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.

When I walked into the local hardware store on a lovely sunny day last week I found myself facing not only a grisly display of plastic witches, cobwebs and pumpkins, but an even more depressing heap of ice scrapers, anti-freeze and salt. The main aisle was half blocked by a snow blower, some snow shovels were lurking in the distance, and there was a special offer on driveway markers to help you find your way back to your own house when the snow is too deep for normal navigation. Global warming has made no impression on the hardware business.

A sudden attack of back trouble reminded me – not that I needed reminding – that my body has some mechanical issues. If I was a car I would have been recalled and repaired years ago. This spine is clearly no longer fit for purpose.

It takes a lot to get English people really upset. But the organizers of a vegetable show in an English village managed it when they agreed to allow contestants to enter produce that they had not grown, but instead purchased at the local supermarket. This was considered an outrage and a violation of all the laws of fair play and honest competition. The whole point of such shows is to reward the skill and dedication of the grower who produces the fattest marrow or the longest carrot. There’s no glory at all in simply buying something.

We stopped in England for a few days, in a village where we used to live – just across the street from our former house, in fact. How strange it was to wake up in a place that was once so familiar. I could lie in bed and listen to the village coming to life in the morning. The clatter of the postman's bicycle against the brick wall, the thump of the morning papers through the door, the antique Austin car owned by the woman next door starting up, with a painful wheezing noise, the clang of milk bottles, two neighbors discussing the latest scandal in the Royal Family.

You may have missed the fact that tomorrow, Sept. 15, is "Respect for the Aged" Day, but only in Japan. When I saw this in my calendar of useless dates, my first thought was that we could use some Respect for the Aged here in America. A good start would be to begin calling us "aged," or even "old" instead of that irritating term "seniors." The notion of seniority gets us off on the wrong foot, suggesting the overweening power wielded by "senior" members of Congress, for example. "Old" is a statement of fact: "senior" is a claim to authority.