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 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.

A few days before school.started here on Long Island I went to a big office supply store in search of something old-fashioned, like filing folders or yellow pads. Dozens of eager young scholars and their teachers were there before me, stocking up for that long-awaited back-to-school moment. The mass of shoppers didn’t worry me, because I assumed they would be crowding the aisles of computers and electronic gadgets. But no, they were interested only in paper, and all the charming products that accompany paper – pens and pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and folders in many colors.

Mark Lennihan / AP

We have so many anniversaries, big and small, happy and sad, that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Every day is the anniversary of something or someone, and most of them, we are willing to forget. But not this one, not yet.

Here we are, it’s Labor Day weekend. The slow, easy decline of summer is upon us, and it brings a certain relaxation, not least because we can stop pretending to relax. Very soon we can cast aside those never-finished mega-books from the summer reading lists and consign them back to the library, or the yard sale. Soon we can abandon the uncertain pleasures of the beach, hide the barbecue under its black cover, put away the insect repellants, and live normally for a few weeks, at least until The Holidays arrive.

Gemma Billings / Flickr

Supermarkets don't scare me anymore. For years I was terrorized by the health police. Guilt and anxiety fought a losing battle against a healthy appetite, and a hyperactive food industry. When I went food shopping, I felt I should carry a magnifying glass to read the tiny lists of ingredients and nutrition information on every package, and a chemical dictionary to translate them.

The small ad pages of local newspapers often reveal more than the news pages. They give the reader a glimpse behind the conventional social scene into a slightly sad world of used cars, secondhand furniture, hopeful handymen, lost cats and lonely hearts. This is where you find the real, down to earth life of a place,  so I never fail to read the back pages of our local papers wherever we are.

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