Take a Hike: Mosh pits and cannon fodder

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It was nice to stretch my legs indoors.

I don’t mind brisk weather. The temperature needs to drop below zero Celsius before I start to cry and whine about going outside. But a chance to doff the coat and walk the climate-controlled halls of the hospital was welcome.

I suspected Gwen Kerr and I might have the same taste in music when I saw the cardboard sleeve for a vinyl recording of How Much is that Doggy in the Window mounted on her office wall.

“Hey, you like Snoop, too!” I said.

“Sorry, what?” said the executive director of the Cumberland Health Care Foundation.

Oops. I thought it was Snoop Dogg’s latest LP. But no, it was a vintage album cover for a record containing the original song about puppies behind glass. This frightened me because it was strange and I couldn’t understand it.

I was reassured once we started walking. Kerr talked about some of the concerts she attended in younger days, such as David Bowie – twice – Queen and Iggy Pop. She met Mr. Pop after one of his shows.

“I was into punk,” she said. Then the conservatively-dressed fundraiser started screaming the song Garageland by The Clash at the top of her lungs.

A young man lying on a bed in the corridor scowled at us.

“Mind your business, ya silly duffer,” I said, then made a lewd gesture I once saw Johnny Rotten make to a BBC interviewer.

Kerr said Queen was one of the best concerts she attended.

“Bohemian Rhapsody is my favourite,” she said.

I told her I didn’t know it. She proceeded to sing some nonsensical rubbish for about 10 minutes, using all these strange voices – high, then low, then air guitar, then quiet.

“Still don’t know it,” I said. “I like that song Radio Ga Ga. It’s their best song, I’m sure of it.”

Kerr saw Sinatra when he toured with Liza Minelli. She said they were incredible performers.

“It felt like they were singing right to you.”

I’ve got nothing funny to say here. Sinatra was awesome.

“The best concert I ever saw was Pink Floyd,” I said. “I fasted for the week beforehand, then IV-ed four bags of fermented cactus juice right before the band hit the stage. I remember swirling lights, a ticking clock and a giant flying pig. I came to my senses six months later.”

Kerr has discovered Maritime music since moving east. She likes Great Big Sea.

“Just pups, mere pups,” I said. “Fine for the kids, sure, but they’re no Stan Rogers.”

I broke into a rousing rendition of Barrett’s Privateers. We’d circled around the halls back to where the young man lay prone in a hospital bed. But this time, instead of scowling, he started singing, a big grin on his face.

“Oh shut it, ye scurvy scallywag,” I said, “or I’ll pull the plug on that monitor and send ye to Davey Jone’s locker.”

Then I made a lewd gesture I once saw Stan Rogers make to a CBC interviewer.


Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.


Organizations: Cumberland Health Care Foundation, BBC, Pink Floyd Great Big Sea CBC

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