Harold and Ian … and Linda

I went to see a kids’ hockey game in London yesterday afternoon.  I was going to see a movie there in the evening.  Between, I wanted to find a cozy place for supper and to write my blog post.  I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say but virtually always something comes out to ask for expression.  (This, twenty-two hours later, is that post.)

It had been a long time since I’d been in the Morrissey House and so my nose led me there.  How about a beer and some funky British dish?  The angled wooden bar seats six people.  A young couple were off to the right and an older guy was hunkered down on the left edge.  I sat down two seats from him.

It’s unusual in my life that someone says hi before I do but today was my lucky day.  “Harold” was engaged in a conversation with the bartender, and included me.  It sounded like they were negotiating a trade, and indeed they were.

“How about four cuts for the painting?” offered the bartender.

“Sounds fair to me, ” returned Harold.

Wow.  If only all of life’s exchanges could be so simple.

Turns out that Harold is a barber in the back of a high-end men’s clothing store.  And Mr. Bartender is a painter.  I Googled the shop and found out that cool services such as a “hot towel shave” were on offer.

“I bet you know what you’re doing when you’re looking down on someone’s hair, Harold,” I chimed in.

“I’m good at what I do.”

How refreshing.  Someone who sees their ability accurately, without pomp and circumstance.

I looked more closely at the employees flitting to and fro.  They were often smiling.  And they wore black t-shirts.  On the front was “I ♥ the MO.”  On the back … “I am human and I need to be loved.”  Okay.  This is my type of place.  I asked my friend who was pouring drinks “Who owns the Morrissey House?”  The reply was accompanied by a gesturing arm.  “The fellow in the ball cap – Mark.”  He was seating a couple at a window table.  Big smile.  No edge.  Homey.  I like this room and its inhabitants.

Harold and I got going about Newfoundland.  We both were in St. John’s in September.  We talked about getting “screeched in” on George Street, and the astonishing host at Christian’s Bar who learned, and remembered, everyone’s name.  There must have been thirty people  participating in the ceremony.  That was a moment last night when Harold and I locked eyes in admiration for a young Newfie guy with fully operating brain cells.

We talked of the bright colours of St. John’s, the many homes painted in red, yellow or blue.  We talked of the people who laid open their welcome mats for us.  We were instant friends.

Harold is a regular at Morrissey’s and an hour after our first contact here comes “Ian”, another one.  He sits between us.  There’s an Irish lilt in his words as he tells me he’s from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.  Ian regales me with the beauty of Gros Morne National Park near his hometown, and soon it’s a three-way conversation about the wonders of St. John’s eateries and drinkeries.  “Did you go to Quidi Vidi?” > “Yes!  And the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company with its wooden paddle full of beer samples.” > “How about Linda’s Place there, right across from Mallard Cottage?” > “I was in Mallard Cottage but I don’t remember anything across the street.”  >  “It had another name but Linda was the star.  What a character!”

Wow.  Look at what I was in the middle of (well, actually on the right end).  Three senior guys whooping it up in memory.  I got Google Maps going on my phone and found Mallard Cottage.  When I enlarged the screen, I saw “Inne of Olde” across the street from Mallard.  I enlarged the photo of a smiling woman and showed it to my fellows.  “That’s Linda!” bellowed Harold.  And we all laughed some more.

Here’s a Google comment about Linda’s place:

Linda (the owner) has so much heart for those around her, and anyone that comes in is another new friend or family member to her.  Welcoming atmosphere, with trinkets from around the world and often stories along with them.

Definitely worth the stop in for a pint or a shot or three.

I’ll definitely come back every time I’m in St. John’s with a few friends in tow.  The YACC community will keep coming back, Linda, from your adopted cancer kids – we love you!

Wow all over again
Morrissey’s and Linda’s
Harold and Ian and Linda and Bruce
And a smiling young couple at the other end of the bar

Day Nine: Slowing Down to Home

I strolled down to the hotel breakfast room today wearing one of my favourite t-shirts, given to me by my brilliant in-laws Nona and Lance:

Irony: The Opposite of Wrinkly

Nothing highfalutin, just a down home definition.

A woman and her adult daughter were sitting nearby. Hardly ever in my life does someone say hi before I do but today was the day. The younger one greeted me as she got up to replenish her food supplies and mom smiled gaily as they were walking out a few minutes later. Both of them were staring at my chest. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of my emerging V-shaped body.

Then I talked to an oriental couple, clearly tourists like me. The woman looked surprised that I said hello but she responded warmly. I got to be the purveyor of local knowledge, heartily recommending that they go to Quidi Vidi (see my post of two days ago). They loved the idea and plan on taking a bus there later today. I feel so fine … my good deed for the day. Heck, I might even throw in another deed or two before the sun says goodbye.

Now I’m sitting in the Rocket Bakery in downtown St. John’s. The possibilities of breakfast number two are dangling in front of my eyeballs. My window counter gives me a bird’s eye view of a sidewalk table for two. Ten minutes ago a young couple sat there. She was sure pretty! But I won’t say any more about that. Mostly what I noticed is that she had her face buried in a smartphone for most of the time. He sat there, looking around at the buildings and the flow of humanity. But she wasn’t with him. I was sad.

Now there’s another man and woman at the table, much older. They’re looking at each other! They’re talking! Cool.

Okay. I’m off … to who knows where. My left ankle and right knee are sore, no doubt worsened by the tilting St. John’s streets. But I’m wearing my compression stocking and an ankle brace. Plus I’m being super duper careful about the steps I take. The world needs to be explored!


I walked down by the water and saw an enormous ship approaching the harbour. Since there was a fence in my way, I decided to climb up a few streets for a better view. There beckoning me was a long curved bench in a parkette called Angel’s Corner. A gentleman was sitting there, a cup of Tim’s coffee in hand. I said hello and Terry created something beautiful.

My friend is dying of colon cancer, with less than a year to live. His body can’t take any more radiation or chemo. The morphine does its best to keep the pain down but there’ll be a time when it won’t do the job. Terry is terrified of the pain to come but is willing to look down the throat of death. The tears came. What an honour to sit with this man, hear him give thanks for every day remaining, and watch him cry. It was moment after holy moment.

We talked for half an hour. Terry is surrounded by family and friends, who are naturally torn up about losing their dear one. Thank God for their presence.

“Goodbye, Terry. I wish you a peaceful and pain-free death. It was a privilege to meet you.”

“Thank you for talking to me, Bruce. Have a good trip home.”

Twenty minutes later, I was taking a picture of a painted garbage bin, showing the beauty of a Newfoundland fishing village. I said hi to a woman on a bike, stopped for a red light. Brittany probably missed five more green lights as we talked. My photography behaviour gave me away: a total tourist. She’s a potter who lives halfway up Signal Hill and rides her bicycle up to her home most days. Can you imagine how strong she is? Wow.

What a nice person, so interested in the tourist’s life and willing to share about her own. Fare thee well, Brittany.

And then there were the statues: from behind I saw the man and the girl. He was holding her hand. Here’s the inscription:

There is nothing that recommends a Police Officer to the favourable notice of the public so much as kindness to the poor, to the helpless and to children

John McCowen 1908

I agree, John. And kids are the best.


That’s just about it from St. John’s. It’s a lovely-looking city with lovely people. Tomorrow I fly away to my Ontario home.

Arrivederci, Newfoundland
Keep singing