Transcript: Barry Callaghan: A Life of Words and Passions | Feb 18, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered shirt, and striped lavender tie.

A caption on screen reads "A life of words and passions. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says TO REFER TO SOMEONE AS
A MAN OF LETTERS
MAY SOUND TO CONTEMPORARY EARS
LIKE SOMETHING FROM ANOTHER ERA.
PERHAPS THAT'S SOMEWHAT FITTING,
GIVEN THAT FOR DECADES
IN THE LITERARY LIFE
OF THIS COUNTRY,
BARRY CALLAGHAN HAS BEEN
AN UNWAVERING PRESENCE
AS A POET, PROFESSOR,
SHORT-STORY MASTER,
PUBLISHER, AND ESSAYIST,
TO NAME JUST SOME OF HIS
TOO-MANY-TO-LIST CONTRIBUTIONS.
FORTUNATELY, HE'S JUST PUBLISHED
AN IMPRESSIVE AND HEFTY
TWO-VOLUME COLLECTION
THAT BRINGS TOGETHER
SOME OF THE BEST
OF HIS FICTION AND NONFICTION.
IT'S ENTITLED:
ALL THE LONELY
PEOPLE: COLLECTED; AND RAISE YOU ON THE RIVER:
ESSAYS AND ENCOUNTERS, 1964-2018.
AND BARRY CALLAGHAN
JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

Barry is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with tousled gray hair. He's wearing a black coat, white shirt, red tie, and brown sunglasses.
Pictures of his books appear briefly on screen. The cover of "All the lonely people" features an image of a face in the darkness, with bright yellow false eyelashes and bright red lips.
The cover of "Raise you on the river" features a close-up picture of male hands flipping a deck of cards on a green felt playing table.

Barry says AND I'M HAPPY TO BE HERE.

Steve says I'M HAPPY
TO HAVE YOU HERE.
I HAVE TO SAY,
IT WAS WONDERFULLY NOSTALGIC
TO READ SOME OF THIS STUFF.
I WANT TO START WITH THE FATHER
OF THE CURRENT PRIME MINSTER,
BECAUSE THIS IS...

Barry says AH, PIERRE...

Steve says THIS IS A TIME...
"AH, PIERRE," YOU SAY.
THIS IS A TIME THAT MANY PEOPLE,
OBVIOUSLY,
WHO ARE WATCHING THIS WERE NOT
IN TORONTO,
NOT IN ONTARIO OR CANADA
AND WILL NOT KNOW.
SO LET'S START TO
TELL THESE STORIES.
AFTER ALL THESE YEARS,
WHICH OF HIS QUALITIES... PIERRE
TRUDEAU'S... THAT YOU SAW THEN
STAND OUT FOR YOU
AS FUNDAMENTAL TODAY
TO UNDERSTANDING THE
IMPACT HE HAD ON CANADA?

Barry says CAN I EXPLAIN THAT BY TELLING
YOU HOW I CAME TO MEET HIM
OR HOW OUR
COMING TOGETHER HAPPENED?

Steve says SURE.

The caption changes to "Barry Callaghan. Author, 'Raise you on the river.'"
Then, it changes again to "Of politicians then and now."

Barry says BECAUSE IT'S FUNDAMENTAL TO,
I SUPPOSE,
THE WAY I APPROACHED THINGS
ALL MY LIFE,
AND IT'S WHAT CONNECTED US.
I WROTE A PIECE ABOUT POLITICS,
CURRENT AT THAT TIME,
AND THE POLITICIANS...
DIEFENBAKER, PEARSON,
TOMMY DOUGLAS...
AND THE PIECE WAS ABOUT
LANGUAGE,
AND IT WAS A SIMPLE PREMISE.
THIS WAS A PERIOD WHEN TRUDEAU
WAS MINISTER OF JUSTICE
AND WAS GOING TO RUN FOR
PRIME MINISTER.

Steve says 1967-68.

Barry says SAY 7-8, RIGHT THERE.
SO, MY PREMISE WAS SIMPLE,
WHAT I SAID WAS,
"LISTEN TO DIEFENBAKER,
HERE IS A MAN WHO CANNOT SPEAK
IN A COHERENT PARAGRAPH.
YOU CAN TRY, AND TRY, AND TRY
IF YOU WERE A FILM EDITOR...
AND WHEN I WAS A JUNIOR NEWS MAN
IN THE CBC NEWS ROOM IN THE '50S
IT WAS ONE OF MY JOBS TO TRY
AND EDIT DIEFENBAKER
INTO SHAPE... YOU CAN'T DO IT,
HE WAS INCOHERENT.
SO, MY ARGUMENT WAS,
IF A MAN WAS INCOHERENT
AS HE SPOKE TO YOU,
WHY SHOULD YOU ASSUME
HE WOULD BE CAPABLE
OF CONSTRUCTING
A COHERENT POLICY?
AND THAT WAS THE TRUTH ABOUT
DIEFENBAKER.
WHEN HE GOT INTO POWER,
HE COULDN'T.
THERE WERE NO COHERENT POLICIES.
I WENT ON TO PEARSON, I SAID,
"PEARSON THE GREAT NEGOTIATOR,
WHEN YOU LISTEN TO HIM,
HE SOUNDS LIKE HE'S
NEGOTIATING WITH THE LANGUAGE.
HOPING IT WILL SHOW UP."
TOMMY DOUGLAS, THE SOCIALIST,
IT DIDN'T MATTER WHAT HE WAS
TALKING ABOUT,
THE LANGUAGE WAS
IDEOLOGICALLY SHAPED, RIGHT?
AND THEN I SAID...
I WAS IN MONTREAL IN '67
WITH AN ENGLISH POET,
GEORGE BARKER,
AND WE WERE BEING ADDRESSED BY
A MAN THAT NONE OF US KNEW,
AND BARKER SAID TO ME,
"OH, WHO'S THAT GUY?
DOES HE WRITE GOOD POETRY?"
AND I SAID, "NO, THAT'S A GUY
NAMED PIERRE TRUDEAU.
HE'S THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE.
HE MAY BECOME PRIME MINISTER."
HE SAID, "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.
HE SPEAKS SO COHERENTLY."
EACH CLAUSE IS RIGHT.
IT WAS RATIONAL.
THIS WAS THE FIRST THING
I NOTICED ABOUT TRUDEAU.
THAT HE SPOKE IN COMPLETED
SENTENCES, THE SENTENCES ADD UP,
IT WASN'T THAT HE WAS...
THE WORLD'S FULL OF
INTELLECTUALS,
BUT EVERYTHING HE SAID
MADE SENSE.
IT HAD AN INTELLIGENT
RATIONALE BEHIND IT.
WHAT'S HAPPENED WITH FACEBOOK
AND TWEETER... TWITTER,
ALL THAT STUFF,
IS YOU SEE THE PEOPLE ARE
LOSING THE LANGUAGE.
LOSING IT, LOSING IT, LOSING IT,
AND WHILE THAT IS HAPPENING
IN THE GENERAL DISCOURSE,
CERTAIN WORDS GET DESTROYED.

