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Vinyl Cafe

Claire Martin

Stuart McLean – by Claire Martin

Getty Images: Bernard Weil

Everyone has a story.

Stuart McLean has more than one.
Stuart McLean wrote, and voiced books, that spoke to us all.  Spoke to us about a simpler, easier, more honest time.
Long before “fake news” and “alternative facts” were commonplace, Stuart McLean was entertaining us with funny, genuinely sweet, stories of small town family life.
They were all so very true, so very Canadian.
My favourite Vinyl Cafe story is not a podcast.
It was the late ’90’s and I was driving to Vancouver with my best friend Susan. She had never been to the west coast and we were going to have a road-trip and an adventure together. She had bought “Home from the Vinyl Cafe” to read en route. She was reading out loud in the car as we came towards Kamloops – and had started the story “Road Trip – Cat In The Car”.
We laughed so hard as Susan was reading, we had to pull over on the side of the road. About half a kilometer coming into Kamloops – here we were – two fully grown women, pulled over on the highway, out of the car, laughing so hard that we were both bent over, crossed legs, laughing at each other. Susan was practically yelling her way through the last piece of the story. It took us close to 15 minutes to compose ourselves and drive into Kamloops.
It is one of my most favourite memories of our road trip.
I first met Stuart at a CBC promotional event. He was, as always, utterly understated – and sidled up to me and said: “You and Peter are pretty funny you know”! I was stunned – I had no idea that someone of Stuart’s ilk would watch “The National” let alone even enjoy the late night banter that Peter and I shared.
He was, as his stories are, genuine and honest and sweet.
But that’s not the point of this note.
Stuart McLean was battling melanoma. I had been informed late last year as to his diagnosis. I had sent him a brief note of well-wishes.
I can not comprehend that the disease that has given me just a few scars has silenced such a great man.
It is a reminder that life is short and sweet and to be enjoyed.
RIP Stuart.
Dave and Morley will live on.
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