The first time I met Mordecai Richler was through his son Noah, a BBC producer with whom I’ve worked a couple of times. Richler fils had invited me over to the family home in Quebec’s Eastern Townships on the day after Christmas, when Richler père presides over a vast snooker tournament of family, friends, and locals. As things turned out, I could only manage the lowest score it’s possible to get on a snooker table. But then most of the other fellows present were the sort who’d been loafing around pool halls since they were eight: carpenters, plumbers, snowplow operators . . . 

In Britain and the Commonwealth, December 26 is known as Boxing Day, so called because it was the day when people would give Christmas boxes of small gifts and gratuities to their servants, local tradesmen, the deserving poor of the parish, etc. Because of the date, I vaguely assumed that...

 

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