Steve says FAIR TO SAY THOUGH,
THAT PIERRE TRUDEAU WAS
UNUSUALLY EXTRAORDINARY
WHEN IT CAME TO...

Barry says HE WAS!
THAT'S WHY WE ALL WERE SO...
IT WAS A SPECIAL MOMENT.
I MEAN, PEOPLE RECOGNIZED.
IT WASN'T A WHOLE BUSINESS ABOUT
CHARISMA AND ALL THAT STUFF,
THOSE ARE WORDS THAT
GET BANDIED ABOUT.
PEOPLE...
I REMEMBER BEING OUT WEST...
(STAMMERING)
THERE WAS A LOT OF CHEERING IN
THE FRONT,
BUT THE BACK WERE ALL THESE
SERIOUS MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE
AND FARMERS STUDYING THIS GUY
LIKE THIS, YOU KNOW,
BECAUSE THEY'D NEVER HEARD
ANYTHING LIKE THAT,
AND THEY WEREN'T
LEAPING UP AND DOWN,
BUT THEY KNEW THAT
SOMETHING WAS GOING ON
THAT WAS QUITE DIFFERENT.

Steve says YOU SAID AT THE TIME YOU
BELIEVED HE POTENTIALLY
COULD BE A GREAT MAN.
DID HE LIVE UP TO THOSE
EXPECTATIONS OF YOURS?

Barry says AH, GREAT MAN.
LISTEN, IT WAS... THERE WAS...
I WROTE AT THE TIME,
I REMEMBER PETER NEWMAN SINGLED
OUT THIS PARTICULAR PARAGRAPH
IN WHAT I WROTE. I SAID, I SAID,
"THE PROBLEM WITH TRUDEAU IS
THERE ARE TWO FORCES AT WORK
INTELLECTUALLY AND EMOTIONALLY
IN TRUDEAU. ON ONE...
HALF OF HIM, HE'S A JESUIT,
AND THE OTHER HALF HE'S
THE PERFECT PRODUCT OF
JANSENIST QUEBEC."
NOW, JANSENISTS ARE PEOPLE WHO
FEAR EMOTION, FEAR THE FLESH.
THEY HAVE A VERY
DARK VIEW OF EMOTION.
I ASSOCIATED THAT WITH
TRUDEAU'S ATTACHMENT OF
NATIONALISM TO EMOTIONALISM,
AND I FIRST WAS CONVINCED
THAT I SAW THE PROBLEM,
WHEN HE WAS CONFRONTING
LARGE AUDIENCES
AND YOU WOULD EXPECT HIM
TO NOW SEIZE THE MOMENT
AND LIFT THE PEOPLE
OUT OF THEMSELVES,
AND THEY COULD BOTH ACHIEVE
SOME KIND OF GREATNESS TOGETHER.
AND HE SHIED AWAY EVERY TIME.
HE WOULDN'T DO IT.
HE WOULD NOT EXCITE
THE EMOTIONS OF PEOPLE,
HE WOULD RETREAT INTO THAT
STUPID LANGUAGE OF HIS
ABOUT THE LAND WAS STRONG,
THE LAND WAS GREAT...

Steve says THAT WAS THE SLOGAN
IN THE '79 CAMPAIGN.

BARRY SAYS IT WAS AWFUL.
HE BECAME A SLOGANEER.

Steve says WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BEST
EXAMPLE OF THAT, SHALL WE?

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says IT'S 1979, THEY WERE RUNNING ON,
THE LIBERALS WERE,
ON "THE LAND IS STRONG."
THAT WAS THE SLOGAN,
AND YOU WROTE A SPEECH FOR HIM
THAT HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DELIVER
AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS
IN FRONT OF 16,000 PEOPLE.
THEY PACKED THE GARDENS TO SEE
PIERRE TRUDEAU GIVE THIS SPEECH.

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says AND YOU WERE UNDER EVERY
EXPECTATION THAT HE WAS GOING TO
GO UP THERE AND GIVE THAT
SPEECH, AND WHAT DID HE DO?

