More Virtual Travel: London, England

Here is an excerpt from the novel All The Way, offering more vicarious travel as Covid lingers, casting a damper over travelling abroad. It’s from the chapter where the principal characters in the book, Susie and her husband, Jack, are recalling living in London just after they were married:

Susie closed her eyes and sighed, wading back to their years in London.

She loved their Battersea flat despite the floral wallpaper that was always damp and bubbly from rain and fog, and the coal fires that were almost impossible to light.

Of course they could be replaced with paraffin heaters but that risked other problems. Sometimes Jack started one in his greenhouse studio to warm the space while he had breakfast but if he lingered too long in the kitchen, the heater filled the greenhouse with smoke. As a result some of his paintings ended up so covered in soot that he had to throw them out…Susie believed they might have stayed in London their whole lives except that, as Jack put it, they always felt as if they were camping out.

Susie loved teaching in London–mud-splattered little urchins in striped football jerseys and short pants, their mouths stuffed with candies from the local sweet shop: gobstoppers. jelly babies. drumstick lollies. “Please miss,” they would ask her politely, “‘Ave you got a plaster? I’ve scraped my knee, I ‘ave.” Or “Please, miss, I need a biro. Mine’s as buggered as me dad’s arse.” They were always coming into the classroom with jars of little fish they’d caught in Battersea Park and thrusting them in the faces of the girls, freckle-faced little mischief-makers with pigtails and big red bows in their hair. They would shriek with feigned alarm until Susie shooed them to the playground to skip rope.

I had a little puppy, his name was Tiny Tim.

I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim.

He drank all the water, he ate a bar of soap.

The next thing you know he had a bubble in his throat.

In came the doctor, in came the nurse,

In came the lady with the alligator purse…

A couple of the boys would stop playing conkers and have a try but they were hopeless at timing their jumps and would end up holding the rope ends…

Later, when she taught in Toronto, Susie found the kids weren’t that different, but they never spoke as colourfully as her biro boy: “When I get home from school, me mum’s always busy in the kitchen, but me dad’s just kippin’ on the settee.”

All The Way is available by contacting Personally autographed copies are available directly from the author by emailing:

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Grandpa And The Three Dubes

Here is an excerpt from the above story by the author’s son in At the Table, Nourishing Conversation & Food, published by Penumbra Press:

I missed my Grandfather Pointing’s funeral. I fact, I didn’t find out he had died until several weeks afterwards. I was off tree-planting in northern Alberta several hours from the nearest phone. I’m okay with it, though. He wasn’t a particularly sentimental person. It’s not like he would have been offended by my absence. Some would say he was a tough, cold, stiff upper-lip Brit. But there was more to him than that…

Every year on his birthday Grandpa visits us in Windsor. He brings European chocolate bars with fancy fillings. One time he brings me a model airplane that he has built himself. We spend the whole weekend in the field of Princess Anne School perfecting it’s flight. It is a serious project. After all, he was an RAF pilot in the First World War. Hard as shrapnel. I am scared to death of crashing that plane.

On his eightieth birthday we have a special party: a big cake, photo albums, a ceremony, games–and drugs.

Grandpa loves walking our dog. An early riser, he takes Rocky for long strolls before the rest of us are up. On the morning of his birthday, he and Rocky happen to stumble across three joints lying on the sidewalk. Now, being pretty with it for his age, Grandpa knows what he has come upon and doesn’t hesitate to pick up the spliffs and slip them into his breast pocket.

He shows up at the breakfast table with a smug look on his face. When Mom asks what is up, he ceremoniously lays the joints on the table. “I know what these are,” he says, “and by God, I’m smoking them…

Grandpa has decided he will smoke the joints that night. My parents insist that they be there in case he starts freaking out. My sister Deb and I will be off to bed before being exposed to any illicit activity. Karen has a date set for after dinner, so there is no risk of her having to deal with the psychological impact of seeing her eighty-year-old grandfather all goofed up on skunk weed.

Needless to say, Grandpa’s anticipation of the evening’s events lends a truly festive tone to the afternoon’s birthday activities. I think he sees himself as a real outlaw. A badass risk-taker. The RAF pilot of old. He tears into his gifts with real vigour, plays birthday games with a new-found youthfulness. Later, he practically races through dinner.

