Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turning Point Recovery Society

Turning Point Recovery Society ( held it's second annual Gala
Fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel tonight with MC Randene Neil from Global BC. Turning Point has been helping men and women recover from the disease of addiction and improving communities for over 26 years by providing abstinence based residential environments for people to begin recovery.
Christopher Kennedy Lawford, author of Symptons of Withdrawal and Moments of Clarity, was the keynote speaker. He certainly had my attention when he said that Marilyn Munroe had taught him to do the twist when he was six. Referring to Uncle Bobby he told how the loss of his two uncles and divorce of his parents had contributed to his eventual alcoholism and drug addiction. Starting life with wealth and fame and power he described how he lost everything to drugs and alcohol. C.S. Lewis said that "in adversity God shouts at us" and he described the "psychic change" that Carl Jung had talked about being necessary for the alcoholic to over come his addiction and leave his life of 'diminishing expectations'. "All alcoholics and addicts are running from something, he said, it's just that they're wearing different coloured running shoes." "My grandmother Rose Kennedy said, To whom much is given, much is expected". In his last 22 years of abstinent recovery he has become an activist. "Addiction is the single most important public health issue in Canada, United States and the World today." His talk was met with heartfelt applause and standing ovation from the many there who knew the truth of his message that 'stigma and stereotypes' blinded society to the severity of the brain disease of addiction that cost billions and ravaged the lives of so many.
Laura and I enjoyed the delightful company at our table, the delicious food, fine service and animated conversation. Government luminaries and who's who passed frequently as the invariable last minute jockeying for the silent auction took place. As announcements of the Canucks scores punctuated the evening the Canucks game tickets climbed to a thousand. Five thousand went on West Jet flight tickets in the open auction.
In the end some witch outbid me on the opera tickets and a real toad got the hockey painting I covetted. Meanwhile Laura must have been casting spells or dirty looks as for another year my bid for the Mary Kay stinky lotion stuff went unsurpassed. It was all round a grand night and truly one of the finest events of the season. Sincere thanks to Executive Director Brenda Plant and the board of Turning Point.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CAA Writer's Circle

My head was spinning this week. Reading was going in one direction around the room but criticism was going in the other direction. Sechelt mother daughter conversations in library mixed with otherworldly corporate lawyers bathing in medieval castles. Egyptian shards mixed with unrequited mother's love. Meanwhile my hit man was figuring the prostitute wasn't a prostitute when he saw her gun. There was way too much laughter for starts. Criticism is supposed to be a somber affair. Who would have guessed that enlightenment sounded better as salvation. And my god but I was thankful to learn from Judith what a MacMuffin was. Every writer has to have one now. Maltese Falcons and indestructible artifacts. Polly always came when she was called but Hungry the horse really was hungry. Margaret was stupendous to host the group in her lovely home but expressed concern she might not be there the next meeting. "You'll just have to arrange for one of us to have your keys, " Leila unabashedly quipped. We all laughed outrageously at the audacity. Leila offered to host and Perry said we could always go to Starbuck's.

It really inspires me to write.
It does that.
I'm afraid to miss a meeting and not hear what's happens next.

Daphne Bramham is next weeks speaker at the CAA.
She's really good.

I love all that I'm learning at these meetings.
Adderson was so helpful with her recommendations.
My friend loves the books I buy at the author meetings.

"Counterfeit World" is out of print but I see there's used copies on e Bay.
I've still got copies of "Just Mary."

One author was asked to sign a "used" autographed copy and it turned out it was one he'd given his family.

Good meeting. Looking forward to next week. Thanks Margaret.

Coming out of the building they were whisked away into an interdimensional world while Australians talked to Egyptians about odd psychologists in Sechelt. A sniper's bullet fired in the night. Can you really get a flophouse room on skid row for a 2 hour author's meeting with money alone or do you have to show ID? Would CAA ID be sufficienct?

Monday, April 27, 2009


Mike Meyers as the Love Guru Pitka and later hockey fan is a riot in this movie he co wrote with Graham Gordy. It's a dictionary of humor with every form represented from slapstick (not surprising given the hockey scenes) to sophisticated double entendre. Groucho Marx would be as impressed as Woody Allen. Deeprak Chopra clearly was as Bollywood scores at the Stanley Cup. Jessica Alba , Jessica Simpson, Meagan Good give new meaning to "love". Verne Troyer as the midget coach was a movie unto himself with his hilarious office and burning midget goal. Elephants on ice was another great spectacle in this team come back love story with Kanye West playing himself. I loved this great Canadian world movie and would recommend it to anyone , especially Oprah. Makes one want to know more about Harper and Ignatieff's relationships with their mothers , though. What would Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley) recommend for them? !

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Princess for a Day

Princess for a Day

-by william hay

I want to be a princess for a day/I'll want to walk a mile in your silk underwear

I want to be driven everywhere/But I don't want diapers and childcare

I want a sugar daddy/ But I want everyone's respect

Mainly I want someone else/ To have to pay my rent

I want to be a princes for a day/I 'll walk a mile in your silk underwear

I want to be a princess like sex in the city/ I want to shop and gossip

And always look pretty

I don't want to diet, exercise or shave my legs/But I want everything to be my way

I want to be 21 with my own trust fund/I want servants and parties and just have fun

Then I want to complain about how tough it is to be a princess

How no one cares or understands enough

I want to be a princess for a day/I'll walk a mile in your silk underwear

I don't want to be a transexual/ I don't want all the pain or surgery

And I don't want to stay a woman because then I'd become an old lady

I want to go back to being a man when I can/Lying unshaved on the couch

Belching and farting and scratching and stuff/ and still getting control of the channel changer

I want to be a princess for a day/I'll walk a mile in your silk underwear

Could I borrow your negligee/Would you help with my lingerie

I want to be a princess for a day/I'll walk a mile in your silk underweard

Saturday, April 25, 2009



- william hay

I"m a millionaire but I used to be a billionaire

Till I lost a trillion

Momma's going to be so mad

When I tell her I lost a trillion

Don't know where I left it , maybe I left it at Eddy's

Looking for a bail out, rather it be from Jesus

But I'd take it from the devil

I'll take it from anywhere

Don't want real estate, Prefer hard currency

Want gold or diamond

But will take money anywhere I can get it

Maybe I shouldn't have put it up my nose

Or listened to the big breasted woman

Or the boy with cute hips

Or gone to Vegas

Momma's gonna be so mad

When I tell her I lost a trillion

Maybe I left it at Eddy's

Maybe I left it on the playground.


The Economist, April 4-10th 2009 ( has some interesting observations. Their 'interpretations' or what theologians would call 'apologia' leaves something to be desired but I must congratulate their writers on data collection. The Economist sells better on Wall Street than in east Vancouver.

In "The Rich under Attack" article it states that "rising inequality - the top .1% of Americans earned 20 times the income of the bottom 90% in 1979 and 77 times in 2006."

"In the "Easier for a camel" article it states that "A survey by Oliver Wyman, a consultancy, estimates that the financial crisis has caused high-net-worth individuals (as the banking industry calls the rich) to lose $10 trillion or a quarter of their wealth." The annual Forbes list found that the global number of billionaires last year fell to 793 from 1,125."

Forgive me if I'm wrong but even stupid rich people don't just 'lose" trillions of dollars. Let me look in the upholstery of your Rolls if you can't figure out where the loose pocket change is slipping away.

Trillions didn't fall down from Wall Street to east Vancouver., either. That's for sure. Your fat cousin is more likely to have taken a quarter of your wealth than anyone in my neck of the woods.

A 'consolidation of wealth" at the top is all that appears to be happening. A very few are getting a whole lot richer.

When Bush et al bombed the shit out of the once beautiful city of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein et al dropped out of the previous "1,125 gang" when it became the "793 club".

I've studied Roman mythology. Zeus and Mars and all those other gods have fights and party with the goddesses Venus and Diana. The gods and goddesses have special powers that mere humans don't have like "tax havens" and "swiss banks" , nuclear weapons and assassination squads.

It's all way above my pay scale. The rich are getting richer. The poor are not necessarily getting poorer. As a peasant I think I'm doing better than my Scottish forbears who lived in the shadow of their English feudal lords. I'm grateful for indoor plumbing but am a little pissed that you're taking the fish and killing the whales.

What I won't do is think I'm 'less than'. I'm a spiritual being living a human existence. In the eyes of God we're all equal. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when some of my superiors meet St. Peter. What I have to wonder about is how I share my albeit small peasant's portion and whether I will do the next right thing.

