Keeper of the Press Club vault


I sent a query to a newspaper this week in hopes of getting a news story published.

The prompt reply came back with a yes, and a note.

“What’s your background?” the editor asked. “I knew a Rose Simpson years ago.”

That’s me.

I’m the girl in the Neil Young song.

She was an unknown legend in her time.|

I knew this particular editor back in the Ottawa Journal days, eons ago, when I was a silly little girl reporter with a sassy attitude. That was thirty years ago.

Thanks to my smart mouth and my double Ds, I was shining bright back in those days.

Recently, I’ve been resurrected by a number of very young bloggers because I’ve written about a couple of luminaries who have passed through the pearly gates. Both were backroomers — Jamie Deacey and Tom Van Dusen — so there hasn’t been much written about them, unless you count the ten or so books Tom Van Dusen wrote. The reporters couldn’t find anything about them on their usual information source — the Internet — so their deaths meant they actually had to talk to people. 

I was a natural choice for an interview. I seem to be the keeper of the Press Club vault.

Like the oldster I am becoming, I can’t find my car keys but I remember everything about the 70s and 80s, so I am the anecdote queen.

It’s a funny thing about Ottawa, how a person can reinvent themselves. The stories in which I am quoted describe me as a “veteran Hill reporter” and gallery member. Truth be told, I was never a Hill reporter and I was refused membership, as a freelancer, into the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Twice.

I suppose these young reporters asked around and because I’ve been around so long, they just assumed I was a card-carrying member of the journalism elite. Mostly, back in the good old days, I was nothing more than a bar fly who hung out at the Press Club on Friday nights looking for a hookup — back when Saturday Night magazine reported that the sexual tension around the Press Club bar could be cut with a knife.

Yeah, right.

Great if you like drunken bar sex.

I have been around the parliamentary precinct most of my life. I was a below the Hill reporter for the Journal until it folded, then I took my show to the Citizen where I became the local entertainment wench, until I insinuated myself into the Liberal Party for a few sad years before marrying Mr. Big and decamping this town for Saskatchewan where I had two kids, and Toronto, where I had another one.

My greatest success came in the Big Smoke where I was pulling down six figures working for big companies as a marketing consultant and at Queen’s Park where I was speechifying. That was my best time, career-wise. I absolutely loved my time working for Kodak writing about new motion picture and photographic technology and getting to rub elbows with the best and brightest in both those industries.

Sadly, Mr. Big brought me back to this sorry town, dropped me off while he took off with the White Witch of Bermuda and my career basically fizzled under the long reigns of Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, both pals of Mr. Big who helped make him rich and put me on the blacklist.

Thankfully, I have good friends to thank who bailed me out during those times — Mary Metcalfe, come on down — as well as a few not-for-profits who took pity on me.

It’s only recently that I’ve experienced a kind of comeback. I’ve managed to move away from the dark side and embraced my inner journo again — thanks to blogging.

And thanks to the fact that I’m keeper of the Press Club vault, I’ve become a national treasure.

Rose 360.

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