Barry says WELL, I WAS TOLD...
LOOK, HERE WAS THE SITUATION.
AND IT WAS A VERY TOUCHING
SITUATION.
HE WAS HAVING A HELL OF A TIME
WITH HIS WIFE,
AND A COUPLE OF PEOPLE WHO WERE
CLOSE TO TRUDEAU,
WORKING WITH HIM,
PARTICULARLY JERRY GOODIS, UM,
THEY WERE REALLY UPSET
BECAUSE HIS HEART WASN'T IN IT.
SHE WAS PHONING HIM AT
THREE IN THE MORNING,
AND DOING ALL KINDS OF... SAYING
ALL KINDS OF CRAZY THINGS,
AND SHE WAS HANGING AROUND
THE ROLLING STONES, AND...

Steve says THEIR MARRIAGE WAS
MELTING DOWN IN PUBLIC.

Barry says IT WAS VERY HARD.
IT WAS MELTING DOWN.
THERE WAS EVEN A STORY
THAT HE PUNCHED HER
IN THE BACK SEAT OF A LIMOUSINE,
WHO KNEW?
WHATEVER IT WAS,
TRUDEAU HAD LOST HIS TOUCH,
HIS HEART WAS NOT IN IT,
AND HE WAS DELIVERING
THIS STUPID SPEECH
ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY
ABOUT "THE LAND WAS STRONG."
IT WAS BENEATH HIM TO DELIVER
THAT SPEECH,
BUT HE DELIVERED IT.
SO, JERRY ASKED ME TO WRITE
A SPEECH, AND I SAID,
WITH NO PROMISE THAT
IT WOULD BE USED,
HE WOULD HOPE THAT
TRUDEAU WOULD DO IT.
SO, I DECIDED THE ONLY WAY TO
BREAK THIS RHYTHM,
WAS FOR TRUDEAU TO MAKE
EVERYTHING PERSONAL
IN HIS SPEECH.
TO TAKE WHAT HE WAS GOING
THROUGH PERSONALLY
AND SEE WHAT THE COUNTRY
WAS GOING THROUGH
IN HIS PERSONAL STORY,
THAT KIND OF AGONY
THAT HE WAS...
SO, I WROTE THIS SPEECH.
I DON'T KNOW WHETHER
IT WAS ANY GOOD OR NOT,
BUT JERRY, WHEN I WAS THROUGH,
JERRY WAS IN TEARS.
AND THEN, THEY HAD TO WAIT FOR
TRUDEAU TO SAY WHETHER
HE WOULD DELIVER IT,
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
THE DAY BEFORE THE 16,000 IN
MAPLE LEAF GARDENS,
THE WORD CAME HE WAS
GOING TO DO IT,
AND SO WE ALL TRUNDLED OFF TO
MAPLE LEAF GARDENS,
WE SAT THERE WAITING,
AND TRUDEAU CAME OUT.
ROARS, AND CHEERS, AND THE WHOLE
WORLD WAS GOING TO BE HIS OYSTER
IF JUST DID IT,
AND HE STARTED OUT,
"I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU VERY
PERSONALLY, FROM THE HEART,"
AND HE STOPPED, AND I REMEMBER
JERRY GOODIS REACHED ACROSS,
TOOK MY HAND LIKE, HE STOPPED,
AND HE SAID,
"I WANT TO EXPLAIN
HOW THE LAND IS STRONG."
(LAUGHING)
AND, OH GOD, NO!
THEN HE WENT ON TO TALK ABOUT
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
AND THIS AND THAT, AND THAT...
HE COULD SUCK THE ENERGY
OUT OF A ROOM, I MEAN, HE...
(CLEARING THROAT)
WITH HIS PRESENCE
IN A POSITIVE WAY,
AND THEN WHEN HE
DISAPPOINTED PEOPLE,
HE SUCKED THE ENERGY
OUT OF A ROOM.
YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ENERGY LEAVE
A STADIUM OF 16,000 PEOPLE
FASTER THAN ON THAT NIGHT,
AND HE JUST DRONED ON AND ON
AND ON AND ON.

Steve says NOW, OF COURSE, HE WENT ON TO
LOSE THAT ELECTION.
DO YOU THINK...

Barry says TO A GUY NAMED JOE WHO.

Steve says TO A GUY NAMED JOE CLARK,
WHO BECAME PRIME MINISTER
FOR NINE MONTHS.

Barry says HE WAS KNOWN AS "JOE WHO."
CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THAT
WAS LIKE FOR TRUDEAU?
TO LOSE TO JOE WHO?

Steve says YOU QUOTE TRUDEAU AT THE TIME,
SAYING, "THE BAD POLITICIAN,
LIKE A BAD ARTIST,
SEEKS TO PLEASE."

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK
HE MEANT BY THAT?

