole “how to be more like Bob” thing, I know. Bob’s totally out there, bold and unapologetic, openly writing from Toronto week after week. I love that. But my hands are tied, eh?

All I can do is give you some vague parameters as to my whereabouts. For instance, I’m east of Ipswich, so that heat wave we had a week or two ago is here now, but I’m far enough north that the people here have no idea what heat is, nor how to survive it, so on a day with a predicted high of 86, they officially warn the populace of “disruption due to extreme high temperatures.” Disruption of what, they don’t say. 

I can also tell you, as I’m sauntering freely down the quaint cobblestones of an Old World boulevard, I find myself longing for the endless agony of navigating Five Corners.

And there’s not a fried clam for kilometers around.

Hope to be home soon. See you in Ipswich. Anyplace they have normal coffee — sheesh!


Doug Brendel lurks in a house on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, wearing a fedora and trenchcoat. Follow Doug discreetly at DougBrendel.com.

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