Q. In the French Revolution, what role did Marat play?
A. I don’t know how many times I have to explain this to you people. The first I heard about the French Revolution was on July 16, when somebody in my office brought it to my attention. If this Marat did anything notable during that event, which I would remind you occurred before I was elected, it is not something on which I feel I can comment, particularly since actions were committed that may still be before the courts.
Q. Why is the sky blue?
A. I see what’s going on here. The assumption is that because the sky is blue, and my party’s colour is blue, the Conservative Party of Canada has something to do with the choice of colour. It is just this sort of negative bias that deters people from entering politics. The CBC may enjoy mucking about in these waters, but I do not. Next question.
Q. Do robins mate for life?
A. Perhaps you should ask the Supreme Court that question. The court seems determined to insert itself into every other controversy of that sort, regardless of what the majority of honest, hard-working Canadians may feel about it.
Q. How do bumblebees fly, when they seem so heavy?
A. I made it clear when I agreed to take questions in this column that there would be no follow-ups. This question is too close to the robin question. Somebody else?
CORRECTION: In last week’s column, a reader asked whether a pumpkin was a fruit or a vegetable. I said it was a vegetable. In writing that, I was expressing the opinion of a staff member who has since been fired. If he had been truthful, he would have told me that the pumpkin is a berry, and thus a kind of fruit. I don’t see how can I make this any clearer.
Text and illustrations © 2015, Warren Clements
Photo: Gord Fulton
Warren Clements was for 35 years a writer and editor with The Globe and Mail. He co-wrote The Globe and Mail Style Book, oversaw the Globe’s Challenge column from 1991 to 2008, and produced the comic strip Nestlings (about birds and worms) for more than a decade. His column on language, Word Play, ran in the Globe for sixteen years. Under the banner Nestlings Press, he has published eleven books. He has twice placed second in the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24-hour playwriting contest, has written fifteen ten-minute musicals based on Shakespeare’s plays, has had his light verses published in The Spectator and The New Statesman, and lives happily in Toronto with his partner Sandra.