On Wednesday, I came to Toronto to see Matilda: The Musical.  Weeks earlier, when I started volunteering in the Grade 6 class at South Dorchester School near Belmont, Tiffany asked me to read a chapter from the novel the kids were studying – Matilda.  Never heard of it.  But I like reading aloud, so off I went into the world of a five-year-old child, her lovely teacher Miss Honey, her wretched parents the Wormwoods (who didn’t give a whit about her), and the ominous Miss Trunchbull, a thoroughly evil principal.

I really got into the various voices.  One day, when the Trunchbull told a kid to “Shut up!”, I really yelled it.  Oops.  Not a few children leaned back in their chairs.

I went to Toronto a few weeks ago, was walking along Bloor St., and glanced up at a banner hanging from a lamppost.  “Matilda: The Musical” it announced.  Minutes later, with the wonders of technology, I had myself a ticket.

The kids at South Dorchester knew I was taking in the drama, the singing and the dancing this week.  Tiffany asked me to send a photo once I had arrived at the theatre.  “Sure,” I replied, not totally sure how to do that on my phone.  But Tiffany coached me and I left town with marginal confidence.

The performance was to start at 1:30.  I arrived around 1:00 and snapped a pic of folks lined up under the marquee.  Eager faces.  As I stood there I realized that the Ed Mirvish Theatre was formerly called the Pantages, where many years ago Jody surprised me with tickets to Phantom of the Opera.  My dear wife.  I remember the grand staircase (similar to the Titanic’s) and being ushered down, down until we were seated only six rows from the stage.

I took two more photos before the show, both in the spectacular lobby.  One was a selfie, showing a beaming face with a “Matilda” sign in the wee background.  Now for some words and my text would float over the miles to the Grade 6’s.

Hi Tiffany and all you kids,

Would you believe that Miss Trunchbull roared up to me in the lobby and screamed “You filthy little maggot!”?  Gosh, and she hardly knows me.

Have fun,

Mr. Kerr/Bruce

Tiffany texted back, saying that the kids had questions about the Trunchbull and that they liked the photos.  Cool.

The musical got going and we saw Mr. Wormwood as an immoral used car salesman, skilled in turning back odometers, and the Missus as a TV addict who lusted for her Spanish dance instructor.  Baaad people.  And dear Matilda was just a book-loving “thing” who wouldn’t go along with proper TV gazing values.

Then there was school.  Miss Honey was a lovely human being with a glorious voice.  Miss Trunchbull was almost as wide as she was tall and spewed venom wherever she went.  (It turns out the actor was male!  Didn’t matter.  He did a great job of bringing forth mean.)

One of the best scenes saw the Trunchbull grab a girl by the pigtails and swing her horizontal, just like in the book.  Actor-wise, it looked like the young one was wearing a neck brace that the old one could grab onto.

Matilda wowed the class with impossible math skills.  MIss Trunchbull led a gymnastics class with yells punctuating the jumps and rolls.  At one point, a small trampoline sat beside a padded “horse”.  The weighty principal lined herself up, lurched towards the trampoline, bounced high, flipped in the air and landed with grace on the padded surface.  Awesome!

Matilda started tipping over water glasses with her mind.  Then she caused writing to appear on the blackboard, words that suggested Miss Trunchbull had killed her brother (and Miss Honey’s father) in order to get his money.  Matilda shone onstage, especially during tender scenes with Miss Honey.  Such joy and such despair peppered throughout the musical.

At intermission, Mr. Wormwood strolled onto the stage.  I texted the South Dorchesterites:

Mr. Wormwood just came onstage at intermission and told the kids in the audience … “Don’t try this at home.”  He meant reading books!  “They make you ugly and give you head lice.”

Tiffany replied:  “They love that!”  Thanks, kids.

At the end, we favored the young actress playing Matilda with a standing O.  It was richly deserved.   I walked out of the Ed Mirvish/Pantages with a light heart.  Waydago, Matilda.  The Trunchbull had no chance against you!  And I hoped the children back in Belmont were smiling.


Craig Sager has been a courtside reporter for the NBA for 26 years.  He lived and breathed basketball.  And he died yesterday.

I was watching a video about him this morning.  He spoke to an audience, wearing a delightfully outrageous sports jacket full of flowers from the rainbow.

“I will live my life full of love and full of fun.  It’s the only way I know how.”

