Friday, October 23, 2015

True to Trudeau?

This guy Justin is his mother's son. I know they're all braying his father's name, and they haul in some grandpa on his mother's side who was in the cabinet, but that's hooey. Anyone old enough to remember the grand romance of the twentieth century--the dashing blade of a mature man with the cutely graying sideburns, chasing the lovely teenager, who was born to be wild, knows what I mean. They met at Club Med in Tahiti when she was in a manic phase. Margaret Sinclair wanted to be left to her hippie ways, but Pierre Trudeau led a magnificent chase, and when the couple finally wed--he was 52, she 22--perhaps the hound had momentarily exhausted the hare. She was just starting to wake up when she said, "I want to be more than a rose in my husband's lapel." 
Here's my favorite Wikipedia moment about the two of them:

Though the couple initially appeared to have a very close and loving relationship, the marriage soon began to fall apart . . . Beyond the normal extensive publicity that her high-profile position brought, on a few instances she made her own headlines. Margaret smuggled drugs in the prime minister's luggage, made scantily clad appearances at Studio 54 and tore apart a tapestry in the prime minister's official residence in Ottawa because it celebrated "reason over passion." 

That's the part Justin inherited. The passion. Blandly, Wikipedia catalogs the disintegration of the marriage, to the point where 

Margaret had an affair with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She was also associated with members of the Rolling Stones, including Ronnie Wood, and (according to Keith Richards's autobiography, Life) Mick Jagger. Suffering from stress and bouts of bipolar depression, separated from her husband in 1977 and became a much talked-about jet setter. She gave many "tell-all" interviews to Canadian and American magazines . . . 

 But for the real fun go to YouTube and see the one where she announces, "Oh, well, Prince Charles is my buddy.  We haven't every really been alone for a single moment but, well, we hid behind a menu once--I'm the older woman, I'm a month older . . . "

Oh, she's gorgeous--breathtakingly alluring in that, as in so many other interviews. But, now that she's still a month older than Prince Charles, she's become a wiser woman of a certain age. I wish I'd been half that gorgeous when young but I still have energy, maybe because--like Margaret--my grandmother had what was then called manic depression. Doctors didn't know how to treat the illness back at the turn of the twentieth century, but when grandma got to screaming around the house, her family took her to alka lithia springs, somewhere in the piedmont of North Carolina, and she calmed down for a while. Lithium in pill form wasn't much used until about 1949--too late for her

Now, here's my theory: the children, the grandchildren, of folks with this disorder may just have a surplus of energy.  I may be perky, but I'm not so whacked out that I'd spend til my credit card cracked in half and then wake up to notice that I'd purchased  . . .  twelve snakebite kits, a taxidermized fox, precious stones. Kay Redfield Jamison, in An Unquiet Mind, her memoir of manic depression or bipolar disorder as it it now called, details these episodes. Margaret Trudeau's got her own book, Changing My Mind, but she was more a beauty and a performer than a writer. And it's the gorgeousness, this intensity that forces you to look at her face and soothing voice and complete sense of conviction, that she has passed on to her son. Politicians need charm, and Justin Trudeau has it by the bucketful. Let's see what the man does with it.


  1. Just for your information - young Trudeau's maternal grand father was one of the most influential and
    powerful cabinet ministers of his time. He was the famous Jimmy Sinclair and he ran the western
    provinces for the federal government. If my father's opinion of him at the time was any indication, he
    was not a popular politician in the farming community.

  2. I knew about James Sinclair. I know Justin Trudeau has politicians on both sides. But the charm of his mother--no matter how much of a symptom it was in her case--may be less problematic for him. He does not appear to be suffering from bipolar disorder, but anyone who runs for political office must have an unusual amount of energy. Maybe he's inherited just enough--not too much--of mom's manic forcefulness.
    Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. This is a fantastic piece of writing. It should really appear as an oped in a Canadian newspaper or magazine.

  4. This is a fantastic piece of writing. It should really appear as an oped in a Canadian newspaper or magazine.

  5. Thanks! Hmmmm. Must look around and find someplace to send!