Barry says THERE'S A POLITICIAN WHO
SETS OUT TO ALWAYS TRY
TO COMFORT YOU, AND USES...
AND BY AND LARGE ENDS UP
SPEAKING IN SLOGANS,
AND THE LANGUAGE GETS DEVALUED.
I GO BACK TO THE LANGUAGE.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY DEVALUED?
IN YOUR YOUNGER YEARS,
MY YOUNGER YEARS,
WE ALL WATCHED ED SULLIVAN.
ED SULLIVAN PERSONALLY DESTROYED
THE WORD "WONDERFUL."
HOW DID HE DESTROY THAT?
BECAUSE HE WOULD
INTRODUCE A CHIMPANZEE
THAT COULD SPIN A BALL
ON ITS NOSE,
AND SAY, "THIS IS WONDERFUL,"
AND HE WOULD INTRODUCE
THE WORLD'S GREATEST OPERA
SINGER, "SHE'S WONDERFUL."
HE INTRODUCED SIXTEEN MICE
THAT COULD RUN IN FIGURE EIGHTS,
"THIS IS WONDERFUL."
WONDERFUL, AND REMEMBER,
WONDERFUL CONTAINS THE WORD
"WONDER," RIGHT?
THERE'S NO WONDER LEFT,
THE WORD WAS DEAD.
THE SAME THING HAS HAPPENED IN
OUR TIME TO THE WORD "AWESOME."
YOU'RE TORN JEANS ARE AWESOME,
YOUR PORK AND BEANS ARE AWESOME.
AWESOME IS AWE BEFORE
THE SACRED, AWE IS BEFORE GOD,
AWE IS BEFORE THE...
SO, THE LANGUAGE CAN BE ROBBED
OF ITS MEANING,
AND WHEN YOU HAVE...
THE EASIEST WAY FOR A POLITICIAN
TO TRY AND PLEASE YOU,
IS TO USE THE LANGUAGE THAT HE
THINKS IS MOST FAMILIAR TO YOU,
AND IN USING THAT LANGUAGE
HE WILL THIN IT OUT
SO THAT YOU'RE NEVER CHALLENGED,
SO YOU ALWAYS SAY...
HALF ASLEEP, YOU SAY,
"YEAH, I KNOW."
(MUMBLING)
HE'S JUST TRYING TO PLEASE YOU,
BUT NOT, NOT BRING YOU
ALERT TO SAY,
"GEE, I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT,"
OR, "I DON'T KNOW THAT
I WANT TO CONSIDER THAT.

Steve says SO, IS IT YOUR VIEW THAT...

Barry says AND TRUDEAU DID THAT A LOT.

Steve says THAT'S WHAT I WAS GONNA ASK.
DO YOU THINK HE'S ONE OF
THE FEW POLITICIANS WHO WAS
PREPARED TO PROVOKE PEOPLE?

Barry says HE WAS NOT ONLY PREPARED TO
PROVOKE THEM VERBALLY,
HE WAS PREPARED TO
GIVE THEM THE FINGER, YOU KNOW?

Steve says WHICH HE DID DO.

Barry says WHICH HE DID DO.

Steve says IF I WERE TO ASK YOU TO
COMPARE THE POLITICAL CULTURE
OF PIERRE TRUDEAU'S DAY TO WHAT
YOU SEE AS THE POLITICAL CULTURE
OF JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S DAY,
WHAT WOULD YOU COME UP WITH?

Barry says I HAVE TO SEE THAT IN
A KIND OF CONTEXT,
AND THE CONTEXT IS HARPER.
I THINK SOMETHING HAPPENED
IN THE COUNTRY
WITH RESPECT TO HARPER.
I-I, I HAVE TROUBLE...
I DISLIKED HARPER SO MUCH
AND HIS PRESENCE
THAT I HAVE TROUBLE
REMEMBERING HIS NAME.
THAT KIND OF THING
HAPPENS TO ME.
TRUDEAU COMES ALONG,
JUSTIN TRUDEAU COMES ALONG,
AND HE'S THIS AMIABLE,
ARTICULATE, FRIENDLY, OPEN,
GENEROUS-HEARTED SPIRIT.
HOW CAN YOU RESIST HIM?
AND HE ANNOUNCES
HE'S GOT A VISION.
NOW, THE PROBLEM IS,
HE DOESN'T HAVE A VISION.
YOU CAN GO THROUGH EVERYTHING
HE'S EVER SAID,
YOU'LL NEVER FIND
WHAT THE VISION IS.
IT'S... THERE'S SOMETHING
DIFFERENT ABOUT JUSTIN
AND HIS WHOLE APPROACH,
AND IT'S,
WHAT HE'S TRYING TO DO,
AS FAR AS I CAN UNDERSTAND IT,
IS HE OFFERS
A KIND OF AFFIRMATION OF
WHO CANADIANS THINK
THEY ARE AT THEIR BEST.

Steve says THIS IS HOW YOU
DESCRIBED CANADA,
FOR ENGLISH READERS OF
PUNCH MAGAZINE,
YOU WROTE, AND THIS IS NOW WE'RE
GOING BACK THIRTEEN YEARS,
YOU SAID...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Nothingness as freedom." The quote reads "We still refuse to agree on what the words to our national anthem are. We don't know who we are, and we don't want to. That way, we don't have to be anybody's anything. It's a terrific freedom."
Quoted from Barry Callaghan, "Raise you ten." 2005.

BARRY SAYS RIGHT.

Steve says YOU ARE KIND OF FORESHADOWING,
WITH THAT PIECE,
JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S
DESCRIPTION OF CANADA.

Barry says A LITTLE BIT.

Steve says WELL, 'CAUSE HE SAID,
"WE HAVE NO CORE IDENTITY,
AND THERE'S NO MAINSTREAM IN CANADA."

Barry says THERE'S NO MAINSTREAM.
SO, HERE'S WHAT I MEANT,
AND MEAN TO THIS DAY,
AND I THINK IT'S A GREAT GIFT.
I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GO...
WELL, LET ME SAY THIS FIRST,
I NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE SUFFERED
FROM WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE
THE PERPETUAL CANADIAN QUESTION,
"WHAT IS MY IDENTITY? ."
I NEVER ASKED MYSELF THAT
QUESTION ONCE IN MY LIFE.