I stared at the screen. He was me.  I figured out a few years ago that my life was about two things: loving people and making them laugh.  Hi Craig.

Tributes have poured in:

“He was a way better person than he was a worker, even though he was amazing in that regard.  He loved all the people around him and everybody felt that.”

“If my dad was right and time really is how you live your life, then that son of a bitch outlived us all.”

“You could be on my team any day.”

“He gives everything realness.”

“Thank you for being you!  Brought the best out of everyone you met.”

“God bless you Craig Sager for your wit, the way you entertained us, made us smile and for your sheer will and courage, class and dignity.”

“Craig Sager may be the only man that could get away with those brightly colored suits and gators to match AND GET AWAY WITH AND OWN IT.”

“A life well lived.”

“When I think of him, I just think of joy, of smiling.  A dude you could have fun with, somebody that had pride but didn’t take himself too seriously.”

“Was able to take a joke, and able to give a joke, was able to understand what a good time was.  We love you Craig.”


I know that I’m loved by some people.  Many no doubt will say nice things about me when I die.  I’m not Craig Sager.  I’m Bruce Kerr.  We’re brothers.

Last words to you, dear man:

“Sports are supposed to be fun, and so I have fun with the way I dress”

“I try to get there three hours before the game, talk with the ushers and the security guards, the coaches and the fans”

“I laid in the hospital for months, hoping to do this again”


A Ghost Story

I love having breakfast at the Belmont Diner.  I sit at the horseshoe-shaped lunch counter and invariably there’s another human being across the way to talk to.  A couple of weeks ago, it was Eric.  He’s a farmer near Belmont and there’s a picture of his homestead on a wall in the Diner.  Green farm buildings and a tall red-brick home.

“Eric, how old is your house?”

“123 years.”

“Wow!  Do you have any ghosts?”  [I love the idea of ghosts.  I hope to meet one someday.]

“No, but my neighbour Larry does.”

“You’re kidding.  Do you think he’d be okay if I knocked on his door to talk about them?”

“He’d love it.”

And so ended breakie, me flushed with anticipation.  I’ll find Larry’s house and try for a chat.

A few days later, I drove by Eric’s home, thinking that it also had to have a ghost or two.  And I found Larry’s house.  It was a newer building, with cream-coloured siding.  Sure didn’t look like a spot for floating spirits.  No matter.  I’ll knock.  But not today.  I had to get to South Dorchester School for my volunteering.

Day after day, I was a mite too busy for ghost hunting.  And then I went back to the Diner for another breakfast.  There sat Eric and my friend Barry, who’s often referred to as “The Mayor of Belmont”.  (My village doesn’t have an official one.)

“I haven’t got inside Larry’s home yet, Eric.  Sure hope I see some ghosts when I do.”

“They’re not in his house.  They’re in the barn.”

“Oh.”  I thought middle-class ghosts would seek out more luxurious accommodations.

“Bruce …”  I looked around to see Barry sizing me up.  “Eric isn’t talking about ghosts.  His neighbour has goats.”

And so ensued a stunned silence, followed by three locals laughing their guts out.

Oh dearest supernatural beings, I’m still on the lookout for a sighting.  Someone please send me your ghosts and goblins.  I’m no good at milking.

How Sweet It Is

There is such a thing as a Belmont Santa Claus Parade and I got to experience it a couple of days ago.  The night was dark and I was Charles Dickens – top hat, scarf, trenchcoat … and moustache!

I live at the north end of Belmont and the parade was to start at the south end, on the grounds of the farm supply company.  Forty-five minutes before the great beginning, I strolled down Main Street.  To the few passersby I encountered I said “What’s going on in town tonight?”  Some smiled.  Some stared.  Oh well.

Basically there were hardly any spectators positioning themselves.  Here I thought the Belmont parade was a big deal.  Guess I was wrong.

I found my Belmont Diner float and loaded my Christmas bag with tons of candy.  Then I wandered among the other floats, chatting with some and sundry.  I sought Santa, hoping that he would come through with the red Lamborghini I had promised myself decades ago.  But he must have been doing some last minute gift wrapping.  And then it was time to get rolling.

I told the Grade 6 kids at South Dorchester School that I’d be handing out candy beside the Diner float, and if they wanted to see me they should be on the east side of the street.

