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Was World War One worth it? R.B. Bennett ... Bob Edwards ... The Senator
by SCOOP, the Eye Opener's Ace Contrarian, Reporter, Opinionator

11-Nov-06 -

Unless you're a regular Eye Opener fan -- an endangered species my Dad says -- you've never heard talk of me, Anyway, shake a paw, I'm, Scoop, the Eye Opener's roving, retrieving Ace reporter. You may remember I interviewed Bob Edwards down in the Longest Bar in the West - it's almost three years now.

Says my Dad this morning.:

This very minute, in the dining room of the Alberta Hotel, where you interviewed Bob Edwards, Bob and R.B. Bennett, the 11th Prime Minister of Canada, are eating dinner. Eating at another table are the Senator and his "secretary". The dining room is pretty dark and neither R.B. or the Senator realize the other is in the room. But they've met before. In 1900, the up-and-coming R.B. went on a debating tour of Western Canada. In each of a bunch of places he debated a local Liberal. The Senator was scheduled to debate R.B. in Prince Albert. But before Prince Albert, R.B. stopped in Saskatoon to debate Nicholas Flood Davin. R.B.'s habit was to write out just one speech for all debates, memorize it, use only that speech for every one of the debates. The Saskatoon debate took place at the Orange Lodge. The Senator snuck into the back of the hall. The Senator has a photographic memory. Listening to the Bennett speech once, the Senator knew it by heart.The Senator fixed it so he would speak first at the Prince Albert debate. At the start of the debate, a big smile on his face, the Senator recited R.B.'s speech, savaged it with sarcasm. Sat down. Poor old R.B. is so hard-wired ... he delivered the same speech the Senator had just savaged. The Senator made a bloody fool out of R.B. R.B. has always itched to get even but has never run into the Senator again. The Senator has one big Achilles Heel - World War One. And today is Remembrance Day. Get down there - if you have to stir the pot - you know how to do that, Scooper Boy. It'll sell papers, Scooper Boy. Sic 'em.

So I heads over to Union Cemetery, over to Bob's grave. I makes my mark. And up comes the secret door. Over rolls Bob's gravestone. I steal down the hole and presto there I am on the sawdust floor of the Longest Bar in the West, the LongBar at the Alberta Hotel, at 1st Street and Stephen Avenue, Calgary, Alberta. From there I sneak under the dining room door, hide under a table.

At one table, tossing down three dozen oysters, sits a big guy, wearing a soft tweed sports jacket, smuggled in from the U.S. of A., (a doggie can tell where a suit's made just by the smell - the Senator's sports jacket reeked Connecticut Yankee), a half-Windsor knot in his wool paisley tie and grey flannel trousers. His comfortable brown shoes were cobbled on the Lower East Side and they, also, had been smuggled into Canada. And what do ya' know, I smelled my Dad's genes oozing out of him. He had a big pot belly. In his day - he died in January 1917 - being fat told the world you were successful. He was 60 when he died. He was the type of guy a doggie wanted to be with all the time. He had a wonderful warmth about him. If a doggie likes him, the girls like him - with his warmth, I can tell you for sure, the Senator was a lady-killer. With him was a gal, about 35. She had a steno pad with her but her fingers hadn't touched a typewriter keyboard for years - I could smell that. And I could see through her skirt - what a set of pins. And I checked out my ESP Directory and, I knew it, he was the Senator. He was playing footsie with his "secretary" (today she'd be called a "personal assistant" in more ways than one).

Across the room sat Bob and another big man, fat and soft all over except for his face. He wore a morning coat. He had a carnation in his buttonhole. His little piggy eyes were nearly popping out of his head and I snuck over and sniffed his butt and it was tight as a bow-string. He looked like a mackerel and I felt cold as a mackerel around him. If a doggie spent too much time around him, a doggie'd jump off the Tallahassee Bridge. He had a full Windsor knot in his tie and a big diamond stick pin. And he was Richard Bedford ("R.B.") Bennett PC, KC and he had just eaten three overflowing plates of over-cooked roast beef and six piles of Yorkshire Pudding and was just tying into a fourth plate of bread pudding. I could tell the gals didn't really like R.B. but R.B. liked the gals. R.B. was lecturing and bullying and putting down about Bob's smoking and his drinking and his disturbing the Gospel. Bob had a healthy glow about his nose and his mustache wasn't drooping. But the nose veins weren't standing out and the mustachio wasn't bristling and he had a smile on his face. And his cigar had a jaunty tilt about it. He looked tolerant and pleasant, not even hung-over and ready to put up with a lot of pontificating from R.B. And Bob was drinking "tea" out of a big tea pot - but my sniffer told me that, for sure (and smellin' is belivin'), that pot didn't really contain tea.

