Jim Furlong: Two Good Meals

There is something about dining with someone that is special. It’s a “breaking of bread” and there is something about it almost spiritual. It’s a break from the world where important conversation often takes place.

In a column a few years ago I wrote about dining with three different people that I found fascinating. They were Gordon Pinsent, Ed Roberts, and Gwyn Dyer. Today I would like to add the name of the late former Premier Beaton Tulk to the name of the most interesting people with whom I “broke bread”.

A Liberal loyalist

I dined with Beaton twice. Once I was his guest at the Fairmont Hotel. We both had fried cod. I had scrunchions. We were there to talk about writing. He was making notes for his biography and was headed off to Florida. We ended up talking mostly Liberal politics. 

Beaton Tulk was a Liberal loyalist. He had served as Premier by appointment but that was easy. He was also there during very tough times for the Liberal party. He wasn’t, as I like to say,  a  “Johnny come Liberal”. At that time, I believe Beaton was already ill, but I don’t know that of my own knowledge. It was a great meal and a great conversation. 

Beaton Tulk was a very smart man, very well educated, and very well read.  Not everybody knows that. He talked about his life in and out of politics but wanted to know about how my life had gone. Beaton  wasn’t just being polite. He was genuinely interested in the corner of the world I occupied. The fish was good, and the time flew by. We shook hands and that was that.

 Now the previous time we dined was under most unusual circumstances. It was at the big Liberal convention at the Mount Pearl Glacier that chose Roger Grimes as the man to succeed Beaton Tulk as the province’s premier. It was a bitter and divisive convention that was full of passion and treachery. It took a long time for the wounds from that political marathon to heal. At one point in the afternoon I went backstage to line-up someone else for an interview. We were gobbling up Liberals to put before the NTV cameras as the day wore on.

Backstage and sitting on the set of grey metal stairs that leads up to the booths on the far side of the Glacier was outgoing Premier Beaton Tulk. 

A nice break

His coat was off,  and his sleeves were rolled up and he was busy eating a hamburger. He knew me. I asked him if he might be available to come over to our booth for an interview. 

He said he would, but he was starving so could I hang on for a few minutes. I said sure. 

Then the sitting Premier, sitting on the steps of a metal stairs asked me if I wanted a Liberal burger. He had a bag of them. I accepted and sat down for a few minutes. He gave me a burger and his thoughts on what was happening on the convention floor, but we were just talking and eating, not conducting an interview. It was a nice break from the convention I think for both of us.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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