David Bouchier


David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost twenty years. After coming to the United States in 1986 he continued to teach and to publish a regular humor column in The New York Times regional edition.  He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996. His latest book of essays, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2011. His other books include A Few Well Chosen Words, The Song of Suburbia, The Cats and the Water Bottles, The Accidental Immigrant and Writer at Work. He lives in Stony Brook, New York, with his wife who is a professor at Stony Brook University, and two un-musical cats.

Courtesy of Pixabay

How could we live without our pharmacies? At any given moment of the year they tell us what we should be suffering from now, and what we should be worrying about next. So the modern pharmacy is quite a poignant metaphor of the human condition, surrounded as we are by invisible threats. Here, in a single boxlike structure, we find everything we want and everything we fear: good health and bad habits, religion and paganism; the promise of youth and beauty and the certainty of old age. As the cliché has it, all human life is there, and all human weaknesses too.

The Chinese leaders have been studying George Orwell again. They have devised a new plan for what they call “social credit,” which will be a kind of ranking by good or bad behavior. Citizens with good social credit will receive privileges like better jobs, access to travel visas, and cheaper insurance. Those with bad social credit will get a much less agreeable experience. How will the Chinese government know who’s naughty and who’s nice? By monitoring their internet use.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Not everybody enjoys paying taxes. Some citizens regard them as a kind of legalized robbery. They agree with Tom Paine who said, when income tax was introduced in 1792, “What at first was plunder has assumed the softer name of revenue.” Just as medieval kings brutally robbed their citizens to finance their wars and comfortable lifestyles, so the democratic monarchs of the present age have found less violent means to the same ends. The extreme anti-tax position embraces a kind of anarchy in which central government ceases to exist, and only the fittest survive.

When I was a very junior journalist the news cycle was literally a cycle – my form of transportation from one local story to another. The news was delivered as fast as it took me to finish my reporting rounds, pedal back to the office, and type it. This took time, but we had the time, and there never was much news anyway.

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Italy is a theatrical nation, the home of grand opera and operatic politics, as well as a population who perform life as if every night was an opening night. It was therefore not surprising to read about a village near Siena called Monticchiello in which the inhabitants, every year, stage a theatrical performance in which they act out the dramas and anxieties of their own lives. The script is put together by the community during the winter and then staged in summer with villagers playing themselves.