One of the best things about going to book festivals is the stories that come leaping out at you.
For instance, I often tell stories about my old friend W.O. Mitchell. Yet when I was in Windsor at the fine Festival there, I found myself chatting on-stage with the local writer/teacher/ man about the literary scene, Marty Gervais. He spoke happily about Bill Mitchell, who spent some years teaching at the University of Windsor, lured there by his friend Alistair MacLeod, who was glad to have the legendary Bill Mitchell added to the Windsor scene.
But Bill was always “a character”, and one year there was a problem with his residential plans. He was complaining about this one day to Marty and his wife. To their surprise they ended up inviting Bill to stay with them , and their three young boys.
It was a spectacular success. Bill, who had raised three youngsters with Merna, loved kids. He spent many happy evenings delighting the Gervais boys with conjuring tricks. Coins sprang out of ears, pieces of food disappeared into thin air, and the Gervais boys were entranced.
Then, Marty told us, Bill moved back to his home in Calgary. He was forgotten until one of Marty’s sons came rushing to his Dad, saying, “Bill’s on TV! He seems to have WRITTEN A BOOK!”
“Well, yes” said his Dad”That’s what he does>”
“Really?” said the Gervais boys.”We thought he was in the circus!”