Perhaps I can also pray that the war on Mount Olympus is over so that 'trickle down' economics from their drunken parties might resume. Besides even the rich have to sleep sometime.

When Troudeau said that Canada was the mouse sleeping beside the American elephant I think he might have got his rodents mixed up with his bilingualism difficulties.

My Canada is a beaver with teeth.

Roll over Beethoven!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


by William Hay

We call it an adventure. But what is the real meaning of this thing we do.

I am facing life and death in a more proximate way every day as I sail solo on the GIRI. A day does not go by when I realize my own limitations. It seems there are a series of events which arise and I am unable to believe that I will surpass them until they are behind me.

Sailing in a gale, huge waves breaking across the deck, gunnels awash, cockpit full, boat healed unreasonably over then righting again and again. I am in the moment. Every action is defined by the seconds and minutes of the struggle to stay focused. My mind wanders into terror and almost screams at me my situation is hopeless and yet somehow with prayer and constant resistance against fatigue and hopelessness I carry on. The boat pulls through. The minutes become hours and the hours turn into a day and a night. Dawn comes.

The light always brings more hope. It seems that I can’t go on, that if anything were to break or fail I’d be at a total loss. I’m doing everything I can at the outer edge of my reserve and when it seems that it must end, almost quietly it does. The winds slacken, the seas subside. I’ve come through yet another occasion in life. I’m on the other side. I’ve a story to tell. I’ve experienced an adventure. But at the time it didn’t feel like an adventure. At the time it was a nightmare. In the moment it’s a fight against panic. The struggle is mostly internal. Externals are fixed and invariable. But internally there’s this place where I can prevail. I can constantly repeat the name of my saviour, Jesus Christ, rather than hear myself shouting “you’re going to die”, “we’re going to die”, “you’re a fool to be doing this”, “you should never have left port.”

God the Creator I call upon you, I say over and over again. Then I worry that the Moslems say that God has a thousand names. Have I got the right one for the right occasion.

Then I’m searching for the lucky rabbits foot of my childhood. Somewhere in my mind I must find that rabbit’s foot but then I don’t know if it’s the brown one or the white one that will work the magic I need. I’m not calm. I’m stretched to the limit. Yet I’m surfing this roller and riding that wave and heeling in the wind and coming back up when the big one hits almost learning to dance. But it’s not a studio. It’s more like a bull fighting ring.

I’m waltzing with the waves. There are moment’s of serenity then the bulldozer hits and I’m running scared with that big one riding my ass as I wallow down the side and feel all steerage lost and I’m over heeling unreasonably again, and waters coming over the side.

The cockpit’s full and the little dog is swimming and I don’t want to lose him. He’s shivering in his life jacket hating the water while I’m out there in this thing wishing I was home watching tv, doing anything but this lonely unsung hero shit. I’ve got to prove myself a man somehow after all these years. Like no one noticed I had cajones or I forgot.

Why am I out here anyway. I’m trying to reassert the masculine while the feminine of aging inexorably wears me down. I’m seeking testosterone in an estrogen world. I’m resisting killing but risking death. I choose to believe that men don’t become more manly by fighting each other but rather by fighting themselves. I’m in competition with myself and God. The struggle is here in the elemental. I’m saying over and over again as Jesus did, “My God why hast thou forsaken me.”

At death it will feel like that. I’m running towards the grave knowing that it doesn’t matter unless the bullet has my name on it. I’m immortal until fate takes me or I make a mistake. I wonder obsessively about all the things I could have should have would have done when I’m in that wind and wave time.

When it’s all I can do to steer the boat and I’m thinking did I tighten that nut well enough, or should I have checked that knot once again. Things come undone and break that never should have but the forces are so severe. Bits of lostness find there way out of ironic places of hiding to lie on the floor of the cabin. Years ago was their last appearance and now here’s that note, that card, that little thing. It’s been shook out of hiding by the forces. Things bash and bang and it’s like there should be breakage but there’s not. I worry and then remember that Jesus commanded “do not be afraid” so naturally worrying is wicked and I don’t want to be wicked so I feel guilty that I worry and try not to worry and worry about worrying.

This is all going on in these moments mostly late at night when only the nearest waves are visible and they’re too big in the bits of light from the cabin. That’s when the wind is more sound in the rigging than it is something felt. It’s heard. I’m beginning to know wind speed by sound like soldiers know the size of bombs by their incoming sounds.

I’m afraid a lot. I’ve always known myself to be quite cowardly. Most of what I do is counter phobic. I do things though when others wouldn’t. I react and seem to know rationally and sanely what is within my grasp. I’m a survivor and yet I am seen as an adventurer.

I don’t even feel like I’m gentleman enough to be an adventurer. Only gentlemen are true adventurers. I’m too common in that sense. A commoner really. On a very common adventure. Life is common.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alcohol and Accident Free Days

Alcohol – Accident free days
By William Hay

“Bill told me that you’re a shrink but that you’re different.” He started the conversation. He was a big man in a kacki camouflage jacket wearing wool slacks and workboots. He had big hands. His face wore a days stubble. About mid 50’s, I guessed. He could be older and look younger.

He leaned his Muskavera rifle against the pack, spout pointing away.

“Mind if I join, you.” He said.

“Sure,” I was still trying to digest his first statement.

“I work over at the mill with Bill. That’s one of the reasons my son and I wanted to come hunting with you two this weekend. The other one as you probably know, is Bill always gets game.” He laughed.

I laughed with him. While I was new to these parts I’d already heard enough of Bill’s legendary hunting skills. Never came home empty handed. Spent years hunting as a teen ager to feed his brothers and sisters after his father died leaving his sick mother alone to fend through the northern winters of the dirty thirties. Later a hunting and fishing guide. My friend now as the result of a chance encounter in the woods when he was having a heart attack and I just happened to be a doctor. His way of repaying me had been to take me hunting with him and teaching me as he did the ways of these woods and the game that inhabited them.

“We don’t take much to the psychiatrist in the mills around here.” He went on to say. I was a little taken aback. He was being even more direct than I was used to. A lot of people have a lot against psychiatrists mostly for the same reasons as they do against judges. Psychiatrists are commonly required to give an opinion that goes a bit counter to the persons own opinion especially in matters of family disputes. Somehow this didn’t seem to be the case.

We were sitting at the campsite we’d chosen. It was mid afternoon. We’d all hunted in the morning without luck and planned to go out for the evening hunt in a few hours. It was a time to nap, shoot the breeze and drink coffee. We were a dry camp. No one drank. It was better that way. I also hunted with a group in a wet camp and more often than not we didn’t make the evening hunt and more often than not we came back empty handed. I preferred hunting with Bill.

“I’m with the union on the safety committee for a number of the mills. The union got concerned a few years back about the number of accidents. It’s one thing to have a good job with good pay but it’s another to see a bunch of guys losing hands in machinery or dying because they’re crushed .” He said.

I was listening. Looking out at the lake, watching the trees that were turning from green to yellow.

“We noticed that most of the accidents were happening around the same few guys. Always at the sight of an accident there was a guy with an alcohol or drug problem. It’s pretty overwhelming when you care to look into it and you and your friends lives depend on your finding out what’s going wrong. “

Bill and the man’s son had settled in near us without much comment. They respected this guy and weren’t going to interrupt him.
A whiskey jack had already joined the camp and all we’d done is take out the coolers and set up a lean too over the wood picnic table. This was a non official private site but the company took out the garbage and kept an eye on the outhouse. Black bears could be a problem.

The whiskey jack was a little grey bird about the size of a robin but known all through the north for his courage in taking food right out of your hands and his uncanny ability to find a camp the minute it was being set up. Always ready for a hand out he was wilderness’s best beggar.

“Management and the union got together and identified these guys and we’d keep a close eye on them. We have a policy about missed work and showing up with alcohol on your breath or being drunk on the job. After a certain number of times you’re required to go for alcohol treatment or you’re let go. It took us all a while to get this in. The companies just wanted the guys fired at first but we figured it could happen to anyone and as the union we wanted what was best for the guys. The guys who went to treatment came back and attended AA and did really well. Some of our best men in the union and even management went that route. The trouble started up again when this psychiatrist came to town.”

I saw that he was wearing a red shirt under his jacket too. This whole group hunted camouflage but most of us had something red underneath in case we actually wanted someone to see us. Mostly we felt it was safest if no one saw us.

