David Bouchier: A Few Well Chosen Words

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

You can hear David Bouchier on-air Monday mornings or by subscribing to his podcast, A Few Well Chosen Words.

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November 5th, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night, was my favorite night of the year when I was growing up in England. The fireworks were wonderful: majestic Roman candles, spinning Catherine wheels, and unreliable rockets that we launched out of old lemonade bottles, and that might land almost anywhere, like unguided missiles. Every backyard was ablaze with colored lights, and many houses were ablaze too. The fire engine and ambulance bells clanged throughout the night, adding to the drama.

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Only 5-year olds and witches really enjoy Halloween. The build-up is long and tedious, and the event itself is no fun at all unless you happen to be a five year old, or a witch. The first bite-sized candy and spooky decorations appeared in our local supermarket right after Labor Day. Since the beginning of October the quiet highways of Long Island’s North Fork have been jammed with cars heading east, where thousands of great orange pumpkins appeared in the fields, apparently overnight.

Winston Churchill complained that democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others. The vision of free citizens governing themselves by electing the best and the brightest people among them as representatives is one of the best ideas that the human race has ever had. But it may be no more than a distant promise, like the notion that wealth will one day trickle down, or that the check will one day be in the mail.

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Last week on Columbus Day I sympathized with the great navigator because of his inadequate maps. I know just how he felt out there in the trackless ocean. Five hundred and twenty-six years after his famous voyage, I can’t find any decent maps either. They seem to have vanished, along with the dial telephone and the doctor’s friendly house call.

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It seems that we can never have enough living space. Even back in 1492 when the planet was, by modern standards, virtually uninhabited, every king, princeling and adventurer was engaged in a passionate search for new territory. Columbus, of course, won the jackpot – although he never knew it. Seven million square miles of real estate, not even counting South America, and entirely empty, except for the people who happened to be living here.

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