Shortly into the birthday cake, Karen’s date arrives…

I was not there to appreciate the events that unfolded later that evening around the stroke of midnight. I have only Karen’s account of the horror she experienced when she and Glen opened the door to a waft of sweet-smelling blue smoke, and the image of our eighty-year-old grandfather, halfway through joint number three, leaning back in his chair at the dining-room table giggling happily to himself.

The recipe that accompanies this story is for chocolate brownies. It does not include marijuana, but the brownies are certainly munchy!

At The Table is available by contacting: Personally autographed copies can be purchased directly from the author by going to:

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Another Virtual Travel Story: Indonesia “Trudeaumania”

Here is another true tale from the collection, Missing The Bus. The book is divided into five sections, each of which explores a different type of connection with other countries that adventurous and perceptive travellers often make. While this story relates to the former government of Pierre Trudeau, the theme is as relevant today as ever.

I don’t know what came over Dot. I had never seen her like that before…Normally she is highly attentive to my needs and moods…But it wasn’t like that when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Indonesia in 1971…

When Trudeau and his entourage arrived at the… Kemajoran International Airport…the prime minister was introduced to the embassy staff and their spouses. To get his attention, Dot had all the kids in tow…in white cotton, studded with red maple leaves…The prime minister did stop to speak to them, his sharp blue eyes focusing intently. “When you’re back in Ottawa,” he said, “you’ll have to come and see me.”

Me, I only saw the back of his head, hurrying from meeting to meeting, handing him the text of a short address on development that I had drafted, passing him a memorandum of understanding to sign, and blotting his signature afterward…

Author is at far left

Throughout the visit, Dot looked for seemingly natural opportunities to come face to face with Trudeau. “You keep popping up from behind every potted palm,” he joked at one point…

It was because Dot was so distracted that I couldn’t get her to focus on the seating plan I had drafted for the dinner party that Trudeau was to host…

About an hour before the guests were due to arrive, I, half-dressed, did a final inspection of the large, functional dining-room where visiting dignitaries did their entertaining… I froze suddenly and gasped for breath. “Oh, no! What’s this?” I shouted to one of the embassy staff. “We’ve got the two middle tables reversed.” I could feel blood surging into my head, my heart racing. “That means all the tables are wrong! Oh my God!”

I grabbed at some place cards frantically. “Come on, we’ve got to change everything! Hurry!”…

There was a head table across the top of the room, covered in white damask and decorated with ornate candelabra, and then there were four long ones running at right angles to the head table the full length of the hall. One was directly in line with President Suharto’s silk-brocade chair and another with Trudeau’s. I had inadvertently reversed their order of precedence…

Stripped to the waist, except for my suspenders holding up the trousers of my tux, I tore around the room on the edge of control, snatching place cards from the settings, dropping others in their places, and shouting the changes to my helper at the entrance…

Into this maelstrom, twenty minutes before the guests, strode the ambassador on his own final inspection. When he saw me, Tom blanched and his draw jobbed.

I raised my hand. “It’s all right. Everything is going to be fine. Just don’t talk to me. I’ve got to concentrate. And I’ve got to hurry.”…

But returning to the guests who had now assembled for drinks in an ante-chamber, he spoke to Dot, suggesting that it would be a good idea if she checked on me. “What’s up?” Dot asked me cheerfully as she walked into the dining-room, looking ravishing in a long, silk evening gown.

“A problem with the seating plan.”

“Oh.” She sounded nonchalant. “Is it going to be okay?”

“I hope so.”

“Good. Well, come and have a drink when you’re free. The hors d’oeuvres are yummy.”

She went back to the party and her tracking of the most eligible bachelor in Canada.

It was a close thing, but just as the guests were about to file into the dining-room, we finished the rearrangement. Everything was in order again, but still I glanced around anxiously as people took their seats, fearful there might still be a hitch.

Sure enough, there was a guest who didn’t show, so I plunked myself at his vacant spot–at one of the central tables. The wife of an Indonesian cabinet minister was beside me, and she eyed me suspiciously…

“And what is your position in the prime minister’s party?” she asked me, assuming I had come from Ottawa.

“I’m first secretary at the embassy,” I shot back defiantly.


|” She put down her soup spoon, dabbed delicately at her lips with her serviette, and turned to talk to the person on her other side.

I couldn’t have cared less. Everyone but me, I knew, was where they were supposed to be…

For me, the dinner was really over the moment it started successfully. My neck had been saved by the paper-thin slice of a place card.

