In late October 1966, just before winter began to paint parts of that most southerly city in Canada white and grey, I was settling-in to a flat which I occupied during my nine months while attending teachers’ college in Windsor Ontario, at what is now part of the University of Windsor.
The Detroit–Windsor area is a critical commercial link straddling the Canada–United States border and it now has a total population of nearly six million. Canada is further from north to south, from the islands of the Arctic to Windsor, than it is from east to west. This is a hardly known fact. I used to drive from Windsor across to Detroit where I visited some of the members of the Baha’i community there on occasion during that 9 months. I was 22.
I shared the flat with a young Inuit man named Johnny Weetaltuk. Johnny was part of my training program organized by the Arctic branch of the national teaching committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada. My plan back then in October 1966 was to teach Inuit children in the Canadian Arctic after completing my teacher training. The flat I had with Johnny was across the street from a whiskey distillery which gave off an odour which I think has been the worst I have had to deal with in all the two dozen or more apartments and houses I’ve lived in during my seven decades of existence.
The flat was in the same building as my then girl-friend Dorothy Weaver who also went to Windsor teachers’ college. Dorothy taught in Cape Dorset, in northern Quebec the next year. Dorothy was one of the three women I asked to marry me in 1966/67, and one of the three who said no.
I did not make a habit of asking women to marry me, in spite of appearances to the contrary; nor did I make a habit of flirting with them as Harold Pinter did, or so I am informed by Wikipedia. I asked one other woman in my life to marry me and that woman is now my second wife to whom I have been married for 38 years.
While I was working in, and then moving from, the lunch-pail city of Hamilton to Windsor for that final year of my four-year post-secondary education and, in the process, giving-up that 1966 summer job selling ice-cream for the Good Humour Company for some 80 hours a week, the English playwright Harold Pinter moved into a five-story 1820 Nash house facing Regent's Park in London. The view from the top floor where he had installed his office, so I was informed by Larry Bensky in his interview with Pinter recorded in The Paris Review(1), overlooked a duck pond and a long stretch of wooded parkland; his desk faced this view, and in late October 1966, when that interview took place, the changing leaves and the hazy London sun constantly distracted him as he thought over questions or began to give answers.
Bensky(1937- )is, and was, a literary and political journalist. He has had more than forty years’ experience in both print and broadcast media, as well as in teaching and political activism. In that interview Bensky was impressed and surprised by Pinter’s deep, theatre-trained voice. Pinter’s voice was, for Bensky, the most remarkable thing about Pinter physically.
Bensky also noted Pinter’s tendency to excessive qualification of any statement, as if coming to a final definition of things were obviously impossible. One gets the impression, as one does with many of the characters in his plays, Bensky noted, of a man so deeply involved with what he's thinking that roughing it into speech is a painful necessity. I, too, found talking a painful necessity until the mid-1960s when, by sensible and insensible degrees, talking became easy, part and parcel of my life-narrative as a teacher and tutor, a lecturer and adult educator, among many other jobs in my lifespan.
Pinter’s writing was alternatively a source of mystery and amusement, joy and anger to him; in looking it over he often discovered possibilities and ambiguities that he had not noticed or had forgotten. He spoke of “a great boredom that he had with himself” which was “unrelated to his environment or his obligations”.
My work, my life at that time, in October 1966, as a student and in my relationships with the above-mentioned Dorothy and Johnny, was also and alternatively a source of pleasure and frustration, joy and seriousness. The three of us served on the locally elected body of the Baha’i community of Windsor. I was the vice-chairman, and I had not experienced boredom since one of those summer holidays back in the 1950s before my adolescence, before I was able to get a summer job; nor would I ever know boredom again at any stage in my lifespan experience.
I remember the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, saying that he thought the boredom of the well-to-do, the English aristocracy, was a major cause of the Great War. Russell also emphasized that boredom has been one of the great problems of history for humanity.
In October 1966 I knew nothing of Pinter. I was enmeshed in my 17th year of the schooling process; I was no longer involved in sport which had kept me happily occupied, indeed, passionately occupied, until the summer of 1963 and as far back as the summer of 1953, as the sport of cricket had kept Pinter’s leisure-life happily engaged throughout his youth and adulthood.
I was also enmeshed, encumbered and bewildered by mood swings which were part of my then bipolar 2 disorder. My psycho-erotic-intellectual-social life kept my mind and emotions on all-ahead full as my mood-swings bubbled or erupted, ran or percolated along the pathways of my brain into my daily life, to the surface of my comings-and-goings, in a complex array of ups-and-downs that I did not understand, and would not come to understand for many years to come.
In my four years of tertiary education I took no literature courses and so the novelists and writers, poets and playwrights of the post-war generations were not on my intellectual and reading, my experiential and interest, agenda in October 1966. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Larry Bensky, “Harold Pinter, The Art of Theatre No. 3”, The Paris Review, Fall 1966, No. 39. This article was read on the internet on 29 November 2012.
Your daily life-and-death intensity
as a child before & during the Blitz
left you with profound memories of
loss, loneliness, bewilderment, and
a sense of separation found in your
plays.....Your teen-age friendships
were a vital part of that emotional
texture of your life....English and
writing were there at the start in
your pre-pubescence and adolescence.
I had to wait, looking back, until
my late 20s & 30s, my 40s & 50s,
even unto my 60s, little by little,
& day by day as a deluge came in the
last two decades: 1993-2013.....You
were obsessed by cricket and I was
by sport until my late teens & then
a serious side of my life took over.
Reading and religion, sex and the
sensory, teaching and talking, as
well as marriage & moving from one
town to town, state to state, and
country to country, and job to job.
Like you, I adored women, & admired
their resilience & strength; this was
especially true of my wife’s which I
have watched now for nearly 40 years.
You had many jobs since your income
from acting was never enough: waiter,
postman, snow-clearer, bouncer; and
meanwhile, harbouring ambitions as a
poet and writer. I had many jobs too,
but did not harbour an ambition of a
literary nature while I was a gardener,
bottle-collector, take-away worker,
truck-driver, data-processing clerk,
security officer, salesman, office
worker, janitor, shipping-receiving,
steel worker, electrician’s assistant;
on-&-on went a litany from year-to-year.
29/11/’12 to 3/7/'13.