Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.
Here is one of Neil’s daily episode of Exchange talking about Canadian psyche.
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Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.
Here is one of Neil’s daily episode of Exchange talking about Canadian psyche.
A passage from Neil’s book: Neil McKenty Live! The Lines Are Still Blazing.
Neil’s first speech given when he was nine years old
WHEN GRANDDAD WAS A BOY
I don’t see why the power has to go off just when we are listening to the last game of the world series. I was cross and crosser still when Granddad, who was sitting on the porch next to me, began to chuckle. ”Well, when I was a boy,” he commenced. All thoughts of baseball and even the most thrilling game of the World Series were forgotten, for I knew that when Granddad began that way I was sure to hear something more interesting. ”In those days we did not have radios, and not even electricity,” he went on, ”We used candles instead and we had to make them at home.”
”But Grandfather, how do you make candles? I though you bought them from a store?”
”Well, the tallow was rendered from sheep and beef, poured into metal molds, perhaps a dozen at a time and allowed to harden. My part of the work began then. Often when I came home from school, I helped mother undo the knots at the bottom of the molds and pull them out from the top. There were no flashlights in those days either. We did the chores by the light of a home-made lantern in which one of those candles was placed. By the light of those flickering tallow candles we studied our lessons.
We didn’t have the long summer holidays that you have now. At one time they were only one week, then two weeks, and later they were for three weeks. I spent mine at home helping with the crops.”
”Bur Grandfather, you work all the time – didn’t you have any fun?”
”Oh yes, but it was different from what you call fun. We used to sit around the fire in the evenings when someone told stories, most often ghost stories. There I would sit in the corner, listening and shivering, to creep off to bed as thirsty as I could be, because to run through that awful darkness from the house to the pump was more than I dared. We all looked forward to getting to the fall fair. It was one of the most important events of the year, and we certainly wasted no time in seeing that the potatoes were dug by the second week in October to make sure we could go. We often went to our neighbours to kelp with the work too, logging, threshing, husking, and woodcutting. Then there was time for fun when we finished.
In those days we did not use a binder, but cradled the wheat. Once fall at our farm, five or six men cradled 50 acres. We had no time to bin the grain, but tied it with a band of the straw. When the grain was threshed we took it to some of the nearest towns, Peterboro, Colborne and Trenton. Once I had to take a load of 65 or 70 bushels of grain to market. There were five or six teams, travelling and going to Brighton. We got up at two o’clock in the morning because it was a whole day’s journey. We took along hay to feed the horses as it was such a long trip. The teams kept coming in from the whole countryside so that by nightfall there were 100 teams in Brighton. When I went back to look for my team I couldn’t find them, there were so many horses in the barn. Wen we went to church in those days the whole family went in the wagon for there were no buggies. The first buggies were used around 1870. They were rather clumsy, and there weren’t many of them.
”How far did you have to go, and how long did it take, Grandfather?” I asked.
”It was about two miles and it took a half an hour.”
surely a difference from the few seconds it took me to get to church in my dad’s car, I thought.
”There were no milking machines or separators in those days either,” he went on. ”We had about 18 or 20 cows at home. The milk was put in earthen pans and set for the night. In the morning it was skimmed. We used dash churns to make the butter and it often took hours before any signs of butter appeared. Butter was packed in firkins, small wooden tubs made by coopers in the nearby village.
Washing the sheep in the spring was hard work too. They were sheared and wool rolled in a sheet or blanket, was pinned with thorns and taken to the carding mill in the village. After that was done the rolls were taken home and the wool was spun into yarn by the women of the household on the spinning wheel. It was now ready for the weaver, perhaps some local farmer, who had learned the art in the old country. Then the full cloth and flannels were taken home to be made into clothes. A tailor would go from house to house, sit on the table , and make the cuts. Every boy had a new full cloth suit, bound with black braid, to start off to school in the fall. And a new pair of boots, which were made by hand. We made our own sleighs too, out of the staves of barrels with pieces of boards to hold them together. We had just as much fun with them as you do now with a new toboggan.
To be continued…
Click below to hear Catharine discuss her time at PACE magazine and Neil’s early experiences of writing.
After returning from Ireland in the summer of 1987, where the John Main biography had been launched at Trinity College, I was astonished to receive a telephone call from a senior program producer at CFCF television, Don McGowan, a well-known Montreal television personality in his own right. Over lunch at the garden café of the Ritz-Carlton, McGowan asked me if I would be interested in doing a live talk show on television, a sort of poor man’s Larry King Live. McGowan would provide a chauffeur-driven limousine to pick me up each morning (impressive for the neighbors) and an extensive new wardrobe (a delight for Catharine who never approved of my doing radio in a scruffy T-shirt).
Of course I jumped at the opportunity, and in September 1987, we went on air with Montreal’s first English live call-in television program, McKenty Live. Television is more cumbersome and complicated than radio, but for the next three years I had a lot of fun – the limousine with a bar, telephone and TV set in the back seat; the warmth and soft hands in the make-up room; a small, friendly staff. During the three years we had some remarkable guests: the famous sexologist, Dr. Ruth, who was so tiny she had to sit on a Montreal telephone directory; Canada’s chief negotiator, Louis Reisman, with whom I had a ferocious argument on free trade two days before the federal election; and René Lévesque, the only guest who not only smoked, but offered a cigarette to everyone in the crew. Only a week later, this man whom I liked very much, died of a heart attack. René Lévesque’s last appearance in public might well have been on McKenty Live.