Steve says LET ME PURSUE THIS NOTION OF
YOUR IDENTITY A LITTLE BIT,
THOUGH, BECAUSE YOU ARE,
YOU ARE, VERY CLEARLY,
THROUGH YOUR WRITING, THROUGH
YOUR LIFE, THROUGH EVERYTHING,
VERY CLEARLY IDENTIFIED
WITH TORONTO,
AND, OF COURSE, YOU'RE
RELATIONSHIP WITH TRUDEAU,
AND THE THINGS YOU'VE WRITTEN
ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND SEEN, UH,
RELATES YOU TO CANADA AS WELL.
YOU ARE FROM THE PROVINCE OF
ONTARIO, AS WELL.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE AN ONTARIAN?

Barry says I'VE JUST WRITTEN A VERY LONG
PIECE IN MY MAGAZINE, EXILE,
AND IT'S IN,
IT'S IN
RAISE YOU ON THE RIVER,
AS A MATTER OF FACT.
IT'S CALLED "IN GOD'S HEADBONE,"
BECAUSE...
TOO LONG A STORY TO TELL...
BUT I ENDED UP OWNING
A 200-YEAR-OLD LOG HOUSE
ON A HUNDRED ACRES OUT IN
THE DARKEST PART OF ONTARIO,
SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO,
AND I'VE SPENT A LOT OF TIME
COMING TO TERMS WITH
THAT LANDSCAPE, AND I DID.
I'VE EVEN WRITTEN
A NOVEL SET OUT THERE.
SO, I FEEL IN TOUCH
WITH MY LAND,
I FEEL IN TOUCH WITH
THE COUNTRY OUT THERE,
AND I CERTAINLY FEEL IN TOUCH
WITH MY CITY HERE.
IT'S A... IT'S VERY STRANGE.
I'VE TRIED TO LEAVE THIS CITY, YOU KNOW?
THIS CAN BE A VERY FRUSTRATING PLACE TO LIVE.
IF YOU'RE OF A CERTAIN TEMPERAMENT,
AND I HAVE TRIED TO LIVE IN
SEVERAL CITIES IN THE WORLD,
AND I JUST KEEP COMING BACK,
BUT THE SAME THING HAPPENED
TO MY FATHER, YOU KNOW?
NEW YORK WAS HIS OYSTER.
WHAT DID HE DO? HE DECIDED TO
COME BACK TO TORONTO.
I MEAN, I USED TO LOOK AT HIM
SOMETIMES, AND SAY,
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU
HAVE IN MIND?
YOU HAD NEW YORK IN
THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
AND YOU CAME BACK TO
THIS BRITISH BASTION TOWN?
THIS TERRIBLE PLACE TO
GROW UP IN?"
I MEAN, THIS WAS AN AWFUL TOWN
TO BE A YOUNG MAN IN
IN THE '50S.

Steve says WELL, IT'S NOT A BRITISH BASTION
ANYMORE, THAT'S FOR SURE.

Barry says NO, IT ISN'T. THANK GOD.

Steve says SO, YOU LIKE THE FACT THAT HALF
THE PEOPLE IN THIS CITY
AREN'T BORN HERE?

Barry says I LIKE THE FACT THAT 60 percent OF
THE PEOPLE IN THIS CITY
ARE VARIOUS SHADES OF BROWN.
THAT'S WHAT I LIKE.
THAT WHITE BREAD WORLD
IS JUST ABOUT GONE.

The caption changes to "About Catholics, Protestants and all the Others."

Steve says THIS IS FROM 2005,
CALLED "RAISE YOUR FIVE."

Another quote appears on screen, under the title "The real face of multiculturalism." The quote reads "The mosaic means that immigrants, when they arrive, in Canada, are not assimilated, or 'melted'; any melting, as Vincent Massey and others of his ilk insisted, would have led to Americanization, a vulgarization of society, intermarriage, a thinning not only of the blood but of power and influence... This is a Massey culture (as opposed to mass culture...) and it is essentially one of contempt: a fear that the bloodlines will be contaminated and centres of influence reduced."
Quoted from Barry Callaghan, "Raise you five." 2005.

Barry says RIGHT, HERE'S THE WAY I SAW IT.
THE PEOPLE WHO HAD POWER,
WHO WERE ESSENTIALLY
ANGLO-SAXON,
ESSENTIALLY PROTESTANT.
THEY LOOKED AT THE SITUATION
AND SAID,
"OKAY, LISTEN.
YOU'VE ALL COME HERE. WONDERFUL.
WE'RE HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE.
YOU KNOW, WE'RE SO HAPPY,
WHY DON'T YOU JUST
STAY TOGETHER?
WHY DON'T YOU JUST
HAVE YOUR OWN...
WE'LL PAY YOU TO HAVE
YOUR OWN NEWSPAPER.
WE'LL FUND YOUR OWN RADIO.
SPEAK ITALIAN. EAT A LOT OF
SPAGHETTI, HAVE A GOOD TIME.
DON'T INTERFERE WITH
WHAT'S GOING ON IN
THE RUNNING OF THE COUNTRY.
WE'LL," THE ALDERMAN BACK THEN,
"WE'LL DEAL WITH ALDERMAN
JOE PICCININI, YOU KNOW?
WE'LL FIND ENOUGH BANANAS,
YOU JUST KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO.
HAVE A NICE TIME. SPEAK ITALIAN,
LIVE ITALIAN, BE ITALIAN."
THIS, I SAW, IS THE MOST CYNICAL
BUT BRILLIANT WAY
OF PRESERVING POWER.
IF YOU WERE RUNNING THE BANKS
AND OWNING THE BANKS,
YOU WERE RUNNING
THE UNIVERSITIES, ETC.
AND SO FORTH,
THE SAME PEOPLE DID IT
DECADE AFTER DECADE AFTER DECADE.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE, THOUGH, ANY...

