I read, on my local newspaper’s Facebook page, a complaint from a customer about not receiving a paper for the last two days. (I subscribe to the digital edition; it keeps my hands clean.) The complaint brought to mind my relationships with the newspaper, including as a delivery boy for the Montreal Gazette. Those recollections from my youth carried me to those times when my brother, parents, and I spent our summers “in the country.” My parents didn’t own a cottage, rather they would rent. Each year a different place. An Arcadian place, maybe on a lake, where my recollections confirm it was always sunny, and there was always something exciting to do.
Contemplating these recollections I realised there was one thing in common: flies. Not one or two, but hundreds. Inside, outside. My mother’s reasoning related it to the prevalence of farm animals. It was comforting to have an explanation.
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s when a device, hung from the ceiling, that emitted “invisible rays,” brought this scourge to an end. Within a day of our first use, there were no more flies in the cottage. I recall the hundreds of dead bodies on the floor. It was a life changer. It marked the beginning of a fly-free existence. I’m not sure how the birds felt about it.
This summer, for what ever reason, we have experienced a reappearance of the flies, on the patio and in the house. The scourge had returned. Flies are very bothersome. After years without these swarms, we had no weapons — no fly swatter — in our arsenal. I bought some fly paper, but it had limited success (it caught just one fly). I tried rolling up some copy paper but with no success.
Now it just so happens that, on occasion, my wife will buy a copy of the local newspaper. And it just so happened that I found a copy in the recycle box. Dusting off my skills as a fly hunter, I formed the paper into a weapon. “Whack, whack.” I killed two. The scourge was conquered. The air was now fly-free, and peace and quiet had returned to our home. There is no weapon like a rolled newspaper.
The decline of the physical paper is so much more than simply the end of news delivery.