David Bouchier

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

You can hear David Bouchier on-air Monday mornings or by subscribing to his podcast, A Few Well Chosen Words.

Jane Austen died almost exactly two hundred years ago, on July 18, 1817. The anniversary bringing a small flood of new literary biographies. She wrote about a world that was, psychologically and socially a million miles away from present-day Britain or America, in the kind of English that nobody speaks or writes any more. The massive popularity of Jane Austen's work in the twenty-first century is therefore something of a mystery. Movies and TV specials have something to do with it, of course.

Thomas Bartherote / Creative Commons

There are still forty-four monarchies in the world, including those in Britain and Saudi Arabia, and I would be willing to bet that none of those kings or queens have any great affection for the month of July. Historically, two of the most devastating attacks on the principle of monarchy happened in July. The British King George III was cruelly rejected by his American colonists on July the 4, 1776, and in France, July 14th, Bastille Day, commemorates the revolution that dethroned King Louis XVI.

Courtesy of Pixabay

History is such a confusing maze of characters and events that we cling to certain symbolic dates. The Fourth of July is one such date. Everybody knows that the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Like so much of our historical knowledge, this is wrong. It is true that an unfortunate misunderstanding between Britain and her American colonies did blow up around that time. But the Declaration was not signed until July 19th.

Petros Giannakouris / AP

At school we learned a poem by Shelley called Ozymandias that began with the words: "I met a traveler from an antique land," and I always wondered where the antique land was. When I came to Long Island I discovered that it was right here, down in the Hamptons, where selling antiques seems to be the main industry in whole towns and villages. There is a mysterious force, like gravity, that attracts old furniture and what are humorously called “decorative objects” to certain places. This force has not been definitely identified by scientists, but I think it's called money.

Courtesy of Pixabay

I very nearly posted a photograph on my Facebook page the other day. This would have been a rare event. Normally the page simply sits there, unchanging, like a picture on a gallery wall. Some of my friends post pictures of themselves, their friends, relatives, pets, airports they are passing through, and even meals they have cooked or eaten in restaurants. But I don’t want to force my friends to live my whole life at second hand, it’s just not that interesting.

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