Barry says NOW IT'S CHANGED.

Steve says WELL, I WAS GONNA SAY. DO YOU
HAVE ANY SPACE IN YOUR HEART
FOR A KIND OF PATRICIAN
NOBLESSE OBLIGE,
REPRESENTED BY THE LIKES OF
JOHN ROBARTS AND BILL DAVIS,
AND ROY MCMURTRY,
AND THOSE FOLKS WHO, YOU KNOW,
ALL CAME FROM
VERY PRIVILEGED UPBRINGINGS,
AND YET SEEM TO CARE A GREAT
DEAL ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON
WITH THE COMMON PERSON IN
THIS PROVINCE AND COUNTRY?

Barry says THEY DID, THEY DID.
I DIDN'T KNOW JOHN ROBARTS,
I MET HIM TWO OR THREE TIMES,
BUT I KNEW ROY MCMURTRY
PRETTY WELL,
AND I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT,
BUT THOSE GUYS WERE WHAT WE CALL
"RED TORIES,"
OR DO YOU WANT TO USE
THE WORD PATRICIAN?
THOSE GUYS WERE NOTHING LIKE
THE GANG THAT SURROUNDS FORD
RIGHT NOW, WHO... AM I RIGHT?
THEY'RE ALL EX-HARPERITES, MAYBE?

Steve says FOR THE MOST PART, YUP.

Barry says SO, ANYWAY,
WERE THEY PEOPLE GOOD OF HEART?
YEAH, WELL, YOU CAN...
TRY THIS ARGUMENT
OF PATERNALISM ON,
WITH ANY NUMBER OF GROUPS,
STARTING WITH BLACK PEOPLE,
YOU KNOW?
PATERNALISM IS
A GENEROSITY OF HEART
AND A GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT,
AND ROY MCMURTRY,
SINCE YOU MENTIONED THE NAME,
WAS A VERY GENEROUS-HEARTED MAN.
I WOULDN'T ARGUE WITH THAT
FOR A SECOND,
BUT ROY MCMURTRY WAS
THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF
THE SUPREME COURT, YOU KNOW?
THE GUYS HE WAS BEING
GENEROUS TO WERE NOT.

Steve says YOU'VE MENTIONED YOUR DAD
A FEW TIMES HERE,
AND I DON'T WANT TO ASSUME THAT
EVERYBODY WHO'S WATCHING THIS
KNOWS THAT MORLEY CALLAGHAN,
THE GREAT WRITER,
WAS YOUR FATHER, AND WHEN YOU
WERE GROWING UP IN ROSEDALE,
I'M TOLD THAT YOU HAD QUITE
A FASCINATION WITH
THE UNDERWORLD.
SO, I WANT TO PLAY
A LITTLE CLIP OF YOU...

Barry says OH, DEAR...

Steve says TALKING ON A FORMER TVO SERIES
CALLED
FLYING SOLO,
THIS IS FROM TEN YEARS AGO.
WATCH THE MONITOR RIGHT THERE,
IF YOU WOULD.

Steve says NO, I DON'T WANT TO SEE MYSELF.

Barry says WELL, YOU'RE GONNA. HERE WE GO.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "March 8, 2009. Barry Callaghan. Author."
In the clip, a younger Barry sits in a studio and talks.

He says HOW DID I END UP FROM EARLY ON
IN MY LIFE, UH,
GETTING ALONG WITH GANGSTERS?
I USED TO GO DOWN TO THE OLD
BARKLEY HOTEL WHEN
IT WAS STILL UP. IT WAS
THE ONLY NIGHTCLUB IN TOWN.
I WAS VERY CLOSE TO
THE MAÎTRE D'.
I USED TO SIT DOWN THERE,
AND OTHER THAN AN OBSERVATION
ONE OF THOSE GUYS MADE ONCE,
I HAVE NO ANSWER.
HIS OBSERVATION WAS THAT I KNEW
HOW TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT.
I KNEW HOW TO LISTEN.

The clip ends.
The caption changes to "Of gangsters and other outcasts."

Steve says THAT'S A GREAT SKILL.
LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN.

Barry says WHAT DO YOU THINK...
IT MAY SEEM, SINCE I'VE BEEN
JUST MOTOR-MOUTHING MY WAY
THROUGH THE LAST
TEN MINUTES HERE,
IT MAY SEEM TO BE
A CONTRADICTION,
BUT IN FACT I DO KNOW HOW TO
KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT,
AND I DO KNOW HOW TO LISTEN.
WELL, SEE, I HAVE THE SAME
APPROACH TO HOODLUMS
AS I DO TO PRIME MINISTERS,
I'M SORRY,
BECAUSE THEY ALL BECOME STORIES
TO ME. EVERYTHING IS STORIES.
SO, I'LL JUST GIVE YOU A LITTLE
GLIMPSE OF WHAT I MEAN.
I WAS ONCE THE BEST MAN
AT A MAFIA BOSS WEDDING.
MAFIA WEDDING.

Steve says YOU WANT TO SAY WHOSE?

Barry says NO.

Steve says OKAY.

