South to Windsor

Jane and I drove to Windsor for a double-billed event: a publishing panel at 2:00 p.m., followed by the one-man show (60-minute version) at 4:00. So after a long drive we were proud of our timing when we checked in at our hotel at 12:00. Only to learn that the Writers Festival folks had been calling the hotel in a panic. Didn’t I know that the show had been moved forward . . . to 11:30?

Well, no. So in horror I learned that 60 people had sat there eagerly awaiting me, to go away disappointed, with the news that my event would run later (against a popular already scheduled 4 o’clock event). We got about half of them back, but it was an embarrassing case of broken telephone.

The publishing panel, with Jack David (my publisher, and thus a model of wisdom in all things), Alana Wilcox from Coach House, and Jack Illingworth from the Literary Press Group, and me, was led by local publisher Dan Wells. I’m not sure that we left our audience feeling joyful optimism about where publishing is headed, but we spoke truth to lack of power.

My show was notable for being conducted in a fine Group of Seven Gallery. I had to apologize to a gallery visitor as we put up the screen in front of an especially fine MacDonald landscape, while he peered around it. And we filled the seats available, with Alistair MacLeod arriving late (he was involved with the rival event) just in time to miss my properly admiring account of his work. But as he came in, I said, “Oh, I’m going to have to stop saying rude things about Alistair . . . he’s just come into the room.”

Martin Deck, who runs the university bookstore, gave me a fine introduction, and vote of thanks, and I rushed off to sign lots of books (“Best Windsor wishes”).

On the way back the next day we took a side trip to Point Pelee. The birds were otherwise engaged, but I got to dip my toe in the water at the very southernmost inch of Canada’s mainland. Nearby teenagers were amused by this Tip Dip.

— Douglas Gibson

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