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Alan Johnson is my hero

How exciting is this? This morning, there was a heavy cream-coloured envelope in my mailbox from the House of Commons, London.  Only a few weeks ago, I read an interview in the Guardian with British politician Alan Johnson, who has won several awards with his memoir This Boy. (Choice of Beatle song title not coincidental.) The article was one in a series asking famous people to name their hero. Alan’s was … Paul. My very own Paul.

I immediately ordered his book, which isn’t listed in our library system yet, and then I decided to send him mine. Expecting nothing – a book goes off addressed to the House of Commons, London. At best, I thought that in months, I’d receive a form letter of thanks. 

Instead, a very sweet hand-signed and prompt letter, telling me he is looking forward to reading my book! Now, that’s not just a skilled politician with an efficient office but an impressive man. I’ve started his book, and it’s wonderful. I will write him back when I’ve finished it. Thank you, fellow memoirist and Paul lover.

Today is the annual Book Fair run by Doubletake, my favourite store – for only a toony entrance fee, you enter a room packed to the rafters with books and pile them up. Oh heaven and hell. I found tons for me, for my students, for my Little Free Library. I’ll go back again to stock up for the latter, as there are some pretty bare days there. Of course, the last thing on earth that I need is more books. And yet – sweeeeet.

Last night, I went to one of my favourite places, the Merchants of Green Coffee cafe and shop on Matilda Street, to an event called Poetry Night in Canada. A former actor called Jeffrey Renn, from Powell River, has chosen great Canadian poems; he tells stories about them and then recites them for us. It was wonderful to sit in a funky sunlit room that smells of coffee, listening to my country’s greatest poets – Al Purdy, Ondaatje, Atwood, Scott … We even got to our feet and recited “Alligator Pie” by Dennis Lee with Jeffrey. “If I don’t get some, I think I’m gonna DIE!”

I was informed about the event by my pen pal Theresa Kishkan; we follow each other’s blogs and are dear friends who have never met. Jeffrey read some poems by Theresa’s husband, the prize-winning poet John Pass, who had the original idea and helped put the event together. And then Jeffrey read a beautiful poem by Theresa herself, which was – of course – my favourite. 



4 Responses to “Alan Johnson is my hero”

  1. theresa says:

    Beautiful letterhead!

  2. beth says:

    Beautiful thick cream paper, too. How rarely things like that arrive in the letterbox now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So typical of the man Carole

  4. beth says:

    Thank God, in these dark days of Rob Ford and Stephen Harper, we have Kathleen Wynne, a wonderful woman and politician. But creatures like Kathleen and Alan Johnson are like unicorns.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.