“These guys started going to the psychiatrist when they were in trouble and he’d write them up as suffering from depression and work stress and deny that they had alcoholism. Then he’d keep them in the hospital for a month or two while they dried up and sometimes they’d even have friends bringing them joints and mickies there with no one caring. They’d come out and they’d be on these drugs and still drinking and the accidents would be increased but there was little we could do. It wasn’t like we could force the guy into treatment because it wasn’t up to us or him now but the psychiatrist who’d just take him in to hospital and cover up for him. “

“What about the drug and alcohol counselor.” I knew the town had one. They had a treatment centre too. I’d even met the doctor who ran it.

“He’s a drunk himself and he enables them.”

What about the doctor at the treatment centre. “

“He’s okay but he won’t do anything. He’s not going to argue with the specialist and he’s happy with the unit as it is. Mostly the alcohol treatment centre doesn’t have alcoholics just women who say they are to get a break from their abusive husbands or to get a rest from being single mothers. They don’t give him any problem. Not like real alcoholics do. We know these guys are tough characters. They’re out of control. But they go to the hospital and they get labeled depression and make up some horseshit about their childhood. Nothing is done about their alcoholism and they’re on more drugs and they have an excuse for their problems. It’s a real mess. “ He concluded with his hands on his knees. Kind of defeated. Also a bit like he wasn’t used to talking so long. Bill and his son just sat and listened.

“So why are you telling me.” I asked.

“ Bill said you were different. He said you might do something about it. That you understood these things and you weren’t like other psychiatrists.”

I never knew what to make of these back handed compliments. I had a lot of colleagues that I would have liked to have been like. Some of my teachers for sure. But I knew what he meant. This type of colleague was always a problem. Self interested and lazy and never seeing his role as more than helping the one patient and never willing to say anything the patient didn’t like because he was greedy. I knew the type. Being a psychiatrist could be a rich job if you just wrote feel good prescriptions but if you actually tried to practice psychiatry it was messy and complex and frustrating. You never made the money you’d like to because most of the real psychiatry work wasn’t paid for. Like this consultation in the woods with the head of the safety committees for the largest mills.

On Monday, my colleague was out of town at a conference and I was in charge of the psychiatry ward. We shared hospital patients when this happened. I walked around reviewed a half dozen charts and talked in depth to the men in question. I added the diagnosis of alcohol dependence in each case. I then advised them that they would be discharged with a recommendation to be followed up by the alcohol treatment center. None of them were suicidal and the nurse's notes showed all of them were anything but depressed. Amorous and frisky if anything.

Two of the men threatened me separately right there at the bed side. "I'm going to fucking kill you one night when you don't expect it. You're fucking dead, man." The other guy was subtler. "You'd better change that diagnosis right now or you're going to have a very serious accident. I'm the guy that makes accidents happen."
I told them both that depressives don’t threaten doctors but that drug addicts were notorious for that kind of behaviour so that I was reassured I'd made the right diagnosis and thanked them. They'd get the right kind of care in the right place for their principal illness. Other people would be a whole lot safer even if I wondered about the future state of my health. There’s a tough love policy in alcohol treatment. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s just that we know that once an alcoholic or addict goes over an invisible line he 's not really himself . It's usually months into sobriety before the real person surfaces.

The psychiatric nursing system fed into the problem because unlike nurses in treatment centres, they really were used to dealing with people who were affected by circumstances. Schizophrenics will remain stable unless their landlord starts to hassle them. Psychiatric nurses understand this and provided the nurturing care appropriate to these conditions. The job of the social worker in the traditional psychiatric unit is to try to change the patient's environment back to a more conducive one.
That’s the exact opposite for an alcoholic or addict. Things are never good enough for them. They blame and want everyone but themselves to change and then they're still dissatisfied. Unless they have their drug or drink of choice and then everything is just fine. The natural state of the untreated alcoholic or addict is “irritable, restless, and discontent”.
This is changed by stopping the drugs of abuse, associating with sober people, understanding and group therapies and spiritual and emotional development. If a drug were to be the answer they’d all be cured because mostly they’d tried almost every drug known to man. Medications are symptomatically adjunctive therapies but addiction is primary disease. Most recently it was the self prescribed “marijuana maintanance programs” that were most popular but in the past it was the barbiturates, the valiums and other benzodiazepines. They only postponed the crash and made for another addiction in addition to the primary addiction. That’s not something they’re ready to hear. Pills and booze have been their life solution so what they want is more drugs.

To most of them I was threatening their jobs. They didn't care I was saving their lives. When my colleague returned from the conference we had a meeting. He tried to get me back on line but I explained that in good conscience as a doctor I would be remiss in not making the diagnosis as I saw it. After the meeting he was kind enough to say, “watch yourself. You’re right. I’ve got children so I wasn’t ready to confront them.” I knew that was only part of it. He was a real play it safe political sort and maybe favours were being exchanged.

The other thing that had really been a motivation for me had been how mother’s didn’t want their daughters to be admitted to the psychiatry ward because of the ‘reputation…"you know the men….the drinking”. What really upset me most was when the suicidal elderly lady said she couldn’t go to hospital because all those dangerous men were there. It wasn’t a forensic unit but the smell of a psychiatry unit rife with drugs and alcohol is rank.

That night friends were over at my house when the sound of pinging on glass caught our attention. When we investigated we found holes through the windows on the ground floor . It looked like 22 bullet holes or BB’s. There was no one in the place where the bullets appeared to have come from. Just some cigarette butts and a couple of beer bottles.

I’ve been asked when I tell this story why I didn’t phone the police. The simple question is what would they do. My girlfriend complained the next week to the police when her windshield was smashed in and her car filled with empty beer bottles and cans. When I explained about the hospital the police just smiled in that certain way. They're not going to make work for themselves.

“It’s probably just kids.”

For a couple of weeks I’d come home to broken beer bottles on my doorstep or in the back yard. At night I’d get death threats on the phone. Eventually I figured it had gone on enough.

There was this wet group I hunted with on occasion. We’d grown up together and gone our separate ways. They rode Harleys and partied with a group of guys called the Hell’s Angels. I invited them to come hunting for the weekend.

Four of them drove through town on their Hogs, rifle cases slung to their bikes plain as day and for some reason just enjoying tearing round the town throttling so everyone seemed to know they were there. They drove up to the psychiatrists house and came in to spend the night. The next two days we hunted north of town. I slept well. I didn’t know I’d not been sleeping that well till I had the companions and the comparison.

After that the harassment stopped. I think it had something to do with that weekend. After that the problem stopped too. No more drunks on the psychiatry ward. They couldn’t be certain I wouldn’t be on so it was better to work it out with the emergency doctors and go to the treatment centre than try to do it the psychiatric route because if they did it that way they were on medications that had to be monitored and they still couldn’t drink. In the past the medications hadn’t been monitored and they took them when they wanted but in drug and alcohol treatment with urine testing being done it’s just as easy to check for psychiatric medications. They ‘d liked the valiums, clonzepams and ativans but the other psychiatric drugs they’d chucked. Who wants to take antidepressants or antipsychotics when you'd rather have a drink or do some real drugs.

The psychiatric ward got quieter. The depressed weren't just conning and the young women and old people felt safe again. The treatment centre filled up with men while the women moved down the street to the new woman’s shelter because they didn’t much like the kind of clients that were now showing up in their treatment centre.

“Things are better at the mill. Our accident free days are way way up. Morale is better than ever because the majority of guys don’t have to work with guys drunk or stoned or hungover. “ he told me that one day in the coffee shop when we met again. He had introduced me to the president of the largest corporation who wanted to thank me personally. So there I was with management and the union leader.

“Thanks, “ I said. It was the nothern way. An honest request and an honest solution.

“Tell Bill, my boy and I’d like to go hunting with you two again sometime.”

“I will", I said as I left for an afternoon clinic.

Stray Bullet

Stray bullet (from Ned Stories)
by william hay

The sound of glass shattering and the “thunk” sound of the bullet hitting the dash certainly had his attention. He couldn’t say later that he’d “thought” about it much. He was so busy reacting.
Swinging the wheel of the car left he was around the corner as a second bullet plowed into the body of the car somewhere behind him. His senses heightened, he almost felt that one as much as heard it. Then he was speeding away into the night.
Unarmed in a foreign city he wasn’t going to go back and ask who was shooting at him. The answer to that would have to wait. Right now he got his comfort from keeping his pedal to the metal. If the police stopped him so much the better.

The bullet had shattered his back window and embedded in the dash above where the cd player sat. The shooter had to be elevated. When he got back to his apartment he saw that the other bullet in the back door had come in high. That left him wondering what the shooter had been standing on since the ballistic path placed him about ceiling height but not on a second floor window level. He couldn’t remember anything at the square that could account for this.
In daylight he’d check it out.

