Mary Lou’s Best Budd

Traveling north of downtown Toronto, up behind the Lawrence Plaza, you begin to see the signs of a unique community.

Heading into the library to hear and see the famous Mary Lou Finlay reading from her book The As It Happens Files (Radio That May Contain Nuts), I’m greeted with a note on the door announcing that a substitute speaker will be taking Mary Lou’s place.
It’s going to be the current host of the program, Barbara Budd.
It won’t be the historical figure that I used to watch on Live It Up! and thought was kinda hot, but Barbara is the voice that now commands rapt attention when anyone listens to the greatest radio program ever made in the entire world.

There go all my questions, and now who’s going to sign my book?

Inside the library about 60 people have gathered, and they take the news in stride, as really, it is no minor thrill to meet Ms. Budd. For years, we’ve just plain loved that show, as they’ve always given us a voice with which to engage the world on behalf of curious Canadians. And no matter who it was behind the microphone, they were so droll and funny, and never ever intimidated or shocked.
Some of the interviews, Ms. Budd explains, were so hilarious that she sought the advice of Michael Enright on how to prevent herself from bursting into laughter while on the air. His advice? Dig a nail into your hand and say quickly to yourself “dead puppies, dead puppies, dead puppies.”

When I first started reading the book, it was not a good experience. The writing was fine, but the great stories from the most exciting radio show just seemed to lie there, flat and lifeless, on the page.
Ms. Budd changes all that.
She was once an actress at Stratford and you sense that she’s still quite ready to don a costume and lift the roof off any building with her oratory, eager once more to play the part, any part.
And when she reads aloud from Mary Lou’s book it becomes so apparent what it was I was missing. These stories are ideally meant to be spoken, just as the stories were when they first aired. What seemed so antiquated as a non-web page/YouTube experience, suddenly becomes each a treasured gem that fills and lifts the spirit. Stories about brave and silly people that make human beings almost seem like a worthwhile species. The pages come alive when treated like a bedtime story for adults, young and old.
Even Obama gets a mention for writing one of the worst poems ever.

As Barbara signs my copy, I say “I had hoped to ask Mary Lou if it was hard to let go, to give it up.”

Barbara answers “I think it was”, and that’s where we leave it.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared.

Upload Files

You can include images or files in your comment by selecting them below. Once you select a file, it will be uploaded and a link to it added to your comment. You can upload as many images or files as you like and they will all be added to your comment.