Now I could tell the Senator was too busy stocking up on oysters to notice R.B. and R.B. was too busy bullying Bob to notice the Senator. My Doggie ESP swings both ways - I can receive ESP but I can send ESP too. So I cranked up the volume and I aimed at Bob. Presto - Bob's eyes shot over to the Senator's table. He nudged R.B. and winked. R.B.'s little piggy eyes darted over to the Senator's table. And R.B.'s little eyes feasted on the Senator's personal assistant and R.B. wanted to rout up the good-looking gal so he decided he'd better check out the competition but, when he did, R.B. saw it was the Senator, his hated adversary who hadn't played by the rules in 1900. The veins stood out in R.B.'s nose and his face and his lips curled back, and he pointed and, with a clipped maritime accent, he snarled:

That man's a four flusher. There's a story for you, Bob: CONFIDENTIAL SECRETARY ABOARD, SENATOR _____________ VISITS CALGARY, SECRETLY.

Not loud enough for a Senator - the Senator was fully charging his batteries with oysters

So I ESPed up the Senator's hearing to top volume.

"A four flusher, I say. That cheap-looking cad there," protested R.B. - he stood up.

"A cad eh?" the Senator laughed in a lilting Irish brogue (with a little bit of the Lower East Side of New York thrown in) his eyes focused on the good-looker.."'Cad'? A cad, maybe, but not a gigolo!!!" - the Senator pulled out a box of Eddy matches, pulled out a match, made a hole with his left finger and left thumb, pumped the match up and down in the hole.

"Sweetie?" asked the personal assistant.

The Widow Eddy, poor old Ezra Eddy's widow. This guy screwed her, in the Biblical sense, the Presbyterian son-of-a-bitch, screwed her till she left her dead husband's fortune to who else? - that pompous piece of pomposity over there, Richard Bedderdown Bennett.

The Senator bit this teeth into the middle knuckle of his right middle finger - hard. Both the Senator and R.B. were lovers, not fighters - neither lunged, threatened nor challenged. The Senator directed his rants at his assistant. R.B. at Bob.

"The two of them are here celebrating Remembrance Day, Bob. That scoundrel had five sons, in World War One, all five were draft dodgers, shirkers, zombies," harrumpghed R.B.

The Senator laughed to his good-looker:

Scoundrel, eh. Bedderdown was a 44-year-old when the war started. Kept bedding them down on the home front all during the war. Fighten the so-called "War to End All Wars" on the home front. Even his crooked buddy, Aitken, joined up. Little girl, if ya' ve heard of Dr. Johnson, ya'll know what he said about the Bedderdown Bennetts of this world and scoundrels:

'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.'

But then Bob popped up, looked at both.

"Gentlemen."

Looked at the Senator:

He's accused your sons of shirking duty in the Great War, Senator.. What d'ya' say?

"I'm proud of my sons. I helped 'em. I owed it to 'em. I owed it to my family - not to let them be killed in a bloody slaughter house by a bunch of blundering, putty-headed, buck-toothed English generals. In every English high mucky-muck family the stupidest son went into the army - you could only be a general if you were born into a high mucky-muck family - so English generals , by tradition - were dumb - by tradition - everything the English do is for their God-damned traditions," mumbled the Senator - gnawing his knuckle furiously. "You want an example - Douglas Haig - the Butcher of the Somme - the Haig and Haig Whiskey family sent him off to the army as quickly as possible (I heard Bob whispering, under his breath: "Thank Gawd fir that"). These dumbos slaughtered 58,000 men at the Battle of Ypres ..... the generals were too stupid to dig their trenches on high ground. The Germans had a turkey shoot. The knuckleheads lost 15 thousand every week. They were stuck in the mud in those God damn trenches in mud - the numb skull pin heads made them dig in swamps. The imbeciles killed over three million men. The Americans had to bail them out. Over three million men killed for what? The Americans had to bail them out again 20 years later"

Bob turned to Bennett: "Pretty horrendous numbers, R.B.!!!! Honestly, you were a businessman, R.B., a leader. Wasn't this sheer incompetence, sheer lack of comtox R.B. Our men needlessly slaughtered by these Colonel Blimps!!!!"

