1500 Wednesday Nights and a very special friend

By Catherine Gillbert
The MetropolitaIn
December 27, 2010

My thoughts about Wednesday Night always centre on the atmosphere created by the Nicholsons in their wonderful home. The open door, the hugs and handshakes and the glass of red wine is the right way to make anyone feel perfectly at home. Although I have lived in Canada for almost 50 years I never really felt as if I belonged until I discovered Wednesday Night. No longer the outsider looking in, I have found a place where I am free to hold any number of contrarian positions without being considered an imposter. As in an Oxford Common Room, divergence of opinion is the staff of life for Wednesday Night.

I started attending Wednesday Night after I retired and I have been fortunate to find friends who have enriched my retirement with their fund of knowledge about the world and how to travel in it – where to go, what to see and how to survive. One of my luckiest encounters was with the author and forensic accountant Robert Landori. I first heard of Robert when he was a guest of Bernie St. Laurent on CBC Radio’s Home Run. The story of his horrifying experiences as a child in Hungary during World War Two was riveting and his feeling of being alone in the world at such a young age struck a chord. I was determined to meet this man and so when he arrived at Wednesday Night the following week my wish was granted. This friendship has certainly enriched my life. I was encouraged by Robert’s descriptions of the beauty of the cities and stories from the time of the Hapsburg Empire to spend a couple of excellent weeks in Eastern Europe this summer. Here I could indulge my interest in baroque architecture and my fascination with dysfunctional families to the fullest. I have learnt to mitigate my admiration for the achievements of the Cuban revolution with a healthy dose of realism concerning the costs of dictatorship, as is so ably demonstrated in Robert’s latest book, Havana Harvest. I have learnt more about how dirty money is moved around the world, the background story of Fatal Greed, than I ever expected to know; although quite how I am going to put this information to use I am not quite sure. Best of all, I have been entertained with exciting anecdotes from someone who has had more adventures in one lifetime than most of us could ever dream of.

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