Barry says UM, AND...
THE PATRIARCH, ONE OF
THE PATRIARCHS OF THAT FAMILY,
LET ME PUT IT THAT WAY,
UM, SINCE I'M NOT ITALIAN,
AND I WAS IRISH,
AND I'M NOT AMERICAN,
AND I'M CANADIAN,
HE WAS ENDEAVOURING TO
TAKE ME INTO HIS CONFIDENCE
AS A GESTURE, RIGHT?
IN HIS KITCHEN.
AND AS SOON AS HE STARTED TO
TAKE ME INTO HIS CONFIDENCE
I BEGAN TO REALLY GET WORRIED,
AND I SAID TO MY FRIEND,
WHO WAS GETTING MARRIED,
I SAID,
"PUT AN END TO THIS RIGHT AWAY."
BECAUSE WHAT HE WAS
EXPLAINING TO ME WAS
HOW HE HAD MURDERED A PARTICULAR
PERSON THAT I KNEW ABOUT.
OKAY, HE STOPPED.

Steve says YOU WANT TO SAY WHO THAT WAS?

Barry says NO, NO.

Steve chuckles silently.

Barry says HE STOPPED. I THINK IT'S IN
MY BARRELHOUSE KINGS,
BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO INTO IT.
HE STOPPED, AND THE NEXT DAY
MY FRIEND GOT MARRIED,
AND THIS IS WHERE IT
BECOMES A STORY FOR ME.
HE GOT MARRIED, AND EVERYBODY IN
THE CHURCH IS GOING TO COMMUNION
DURING THE MASS, AND I AM NOT,
BECAUSE I AM A LAPSED CATHOLIC,
AND SO I AM SITTING IN MY PEW,
SURROUNDED BY A WHOLE CHURCH
GOING TO COMMUNION,
AND SUDDENLY STANDING BESIDE ME
IS THIS PATRIARCH,
LOOKING AT ME LIKE THIS,
AND HE LOOKS UP TO
THE WHOLE CHURCH,
AND SAYS IN THAT VOICE,
YOU KNOW,
"WHAT'S GOING ON? WHAT CAN HE
HAVE DONE THAT'S SO BAD
HE CAN'T GO TO COMMUNION?"

(Steve CHUCKLING)

Barry says THIS, TO ME, THIS IS HILARIOUS,
YOU SEE?
THAT'S THE STORY.

Steve says I WONDER IF PART OF THIS, ALSO,
IS A BIT OF REBELLION AGAINST
WHAT YOU USED TO CALL,
"TORONTO THE GOOD,"
WHICH IS WHAT THIS CITY WAS
CALLED WHEN YOU GREW UP HERE.

The caption changes to "Of love, Eros and the arts."

Barry says WELL, MY FATHER HAD A KIND OF
SLANT VIEW OF THINGS HIMSELF,
SO IT WAS NO SURPRISING...
NOT SURPRISING THAT, UH, THAT...
BUT IT WASN'T JUST MY FATHER,
IT WAS MY MOTHER.
MY MOTHER WAS
A REMARKABLE WOMAN.
WHAT SHE USED TO DO WITH ME
WHEN I WAS FIVE, SIX,
SHE'D PUT A RECORD ON
IN HER LONELINESS,
AND SHE WOULD HOLD ME IN HER
ARMS, AND SHE WOULD DANCE,
AND I WOULD LISTEN TO THE MUSIC,
AND SHE WOULD DANCE WITH ME,
AND I WAS VERY CLOSE
TO MY MOTHER.
SHE DANCED WITH ME,
AND I HEARD THAT MUSIC.
SO, I WENT TO SCHOOL
AT THE AGE OF SIX,
AND THE NUN IN THE FIRST WEEK
EVENTUALLY GOT AROUND TO THE,
YOU KNOW, EXPECTED THING, UH,
WILL EVERY CHILD SING A SONG
THEY LEARNED AT HOME?
SHE GOT TO ME, THIS YOUNG NUN,
I REMEMBER HER VERY WELL.
SHE GOT TO ME AND I STOOD UP,
AND I WAS A VERY
SWEET-FACED KID,
AND SO I WENT,

He sings
SQUEEZE ME, MAMA...

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Barry continues singing
'TIL MY FACE TURNS
CHERRY RED
CHERRY RED

He says YOU KNOW?
THE NUN WENT BERSERK,
YOU KNOW?

Steve says YOU THINK?

Barry says WHAT KIND OF SONG IS THIS?
SHE PHONED MY MOTHER AND SAID,
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON.
YOUR SON HAS JUST SUNG...
WHERE WOULD HE LEARN
SUCH A SONG? WHAT?"
AND MY MOTHER SAID, "BUT THAT...
WE DANCE TO THAT SONG."
SO, THAT'S, I WAS,
I WOULDN'T SAY SEPARATE.
I JUST HAD A...
I CAME AT THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY.

Steve says THAT MAY BE THE GREATEST GIFT
THEY GAVE YOU.

Barry says AND IT WAS AN ENORMOUS GIFT.
SO, THAT I LOOKED AT...
IMMEDIATELY IN MY LIFE I WAS
LOOKING AT THINGS STRANGELY.

Steve says WE'VE GOT A FEW MINUTES
LEFT HERE, MR. CALLAGHAN,
TO TALK ABOUT SOMEBODY WHO WAS,
UM, SUPREMELY IMPORTANT
IN YOUR LIFE.
CLAIRE WILKS.

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says WITH WHOM YOU WERE TOGETHER,
HOW MANY YEARS?

Barry says FORTY-SEVEN.

Steve says FORTY-SEVEN YEARS,
AND SHE PASSED AWAY
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO?

Barry says '17.

Steve says 2017.

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says SUCH A HARD QUESTION, BUT,
BUT YOU LIVED SO LONG WITH HER,
AND NOW YOU ARE WITHOUT HER.

