Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Michael Coren Show

Michael Coren, it seems, grew up in Ilford, northeast London, just two or three streets away from where my own family lived — but thirty years earlier than his.

Michael Coren’s one-hour show on CTS TV each weekday evening is well worth watching if you like to follow compact trios and quartets of mostly intelligent people discussing, often heatedly and with conflicting views, all manner of topical subjects and news items. The free format and often somewhat disorderly, or humorous, segments of Coren’s show are far distant from the usual rehearsed, guarded and politically correct-muzzled, soppy pabulum, served up by other more rigidly controlled television programs.

On the Michael Coren show, which is somewhat prosaically called the Michael Coren show, spades are usually called spades, rather than being obliquely referred to as manufactured implements designed to furthering the aims of CANADA’S MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE or for being leaned upon by striking union members.

Coren is very adept, it seems to me, in selecting panellists well-suited to contributing interest to the discussions on his show.

Contributing interest in two ways.

Because included among the intelligent professionals, journalists and other purveyors of common sense are the cunningly interspersed, usually well-spoken others who, probably and unknowingly, are implanted around the discussion table to act as narrow-minded straight-men, oops, sorry straight-persons (ok, in fact, especially as straight persons), similar to the role always played by one member of the old-style comedian duos.

I suspect they are mainly included on the show to engender and provoke the majority of the TV audience to helpless indignation and also to invoke entertaining unbelieving grimaces of incredulity from the more sober and clearer-thinking panellists, among whom of course, Coren reigns, debatably, supreme.

As dogmatic as he is, on certain matters, Michael Coren would probably sit well on the bench of the Spanish Inquisition, if it should ever be revived.

Michael holds great store in his panel guests having written books. Perhaps I should send him a copy of my book: Crumbs! A large portion of it describes life in Ilford during the thirties and, later on, the war years. The secretary of the Ilford historical society, for instance, wrote me to say he had no idea that the PDSA field near our family house, was turned into an antiaircraft gun site during the blitz, and later into a maximum security camp for German POWS, followed later by a Monty-Pythonish, always a wide-open-gate-type, camp for Italian POWS.

While I’m on the subject I think I’ll append some of the reviews of Crumbs! from a decade ago, why not.

The first reviews of Crumbs!

(crumbs ‹ expr. surprise or dismay [euphem. for Christ] -Oxford Dictionary ) when it first appeared in 1999

This is the first of three autobiographical books detailing the interesting life of National Press Club member John Ough (pronounced O as in dough). Told in the same laid-back fashion he uses while savouring his English beer and pipe tobacco in the club's bar, this entertaining book is mostly a series of short anecdotes. They tell of his childhood in prewar London (Ilford)... early teen years during the German Blitz...flying training in Canada prior to becoming a fighter pilot with No: 805 Fleet Air Arm Squadron... and naval life while waiting to be demobilized in 1946.

The next book, soon to be ready for publication, tells how at age 21, from 1947-1952, John became the officer-in-charge of an Iraqi hydrographic survey vessel operating at the head of the Persian Gulf... plus other adventures in India and Scotland before arriving back in Canada in 1953 to spend seven years exploring the Arctic aboard rugged little chartered sealers and Canadian and US icebreakers. During this period he personally discovered, delineated and named several hitherto unknown geographical features.

Another book recounts the later years, 1961-1972, he spent as a staff writer-producer with the National Film Board of Canada.

Crumbs! is written with a light touch and is a fun read...any page proves interesting and entertaining.

Vic Johnson


National Press Club of Canada (summer 1999 issue)

This rather self-effacing title is apt for a vivid recounting of 1930s schooldays, a young teenager's experiences during the London Blitz... later flying training in wartime Canada and subsequent service with a Royal Navy fighter squadron (Seafires)...I found the book full of interest.

Ken West, editor, Fleet Air Arm Aircrew News

Johnny O as he is known to his many friends in Ottawa is the author of the new book Crumbs! a varied collection of light-hearted and fascinating stories...

Airforce magazine

Now along comes John Ough to bring forth old memories of the days of our youth...I found it very much a light, thought-provoking read

Jack Western J.P., CTM, ATM, Pastor

Bomber Command Association Canada Inc.

We hope to read more of his life in immediate post-war London and his humorous and intriguing exploits... as a

hydrographer in the Persian Gulf, India, UK, and exploring the Canadian Arctic....

David Moilliet, editor, Soundings,

Naval Officers Association of Canada

Recommended by:

Alexander D. Gregor, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Development at the University of Manitoba.

This book presents a light-hearted look at:

- Elementary school life in England during the 1930s

- Pre-Second World War suburban London

- The German Blitz

- A young teenager's role in the essential war effort

- Life in the band of the Ilford Wing of the Air Training Corps

- Basic training in the Fleet Air Arm of 1943

- Flying training in Canada

- Flying a Seafire XV as a petty officer on a front line fighter squadron ready for the Pacific war

- Royal Navy life while awaiting demobilization at the age of twenty.

- Flashback memories of Arctic voyages and tropical sailings.

Customer Reviews

Crumbs! remembers this century's darkest decades with the wide-eyed wonder of the youth that author, John Ough, was. It spins a tale with charm and wit, and eases the horrors of war through humour and a sense of hope. From early schooling in London's North End, to mailboy at an aeronautical instruments firm, to enlistment as a pilot in the Royal Navy during World War II, John Ough ponders the "fickle finger of fate" as it guides him safely through the Blitz, across the North Atlantic to training in Canada, and back to England in time for war's end. A truly engaging book.

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