The much-delayed wakening of Rip Van Willard

Our erstwhile hero is roused from an almost-35-year slumber to find that much has changed – and some things never change

Robert McGarvey“It’s a friggin’ miracle … you woke up uncle Willy! I bet your old doc never seen this coming. Who would’a guessed you’d sleep for almost 35 years? How do ya feel?”

“Where am I … is this heaven?”

“No siree uncle, you’re in the Heart of the New West!”

“Whoa,where else would I be, but what year is it? Last time I knew it was 1985 and we’d just dragged our sorry arses out of the clutches of that rascal Trudeau. I hope we’re well rid of him by now. Praise the Lord and for goodness sakes get me up, I want to see what’s goin’ on.”

“Progress uncle … nothin but progress. It’s 2018 and things have changed since your day. Yes siree, we come a long way.”

“I see you got some fancy new buildings out here. That’s progress. Tell me now, did we get another boom after that blasted Frenchie left?”

“Oh ya, sure did. Put the ol’ Cow Town on top of the world, it did. Oil business was hopping for quite a while, them big shots were making money hand over fist.”

“Looks a bit quiet down there on the street son. In my day they’d be crawlin’ with deal makin’ and lots of pretty girls … I s’pose it’s all happenin’ in those big office towers? That right?”

“Ghost towers now uncle, you could shoot a cannon off in most of em. An’ you cain’t call them girls ‘pretty’ now-days, that’s sexual har-ass-ment.”

“Don’t you lie to me boy … in Calgary a pretty girl’s a pretty girl, why in my day. …”

“That’s what I’m tryin’ to tell ya uncle. It ain’t your day no more. No siree … it’s all progress now, you got your Internet, your Twitter and #METOO going on. Women folk, they’re on top now uncle.”

“Balderdash … where’s that wildcatter spirit … used to run wild right though this crazy town.”

“We even got a woman premier now uncle, Rachel Notley, she’s ol’ Grant Notley’s youngun. Knocked that ol’ PC gang right out of the park in the last election.”

“Whoa, stop right there son … are we talkin’ socialists right in the Heart of the New West? That cain’t be – t’ain’t right.”

“Kicked their conservative butts uncle … not too popular now-days but then we bin through hell in a hand basket after that last recession and all.”

“We’ll survive son, seen bad times before … see em again I reckon. What else is goin’ on, we still fightin’ them Soviet commies?”

“No, their gone now, China’s on top. All progress over there uncle. China takin’ over the world is what folks are sayin’. They pretty well call the shots now-days, why ol’ President Trump. …”

“Now, hold on a step. Them commie doormats in China, are you tellin’ me they’re whooping our butts, that ain’t progress. And what in hell is all this talk of Trump as pres-i-dent … that young whippersnapper was gettin’ run out of town on a rail, last I heard.”

“Trump is da man uncle, and technology is where it’s at – taken over the world and China makes it all. They still commie, but now them poor ol’ wage slaves you used to go on about, they work for our boys making computers, and such. Work cheap they do … we can thank old Clinton for that.”

“Well at least we still got our country out here in the West … still the greatest place for a young person to get their start in life.”

“Seppin you cain’t buy a house in Calgary unless you’re already a millionaire, and oh yeah, I forgot to mention we’re about to go to war with B.C. We’re cutting off their oil after they brought down our pipeline … dirty rats.”

“Stoppin’ a pipeline … never heard of such a thing. There a gazzilion miles of pipelines. Surely they cain’t be worried about that?”

“It’s the bitumen uncle, they worried it’s gonna spill on their precious coast line … got a point there I s’pose. But we’ll fix them, shut em down that’s what we’ll do, they’ll be begging us to build that line, after Trudeau sorts em out.”

“Whoa, that old ghoul is still in Ottawa? Heaven forbid!”

“Not him, not the old man … it’s Justin his son … the pretty one. After Kinder Morgan pulled out, he’s our great hope, the last line of defence against our mortal enemies out there in the Land of Fruits and Nuts.”

“Son, you can call it what you like, but progress it ain’t. I’m sorry, but I’m-a goin’ back to sleep, maybe come back in another 35 years … it surely cain’t git any worse than this.”

Robert McGarvey is chief strategist for Troy Media Digital Solutions Ltd., an economic historian and former managing director of Merlin Consulting, a London, U.K.-based consulting firm. Robert’s most recent book is Futuromics: A Guide to Thriving in Capitalism’s Third Wave


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