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.
“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.
I looked under the bed.
I looked on the balcony.
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.
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.