Totally irrelevant, Bob, His Majesty the King appointed the generals. The Senator's sons were British Subjects. A duty to be loyal. To fight for King and Country. It's not up to the "Senator" to question authority. When Laurier appointed him to the Senate, this fellow swore an oath of allegiance to the King's Grandmother. This trash has been too much around Yankees. "Scoundrel" indeed - this wretch is the real scoundrel, I'll tell 'ya. Heeee .... Conspired with Riel in 1885 ... he did Bob - should have been hung for treason and drawn and quartered in '85. No he wheedled his way into the Senate. Talk about tradition - the family tradition of being a scoundrel - treason, Bob, is a tradition in this fellow's family - his uncle was a rebel (a Young Irelander, the poet of the Young Ireland Rebellion) - I don't know why that rebel wasn't strung up or transported to Australia. The others were. For King and Country - that's why his miserable sons were supposed to fight but didn't.

Stormed the Senator:

What a bunch of hooey. "The King" - the King was nothin' but a thick wooden figurehead for English big shots - commercially, before the war, the Germans were beating the bejeeziz out of the English. They built better machinery, were more scientific, were every bit as democratic as the English. No, the English were losing money to the Germans. So the English forced us into a war that had nothing to do with us. The English, for some reason, would never let Europe go its own way. It was always English diplomatic policy that if any country (France or Germany) got so big it was starting to dominate Europe, then England would step in. For years that was their policy. So we had to lose over three million men to support a policy, I, for one, don't understand. Why couldn't the English let Europe alone?

"Now," said Bob. "R.B., Senator, let's see if we can find some common ground here gentlemen. First, R.B., do you agree, the English generals were dumb but the English leaders weren't?"

The English are the smartest race on the face of the Earth.

"Then," asked Bob. "Sshwerrly they would na' be sending Englishmen (and we Canadians were Englishmen then) into a slaughterhouse fer no reason whatsoever?"

Of course not.

So is the Senator right - was the war part of a diplomatic strategy not to allow any nation of Europe to dominate Europe?

That is evidence of their wisdom, Bob.

"That's great for the English big shots," the Senator yelled. "But what about us North Americans. Why should we be fighten their wars for them?"

"Senator," asked Bob. "What if Germany (or France for that matter) had dominated Europe in 1914 or thereabouts? Would England have been in peril? At Dover, the English Channel is only 21 miles wide, isn't it?"

So what?

Senator, are ya' saying, you wouldn't care whether England survived or not? What if Europe had taken over England?

Well, what's so great about England? England could have learned alot from Europe. From Germany or from France. Europe's more modern than England. Like I say, everything, with the Englishmen, is tradition.

What about the tradition of habeas corpus? If the Riel Rebellion had taken place in Europe - why you'd be still in jail - held on suspicion. But the tradition of habeas corpus going back to the 14th Century wouldn't allow that to happen in England or the Colonies. Is that a bad tradition?

The Senator wolfed down another oyster.

Or the tradition of "a man's home is his castle" respect for private property? And fighting for your traditions "on the beaches, on the landing fields ... muddling through "nevah surrendering"?

Another oyster consumed.

Or, an English tradition, if there ever was one, common sense? Or the English sense of decency? Senator, ya' say the Europeans don't go by tradition. And they're more modern.

Another oyster.

Well, I'm a Scot, Senator. I don't love the English. But the English, because of English tradition, didn't have a Hitlerrr, didn't have an Auschwitz - too decent, too traditional, not modern enough for a Hitler.

He swirled down a big draught of "tea".

Didn't slaughter people for their beliefs, the way Napoleon and the Russians did.

The last oyster was consumed.

I'll take the English any day. And protecting England was worth it, Senator.

Nice meetin' ya', Mr. Edwards. Doon't knoo why ya' hang around with a hypocritical stuffed shirt like that Bedderdown Bennett. C'mon gal, let's get the hell out of here.

And the Senator was gone and so was his warmth and I missed him right away - even though he was a bit of scoundrel, and a wrong-headed one at that.

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