Cheers, Maggie


The thing about a person who dies from drink is that you know she’ll have an interesting wake. 

Last night, I found myself celebrating the life and unfortunate death of one such character, Maggie Negodaeff, a former Press Club member and small ball of insanity.

It was held at the Army Officers’ Mess, one of those posh clubs po’ folk such as myself rarely see beyond the front door step. As we entered, there was a slide show of Maggie doing Maggie things: gardening (she had a radio show), entertaining (she had amongst the best Christmas parties in town), travelling to foreign lands (in her last incarnation as a travel writer) and skydiving.

Maggie was known for doing some wacko things, but skydiving?

Apparently she was “up” for anything.

One of the great things about drinkers is that they get around. So they meet a lot of people in very odd and unusual ways. Some of us at the party knew Maggie as an often volatile creature at the Press Club, but many others knew her as a writer or a broadcaster.

Some revered her.

One nice lady was keeping vigil over a couple thousand of copies of a book Maggie had written about a famous Canadian doctor who went to China. She couldn’t bear to have them destroyed, so they were being stored in her squash court.

Another lady, a former landlady spoke about the two faces of Maggie the cat, the uncompromising and cold Russian side, the don’t fuck with me or I’ll hand you back your eyeballs, and the other kind and generous Maggie who saved her from an unfortunate encounter with the Ottawa constabularly. A bit of background is needed here. The landlady was in trouble with the law because she had tried to help a former tenant who was going crazy by giving him some medication. The bloke died on her, and she was charged with various offences, sent to jail, then placed on house arrest. The cops came to check on her and she was so panicked that, instead of answering the door, she hid in her basement.

Things could have gone from bad to worse for this well intentioned lady. But Maggie saved her. She opened the door and bald-faced lied to the cops, saying the landlady had gone to the doctor, something she was allowed to do. Maggie saved the woman’s ass.

What a great story. You just can’t make up stories like that one.

I have stories about Maggie too numerous or shocking to mention.

Oh well, I’ll tell one. Maggie had a bit of an amorous side in her single days and wasn’t shy about the occasional hookup.

I was party to one, which involved an Air Canada junket to Switzerland and Ben Wicks, the famed cartoonist and noted lothario.

After seizing the day, Maggie announced to the rest of the party-weary travellers that she and Ben were going off to London together to continue the tryst. Well, the married Ben was horrified fearing this news would get back to his long-suffering wife. A public argument ensued and Maggie stormed off into the red light district of Geneva followed by Hughie Riopelle, the wonderful and wise Air Canada flack man.

Ben and I went back to my room for a glass of wine and a giggle.  We had just opened the wine when I heard a thumping on my door.

Maggie.

“Just a minute,” I said. “I’m not dressed. Wait I’ll come over to your room.”

I left Ben and the wine and padded next door to Maggie’s room where I found her in tears. We had a nice talk which involved some motherly advice about what shits married men were, and I returned to my room.

No Wicks.

I looked under the bed.

No Wicks.

I looked on the balcony.

No Wicks.

I turned on the bathroom light and noticed the shower curtain was drawn. I opened it up and there the little shit was, a simpering little Cockey who had gotten his dick in a sling.

The next day, I found Wicks and Maggie cuddling over breakfast, as if nothing had happened.

I turned to Ben, smiled, and said this.

“Psycho.”

That’s my Maggie story — and I’m sticking to it.

It was a great night last night.  On behalf of Maggie’s posse, thanks Peter.

I loved it.

Maggie would have loved it, too.

Cheers, Maggie, for sixty years of making the world a more interesting place.

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3 thoughts on “Cheers, Maggie

  1. Thanks for sharing. And that wasn’t the end of the Wicks story. They did see other for a while and Ben was over at my house with Maggie too. But bonus – she gave me one of the lovely AC First Class Bags with goodies in it.

    I think the final straw in our friendship was after my hubby and I moved out West. Hubby had some surgery and Maggie flew in for a visit on her way back to Ottawa from Vancouver. She wanted my 100% attention and just could not understand why I might want to spend time looking after my husband. On the second night, she stole out of the door under cover of darkness and was not seen again.

    One of her buddies who came out to visit us about a year later told me how upset Maggie was about our friendship being in the bin. I felt though that she had to make the first move. I’d let her get away with a lot of shite over the years.

    Maggie and I first met when she was doing the gardening show and still living in Carleton Place. I was doing newspaper photos for CJOB(?)to advertise their radio shows. We just hit it off right away.

    I was there through the millions of parties; the crazy Iranian guy who was bi-polar; and at her wedding (including the private ‘real’ one in the minister’s office the day before the party in Alymer). I helped shovel her house out before quite a few of those parties too. We had a blast most of the time.
    One of my fondest memories is hanging out at her house on Sunday morning listing to the Air Farce. Coffee and conversation and in good weather, enjoying the sun in the back yard.

    Maggie ‘roasted’ my hubby and I when we were married (it was quite rude what she said actually).

    And we were friends. The world is a poorer place without her.

    You and I must have met along the way.

    Cheers
    Vivian

    • Met her when I was very young and impressionable, thought she was the cat’s meow. Had so much fun together through the ups and downs – until I matured then we eventually went our own way. Think of her as Glad to have known her she helped me greatly breaking through my shell sadley meeting up with her in 2003 I think when she told me she was dying and if I could not handle it then leave her alone, Well I did not leave her alone I had a dream about her making a movie and she told me that it must have been a sign that she was going to live. Being Margaret she never changed so she lived for another 8 yrs what can I say she was bigger than life and she lived that way. She touched so many peoples lives in good ways and bad ways we all know what I am talking about who new her from the early 1983’s and on. Do I want to meet you again in another life um I will have to think about that one.

  2. Thanks, Rose.It was a true pleasure to meet and talk with you Tuesday, and your uncannily perfect take on what Maggie was all about has brought a lot of smiles to my face. I hope we meet again.

    Peter

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