Although I enjoyed McKenty Live and my associates on the program, Daniel Freedman, Wendy Helfenbaum and Bernie Peissel, at the end of the third season, I decided to leave the program. My reasoning was: I would be repeating programs we had already done; some of my associates were being changed; I wanted to do some more writing, perhaps a book on Catharine’s grandfather, onetime mayor of Toronto; and both Catharine and I were busy with the Benedictine Priory and meditation. So in June 1990, I left CFCF television.
from the Inside Story.
A passage from the book Neil McKenty Live!
McKenty’s Two-Rule Golf School.
”Keep it simple, stupid!” Imagine if those four words were applied to the golf swing. It would revolutionize the game. Since I left my television show 12 years ago, I have been trying to master the golf swing. Let’s face it, the swing has more rules than a monastery: bend your elbows, incline your knees, swivel your hips, flex your ankle, equalize tour weight, overlap your fingers, and address the ball. In trying to keep all this straight, the danger is you begin to hallucinate. You wake up in the middle of the night yelling ”Fore” and you haven’t even hit the ball.
Is there any way to get a handle on this jumble, any way to ”keep it simple, stupid?” As a matter of fact I think there is. It came to me the other day at Meadowbrook where I try to play several days a week. Of course all golfers have their own theories about the golf swing. For what it is worth, here’s mine. It seems to me you can reduce all these rules and regulations to two. One relates to the head, the other to the feet. Keep it down and don’t move. Simple, but not easy. How can I tell if I’ve moved my head during my golf swing? Simple again. The ball dribbles along the fairway like water dribbling from a garden hose that’s lost its pressure. Whereas if I keep my head steady the ball arcs gracefully into the air every single time. So it’s not your elbows or your wrists or your knees. It’s the head, stupid. And I would argue that if you don’t move your head, you are halfway to a good golf game. So do I keep my head still. Not every time. But often enough to keep me coming back.
After the head there’s the feet. What about them? Move them. The exact opposite of what you do with the head. To be more precise, you don’t exactly move the feet. What you do is move your weight from one foot to the other, and in the process, both feet move in different ways. So how exactly does this work?
When I address the ball I try to keep mu weight evenly on both feet. Then on my back swing I try to move most of my weight from my front foot to my back foot. And on my follow through I try to move the weight from my back foot to my front foot. I don’t often do it correctly bu I try. In going from back to front, the rear foot pivots so that the end of the swing you are standing on your rear toes facing the target. So, it’s true that both feet move in different ways. But the purpose of the whole exercise is to move or transfer the weight. Again, simple, but not easy. The fact is that most of the time I can’t manage it.
How can I tell if I have moved my feet (transferred my weight) correctly? I can tell every time. If I haven’t, the swing has no power and the ball won’t go far. It’s ike a gun the has lost its charge. The bullet has no velocity.
So, to resume. If I move my feet, I get distance. If I don’t move my head, I get height. If you have both height and distance you are a long way toward an enjoyable golf game Just for the record, I have this other idiosyncrasy that makes my game still more enjoyable. I don’t count. So instead of logging a triple bogey from the last hole, each hole for me is a fresh start. And believe me, I don’t need to count to tell whether my swing is working or not.
If you are a golfer you may disagree with my diagnosis of the golf swing. But you have got to admit, it’s simple. And if I could find a partner, I think we could make some money. We’d start the Two Rule Golf School. ”Don’t move your head, move your feet.” We couldn’t lose, could we?
Here is a poem from Thomas Gray, Catharine’s favorite.
Elegy written in a country of Churchyard.
After many requests, here again is Neil on a different format, on the other side (No, not the force!) but the other side of the microphone on a personal level.
Here are two videos of Neil.
”Amazing privilege to have shared nearly 40 years together. Remembering with gratefulness and joy. What a guy!” Catharine
”Neil McKenty was one of the most complicated and interesting men who ever lived. For much of his life he wrestled with demons, but through it all he had a great capacity for friendship” Daniel Freedman
For yet another rare occasion, we see Neil from a different angle, on the other side of the microphone discussing his early life with Dennis Trudeau for the show Sunday Night.
Aired on 13/04/97
McKenty Live with host Neil McKenty.
On today’s program, Neil talks about the environment with guest David Suzuki.
Journalist, soldier, barrister and Benedictine monk, John Main’s spiritual odyssey was a deep seated quest for an authentic life of prayer. The door finally opened when he met an Indian swami who taught him to meditate using a mantra, only to close again when he entered the Benedictine novitiate and adopted a more traditional form of prayer.
Long after ordination in 1963, John Main discovered that the form of prayer advocated by the swami already existed within the mainstream of Western Christianity but had fallen into disuse. From then on, he was to devote his life to restoring this form of Christian meditation to its rightful place within the Church. His work began with the foundation of a meditation center at Ealing Abbey in London and led, some years later, to the foundation of the Benedictine Priory of Montreal and the establishment of a worldwide spiritual family liked through the daily practice of meditation.
Neil McKenty paints an attractive portrait of this compelling Irish monk whose teaching and writing on meditation were to transform the lives of thousands of men and women.