Hobnobbing with Canadian Political Leaders

I’m not a name-dropper (exactly). I’m more of a hobnobber. In my case, the spelling should likely be amended to “hob-knob-ber,” as I can now truthfully say I have “rubbed shoulders” with Canadian political leaders of ALL persuasions.

Me & Elizabeth MayThis week, I hob-knob-bed with Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green party, when I spotted her on VIU’s Nanaimo campus. By luck, I was wearing green. I pressed my shoulders into position, cozied up, and snagged this super snapshot. When I posted it, people asked if we were sisters. (Nope—but if we were, I’d be the elder.)

Jack Layton & Judy MillarSpeaking of sisters, I once looked up from my laptop in a Nanaimo Starbucks and was surprised to see the New Democratic Party’s then-leader, Jack Layton, having coffee with his! I quickly shoved my shoulders into place, and his sister agreeably captured this photo (which I treasure, given Jack’s untimely passing).

I’m an equal-opportunity hob-knob-ber, so I also gave a Liberal party leader a chance. a-rose-from-pierre2Justin Trudeau might be surprised to learn that his dad once pinned a rose on me. (The very rose from his own lapel. I wore it for days. Until it was just a stem his fingers had touched.) If things had progressed, I might have become Justin’s mom! (Darn that Margaret Sinclair.) The story of how Pierre Trudeau and I “got pinned”was first published in Shells, but you can read it here: Oh, Mon Cher Pierre

I gave the Tories a tumble too. Literally. During a public school trip, I bumped into then-PC leader, John Diefenbaker. He was hurrying down a House of Commons staircase as I rushed up to rejoin my group. (He stumbled and had to grab for the handrail—cementing my celebrity among my classmates as the girl who’d nearly dumped Dief the Chief.)

Clearly, I am a hobnobber par excellence, and I exhibit égalité in pursuit of my hob-by. Assemblée_nationale_-_Statue_René_Lévesque2I even rubbed shoulders with PQ founder René Lévesque at Glendon College’s “Québec Year Eight” conference. Years later, I snuggled up to his statue for a photo op, and toyed with the idea of inserting a lit cigarette between his fingers to provide a whiff of the real René.

Yes, I get around when it comes to Canadian political leaders. Our current hopefuls are out on the hustings, hurling invective at each other while trying to sweet-talk the undecided among us. It’s exhausting—for them, and for those of us who try to make sense of it all. Still, I admire people who put their convictions into practice and devote their lives to public service, whether or not I agree with their positions. It’s a tough gig, and not one I’d want. Me—I’m more of a hobnobber.


Summertime fun

Judy kayaking_Moutcha Bay #2

Me at Moutcha Bay

I hope you’ve had lots of summertime fun. I have! I’ve done some kayaking in my new (to me) periwinkle kayak.

MYNoWriMo legal padI’ve also been busy performing and writing new pieces. Writing with all summer’s distractions is hard! I had some fun with that topic for the Federation of B.C. Writers. Check out my article “Summertime and the writin’ ain’t easy” on pgs. 27-28 of the Summer 2015 issue of WordWorks magazine. (Writers who struggle to meet a daily word count for NaNoWriMo may be able to relate!)

I also had summertime fun figuring out what Shakespeare, Lady Godiva, Henry the 8th and others might TWEET in their online dating profiles. Courting Celebrities_Shakespeare_ Judy Millar byline(If you missed reading my piece in July 2015 Reader’s Digest Canada, you can catch it online:  (I LOVE the cool Shakespeare that illustrator Luc Melanson came up with, don’t you?)

Catching up on reading some recent Canadian humour was fun too. I particularly enjoyed Who Killed Mom?, a warm and funny memoir by Steve Burgess and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better by Monica Heisey. I also recommend Laughing All The Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz and Curtains for Roy by Aaron Bushkowsky. The latter two were shortlisted for this year’s Leacock Medal for Humour, and you’ll soon see why.

If your goal is to get a flavour of all Canada’s premier humorists, Dick Bourgeois-Doyle has done the legwork for you. What's So Funny book cover_Dick Bourgeois-DoyleIn his quest to live a more humorous life, Dick collected, read and reviewed ALL the books (to his pub. date) that had won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal, in his book: WHAT’S SO FUNNY? Lessons from Canada’s Leacock Medal of Humour Writing. It’s a “Who’s Who” of who’s [been] funny in Canada. Sampling all these Canadian humorists will take us awhile. That should let us carry the heartwarming, summertime fun well into our cold Canadian winter. Thanks, Dick. Enjoy!

Colonoscopy cruise – all aboard!

colon-humour_OharaHaleThank you to those who emailed to say they enjoyed reading about my “colonoscopy cruise” in April 2015 Readers Digest Canada. (If you missed it or you’re contemplating a “voyage to the end of the colon,” you can check it out here: “Behind: The Scenes.” You’ll love Ohara Hale’s illustrations!)

The magazine asked me why I’d chosen to write about the colon. I told them that as a writer, I love colons. And semi-colons. And embarrassing topics. And I do. Although the research I had to undertake to complete my colonoscopy cruise piece was more “in depth” than usual!

My motto is this: You might as well laugh at yourself—everybody else is. Whether you’re embarking on a colonoscopy cruise, about to be poked and prodded in some other procedure, or simply struggling with a pesky life problem, laughter is still the best medicine. Find the funny; heal the spirit.

~ Judy

P.S. I know I promised to post my “kissing for klutzes” video. Between performances and new writing, that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe my conveyor belt video will give you a giggle. And if you’re setting out on your own colonoscopy cruise—bottoms up!

Conveyor belt klutz

Have you ever tangled with a conveyor belt? I don’t recommend it.

I was a conveyor belt klutz. I promised to share more tales of my factory floor fiascos. Well, here’s one for the klutz record books. Who knew sorting poultry parts could be so dangerous? Enjoy!
(And if you do, thanks for sharing!)

Trailer factory screw-up

I am a writer. I consider this a good thing because there is a limit to the actual damage you can do to yourself or others while sitting at a keyboard. This cannot be said of some of the other jobs I have attempted over the years. I’ve shared tales of my employment fiascos with audiences and it’s time I posted a few videos of those stories here too. This week, allow me to demonstrate how NOT to be an electrician. Let me tell you about my time as a trailer factory “screw-up.”  ~ Enjoy my fiasco–and tell me yours!