He got out his swiss army knife, gift of a pilot friend, and dug out the bullet in the console.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Reality is an agreed upon concept. A child is taught this from an early age. There are life enhancing and life denying aspects of reality. Gravity is a fact of life. The physical reality of existence is fairly commonly agreed on. People using drugs not uncommonly challenge these by jumping off high buildings and appearing to the witnesses to not be able to fly or at very least have a flight of short duration.
Reality in terms of what is history is a more contentious area. The courts daily deal with many 'interpretations' of reality. The psychiatrist commonly encounters the same. At a much less public level the conversation between two people is commonly confused. This can occur in the simplest experiment of passing around the room a phrase which invariably changes with repetition. The key feature associated with 'emotional reasoning' is that one becomes deaf to the opposing opinion. People who disagree are by nature closed minded. Reality is a political construct in this regards.
Value judgements and issues of taste and sensitivity are increasingly in the realm of subjectivity whereas reality usually addresses the more objective world. What I dream is my own business but what we communicate is our business. One can be reality whereas the other increasingly is. Even the use of legal documents and affadavits excludes the concept of understanding and interpretation which themselves can affect reality.
Psychiatrists have identified projection, dissociation, delusions and illusions as ways the mind alters reality to suit it's internal needs. Routinely people consciously lie and are untruthful about reality for various gains. Reality in this case is a moving target subservient to 'what's in it for me'.
It has been said the winner defines reality. For example, the men with guns or swords are good and the ones without aren't very good indeed. There is no afterlife is a reality that might serve those with a greater investment in the reality of the conquerer whereas there is an afterlife may be a reality which serves the conquered. Neither can prove or disprove the reality of these claims and indeed the argument may be the only true reality.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Jim Carey is sensational as Carl a bank officer going nowhere. Attending a seminar he accepts the covenant of 'yes' responding to any request with 'yes' only to have the universe open it's resources to him. Zooey Deschanel, as Allison, is one of them. Peter, his lawyer and best friend naturally abuses the situation having Carl do his laundry and arrange his fiancee's bridal shower. It's really a whacky love story. between Carl and the original and beautiful Allison. Saying yes does get Carl into a wide variety of bizarre and quite hilarious situations including answering 'yes' to the 'expand your penis size' email. Carey has toned down personally from his crazy adorable Pet detective days. His present style is more mature with the comedy richer and more refined overall. The ducati motorcycle scene will have Jackie Chan drooling with envy. A must see for the touching love and quirky romp of the thing!

Vancouver Sun Run 2009

Caroline phoned yesterday to say she was signing up for the Vancouver Sun Run 2009. It was a terrifying moment. I was on the couch. I admired Caroline and all those like her who get up early on sunday morning and run their hearts out. The demonic little lawyer in my head had to work overtime to make a case against me doing such a wholesome thing.

Thankfully I 'd an appointment with Bill at Adrenaline to finally get the islands dolphin navigational tattoo that my sailor physician friend Eric had done years before. "Sailing acrosss the pacific the islanders figure we've earned it!" Without consulting the Nizkor Project's site for Fallacious arguments I knew this had the immediate appeal of resting on one's laurels and claiming 'injury' as excuse for more couch exercise.

I excused myself from signing up. Running the sun run, running a marathon, climbing Killimanjaro, getting a seat on the private space shuttle, motorcyling to Sturgis, sailing solo around the world, white water rafting the Frazer, and skying diving have all unfortunately been put off till next year.

This morning the stress of thinking about the Sun Run has me in bed with a cold, my new tattoo stinging, my joints aching, my sinuses bursting and me cursing the 80's rock band outside my window. The cretans running by all look morally superior. I can't wait till the Sun Run is over. It's nearly killing me!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thinking about Country

Thinking about Country

by william hay

Thinking about dogs/Thinking about motorcycles/

Thinking about Ford Trucks/And camping/

Thinking about summer at the lake in the country

Rainbow trout fishing/wood smoke fires/

Lying in tents/reading by flashlight/

Winter's been too long and cold in the city.

Family reunions/friends and lovers/

Thinking about swimming/in warm fresh water/

Thinking about summer at the lake in the country.

Thinking about sunshine/Thinking about barbecues/

Thinking about hiking/just me and you

Thinking about summer at the lake in the country.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Based on the 1947 Tennesse Williams play, this powerful orginal contemporay
ballet choregraphed for BC Ballet by John Alleyne was sizzling hot. It opened with a postered bed half the size of the stage and at times the bed became the stage in this spectacular full bodied production. Donald Sales reminded me at moments of Baryshnikov. There was such force in his performance as Stanley. Simone Orlando portraying Blanche danced with true emotional breadth. Marianne Bauer-Brobbelaar as Stella, Stanley's wife, was so fresh and alive she seemed to epitomize this west coast dance troupe. Makaila Wallace as young Blanche was as loveable and gifted as she always is. The dancing of Chengxin Wei and Jones Henry was outstanding. But the ensemble together was what makes this ballet company one of the truly greats. They are a vibrant ,pulsing, breathing entity of their own. The choreography to the sultry southern jazz music of Tobin Stokes had everything, filling the stage with movement and passion. When it was all over the audience could not stop clapping as the dancers took well deserved bow after bow after bow.

It was a grand night. We'd arrived on the Harley, me in leathers and Laura in an fetching little black number. We were truly impressed by the elegance and youth of the audience whose robust sense of fashion stole the intermission. It was the finest gala affair I'd attended yet in Vancouver. A little girl hardly more than a toddler danced ecstactically, a touching tribute to Simone and Makaila. And who would have guessed I'd begun doing walk on parts for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet some 40 years ago.

Leaving we encountered the screams and horns of the Canucks crowd triumphant after another win. Well done Canucks.

Truly a night of Inspiration and Victory for Vancouver!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sexuality: Positions and Places

Sexuality – Positions and Places
- by william hay

Most people have heard of the so called “missionary’s position”. In this position woman lies on her back and man enters her vagina with his penis while lying on top of her. A gentleman might lift his weight somewhat by pushing himself off a bit and if he’s not quite a gentleman may at most look down between her and himself at the woman’s body and might even admire watching his own business end of the engagement. The proper woman in the so called ‘missionary position’ lies back unmoving with her eyes closed and her head to her side.

When Victorian girls approached their mother on wedding night and expressed fears or concerns, the appropriate maternal response was always, “LIE BACK AND THINK OF ENGLAND.”

A couple who has had a go at this position for some time may not surprisingly consider variation. The most common and least offensive then is side by side. Daringly the man may actually move onto the more primitive and most animal like position of all, that of rear entry. Not anal entry, a different matter entirely. But rear entry. In this instance he enters the woman’s vagina with his penis from behind. She may be lying on her belly or more likely bent double or on her knees, “presenting herself” as zoologists describe the female monkey doing for her mate.
In Quest for Fire, a rather long and inarticulate movie about cavemen and women the writers suggest that the move from rear entry position to face to face was a pivotal event in developmental history. This implies that cavewoman couldn’t figure out that by touching herself she brought pleasure and man had to bring her orgasm by face to face sex. Indeed face to face sex has greatest likelihood of causing orgasm for women. The plot might be reasonable if women were armless or even if sex took longer than barely premature ejaculation. Which it well could have when men repeatedly had sex when sated with food after the kill of a great beast and no television to distract them.
Regardless of female orgasm, rear entry has it’s significance as the most likely position for women to get pregnant. Sanctioned by the church or not, doctors have for years advised women to assume the rear entry position for their man, and making sure his penis was in the vagina and not the anus, and then not standing up for some time, to give sluggish sperm the advantage of gravity and time to advance on the precious egg.
For pleasure, there are other positions and quite commonly the standing position is achieved not uncommonly in the shower, with the woman held on the man’s hips. Physicians know this occurs because emergency room injuries are a product of such activities taking place after the use of soap has made the bath or shower floor slippery.

If sex education was really about safety men would be advised to use shower mats or stick to hallways with good carpeting. Further women in therapy have complained about lack of consideration of their backs by men bent on the gallant and finding themselves against that modern sharp stucko stuff used in hotel lobbies. The railing in the elevator has triggered some with the result that for no reason at all perfectly good elevators sometimes get caught between floors before a dishelved woman and man get off after the thing has spontaneously come back on
This brings the matter of positions to the geographical. However before saying that, the Kama Sutra should be mentioned. This has innumerable positions most of which I can positively say I have not tried. Personally however one of my fondest memories of sex was a night with my wife and the kama sutra and the attempt at the positions demonstrated in the pictures in the book. There was no actual orgasmic sex just the attempt to position ourselves such that we might. The night is most memorable for it’s laughter. It was a thoroughly hilarious evening and I would perhaps recommend it to others in good health without back problems or other disabling musculoskeletal conditions that might get in the way of experiencing the coupling pretzels might well have had to get up to if man hadn’t compassionately provided for their reproduction in factories..

