David Bouchier

Commentator

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 most recent books are a collection of stories about life in a French village called Not Quite a Stranger, an essay collection Out of Thin Air, a memoir, An Unexpected Life (2018), political essays Dark Matters (2019) and Journal of the Eightieth Year (2020). He lives in Stony Brook, New York, with his wife who is a professor emeritus at Stony Brook University.

Thorsten Frenzel from Pixabay

The COVID fiasco has been educational in some ways. Not only has it hammered home one of life’s most important lessons — that predicting the future is always a waste of time — but it has forced a great many of us to try something different, if only to pass the time we might otherwise have wasted planning for the future.

Mount Rushmore
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

There is no national holiday for Calvin Coolidge, or Grover Cleveland. But the banks close and the sales open for Washington and Lincoln. They seem almost unreal at this distance of time, and perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the early Presidents were not just from another age but practically from another political species. We know of course that George Washington was commander-in-chief of the continental army during the Revolutionary War, and the first president of the United States. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President, who really made the mythical journey from log cabin to White House, and was elected at just about the worst moment in the history of the United States. But what more can be said about these two extraordinary men on a Monday morning?

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

In February a year ago, when Valentine’s Day appeared on the horizon, we were just beginning to hear rumors about the famous virus. But my wife and I went out to a restaurant on the 14th as we always do, and it was a festive scene packed with couples of all ages. This year it will be different. Couples who do venture out will probably find themselves in a tent in the restaurant car park, wearing masks. It’s not the same.

Groundhog
Image by Stefaan Van der Biest from Pixabay

Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting “Groundhog Day” shows a plain kitchen table in an old farmhouse. On the table are a knife, a plate, a cup and a saucer. A low sun slants in through the window and outside we can see a wire fence and some split logs. It certainly looks like February.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in "Hamilton," the musical.
Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press

It has been said, rather too often, that in the past year we have been living through history. But we live through history all the time, as long as we live at all — we don’t have much choice. Even the supposedly boring 1950s were history. We suffered the very real threat of nuclear war, and Senator Joe McCarthy’s attack on democracy, the Korean War, the polio epidemic and the arrival of rock and roll. It wasn’t dull, I can tell you. I was there.

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