Monday, March 31, 2008

The Great Bread Caper

Here it is April 1st once more. The day for humour and laughter. In honour of the humour and laughter I submit to you my faithful reader a true story of an April Fool.

It all began many years ago in a small news room in Saint John, New Brunswick. We were sitting around the office shooting the shit when the topic of bread came up. I cannot remember exactly what the context was, but bread was a subject I knew very well. I considered myself an expert being from a family that had been in the bakery business for some 60 years.

My Grandfather founded a Bakery in the late 1920's and the name Titus was synonymous with fine fresh bread in Southern New Brunswick. At one time there were several Titus Bakeries owned and operated by relatives of my Grandfather. ( Uncles, and Cousins). By the time my Granddad closed his doors forever in 1975, there was but one Titus Bakery owned and operated by my Grandfather's cousin Ted, it had been passed down to Ted's children and is a fixture to this day, on the Corner of Union and Prince Edward Streets.
The bread at this bakery, baked fresh every day, was as close to tasting like my Grandfathers loaves I had grown up with. Needless to say, Ted's bread was a staple and was always found on my counter top at home.

Now during our heated conversation about bread back in the news room, I believe the debate was about taste. One of my co-workers claimed that there was "no real difference" in the taste of fresh bread between one brand or another.
I countered with: " I could tell the difference blindfolded"

Now the folks I worked with at ATV in Saint John, were not going to let this pass. And from time to time would rekindle the conversation and debate about the taste of bread. I always defended the family name and would always restate my claim as bread expert.

In 1992, Mrs. Murman gave birth to my son, and as she was now on maternity leave, it would be my daily duty to pick up our daily bread from Titus Bakery. A task I performed most every lunch hour.
"One loaf white unsliced please." I would say to one of the Titus girls working the shop.
"90 cents please" She would reply and usually ask about the new baby and how Mrs. Murman was enjoying her time away from the office.
I would toss the bread in the back of the news truck and head off to who knows what, a routine that would repeat itself for months on end.

Little did I know that there was mischief afoot.

I would get home and my wife would say over supper. "This bread tastes funny are you sure that you bought this at Titus'? "
"Yes I did" I replied.
I never gave it much thought, I figured that childbirth and the rearrangement of hormones must have affected her sense of taste.

Months had gone by. Many loaves had been bought and consumed. Fresh baked bread everyday. From Titus Bakery or so I had thought. Months turned into a year. Never a break in the routine.

Lets fast forward. One of the fellows I worked with, our engineer, Paul was his name, had ended up in hospital with a major heart issue. He almost died. I went on behalf of the office to visit him after his surgery. I met his wife in the hospital hall and she said that he would be fine and I could go in for a quick visit. She warned me that he was still groggy.
So I get in there and he says to me, "Oh Murray, my boy, " and he starts mumbling about how sorry he was about the bread and how he and the others had been switching my loaves for some time.
"The Bread??" I thought.
I figured it must be the drugs and he was just babbling about random things.
He kept saying how sorry he was and he hoped I would forgive him.
I figured I had stayed too long so I gave him our gifts and went back to the office to let everybody know that he would be OK.

"How is he?" The group asked
"He is a little groggy and I think he's on some great drugs" I explained to the newsroom. "He was musing about stealing bread and he wanted forgiveness."
There was sudden laughter. It seems that Paul had been in on the great bread caper and he wasn't musing, he thought he was dying and wanted to clear his soul.

Then it all came out. It appears I had been the victim of a very elaborate practical joke. Masterminded by my co workers.
Your remember the bread boast. They had it on tape. It was tradition when pulling off office hi jinx that it be recorded. The gang confessed that they had been switching my daily bread for just under a year. They would each take turns buying bread at other bakeries and switching it. Taking it out of its clear plastic bag and switching it. Sometimes the switch would be made while I was in the bathroom. Someone would knock, I would say "I'll be a few minutes." They would have cameras rolling and switch the freakin' bread just outside of the washroom door.
Often one of the gang would eat a sandwich in front of my desk made from you guessed it, my Titus Bread. All the while recording the fun to be played back at a later date.
Apparently every bakery in Saint John was in on the joke. Yes even the girls at Titus Bakery. My wife always suspected that there was always something not right about the bread. I never suspected a thing and well couldn't tell the difference. I am sure my late Grandfather looking down from above, was laughing his ass off. I know that everyone at the Saint John Bureau sure was.

It was brilliant!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deja Vous

After my last post lamenting the lack of breaking news and a flight reporter wouldn't you know last nights show included both.

Let me reset this. A couple of years ago, some of you may remember The Cliff Hanger. It was a defining moment for helicopter news gathering here in Vancouver. You had a boy, his dog, stranded high on a cliff in North Vancouver. Chopper 9 brought the rescue of the lad and his dog LIVE during the 6PM news. At the time flight reporter David Kincaid carried the show on his back with his informative oratory from the sky.

Fast forward to Wednesday of this week and for some reason, Kink ends up reassigned back into the flying machine. The first time in several months. As he buckles himself in he states to Guiv (pilot) and Gary (Flight Camera Op): "Wouldn't it be nice if we had something breaking tonight."
No sooner had he got those words out over the flight intercom, the scanner yielded a "high angle rescue" at a place called Quarry Rock. The very same location of the Cliff Hanger of two years ago. He could not have planned it any better.

I happened to be close to a TV as the 6 began. I was tuning in to see an item that I had shot earlier while on skis. As the show opened they went immediately to breaking news. A familiar looking cliff, Kinks voice describing the developing scene below. A dog, this time, a women and of course the high angle rescue team of the North Van FD. As with the first story from two years ago, this too had a happy ending. Perfect TV, danger, drama, a rescue and nobody gets hurt. Good stuff. So good the item which I had originally tuned in for gets dropped from the show and held for tomorrow.

Now it's official. I am the only member of the CTV Flight Crew that has yet to shoot a High Angle dog/person rescue at Quarry Rock.
No matter, it's been done.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Stare

The drone of another aircraft powering off the runway at Vancouver International fills the office as I stare blankly toward the mountains. I am back at the aircraft hangar after a long hiatus from the helicopter.
Usually my mood is upbeat heading into a flight week, but much has changed with the Chopper 9 project and the assignment just doesn't have the excitement or immediacy it once had.
It has been a gradual thing. The desk and ND seem to have lost the appetite or commitment to the news gathering weapon in the sky. Late last summer the writing seemed to be on the wall with the permanent reassignment of Flight Reporter Dave Kincaid. Flight rotations just have not been the same without his gifted story telling and his ability to pitch items from the sky to the show producers. With his departure, those of us left are relegated to listening to the squelch of antique scanners, praying for some breaking news so that we can launch and contribute to the shows.
Needless to say, the flight hours have been few and far between. Couple that with the spotty wintertime weather and you see how a guy can develop that "thousand yard stare" looking towards the mountains, just wishing for a flight with some meaning.