Most people having moved along the line to lying, kneeling, standing and front, side and rear variations of these can get their kicks out of changing positional locations which allows for a multiplying of the potential permutations in these new sites.
Newly weds do it on the bed. Not surprisingly women usually prefer the feel of pillows and silk at their back to stucko or kitchen floor linoleum. Unless of course their initiation took place in a car, not uncommon in North America however the movies would have us believe that haystacks were once popular despite the itchiness of these without a protective blanket. Similiarly Hollywood beach scenes never seem to take into account where sand gets to and how it is the exact opposite of a lubricant.
Now regardless of initiation, couples, especially young couples, move about. There’s all the rooms of the suite to be tried, the chairs, and couches, floors and walls. In the future when gravity is conquered no doubt ceilings will be a lover’s paradise. Vehicles, backyards , tents, cabins, boats, canoes and such are checked out as well. A lot of the joy of the hotel and motel is simply that it gives a couple a ‘new place’ to have sex. All of this is enlivening to an increasingly routine event.
If there was no monogamy couples would simply drift apart, find another, and the wonder of sex in the neighbour’s backyard might never have been discovered. Monogamy has likely been a major contributor to sexual creativity in more ways than otherwise acknowledged.

These variations of position and place are common alternatives that reduce the likelihood of changing personnel. Like the many different hair colours and make up that women use these variations suggest novelty. If anthropologists and zoologists and a multi billion dollar fashion industry are to be believed men want or need variety. Increasingly women, too!

If the kama sutra with headstands together in a hammock causes excitement to be added to the novel positional arrangement then the fear of getting caught can add another level of excitement to the geographical positional world. Hence the ‘neighbour’s’ backyard, when of course the couple already have a perfectly good and probably more discrete back yard of their own
And the elevator.
And the bushes.
And parked cars in parks where police cruise and while catching college students not infrequently are embarrassed to find elderly deans and grey haired wives or church deacons and their wives having too good a time in supposedly public places. But what does one pay taxes for? Certainly not to encourage voyeurism among police.
This exciting place alternative also goes on to the mile high club and the real allure of scuba diving in warmer waters. If men and women can think of it then indeed it is occurring and not just on the top of hills which climbers have scaled though no one as yet has claimed or admitted to Everest. Space was certainly more attractive with images of sex kitten Jane Fonda as Barbarella. Space shuttles and space stations, submarines, nuclear missile silos, air balloons have all had their christenings. In keeping with the genetic advantage of near premature ejaculation a couple apparently consummated their relationship parachuting which doesn’t give a whole lot of time for foreplay and delay might give a whole other meaning to ripchord.
Places that are exotic and romantic are well appreciated for their inherent change.
This is a precursor and the fanatically right might argue as the church did that any variation from the prescribed missionary position was entering on the slippery slope.
No research has however been done to show whether variation preceded a change of personell or addition of players or lack of creativity in the matter of position and place led quickly to the more obvious way to have ‘variety’ , that being different or more partners. That indeed is the next major variation though the various bondage may be placed along a line of development or change that predates the partner variation. The various ‘games’ of dungeon play and fetishes can indeed keep a couple fully satisfied in each other though of course others argue that this is part of the same slope. It is increasingly difficult to draw a line though doctors traditionally have asked the question regarding risk and harm and encouraged safety.

Deviation was a word that implied alteration from the ‘true’ reproductive sex whereas today without that as the central motivating factor of the vast majority of sex, all human and especially couple based sexual functions might well be re grouped under the term “variation” with ‘deviation’ more specifically used to describe the more disturbing sexual behaviors that harm others or do not involve consenting adults.
Indeed those variations seem deserving still of the terms ‘deviation” wheres a woman who ties her husbands hands to the bed posts today would hardly be deserving of the term “deviant’. Yet that is what she would be by clinical definition and by law. Indeed her behaviour might well break existing state laws. Those with secular power and authority could see her as needing ‘reeducation’ and describe her behaviour as ‘absolutely undeniably deviant.” Of course her inferior childhood upbringing or abnormal neurochemistry would be cited.

It is not surprising that even the rich and powerful are discrete about their ‘harmless’ sexual activities in a society so primitive and judgemental when it comes to other peoples sexuality. Yet it is likeliest that the greatest deviation/variation is to be found among the very rich because as any person with kids and two jobs might attest they often hardly have the time and energy for the same old same old. The distinction that the rich have is surplus leisure time. Not surprisingly vacations usually do marvels for stagnant marital sexual lives.

In addition the modern woman has apparently talked adding to the unusual noises already made by the 'two backed beast." This has certainly been viewed as either positive or negative. Whole text books might be assigned to the meaning of these conversations and verbal communications and their significance at any point in relationship development or indeed wear in the actual sexual act they occur. A simple "oh my" can mean many different things without a clarifying event calendar.

A less than flattering old joke asks what the difference is between a prostitute, a French call girl, and a housewife? The prostitute asks "are you finished yet?", the call girl says, "more, mon cherie, more" while the housewife says, "beige, I think I'll paint the ceiling beige."

Probably the most disturbing variation by the woman's movement woman that has confounded all both positively and negatively is that she is not staying still. She apparently has in recent years increasingly moved despite the earlier recommendation of lying back and thinking of England. Lying back and thinking Canada might well cause one to fidget.

The woman’s movement certainly can add or greatly subtract from the proverbial headstand in hammock position. For some men a “moving target” greatly enhances the challenge especially since chasing women and dragging them down bodily before whacking them in the head with a club has become decidedly passé. Not only frowned upon it can for better or worse lead directly to a whole new range of sexual experience in a more confining place.

Slow men and fast women might well genetically be left behind in exchange for the modern woman with calypso hips or trailer trash tongue.

That said I personally have no position on the matter and would only ask that I keep my place. Even making observations about sexuality could be misconstrued as voyeurism. The advent of viagra and cialis have however at least given some people the time to think about the matter if no more than that. God forbid we should talk about it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alcoholism: Primary Illness

Alcoholism - Primary Illness
By William Hay

Alcoholism is a primary illness. It is a disease. Dr. Rush, the father of American Psychiatry called it such over a hundred years ago. That there remains confusion about this concept is only evidence of the perniciousness of myth and vested interests.

Alcoholism is not “self-medication”. If a person is regularly using alcohol as a “medication” for social or environmental difficulties then they are at risk for the illness of alcoholism. Alcohol is a depressant. When people who are depressed begin to use a depressant for treatment then it is a pretty good indication of the insaniety of denial that complicates both depression and alcoholism.

The two principal conditions that are confused with alcoholism are anxiety disorders and mood disorders. These disorders are in themselves not diseases. They are merely descriptions of symptoms like a “fever” is a description of a sympton. Mood and Anxiety are the “fevers” of mental illness. They are not primary diseases. Alcoholism has more claim for being a primary “disease” than than the ‘disorders’ that commonly accompany it.

The concept of primary disease derived from Koch’s Principles. Koch’s Principles required that a particular condition be initiated and associated with a specific phenomena which gave rise to a specific set of symptoms or syndrome and that when that agent was not present that syndrome was absent and the removal of the agent would remove the symptoms.

Alcohol presents a demonstrable change in person and behaviour acutely. At 100 mg/dl of alcohol we see strong evidence of intoxication in most individuals and at 800 mg/dl of alcohol we see death.

In the chronic use of alcohol we see a particular pattern of loss of control over drinking and increasingly all activities are related to drinking and eventually a considerable portion of the individuals’ day is spent intoxicated, thinking about being intoxicated, recovering from intoxication or seeking to be intoxicated. At the end result all other pleasures and activities are forsaken for the experience of intoxication.

There is a vast difference between a person who has a social drink and a person who suffers the disease of alcoholism. 10% of the population consume 80% of the country’s alcohol. There at least is the suggestion that a social drinker consider that their alcoholic compatriot is consuming 8 times at least the amount that they do. The comparison can be made with the “reckless drivers”. Whereas the average driver mostly follows the speed limit the “reckless driver” rarely follows the speed limit.

The argument that is used to confuse is akin the food argument. Medically Obese people are 50 lbs over their upper limit of their “healthy” weight for age and height. They come to me as a condition because they need bilateral hip replacement because the body’s shocks have given in under the extended strain of supporting such an abnormal weight. Hence, just because there are weight restrictions on elevators doesn’t mean that elevators cannot run normally with proper awareness of engineering stresses and tolerances.