Barry says YEAH.

Steve says HOW'S... HOW'S LIFE?

Barry laughs and says PEOPLE TELL ME THAT I SOUND GOOD AND I LOOK GOOD,
AND I SAY, "WELL..."
(STAMMERING)
"IT'S A MASK I'VE MASTERED
FOR HYSTERIA."
A FRIEND ASKED ME
WHAT IS GRIEF THE OTHER DAY,
AND I HAVE COME TO
THE CONCLUSION THAT GRIEF
IS AN OVERABUNDANCE OF LOVE.
IT'S LIKE A BLISTER,
AND YOU KNOW WHAT
A BIG BLISTER IS.
IT HURTS ALL THE TIME
AND IT'S ENORMOUS PRESSURE
ALL THE TIME,
AND OF COURSE, ONE WAY TO GET
RID OF THE BLISTER
IS TO BREAK IT,
EXCEPT IF THE BLISTER IS
THE BLISTER OF LOVE, FILLED
WITH LOVE, YOU CAN'T BREAK IT
BECAUSE THEN IT'LL BECOME
A MEANINGLESS LITTLE SCAR.
SO, YOU'RE DOOMED TO
LIVE WITH THAT BLISTER,
THAT ABUNDANCE OF LOVE.
IT HAS TAKEN A TOLL,
I'LL NEVER GET OVER IT,
BUT WE HAD...
THE LAST DOCTOR WE HAD WAS
A PALLIATIVE CARE DOCTOR,
AND HE BECAME FAS...
HE WAS QUITE OPEN ABOUT IT,
HE SPOKE AT A WAKE FOR HER.
HE BECAME FASCINATED WITH US,
BECAUSE, AND HER PARTICULARLY,
BECAUSE NO CONVERSATION WHILE
SHE WAS LYING IN BED
AND WHILE SHE WAS GETTING
CLOSER AND CLOSER TO DEATH,
ENDED WITHOUT IT TURNING
SOMEHOW INTO LAUGHTER.
WE BOTH SHARED A KIND OF
SARDONIC, EVEN DARK LAUGHTER,
AND I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE
OF HER KIND OF WIT,
AND WHAT KIND OF ROMANCE
THIS WAS,
UM, IN ITS WHOLENESS.

He wipes tears off his face and continues
ABOUT THREE WEEKS
BEFORE SHE DIED,
WE HAD TO HAVE THAT
CONVERSATION,
AS TO WHAT WAS GONNA
HAPPEN TO HER BODY.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
DO YOU WANT TO BE
BURIED IN A BOX?
YOU WANT TO BE CREMATED?
WHAT, WHAT ARE WE DOING?
WHERE DO YOU WANT IT?
AND SHE SAID,
"I WANT TO BE BURIED IN MOUNT
PLEASANT CEMETERY,
AND I WANT TO BE CREMATED."
OKAY.
SO, TWO DAYS LATER I CAME BACK, I SAID,
"OKAY, I HAVE THE PLOT IN
MOUNT PLEASANT, THAT'S DONE,
AND YOU'RE GOING TO BE CREMATED,
THAT'S DONE,
AND I HAVE ORDERED THE STONE,
AND I'VE MADE A DECISION.
I HAVE A PLOT WAITING FOR ME IN
MY OWN FAMILY, YOU KNOW,
THE CALLAGHAN FAMILY PLOT,
IN MOUNT HOPE,
WHICH IS THE CATHOLIC CEMETERY,
UM..."
CLAIRE, OBVIOUSLY,
SHE WAS A JEW.
SHE WAS NOT BEING BURIED
IN A JEWISH CEMETERY,
SHE WANTED TO BE BURIED,
SO TO SPEAK, IN THE MIDDLE.
UM, AND I SAID,
"THIS IS WHAT I'VE DONE.
I'VE ORDERED THE STONE.
YOUR NAME IS ON THE STONE.
YOUR, UH, BIRTHDATE
AND YOUR DEATH DATE.
YOU'RE GONNA BE DEAD IN
TWO OR THREE WEEKS.
AND I PUT MY NAME ON IT, TOO,
BECAUSE I AM GOING TO BE
CREMATED AND I SHALL BE
BURIED WITH YOU.
I'M VACATING MY SPOT IN
MY FAMILY TOMB,
AND YOU AND I WILL
BE TOGETHER."
I SAID, "THE LINE ON THE TOMB IS
FROM A GREAT ISRAELI POET
WHO WAS A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE
NAMED YEHUDA AMICHAI,
AND THE LINE IS, 'THE TWO OF US
TOGETHER, EACH OF US ALONE.'"
AND IT WAS A PAUSE, AND SHE
LOOKED UP AND SHE SAID,
"WELL, THAT'S BETTER THAN MARRIAGE."
AND THAT, PURE, PURE CLAIRE.

Steve says THIS HAS BEEN A GREAT PLEASURE
HAVING YOU IN THAT SEAT.
IN THE STUDIO.

The caption changes to "Producer: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

Barry says WELL...
I'M HAPPY THAT YOU'RE PREPARED
TO JUST PUT UP
WITH MY RAMBLING AROUND.

Steve says RAISE YOU ON THE RIVER: ESSAYS AND ENCOUNTERS, 1964-2018,
AND
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE,
COLLECTED.

Barry says MY COLLECTED SHORT FICTION,
YEAH.
IT'S ALL THERE.

Steve says THANK YOU BARRY CALLAGHAN.

Barry says THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
BEEN A PLEASURE.

Watch: Barry Callaghan: A Life of Words and Passions