BONNIE CLYDE ROSE ON BONNE BAY

One high point of the Woody Point adventure was when my old publishing friend, Clyde Rose, emerged from the gloom of the darkened theatre at The Merchant House to greet me before my show. Clyde was the publisher of Breakwater Books in St. John’s for what seemed like many generations, and his daughter Rebecca carries it on today.

Clyde now lives in Woody Point, and he kindly took me and Jane out for a mid-day cruise around Bonne Bay on his small boat, which he handled with easy skill –- even if he failed to find the bald-headed eagle near Norris Point for us!

We recalled grand old publishing times, including two stories involving the great Newfoundland humorist, Ray Guy, who died just a few months ago.

Clyde once proudly published a Ray Guy book with a title that was designed to mystify anyone outside Newfoundland. The title was You May Know Them as Sea Urchins, Ma’am.

Every Newfoundlander, however, was delighted by this internal joke. They all knew that the local term for “sea urchins” was “whore’s eggs.”

I remember vividly the time that Ray pulled off a great practical joke in, I think, The Canadian magazine. It involved the cleverest case of bilingual swearing I ever saw. In a solemn look at Newfoundland heraldry, Ray pointed out that the seal in the central position of the official coat of arms was lying horizontally, in what is known in heraldry as a “volant” or “flying” position. Since a seal is known in French as “un phoque” alert readers (but, perhaps, not the editors) sensed that mischief was afoot.

Ray went on to note that this “volant” position gave rise to the official French-language motto of Newfoundland, “Je ne donne pas un phoque volant.”

Wordplay with Warren Clements

Douglas Gibson’s guest spot on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight was mentioned by Warren Clements in his Wordplay column in the Globe and Mail. Read Clements’ piece on the origins of deft and daft here.