From Spanner Book: A Home Which May Have Never Existed

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Spannerbook

It’s a completely Canadian thing to possess a perfectly formed alternative national identity that surfaces on occasion. It tends to emerge when there is a soccer tournament or some other international event happening that precipitates putting a small flag of another nation on your vehicle. It’s always a bit more complicated for those of us from the UK because the soccer teams of each nation within the kingdom united compete separately, except in the Olympics. The 2012 Great Britain olympic men’s soccer squad had no Scots or Northern Irish on it. It was pretty much a foreshadowing of the Brexit vote. They got clobbered as well. 

I am continually pressed into service to explain the finer points of the UK and always get the feeling when I’m finished that whoever asked still doesn’t get it or their eyes glaze over when I say things like “…after the Act of Union…

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The Weekender: Tytler Library – You’ve Already Built It, They Will Come

tytler

Spannerbook

I’ve been convinced for at least a decade that Tytler School was going to be swept up in the outbreak of condo mania we’ve seen in the past few years in The Ward. It’s in an ideal location and ripe for conversion, possessing the correct combination of retro hip cred, a sizable potential parking lot and location x3. Currently, it’s officially known as the Couling Crescent Holding School, where French Immersion kids are patiently waiting for the construction of said school, a purpose built quasi-private institute for the FI Movement. Tytler somehow went from “expensive to maintain” to “well maintained” overnight, needing only “cosmetic touch ups” to enable it to be used as a holding pen for a school that did not physically exist. Couling is well off the beaten path; as of writing it’s an array of cinderblocks and mud, so Tytler will be occupied for a while yet…

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Sauce Quest

Limitations-for-Condiments

Spannerbook

At my local up the road I finally had a daub of French’s ketchup on some fresh cut fries. It was fine. I’m not gaga for ketchup, having been raised on HP Sauce. HP was always on our table and ended up on darn near everything except cereal. Whenever I see that distinct square glass bottle, I’m transported back to the old dining room, staring at a slab of my mother’s steak pie, which was actually just stewing beef and sausage from the slow cooker with a side of puff pastry. A tiny scoop of boiled veg was added for colour and all of it got slathered in The Sauce. Pure magic. Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool. I’d pay nearly anything to revisit that scene, if only for an hour. I miss my mum and her crock-pot masterpiece on days like Easter Sunday.

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Heinz bought HP in 2005 and…

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Careful With That Knife, Kathleen

kathleen-wynne-ontario-premier

Spannerbook

Everyone becomes a little bit socialist in a Canadian hospital emergency ward. I don’t know of a single incident of someone spending time in The Emerge who said “please let me pay for this” at the end of it. Those that have the means generally don’t settle for regular care but if a Lamborghini has collided with a Corolla and everyone is bloodied and unconscious, they all end up in the closest ER regardless. That is the key concept of our universal system; we are hopefully all given the same degree of quality care and you will not be billed whether you are of the one percent or homeless. There is usually a fee for the ambulance and a shake down to pay for parking but the service itself is mostly free, for now. If you want to keep it that way, you will need to fight for it at…

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Happy Holidays – Or Else!

happy holidays

Spannerbook

Sometime early next April, I’m going to load up my computer with every single song I can find about the working life and play it loudly on a continuous loop at my desk for my co-workers to hear. It will be a wide range of stuff; the majority of which will be obscure and long lost like the Red Army Chorus singing “L’Internationale” or “Car Wash” by Rose Royce.  The ones that I really like will get played over and over. I’m going to leave it on overnight so when I walk in at 8am, there is no pause. If anyone complains, I will admonish them openly. Why don’t you like Mayday? Don’t be such a scab! I will counter complain – why can’t you respect my Marx given right to excessively celebrate the actual most popular holiday in the world? When I whistle “Working Man” off key every day…

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A Bridge Too Near

niskard

Spannerbook

I’ve always loved the electric atmosphere generated at a contentious City Hall meeting, no matter the issue. Due to other more pressing duties in my life, I can’t commit massive chunks of time to the civic beat these days but I did pop in last week for long enough to hear the engineering department’s dissertation regarding the upgrade of the one lane bridge on Niska Road. A seven hour juggernaut is a high endurance test but to their credit, plenty of people stuck it out for the duration. The only time I have spoken on the record at City Hall was in defence of the environment, regarding the lack of respect shown toward it by a well known slumlord in town. I’ve never become one of The Usual Suspects in the crowd though, those same people that show up with a sheaf of notes and make identical arguments time and…

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From SpannerBook: Scotty Hertz and the Tunnel of Secrets

It’s probably due to the ancient coding buried deep within our makeup that stories of secret tunnels and hidden chambers continue to thrill. Two thousand years ago, loads of humans on the planet lived short rough lives in houses that would qualify as earth bunkers. Ever wonder why some people call their living quarters “digs”?

iron-age-hut
(An iron age hut in the UK. Not much iron to speak of but it was home)

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