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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sales Surpass $6,400 in May, Our First B&B Booking and Saying Farewell to Ian Bentley

The last two days of June saw an flurry of last minute sales, and orders that I had in the works during the month finally come to fruition, so that we had our best month yet, in terms of stamp sales at $6,475. In addition, we earned accounting income of $160, bringing total revenue for May 2017 to $6,635 - well above a daily average of $200. Life is good.

We also finally obtained our permit from the city for the Bed and Breakfast - The Cosy Cottage Inn:

It turned out that we had to have an inspection when the permit guy came to drop off the permit, the result of which was that we had to install emergency backup lighting and hard wired smoke detectors. Fortunately we were able to call the same electrician who did our electrical upgrade when we bought the house, and he came by and did the work the next day. Steph installed a deadbolt on my office door and one on the front door and we were all good to go. No sooner was this all done when we got our first booking. A fellow from Toronto who is doing a 3 year bicycle tour had biked from Toronto to Saint John and was looking for a place to stay that was close to the Digby Ferry, which he was to take to Digby, Nova Scotia on Sunday morning. We are just up the street from the ferry terminal and we are the least expensive in town, so he called us. He arrived on Friday and is just getting ready to leave as I write this. It was a fantastically successful first stay. Here is a picture of how our dining room finally looks now that it is finished:

Here is what we served him this morning:

Fresh, from scratch pancakes, fresh berries and lots, and lots of crispy bacon, along with fresh orange juice, coffee and water. Yesterday morning was Eggs Benedict, so we went a little simpler today. Our guest was very happy though and leaves us with plenty of energy to continue his cycling journey. 

On a sadder note, this past week I had heard about the death of Mr. Ian Bentley, who was my English teacher in high school from the age of 14 to 16. Ian and I had a complicated relationship when I was his student, and we had no contact for many, many years until I re-established contact with him in 2007. 

Ian was without question the best English teacher I ever had, and I am eternally indebted to him for helping me gain confidence as a writer. I am sure I am not an amazing writer - not by any stretch of the imagination. But, I believe I can write readable prose and for that I owe him everything. My entire career and livelihood in the end has rested on my ability to communicate in writing. When I first met him as a pimply-faced 14 year old in 1985, I had no confidence whatsoever in my writing abilities. Previous English teachers had either eviscerated me in their classes, or outright ignored me. But not Ian. He had an unorthodox style, which was nonetheless highly effective: he would identify your strengths and call those out, while giving you a "D" and telling you you could do better. Then, as the term wore on, if you tried, he would gradually raise your marks and your confidence at the same time. He was the rebel teacher, regularly wearing his Oxford tie as a belt instead of as a tie. He could be cruel and blunt as well, saying of one of my friends in his report card: "A young man who feels content to sit in class and fritter his intellectual assets away being nothing more than a classroom wit." Ouch. He didn't have much time for you if you didn't try. He was actually a little bit like the famous chef Gordon Ramsay in his temperament. I imagine that is fairly common with a lot of people who are brilliant in their chosen field when they encounter a lack of enthusiasm in someone, and that person isn't responsive to their attempts to raise their level of engagement. 

I was fortunate to be able to have dinner with him and thank him personally for all that he did for me on a trip that I took to London in 2010. I no longer have the picture that I took of us together on that night. But I do have this picture:

Ian is second from the right in the picture, as you could probably have guessed. 

He wasn't perfect by any means - no one is. He and I had harsh words for one another on more than one occasion. I can still respect the man deeply while being perfectly aware of who he is. He was much fonder of his female students than he was of his male students. However, I genuinely believe that he cared about all his students, and he remembered them. If someone were to tell me that he won teaching awards for being one of the best teachers in the UK, I would not be the least bit surprised. Unfortunately he and I fell out of contact again in 2012, but I remained vaguely aware of him from his activity on Facebook. 

Rest in peace Ian. You will be remembered and missed. I hope you find the peace in death that eluded you in life. 


  1. 2 random questions:
    1. did you ever share your autism / Asperger diagnosis with your employers / partners?

    2. how do you parent 'your son' from 4000 km away, when you see each other less than once a year?

    1. 1. Yes. I did and they were supportive because I did excellent work and they were actually surprised. At first they didn't believe me when I told them.

      2. My son is 22 years old this year. He moved out to BC to try living on his own, which I respect and we stay in close contact. He knows that at any time he can hop on a plane and come here knowing that he has a place to live.

      Now I have one for you: What does any of this have to do with the point of my blog or what I have to say?