If you use alcohol in moderation to facilitate the enjoyment of your normal life activities then you are quite simply not an alcoholic. Low risk alcohol use has been clearly defined by public health standards, well researched, and easily reproducible. For an adult male these figures are no more than 14 drinks a week, and no more than 4 drinks at one sitting. For a woman and the elderly these are 7 drinks a week and no more than 7 drinks a week and no more than 3 drinks at any one sitting. A drink is defined as equivalent to one and ½ ounces of liquor.

The difference between the sexes and with age is simply a product of gender and age differences in metabolism. This is not related to those who would maintain that they can “hold” their liquor. Those who maintain that they can “hold” their liquor are merely advanced in the illness of alcohol and no longer subjectively sense their degree of impairment which has been well documented in studies of such individuals with motor behavioural tasks. They do abysmally which is why they also so often claim to be able to drive yet account so many motor vehicle accidents.

In contrast the gender differences and age differences are related to the metabolism of alcohol in the stomach. Women have less of the enzyme in the stomach that accounts for the initial breakdown of alcohol so are most sensitive to the initial effects of intoxication. The elderly have reduced liver capacity for detoxification of alcohol so are similiarly at greater risks.

This is just for starts. The brain of a person addicted to alcohol is a changed brain. There is ample evidence today to support the ‘disease” model of alcoholism, more so indeed than many ‘accepted’ diseases, especially in the so called area of mental illness. However with alcoholism there is also overwhelming evidence of widespread organ damage directly a consequence of continued alcohol abuse. Alcoholic dementias are just the end stage of repeated mental chemical trauma. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychoses, and seizures are all routinely seen in alcoholics, as is heart disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, gastritis, blood disorders, immunological disorders, and various cancers.

Alcoholism has well been called the great chameleon of disease.

It’s also been called the disease of denial not just for the individual alcoholic, but for the family, the medical profession at large, definitely psychiatry, the community in general and those with major financial invested interests not so different from the tobacco companies.

That said, it is as amazing to me that as many individuals and organizations within these very groups are continuing to help alcoholics and address the vary same forces that allowed the tobacco lobbies to profit from the illness of addiction. Alcoholism is a primary illness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CAA - Writers' Circle

Wow! A writers' circle. Sitting about listening to each of the writers read from their own works. In depth discussion of the reading and writing. Great ideas. Inspirational and insightful. I'm impressed. And who would have guessed that they would have thought that and written that. Getting to know the stories behind the stories. Words and architecture coupled with insights and illumination. But mostly fun. It really was fun. What a great group. Who would have guessed writers could have so much fun without dismembering family pets?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Laura and I arrived at Christ Church Cathedral at 9:30 am to hear the choir practising. By 10:30 all seats in the cathedral and church hall were taken with standing room only. The clergy made a triumphal entrance. The choir and muscians were heavenly indeed. Bishop Michael Ingham preached a profound sermon on faith and grace challenging the emptiness of the new aetheism. There was 'no rational way to understand" the Risen Christ. Quoting mathematician Blaise Pascal, he said, "heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." From the story of Albertan artist William Kurulek he likened the experience of Jesus to "someone with me". Faith freed you from fear and was the homing device within the individual human. He told a moving story of the perseverence of faith under Stalin's rationalism.

Following eucharist Laura and I quickly made our way across a rainy Burrard Street to the Hyatt Regency where the AA "spiritual" speaker from Toronto had everyone in stitches beginning with a drunk vomitting on him on the plane en route. He talked to the common sense of being 'other' that alcoholics share so often with regular members of society. The only difference was that alcohol relieved this for him whereas for others it didn't have so satisfactory a response. His story included a miraculous escape from suicide by carbon monoxide and still later feeling a gun to his head as the dealer he'd ripped off hadn't taken kindly to that. Somehow beyond his own capabability he survived his own best drunken plans and found AA In recovery he learned that he was most fulfilled when he thought of others rather than himself.

After a group of us had lunch at Earl's on Robson sharing stories and laughter. Because it was Easter we felt irrationally that burgers and fries wouldn't be too fattening. The sun came out and Vancouver was beautiful with pink cherry blossoms and yellow daffodils

Celebrate Sobriety 2009 ended today as well. Despite the miracles of easter, we'd not been able to be in two places at once.

Yesterday with Bob I attended the Coming Out in AA workshop hearing of the horrible stories of abuse that young people had encountered in sharing their experiences of sexuality and gender. A couple of young men told of head injuries acquired as victims of gay bashers while another told of the imprisonment and torture that would occur if his sexual orientation were known in his country of origin. All spoke to the confusion and difficulties that were lessened in sobriety and easier to face without a drink than with. "To thine own self be true" was reminder that had carried more than one on this difficult journey.

Bri and Mar and I attended the acceptance workshop despite the touch of envy occasioned by the almost continuous laughter coming from the next door 'fun in sobriety' meeting.

Later Laura and I having danced our feet off to March Hare at the Hyatt joined the disco dance of Celebrate.

We so enjoyed the hilarity of the Texan North Shore AA speaker whose fiancee was arrested at the border because his passport had been stolen in their home and replaced with a Korean one with false papers. She said the experience was a challenge to her serenity to say the least. She also admitted that she looked forward to finding out which of the alcoholic newcomers she'd entertained the week before, might want to practice rigorous honesty and make an amends before she got her hands on them. She noted that because of her long term sobriety she had not known that an american passport sold for $5000 on the black market but admittted it was just the sort of thing she would have known in her drinking days. Back then she said, "I would have been in the loop." She was a crack up with a very serious message about 'untreated alcoholism' being more than just being dry. She hit many a chord by saying that self pity, dishonesty and self seeking had to be confronted in our lives daily if we wanted the full rewards of sobriety.

Laura attended the AA relationship meeting, "Just for Coffee." She said the woman speaker had been rigorously honest. She said 'we women know exactly where we're going and it isn't just for coffee. Stop being victims. We're not victims. We're fully aware as women. The men may be willing partners but we're in control and know exactly what's going on. " She said her friends and her found it so refreshing to hear an AA woman say this.
Our native minister friend said Doubt with Meryl Streep was excellent so to complete Easter Sunday Laura and I decided to pick up that DVD. Keanu's sci fi movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still was also out. It's about space aliens.
I'm now going to convince Laura that we can watch Doubt tomorrow. A girl gave her a squirt of the new Alien perfume on Robson so I'm going to factor that into my argument as clearly watching Keenu is God's will for us. Doubt can wait till tomorrow.

Al Anon

The North Shore AA Round up and Celebrate Sobriety 2009 continue.

Al Anon is the sister organization to AA originally started by the wives of the first alcoholics who began AA. "The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend." The Al Anon meeting was titled "dancing with God". Two speakers spoke of the despair they'd experienced when they tried to control everyone and everything to make it fit their personal and individual plan of how things should be because of course they knew what was right. In regards to the alcoholic they shared the limits of 'nagging' . In Al Anon there's a wonderful phrase 'detach with love'. It's recognised that individuals and probably even institutions can be so toxic that one must back away from the disease while still loving the individual or individuals caught up in it. It's an act of self preservation that is in contrast with martyrdom.
I'm always reminded of my first Red Cross life saving course which taught me that if I let the drowning person take me down with them then I've not been a solution but rather compounded the problem. I was taught to wait and be ready for when the drowning person 'surrendered' to their need for help and 'accepted' help.
A joke was made that Al Anon had been called the "thin blue lipped brigade" because it caused Al Anon's so much emotional tension to resist telling their family or friends what they should do or say. Yet in psychiatry the 'need to be in control' is seen as driven by fear. I've found on ships in gales the discipline of the Navy is necessary because fear causes people, even those without any skill or training, to want to take control. The antidote to fear in Al Anon is a closer relationship to a Higher Power.
The meeting spoke to the power of prayer. The women who shared described the experience of faith and peace that came to them when looking to changing their own attitudes and responses rather than judging and criticizing others. In the end the meeting glowed with serenity and leaving people gently laughed at some of the more resounding comments shared. As is more common these days about half of the group was male.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

North Shore AA Round Up

The North Shore AA Round Up is held each year for three days over the Easter weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Burrard and Georgia. The speakers this year have come in from Texas, Toronto, California and Hawaii. The March Hare Band is playing at the sober Saturday night dance. This year it's again sold out.
Celebrate Sobriety 2009 is the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered AA Round up. It's held annually on the Easter weekend, this year at the Coast Plaza Hotel on Comox Street. It's Saturday night entertainment is legendary.
"C&E Christian" refers to those Christians who mostly only attend Christmas and Easter Services . All the churches tend to standing room only this weekend so regulars are reminded to go early. Christ Church Cathedral fortunately is directly accross from the Hyatt allowing some of us to make the dash between the two. Last year Dean Peter Elliott was a speaker at the AA round up though his association with wine was more spiritual than those in recovery whose previous relationship would best be described as downright carnal.
The greatest Canadian Folksinger, Gordon Lightfoot, who once joked on CBC radio at a low point in his career that he had 'liquid inspiration' is performing tonight at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts on Homer Street. Meanwhile the Van Dusen Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival is also taking place.
Despite the fact that I have aches and pains and feel crotchety after 10 o clock in the evening I expect to be dancing tonight if only for the thrill of seeing AA newcomers come alive to the concept of dancing without puking and brawling. AA recovery really is about laughter. Now I'll just have to get back to figuring out how I can fit all these wonderful people and events into an expanded Van Dusen gardens.