I’ve just found two of them, in fact, in our souvenir box. They’re three and a half inches long and an inch and a half high and decorated with gold-embossed Canadian coats of arms. One says, “Mrs. T.A. Keenleyside.” And the other, taken at the end of the evening from the head table, “The Prime Minister of Canada.” Snatched from behind a potted palm by an infatuated guest.

For more misadventures and other travel experiences, Missing The Bus can be purchased by contacting

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More Virtual Travel: Bangkok

Yikes! The pandemic is still with us. Time to visit more exotic places through our reading. With that in mind, here are some excerpts from a chapter entitled “The King and I” in Missing The Bus:

Another highlight of Bangkok is the Grand Palace…I was inside only once –in the Dusit Hall–for that arcane custom of presenting credentials, a fleeting moment in the company of royalty.

In loose-fitting tails I’d borrowed from the racks of the Americans, I sat in an anteroom with the rest of the embassy staff chatting with royal attendants, resplendent in white and gold uniforms with red sashes…

Eventually we were instructed to line up in descending rank in front of high, ornately carved teak doors. Suddenly at a command we never heard, they opened, revealing to us the long, lushly carpeted throne room. There at the end, sitting under several tiers of golden canopies, sat the diminutive figure of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, of Thailand…honoured everywhere as the longest-serving monarch in the world. No one ever spoke ill of him; all one ever heard was praise. Indeed, with such respect was he treated even by the press that, whenever his photograph appeared, it was always at or near the top of the page, never where, if the paper were folded, it would hide underneath.

As rehearsed, we bowed, moved forward ten paces, bowed again, advanced a further ten paces, and bowed once more. Our diplomatic “suite” was now directly in front of the throne, from which the king descended so that he was standing directly in front of the ambassador. The letter of recall of his predecessor and the letter appointing him as the new ambassador were then presented to His Majesty. In those days they were signed by the Queen, and they started “My dear brother.” Later when I took part in a similar ceremony in Indonesia, I discovered that the letters to the president of the republic began “My dear cousin.”

The presentation concluded, the ambassador and the king delivered brief speeches in their respective languages, meaning that the Massachusetts-born king understood perfectly the ambassador’s hope for the continuation of the cordial relations that had for so long existed between our two countries, and the ambassador grasped nothing of the king’s expression of reciprocal sentiments. As their remarks concluded, gloved attendants hurried from the wings with glasses of champagne…I quaffed mine quickly…for shortly the glasses were reclaimed. We were not to linger long in the presence of royalty. There were other ambassadors waiting.

Before we departed, however, the ambassador summoned us to come forward one by one to be introduced to the king…I remember…as I returned gingerly to my designated place in line, walking backwards, lest I give offence, I mused how more dashing I would have looked to him if, rather than borrowed tails, I had been decked out like the diplomats of some other countries in a braided uniform with a splash of medals, touched off by a ceremonial sword in a silver scabbard…Alas, that was not and is not Canada’s style…

In the past, in one of those arcane customs in which the world of diplomacy abounds, some countries had been required to perform more than three sets of bows on entry and departure. The number depended on states’ relative power and status vis-a-vis Thailand and was negotiable. Apparently, however, so much time was spent in tedious debates–in rows that risked diplomatic ruptures, open conflict, who knows what?–that finally three sets of bows was established as the standard for all: for Americans and Canadians, tails-renters and sword-bearers alike!

For more vicarious travel adventures in different countries, copies of Missing The Bus can be purchased by contacting:

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Covid Capers

Impatient to be travelling but stuck at home? Try some virtual travelling with the entertaining and informative stories from many countries included in these books. You don’t have to get up off the couch to have unique adventures in other lands.

Please help the independent Canadian publishing industry by purchasing any of these books at: Also available online at Indigo Books and Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from the recently published novel, All The Way. It is a road journey from the Maine coast to Canadian cottage country, but it also has sections set in London, England from which the passage below is taken:

The girls were together on deck when the Homeric reached the Needles and sailed up the Solent to dock at Southampton. In London…what they both liked best was Westminster Bridge with its sweeping view of the city along both banks of the Thames, the elegant gilded Parliament Buildings soaring beside it and Big Ben looming above. Linda woke Susie before dawn the morning they went there, so that they could admire the view as the first weak light of the sun touched its solid girders and while the city was still asleep…The girls walked to the middle of the bridge and stood at the railing for some time, admiring the quiet majesty of the city at daybreak. It was then that Linda impressed Susie once again, this time by reciting lines from Wordsworth.

