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.

This week we have an appointment to meet with our tax accountant. I’m not asking for sympathy, just a little understanding. It’s always with a sense of doom that I pull out the boxes and the files and start working through the contents. There it is, my whole life for the past year reduced to dollars and cents: every meal and hotel room, every postal packet and phone call, every printer cartridge and paper clip, every check flowing in and every check flowing out (a considerably larger number), and every regretted extravagance.

It’s the first official day of spring, a traditional moment of optimism and hope. As the weather improves millions of people will soon be on the move in search of a better life in the West.

Migration is a desperate measure: remember the Pilgrim Fathers, the Italians, the Irish, and all the others who came here. Nobody really wants to leave their home country, their culture and their language to start all over again. In the case of refugees from violence, political chaos, and religious madness, we should surely offer them a safe place to live in our vast open spaces.

Yesterday morning I almost forgot to spring the clocks forward. Not that it would have mattered. My life is not so busy that an hour added or taken away would make much difference and, in any case, time pays no attention to clocks. Time just keeps ticking on relentlessly at the same pace, no matter what we do.

A lot of people seem to be applying for or renewing their passports at the moment, and there’s often a line at our local post office. It must be the anticipation of the vacation season. It’s good to have a passport, because now you can scarcely go anywhere without one. Even Canada and Bahamas are included in the list of untrustworthy foreign places. Yet Canada and Bahamas aren’t “abroad”: Canada is just the fringe of North America that George Washington abandoned to the British because it was too cold to be worth arguing about, and the Bahamas are just disconnected chunks of Florida.

Communication between human beings is a delicate business. It depends on words – slippery things that can change meaning almost from day to day and person to person.

That’s why some of us old-fashioned communicators, who grew up with manual typewriters and postage stamps, are suspicious of the so-called communications revolution. There’s no doubt that more communications are taking place, billions of them. So many thoughts, feeling and opinions are being exchanged that we should be entering a golden age of mutual understanding. But it doesn’t seem to be working out like that.

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