The thought of sober dancing reminded me of a piece I began on Alcoholic Neuropathy a degenerative condition of the peripheral nerves brought on by excessive alcohol consumption. Here it is. It's really about dancing and what can be lost with addiction but restored with recovery.

Alcoholic Neuropathy
by William Hay

I saw him standing on the volleyball court in the treatment centre. His balance was off and his feet did not seem to work properly. He seemed to be walking on heels and stumbling when the ball came near him. The mates on the court helped him from falling over. He was thankful, smiling vaguely, not used to being among others. His last days of drinking a 40 onzer a day alone in a room. He didn’t remember feeling his feet going.

At the AA meeting, the guy with the gold chains and more chains shared,” I wasn’t able to move. I’d been drinking with my only friend in the flop house for a week or so when he went into DT’s. I watched him raging all night grabbing at bugs and finally choking on his own vomit in a seizure. I tried to crawl to the phone but my legs wouldn’t move. In the morning the bootlegger found us. He called an ambulance. They took my friend to the morgue and me to detox. You’ d think that would have stopped me from drinking.But it didn’t. I relapsed a couple of times more before I finally got into AA and stayed."

I watched as he walked out of the meeting that night and noted the residual limp.

At the hospital I tested the 40 year old’s reflexes and sensation. His feet were off. I told him my findings. But also I told him his liver enzymes and amylase were up. The amylase was from the pancreas. Brought back memories of alchoholics with particularly painful deaths.

He thanked me. It was a couple of more binges before he came to the meeting. He seemed less arrogant, showed some surrender. He limped too. I was glad he met my friend. He told him of his friend, the fellow who died of dt’s.

Then there was the man in his late 70's with 40 plus years of sobriety telling his story. “My wife got it and I was glad. It meant she couldn’t get to the bottle and there was more for me. The ambulance took her away in the morning. The bootlegger came and I didn’t have to share. That’s how far down I got. The wife’s losing her feeling turned her around. She went to AA and eventually got me to come. That’s over 40 years ago. I figure I’d be dead without the program. Certainly she’d never have walked if she’d stayed drinking. And we both used to dance. My wife and I really liked to dance. Even last year the two of us oldies were cutting up the rug. ”

Friday, April 10, 2009


The North Shore Light Opera Company has outdone itself at Presentation House. Iolanthe, the Gilbert and Sullivan production of fairies in parliament parodying the House of Peers is thoroughly uplifting and utterly hilarious. "Wholly whimsical" could well be said of it as well. Producer Roger Nelson, Director Mathew Bissett, Musical Director Frank Klassen and Assistant Conductor Francois Koh have gone all out. It was amusing to hear the musicians light heartedly nitpicking about timing between sets when it was obvious to the audience that with Francis Koh's direction they'd been perfect. Superb violins and cello, horns, flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. The first act finale was a wall of music accompanying the impeccable opera voices of the ensemble at full force. It was magnificent!
Trent Glukler as Lord Chancellor was adorably sleazy. Jeziorski as Stephon, half fairy half mortal member of parliament sang the finest full throated duets with Rachel Stewart as Phillis his mortal fiance. Rachel's voice was captivating. Jacqollyne Keath as the Fairy Queen brought character voice and costume to this rich role. She also had the shoes for it. Lindsay Renner Wallace as Iolanthe was simply terrific. Nicolas Rhind as Lord Tolloller and David Wallace as Lord Mountararat were comedic to the extreme. Best though was the full chorus of fairies and parliamentarians joining voices.
I was first introduced to Gilbert and Sullivan by my medical school classmate Simon who would go off at any moment in song or recital of the racing inane lyrics. Later I loved Monty Python take offs as well. This was the best by far. It could only be made better by having Simon do a follow up fast forward synopsis of the whole production in an adjoining pathology lab.

April 10, 2009 - Like You Lord

Like You Lord,

by william hay

I wanted to be a hero, I wanted to be a saint

I want to be like you Lord

But I was afraid

I wanted to be a lover, I wanted to be good at heart

I wanted to be like you Lord

But I was afraid

Give me strength, make my faith stronger

Be with me now Lord I feel so alone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009 - CAA

This first Wednesday monthly CAA West Coast Branch meeting in the Howe Street Alliance for the Arts Building was certainly racy. Spring was in the air.

I was surprised first to hear vivacious children's writer, K.C. Dyer's ( statement that the "language is much more colourful and varied" in today's children's writing than when she began. Her first book was marketted to young adults. "I didn't know I wrote for young adults. I wrote what I liked to read and found out I was immature." she humorously shared. In response to a question from the audience she replied, "I refuse to write down to kids. I've never used a lesser vocabulary." A Walk through a Window, her fifth book is the first published by Doubleday.

Caroline Adderson ( next stated that she sometimes thought of herself as a 6 foot tall big breasted woman except when she stood beside her 6 foot tall husband which suddenly made her feel a shrimp. Given the laurels she's received for her exquisite writing she probably once was 10 feet tall but has been bent over by the load. She's won two Ethel Wilson Fiction awards, three CBC Literary Awards, been nominated for the Governor General's Award, long listed for the Giller award and much more. Her novels History of Forgetting (Key Porter, 1999) and Sitting Practice (Thomas Allen, 2003) are published internationally. Pleased to Meet You (Thomas Allen 2006) is her latest collection of short stories.
Streaked brown hair, gold necklace, brown wool jacket and blue jeans, she was a beautiful young woman who read excerpts with captivating animation.
Sitting Practice is the story of the love of a nurse and a man who meet and then are in a car accident which causes her paraplegia and is solely his fault. The book is the story of how things fall out. She touchingly shared that as it recently went into print in the US she received a letter from a woman in a wheelchair that said it was the 'most authentic book' she'd read. To research the book Caroline had gone on a spinal chord website where 5 women answered her query going on to answer questionaires and become very intimate in their sharing over the next many months. As well she had a VGH spinal chord unit nurse friend and physiotherapist friend who allowed her to visit and listen. But what had really triggered her interest in the subject had been reading a book about women who had spinal chord injuries all experiencing that their sex lives improved.
This caused 84 year old Gordon Mumford ( to sit straight up and ask if this might help his sex life. Now I'd just read Mumford's 1940's Merchant Navy service memoirs , Dangerous Waters, and thought of him now years later regretting his quick wits and speed that had saved him in those dangerous years. Gordon had Jean Kay, Bernice Lever Margaret Hume, Caroline and the rest of us all laughing good heartedly.
And that seemed to lead right into Caroline telling of writing Children's Literature. Her son , now 10, became her inspiration when he was 5. Very Serious Clowns (published by Orca) her latest work about the children of clowns who run away from the circus, had won the Diamond Willow Award in Saskatchewan. She said it gave her the greatest pleasure because "Gr. 4 to 6's vote on their favourite book'. The Lt. Governor was there when she received the award. Describing her writing as 'emotional autobiography' she stated the 'feelings are true but most of the rest I make up". Having started as a short story writer, her first collection being, Bad Imaginings, she said she felt short stories were more like poetry where as novels were more like plays and dramatizations. She said she didn't write poetry but believed ,poetry was the highest form because the fewer the words the harder it is to write. On average writing 4 to 7 hours a day, she says she realized from reading with her son that he read to answer the question why and now each day she finds herself asking, "I wonder what's going to happen today". Presently Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Library she was truly an inspiration.
It was good to see Jane Hall again. She really is tiny. Reading her book Red Wall is such an eye opener to the underworld of Vancouver interspersed with her being mistaken as a girl guide when she went as a police woman house to house.
Ben Nuttall-Smith ( told me he'd been up till the wee hours of the morning finishing the last chapter of his latest book.
AnthonyDalton was back and I was glad to buy his book, "Alone Against the Arctic" depicting his open boat journey along the wild northwest coast of Alaska. It's just the sort of book I like to have on my boat to read in the comfort of a cozy summer harbour.
The message I took away from tonight's meeting was "climax". Not what it might seem to some given the robustness of the meeting. In answer to my question about the complexity of novel writing Caroline Adderson had said it was good to have some idea of the 'climax' and that the story should 'aim there'. By golly that's genius. The dog vomit on my hard drive suddenly became rich manure. With that lion tamer's whip I'm ready to begin herding the tabby housecats of my writing. I love the CAA even if it means associating with the likes of writers.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Leonard Cohen