North bank of the Thames

This City now doth, like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

“Well, not so smokeless any longer, I guess,” Linda added.

“No, Susie agreed. “But still impressive. Just like your memory.”

South bank of the Thames

All The way is available online at the independent Canadian publisher, Borealis Press. To order, please go to: Also available online at Indigo Books and Amazon.

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Author Signing, August 16

T.A. Keenleyside will be at the Rosseau Market in Rosseau, Ontario on Friday, August 16, from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m., autographing copies of his latest novel, All The Way, nominated for the 2019 Governor General’s fiction prize. He will also be selling at reduced prices copies of his other fiction and non-fiction books.

For more information, please visit:


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“All The Way” on the Toronto Waterfront

The Toronto waterfront features prominently in the novel, “All The Way” and there is a video about this aspect of the book posted at and at

Here is a brief quotation from one chapter of the book dealing with the waterfront:

They parked in a lot on Queen’s Quay and took a stroll through the Music Garden, resplendent in late-summer ochres, pinks, and scarlets, dripping petals on the paths that curved like notes in a score. It was one of the features of the waterfront of which Jack wholeheartedly approved–apart, of course, from the fact that, just past the garden’s far end, there still loomed the stolid, gloomy silos of the long-abandoned and decaying grain elevators of the Canada Malting Company. Jack had once painted them, too, in all their gigantic, concrete ugliness, adding to the right of the silos and enormous red, festering eye…”Still no decision has been made on what to do with those silos.” Jack shook his head with disgust. “You know, one idea was to convert them into a giant mausoleum with space for thousands of coffins and urns. Wow! What creative waterfront thinking! If that ever happens please make sure no one gets into our backyard and digs my ashes out of the garden.”

To purchase a copy of the novel, please go to:, or for an autographed copy, contact the author at

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Author Signing

T. A, Keenleyside will be at the Rosseau Market in Rosseau, Ontario, Friday, July 19 autographing copies of his latest novel, “All The Way.” He will also have available at reduced prices copies of his earlier novel, “In A Spin”, and of his literary travel/cookbooks.

The market is from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and takes place on the Lake Rosseau waterfront in the town of Rosseau.

For more information, visit:


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A Different View of Rosedale

The Toronto neighbourhood of Rosedale features several times in the novel, All The Way, for it is the home of two of the characters, Linda and Jay. The image depicted, however, is very different from the traditional view of this region of the city.

Here is a brief excerpt from the novel that illustrates the difference:

“On the inside the house did not look very different from the other staid, red-brick mansions on Chestnut Park, the understated yet privileged dwellings of Toronto’s “old money” families. The rooms on the ground floor were wood-panelled with small mullioned windows. Oil paintings of living and departed relatives and of bucolic scenes in Britain and Canada hung on the walls…polished oak bookcases (contained) old leather-bound tomes and voluminous sets of reference works, rarely disturbed except for dusting…The exterior of the house on this particular evening was, however, in stark contrast with the rest of the homes on this quiet, park-like street with its conservative residents of impeccably decent taste and manners. For, in the middle of the front lawn, Linda had erected an eight-foot-high papier mache model of a circumcised penis. With its flesh-covered wrinkles and folds and prominent blue veins, to the arriving guests it looked extremely realistic. And for added effect, Linda had sprayed patches of the scrotum and the surrounding snow-covered ground with a blood-red stain. While Jay had had reservations about the whole enterprise from the moment Linda had broached the idea, she had been insistent that they celebrate Lou’s recent vasectomy by throwing a party for their friends in his honour.

“‘Well,’ Jack said to Susie as they passed the sculpture on the way to the front door. ‘We’re here to bear witness to the last, triumphant stage in Sally’s campaign to ween Lou from his Catholic origins.'”


To see a short video about the Rosedale sections of the book, please go to the author’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

The book is available online at: and autographed copies can be purchased directly from the author by going to:


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“All The Way” Through College

This is the campus of the University of Toronto where the characters in the novel, “All The Way” consolidate the friendships they made in the summer of 1958 and form relations that, in most cases lead to marriage.




One in the group is enrolled here at University College.




One each is at Victoria  and  St.  Michael’s.




And the remaining five are all at Trinity College.

For more information about their time at university, please see the video posted at:, or better still buy the book at:, or from the author It is only $19.95 Cdn.

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