The float and I turned right out of the parking lot onto Main Street.  Oh my God!  The sidewalks were packed two and three deep, and were well populated with short folks.  Christal, the Diner’s owner, told me “One candy only to each kid.  Otherwise you’ll run out by the bridge.” (about one-third of the way along the route).  Okay, so be it.

I made eye contact with every child I could find.  “Merry Christmas!” was interspersed with “I don’t see any kids.”  (Cue frantic waving) and “You look like a broccoli and lettuce kind of guy, not the candy type.”  (Cue yelps of “Candy!” and outstretched hands)   Great fun.

About five of the Grade 6s rushed up to say hi.  And I got to meet a few parents.  I think they’re glad I show up in their child’s class.  Being there makes me happy.

Occasionally I glanced up from the sea of young faces to see my float fading into the future.  Ouch – that’s my source of candy replenishment!  So a decision was needed.  Should I zoom forward to refill my bag or continue to see each youngster?  Practicality gave way to relationship.  More eyes to behold.  Dwindling supplies be darned.

I got to chanting “Adult, adult, adult … kid!” and gave the next small human a gigantis smile.  Another candy safely delivered.  Laughing went from sidewalk to street and back again.

Up Main Street we journeyed, past the Barking Cat (pub), the Diner, The Post Office and Jody’s bench, the Belmont Dairystore, the library and the Town Restaurant.  When at Church Street, one block from the end of the parade, what to my wondering eyes should appear but only twenty candies lying in my bag.  Between Church and Washburn, another flurry of children bounced on the sidewalk.  What to do?  I mentioned my dilemma to a number of parents.

Guess what happened?

Maybe eight or ten adults poured handfuls of candies into my bag. “For the kids up ahead.”  And how many of the children associated with said adults complained?  That’s right – zero.  Immensely sweet.

Thank you, Belmontonians.  You made my year.


That’s as in the Toronto FC soccer club, part of the best professional league in North America.  Last night was the semifinal game in Toronto with 36,000 rabid fans expected.  I just couldn’t stay away.

The bus dropped me off about a ten-minute walk from BMO Field.  That was around 7:20, with the game having started at 7:00.  Toronto gridlock strikes again.  All around me were power walkers, apparently each faster than me.  As we got closer to the bright lights of the stadium,  quiet rhythms became medium chanting became a wall of sound from high above me.  So cool.

Inside the building, nature called, and so did Chicken and Kimchi Fries, a whopping pile of the stuff.  I maneuvered my way to Section 205, Row N, Seat 4, balancing my styrofoam container with immense aplomb.  My seatmates made way and I sat down, surrounded by Toronto supporters.  Often they would stand, spread their arms wide, yell “TFC” and clap three times.  Whoa!  More energy than my gourmet meal.  A Montreal goal bowed the heads and terminated the applause, while above me a small section of Québecois picked up the pace.  “Allez!  Allez!  Allez!”  “Courage!”  Oh, they gave ‘er.

Only the occasional local gave the opposition fans grief.  Mostly the cheers got our juices flowing again.  A few minutes of mourning gave way to “This is our house!”  And then a corner kick zoomed towards the goal, ready for the foot of TFC’s Armando Cooper.  The world lifted beside me in decibel squeals, while I lowered my nose towards the fries.  I cheered in vertical seclusion.

Later, my appetite vanquished, I was up with the rest of them, moving and grooving.  More Toronto goals, more bouncing on the spot, hugging my neighbours, high fives all around.  If folks were talking to me, I couldn’t hear them.

The Montreal folks chanted right to the end, even with the game lost.  I respected them for that.  Once, though, there was a commotion two rows behind me.  I turned to see a police officer holding a Montrealer in a headlock, while another was holding back the punch that a Torontonian was brandishing.  Lower down, a third officer was restraining a male fan whose face brimmed with hate.  I don’t believe I’d ever seen hate in real life.  Scary.

After the offenders were whisked away, the first fellow in handcuffs, we were back to the run of play.  Cheers and cries and moans flowed among the stands.  I was being held in an ecstasy of energy.  Almost all of us were standing.  And this was completely new in my life.  I was lifted up, time and again.  Guess I’m a crowdaholic.

By the way, Toronto won, and that was sort of important to me.  But the energy?  Worlds beyond the score, rampant with bliss.  I’ll have some more, please.