How do you like this scenario: Man gets hired to ghost-write the memoirs of a former prime minister of England who fell out of favor with the public for helping an American president (who may have been a none-too-bright sociopath; don’t forget, this is fiction) wage a disastrous war against terror.
The ex-prime minister is hiding out on the Vineyard to escape the clutches of a war crimes tribunal (don’t forget, Milosevic’s cell has been lying fallow for years), and Islanders are protecting Mr. Blair, I mean, whatever his name is, because we’re habitually blase about celebrities.
Now, here’s where the story gets extra-shady: the ghost-writer was preceded by another writer of the phantom ilk who was pushed off the Island ferry (as some of the old-timers with long memories know, this is definitely not outside the realm of possibility.) The book, released this month, is titled The Ghost and was written by English author Robert Harris.
We’ve all got to read it. I mean, we’ve got to wonder: is Linda Jean’s the site of an illicit transfer of spy paraphernalia? Is the Tony Blair character holing up with Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols at Chip Chop? Or maybe he’s camped out upstairs of the Corner Store in Mel’s old office? We’ll know more next week when I’ll give you a full debriefing (without, of course, ruining the plot.)
Regarding the flap about Veira Park and the proposed Little League field, here is my own five cents (it’s gone up from two cents with inflation, not to mention the huge salary I’m paid for writing this column.)
First, to be opposed to anything involving little kids’ baseball feels as rank as banning Thanksgiving, kittens and meals for orphans.
On the other hand, as Islanders living in a place that isn’t, like 99.9 percent of the rest of America, corrupted by highways, strip malls, and 10 acres of parking lot asphalt for every square block of modern civilization, we need to stand up for local beauty wherever it’s threatened.
Think of the Oak Bluffs harbor before a public restroom was plunked down in the best part of its view. Or consider the quaint lane of arts and crafts bungalows before the Garage Mahal was slapped up virtually overnight.
Our town is still exquisite, but so were lots of other towns before too many suburban and exurban demands were placed on them.
One of the greatest glories of Victorian planning that graces our town still today is the generous sprinkling throughout of big and small parks. Some are publicly grand like Ocean and Trinity Parks, others surprise us like a hidden grotto in a jungle or one of those secret gardens in Paris upon which only blind luck allows you to stumble.
Our neighbors who surround Veira Park have a right to the history-laden, open ground that has always come with their territory. There is no reason in the world that their vista of grass and ancient oaks should give way to a sprawl of cars and a melee of sports teams. I’m not saying we should have no sports teams, even melees of them, but don’t ask any fellow O.B.-ers to give up his or her — and our — venerable old park.
The Veira residents argue for safety, tax fairness, and adhesion to our master plan — all sound rallying points — but let us also remember to argue for beauty. Beauty for its own sake. Beauty worth taking a stand for. Beauty as the truest and least compromised value that sets us Vineyarders apart from the rest of the country.
Whew. I’m stepping off this soap box and I’m so worked up I might actually unwind by relating a dog story. But no, instead you need to know the following:
At the library today, Friday, Nov. 2 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., 6 to 10-year-olds will be treated to a storytelling fest about dragons, offered by Al Hurwitz.
At the school, parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for Nov. 6, 8 and 14. Parents of students in grades kindergarten through five will receive their appointments in the mail. Parents of middle school students will receive instructions for scheduling appointments for interim reports. You can choose which teachers you wish to meet with and when. All of this will be happening by Internet, so your grocery list may be the last writing you ever do by hand.
Karate classes for 4 through 12-year-olds, with beginners welcome, will be held Mondays at 3:30 p.m. at Triangle Fitness in Edgartown.
That’s enough excitement for one town column. See you next week.