The Jesus Song and Leonard Cohen
By William Hay

The plane landed in Tel Aviv at the Ben Gurion Airport. It was 3 am and I was alone in a foreign country, weary from the flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam and stopover in Amsterdam before the 5 hour flight to Tel Aviv. The dry sea air outside the air port struck me as did the southern stars in the clear sky. . It was the air, the stars and the light that were so different for the northerner. Vancouver, my home, was a rain forest. Here there was sand and sea. A strange place indeed. The Holy Land. Known by Bible and Politics but alien and mysterious in person.

I got into the taxi. A white citroen. The driver asked me where am I from.

"Canada", I replied.

"Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver? "


"Ah Vancouver is beautiful isn’t it. Mountains and sea.

"Yes, very beautiful.

In the background I’m listening to the music. It’s in English. A woman singing. I recognize the words.

"That’s a Leonard Cohen song on the radio. "

"Oh yes, Leonard Cohen is very good. He is from Canada too, no?"


I sat back in revelry listening to the latest prophecies, celebration, and songs of worship from the man who changed my youth.

I didn’t know he was a Jew. I just was sent to sit in the library for some misdemeanor in class and found his poetry. I was a budding poet myself in high school. With my friend I’d started a poetry journal. At every chance then I read poetry books and wrote my own poetry in little black pocket books I carried everywhere.

When I found Leonard Cohen, I read Leonard Cohen and loved Leonard Cohen. Maybe it was the naughty bits. He celebrated life and there was the appreciation of women from a true romantic which filled the heart of an adolescent boy who could think of little else with exuberance.

Here in Israel I’d thrill to hear Leonard Cohen played in the taxis as I’d thrilled to hear him played in Montreal when I finally hitchhiked out to that city of intellectuals, drank coffee late at night and watched the glorious French Canadian women.

I first heard Leonard Cohen's songs outside Banff in a cabin on a mountainside with two charming and lovely blond ski instructors. They’d offered me a room for a night after hearing me play guitar and sing in the old Grizzly House. I’d been paid in beer and pizza and done a rendition of Suzanne I’d learned from a Judy Collins Songbook.

They’d asked me if I’d ever heard Leonard Cohen. I’d said no and they’d invited me back for the night. We listened to their Leonard Cohen record with candles burning. After sleeping in our individual beds till morning, they made me porridge and peaches and set me on my way. I was wearing blue jeans, a large army navy blue pull over sweater and a black beret I’d bought in Montreal. I carried my guitar on a strap over my back. I loved Leonard Cohen then. The Sisters of Mercy.

We’d be teaching drama a few years later at the Arts Festival in the little enchanted southern Manitoba town of Neepawa. There were rolling hills and blue skies and smells of summer in the prairies in the air. She told me she’d been Leonard Cohen’s lover in Thunderbay, an unlikely town, to a hero worshipper. This was before many women would make such claims when relatively few still yet knew him. She taught at the university.

“There was a lot of red wine and we really did have a fabuolous romp. He’s such a wonderful man and a very good lover. When I later read what he wrote, well, I’d like to live in his mind. That’s all I can say. For me it was just really good sex but to him it seemed it was a symphony or a cathedral. You had to know the man to understand what I mean.”

We were eating Chinese food and she was laughing with reminiscence.

First we take Manhatten then we take Berlin.

It was still the sixties in the early seventies and I was singing Suzanne in a country bar in Selkirk Manitoba. Valdy hadn’t yet sung “Play me a Rock and Roll Song” and The Blues Brothers movie hadn’t yet been shown with the classic Rough Riders scene. But I was there in that kind of scenario and it was Leonard Cohen’s music that inspired a young cowboy to throw a beer can at me hitting me square in the forehead amid boos and cries for western music. Giddy up!

Ironically the one time I’d see Leonard Cohen in concert was in Winnipeg. In that prairie town he'd have a slide guitar in his band giving it a more distinctly western sound. Maybe even he knew when to play it safe.

I’d learned all the words to That’s No Way to Say Good bye and sang them to girls I was breaking up with hoping for a very different reaction from what I’d still get, with or without the song.
Sometime in California I read his book Beautiful Losers and identified. Maybe it was just the yearnings and confusion.
Over the years I'd memorized and played a dozen or more Leonard Cohen songs.
Years later long after I’d become a doctor I was doing a locum in the Yukon . I played guitar in a bar where my northern colleague told me he’d treated almost everyone for major traumatic injuries related to alcohol abuse.
"See that fellow over there, had to suture all the strap muscles after his throat was slit one night. He'd be dead if they got the jugular. "
Some one had a guitar and asked me to play. I’d had a few and had taken off my jacket and tie and thought I probably could still remember all the words to Suzanne. I did and the bar fell silent.

The First Nations, in blue jean jacket and cowboy boots whose guitar it was, said after,

“Geez, man I really liked that Jesus song.”

Now I was in the Holy Land remembering it was Leonard Cohen who really taught me the story of Issaac. What I loved about Leonard Cohen was the rich biblical imagery and his extraordinary and palpable sense of metaphor.

There’d been an occasional Canadian flag in a shop but other than that it’d been Leonard Cohen that I’d heard. I’d be walking around with a Canucks T Shirt and every once in a while I’d hear a strain of music and recognize it as his.

It was a very moving experience for me as a Canadian who had grown up with the songs of Leonard Cohen to be walking or driving around the Holy Land hearing his songs with their words of prophecy and lamentation. And always there was celebration of women.

I watched an Israeli woman walk across an ancient square with that relaxed Mediterranean swing to her hips. She was so strong and yet so feminine. Thanks to Leonard Cohen I imagined her like the “heart of a captured bird.”

Lover, Lover, Lover, Come Back to Me. I quietly sang to myself.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vancouver Spring

Spring just happened. I'm sure it was well I was sleeping. Today it's everywhere. Spread faster than gossip. Profusions of Cherry Blossoms. Daffodils, heather and other flowers appearing on cue. Bright colours startle the eye. Yellows, purples, pinks and reds. Stanley Park was alive. Lots of moms on roller blades pushing their infants in those super backwards rickshaws. Cyclists everywhere. Joggers and walkers and dogs galore. Every size from Yorkies to Bernise Mountain dogs. One Chinese girl had her long haired black cat on a red leash. Anyday now, given it's the West End, I expect to see someone walking their tropical fish, with cashmere designer aquarium jacket of couse. The swans were already nesting in Lost Lagoon. The drummers were out by English Bay. Sailboats tacked in the light breeze. A glorious day for cycling. Chai latte at the Denman and Davie Starbucks on a splendid spring afternoon.

Palm Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral

It was standing room only for Palm Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral. The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ was enacted. Reverend Canon Herbert O'Driscoll sermon's told the story of the weeks of Lent leading to Easter Sunday next week, sharing the meaning of these to the busy everyday lives of parishioners. Organist Rupert Lang, Director of Music lead the Cathedral Choir accompanied as well by the trumpet of Christopher Robertson and Philip Crewe's timpani. It was triumphant as the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem. Archdeacon Ellen Clark-King presided over eucharist. At the end of the service Rev Alistair Smith shook our hands inside before Dean Peter Elliott sent us on our way outside.

Easter week at Christ Church Cathedral will include an easter egg hunts for children, daily eucharist at 12.10. There will be a 7:30 am Eucharist and community breakfast Maundy Thursday as well the institution of the Lord's Supper with Pedalvium at 7:30 pm. Good Friday April 10 has a 10:30 am Family Good Friday event, 3 pm Choral Celebration and 4:30 to 7:30 extended open hours. Saturday, there are baptism preparations. And April 12 is Sunday of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday with Eucharist at 10:30 am with Bishop Michael Ingham preaching. The Compline service of Gregorian chants is every Sunday at 9:30 pm.