Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 11.25.01
Quebec City


How I miss the apostrophe

Ah yes, the sound of a football crowd on an autumn day.

Brings back memories, it does.

It reminds me how fond I was of the apostrophe.

It's a long story but recently I was reminded of it in a striking way.

College football has taken - or maybe retaken - Quebec by storm.

Not since the days of the Big Four have we seen such enthusiasm for the college game.

In those days, McGill, Queens, the University of Toronto, and Western vied for football supremacy.

They filled Molson Stadium in Montreal and Varsity Stadium in Toronto.

Well, it's back.

Laval routinely draws 15,000 fans. There were 12,000 plus at Macmaster the other day.

Francophone fans have also discovered the tail-gate party with a vengeance, setting up barbecues at the Peps Stadium just after sun-up on game day.

We've even got cheerleaders again.

Which brings me back to the apostrophe.

You see, I'm a child of the sixties. We were out to create a better world.

We were out to end all the injustices. Out to end racism, sexism.

One year we even ran a German Shepherd, Queenie the Wonder Dog, for winter carnival princess. She was actually voted runner up.

Her photo made the yearbook.

So, despite the fact I'm an ardent football fan, in the fall of 1968 I found myself with a merry band of like-minded revolutionaries demanding Bishop's University get rid of its cheerleaders.

It was, or so we trumpeted, a demeaning, sexist attitude toward womankind in general.

But - and thirty-five years later I can confess - my heart was never really in it.

And it was all because of the apostrophe.

You see, one of the cheers the girls did - and they were just girls - was the one that starts with "Give me a 'B'!"

You know the rest. Each letter is spelled out and at the end, the cheer leaders would yell "what have you got?"

And those of us who could still spell, or stand, would reply, "bishop's!"

But our cheerleaders had a different twist to this old cheer.

The first girl would yell "give me a 'b'!" Then she'd twist around, bend over, and flip up her skirt to reveal a purple letter 'B' on her white-pantied backside.

And so it would go. Cheer after cheer, letter after letter until they reached the apostrophe.

Ah, the apostrophe. I don't remember to this day the name of the girl on the other side of that particularly fascinating piece of punctuation.

I do remember that when we finally succeeded in ridding ourselves of the cheerleaders and the apostrophe was no more, I felt an overwhelming sadness.

The type of sadness Lenin must have felt when he actually got rid of the czar.

You knew it had to be done, for the sake of the revolution. But you knew something wonderful had been lost in the process.