When she sat down beside me the lights were already down and the first act had taken to the stage.
“I got lost,” she whispered. “Sorry.”
I said nothing, but reached into my jacket pocket and slowly pulled out a long, green feather boa.
“Where did you get that?”
“Found it,” I muttered, and from my other pocket I slowly drew a blue feather boa and this too I draped around her neck.
That was my little magic trick, and it delighted her, but then the curtain opened up and a woman danced forward, candelabra of lighted candles balanced on her head, and from then on our attention was on the real performers, the ones on stage at the Errington War Memorial Hall for Friday’s Night at the Palace.
It was meant as a valentine’s treat for my lovely partner and it most certainly filled that bill. It was vibrant, it was alive, fun, bawdy, saucy and silly and while there were one or two bits that kind of went klunk, the Vaudeville performances presented by the all-volunteer cast and crew never once merited the hook.
It was an encouraging start. I’m going to be spending more time in Errington over the next while, along with Coombs, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay and Nanoose Bay too.
Along with the changes in the look of The News, we’ve also shuffled the beats around.
So now I’m on the regional district beat, along with environment, cops, court, features, walk-ins, lunatics and old men who just need to talk. It should be a good fit.
While it has been fun covering the hustle and bustle of Qualicum Beach for the past nearly eight years, as a former goat farmer and student at Fiddlehead Farm on the Sunshine Coast, I’ve always been far more comfortable out in the country. True, I was never particularly any good at farming. Our goat farm was really more of a cougar ranch and all the turkeys I was trying to raise died in ones and twos, day after day, until they were all gone.
But I like to think I can still learn. To this end, I see my mandate as far more than keeping tabs on what’s going on at the various RDN meetings. I see it as telling your stories, the tales of Errington, Coombs, and the other rural areas. Don’t kid yourself for a second that those stories aren’t there. I know there’s just about nobody who hasn’t done something interesting, plans to do something interesting, or is doing it right now.
My job, as I see it, is to get to know you well enough to find out what your story is.
If the creativity, spirit and sense of community I’ve seen demonstrated at the Night at the Palace, Hi Neighbour Days or the sadly defunct Just for the Hell of It parade in Coombs, the stories, once I find them, should turn out to be a lot of fun.
I look forward to the challenge.
Neil Horner is the associate editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News and a regular columnist.