life rattle show no. 1232

Presented on THURSDAY, November 29, 2012


Hosted by Laurie Kallis


"The Fish"
"Across the Street"

by Robert Charles Osborne

tonight's Show

Tonight, on Life Rattle Number 1232, we reach into the Life Rattle archive to bring you two stories, written and read by Robert Osborne.

Tonight’s show offers a preview of an upcoming collection that will be available before the New Year. Rub Salt, showcasing the writing of Robert Charles Osborne, Peaches D. Ledwidge, Elizabeth Clark and Hien The Chu, will offer some of the best writing Life Rattle has had the honour of broadcasting.

Tonight’s featured stories were first introduced on programs 334 and 383 by Arnie Achtman. When I turned to Arnie’s scripts for those early programs, I read that Arnie was mesmerized by Robert’s reading of the story “The Fish.” I was just as mesmerized by Arnie’s introduction to Bob Osborne and his stories. So, for tonight, I’m going to step back a few years and simply read from the scripts Arnie prepared. He is one tough act to follow - so I won’t even try. I will begin with the script for Life Rattle Program 334, from August 7, 1994.

"Bob Osborne was born in Toronto in 1949, the second eldest of four children. The family grew up in Port Credit, Ontario. Osborne left school after his first year of high school in Port Credit and got a job loading bolts for drill presses in a jewellery factory. He worked there for a year before leaving Port Credit for Toronto.

"In Toronto, Osborne lived a wild and unpredictable life for a number of years. He told me he went through a series of jobs and drank. He waited tables and drank; he ran the kitchen at Yuk Yuk's when they first moved to Yorkville and drank, and he drank his way through a middle-management position at a large ticket agency.

"Bob Osborne left the stress and drugs of his middle-management job and became a bicycle courier for the next seven years. He did this at the age of thirty-five, and speaking as someone in their forties who rides a bicycle ten months of the year, and who looks at bike couriers as secret heroes—I wish I could ride like that—I found Osborne's job change inspiring.

"However, the eighties slid into the nineties and the recession. Courier costs became easy targets for budget slashing. In-house courier systems and fax machines made the bike courier's survival more insecure. Osborne saw an ad and an article for the Transitional Year Program at the University of Toronto, an access program where Guy Allen, the cohost of Life Rattle, works. Osborne signed up, and went for the '93-'94 year. He is returning to the University of Toronto in the general arts program this fall after he finishes his current assignment as Industry Box Office Manager for the Toronto International Film Festival.

"I sat mesmerized when I saw Bob Osborne read this story this past April, and have been on his trail since to get his story on Life Rattle. At the reading in April, Osborne said he was reading the eighteenth draft of his story. When we recorded last week, Osborne told me the story had reached the twentieth draft."

I’m not sure at what event Arnie saw Bob Osborne read this story, and unfortunately there is no other clue, so that will remain a mystery. I’m only glad we still have these recordings to play for you tonight.

Arnie concluded Program Number 334 with: “Bob Osborne has more stories, and when he gets his word processor back from the repair shop, he'll be able to work on them and hopefully get them on future Life Rattle shows. That concludes Life Rattle Number 334, a short show tonight, but rich in content and strong scenes simply and beautifully rendered.”

Tonight though, we will feature two stories by Bob Osborne. "The Fish" and "Across the Street" which Arnie described as a kind of companion story to “The Fish.”

"Both stories tell about growing up poor and with the menace of alcoholism; but both stories also tell about strength and grace in the middle of the hardship."

Note: tonight's stories contain intense disturbing scenes. Listener discretion is advised.