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

The desire to make things clean and tidy in the springtime seems to be almost a biological urge, and like most biological urges, it should be resisted. Spring may be the season of renewal and new beginnings, but there’s no point in going crazy about it. The energy and optimism we feel at this time of year shouldn’t be wasted on cleaning.

While we were all busy being Irish yesterday I found time to reflect on the famous American Melting Pot, and how it seems to be melting. Soon after I first came to America, I was in Baltimore on Saint Patrick’s Day, and so I just had to see the parade. It was much like any other parade, until a marching band appeared in full Scottish highland dress, playing energetically on the bagpipes. Half of them were African Americans. The concept of an Irish African American Scottish bagpiper must be something unique to this nation, and was almost beyond the capacity of my alien brain to grasp.

Charlie Riedel / AP

It's not just your imagination: time really does move faster as we get older. Research shows that, from middle age onwards, we steadily fall behind the clock. For a senior citizen, half an hour zips by in fifteen minutes, so actual clock time seems to be moving faster and faster.

This sense of vanishing time is made all the sharper by the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. A whole hour evaporates in a flash, although it seems like only the day before yesterday when you set the clocks back for winter. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Language is a tricky thing. I started talking when I was about 3-years-old, and I’m still talking, usually in what I believe to be English. Other people talk to me in the same language. Yet scarcely a day goes by without some kind of misunderstanding, usually trivial, about what somebody has said, or meant, or implied. Unfortunately I learned an older, more primitive version of the language and, as Oscar Wilde remarked, Britain and America have everything in common except their language, so everything is translation for me. 

Wikimedia Commons

We have all been the victims of proverbial wisdom, especially when we were young. A large part of the job of parenting is to bombard one’s unfortunate offspring with warnings and advice in the form of easily remembered clichés posing as absolute truths.