A Breakfast Television Silver Lining

A Breakfast Television Silver Lining

Me and Jill, laughing.Guess why?


A couple of weeks ago I was having a beer with Jen. Jen is a friend of mine. We met almost 20 years ago when we were starting a brand new television station in Calgary called A-Channel. At that point she was a camera person trying to figure out life after SAIT, and I was a morning show host trying to figure out… well trying to figure out everything.

Jen runs Breakfast Television now – she’s a big deal.

We were talking about how simple life was back then and could life ever be that simple again?

She had to keep the camera in focus. Now she has to deal with sales and advertisers, sponsors and HR, staffing and holidays…

I have to think about running a business. And I’m also a parent now. We have to figure out schools and lunches, budgets and RESPs. And the light in the stairs has been burnt out since June and when was I going to fix that?

And I was telling Jen how did life get this complicated? When did that happen?

And Jen puts down her beer and said “I have an idea. Come host Breakfast Television. Ted Henley’s on Holidays, you can come Friday. It will be fun. Just like the old days. The simple old days.”

And I thought. That’s what I need. A trip back to a simpler time.

I went home and told Blythe that I would be waking up early on Friday to go be a co-host on Breakfast Television..

She said “Are you sure you can do this? It’s been a long time.”

I looked at her and I said – with the confidence of a man blissfully unaware of how the universe actually works –I said, “Of course I can do this. I did it for 12 years. It’s simple. It’ll be like riding a bike.”

Thursday night arrived and I set up my shirt, pants, belt, jacket shoes in the basement bathroom. I decided on the downstairs bathroom because using the upstairs bathroom at 4:30 in the morning would wake up the kids. The downstairs bathroom is the one from the ‘60s. It has an ashtray built into the sink. That’s how old this bathroom is. This bathroom reminisces about Diefenbaker.

Blythe came into the kitchen while I was mixing my yogurt and berry breakfast. It was 9 p.m. I looked up at her. “I want to be ready.”

Just like riding a bike.

I went to bed. Early. I wanted eight hours sleep.

And I started thinking.

It was a long time since I hosted that show. Doing interviews. Talking to Tara or Jebb or Susanne or Jill… talking about the news…

The news!

What if Jill wanted to talk about the news? What’s new in the news?! Trump. Do I have a Trump story? Do I even want a Trump story? Do I have opinions? What’s going on in city hall?

What if Jill asks about my life since BT. What do I talk about?  I’ll talk about Dave Kelly Live. And the kids. What if John’s in the wrong school?  RESPs.

Blythe walks in to go to bed. “You still up?”

What? I looked at the clock. It was 11 p.m. This was not good.

I was not going to get eight hours sleep. I wasn’t going to get five. I wasn’t going to get four and a half. I closed my eyes and counted the minutes of sleep I wasn’t getting.

And then my alarm went off. I woke up like a kidnap victim in a movie.

Where was I? Why am I getting up this early? Who’s idea was this? This doesn’t feel so simple.

I went downstairs in stealth mode.

I took my shower.  Dried my hair. Stood there in my underwear and looked around. Socks. Socks. I forgot socks.

Back upstairs. Snuck into the bedroom. Squeaked open the drawers. Felt around for the socks. I grabbed as many pairs as I could feel. One of them had to be right.

Went back downstairs.

None of them were right. Pulled on the least worst of the wrong socks.

Checked myself. Slightly panicked man in his underwear and socks. A little pale and running late. Pale… I was pale.

Make up! I forgot makeup.

I even forgot where I put it. It’s been years.

I went back upstairs to our bathroom. Using my phone light, I dug through every drawer and way at the back of a bottom drawer – a pencil case with a “Dave’s Makeup.”

Snuck back downstairs. By now I wasn’t just running late, I was actively late. Opened the pencil case. Pulled out concealer, foundation. Bronzer. I know these terms. Yes I do.

I put on concealer. Foundation.  Okay, okay. Then bronzer. No brush. I needed a brush.

I went back upstairs and looked for Blythe’s makeup bag. Grabbed a brush.

Ran back downstairs. It had rouge on it. Red. Something. Barb Petropoulos used to come on BT with make up tips once said you wash make up brushes with shampoo. At least I’m pretty sure she did.

So I shampooed Blythe’s brush. Then, what the heck, I conditioned it too.

I was already late, hadn’t left yet, and I was now conditioning Blythe’s make up brush in my basement bathroom while the rest of the house slept. And now I had a soaking wet brush.

So I grabbed the blow dryer and stood in my underwear and the wrong socks and blew dry the brush.

I brushed on the bronzer and threw everything in the makeup bag, threw on my clothes and raced out the door and into the car.

I was really late.

Raced into the studio.

Jen handed me a mic and an earpiece.

How did I do this every morning?

Some of it seemed like old times. Tammy in the director’s chair. Jenny producing. Andrea getting the news ready. Leah reading the news. I raced over and sat beside Jill.  Andrew Shultz being hilarious…and being Andrew.

And then Tammy in my ear says… “We’re back from commercial in FIVE… IN FOUR…”

It was going to be okay.

And Jill looked at me. I said, “What?  What?”

She said, “Your cheeks. Are they red? Is that red makeup?”

And we were back on air.

And I said,” Welcome back to Breakfast Television. Nice to have you with us. It’s 6:53 a.m. and we’re looking at a beautiful sunny day today. Andrew will have your weather at the top of the hour. I’m Dave Kelly – and good morning Jill Belland.”

It felt good. It felt okay.  Except all I could think about was I looked like Bozo the Clown.

And somehow we got through the first segment, I have no idea what we talked about, and we were in a commercial.

I looked at Jill. “Fix my face.”

She said “It’s no big deal – no one would have noticed.” and she brushed my face. Then Jen came in my ear, “Okay. Nice work. Coming up… we’re starting with the news…”

And it hit me. I realized life wasn’t any simpler then. It was just as stressful, just as complicated.

But in that moment, I realized what it was I loved about Breakfast Television. What made it different than theatre, than evening news, than talk shows, than anything else I did.

When Jen said “Ok, coming up…” I remembered. I loved BT because it was in the morning. And in the morning, everything is possible. The potential of today was in front of me. I hadn’t been awake long enough to feel too guilty about anything. I might be rattled, I might have the wrong socks on, but I hadn’t broken anything badly enough that I couldn’t get back on track.

And I feel the fall is like that.There’s something about October, snow or no snow, that feels like morning to me. It’s the morning of the year. The year is ahead and I can do anything I want and i haven’t screwed anything up yet.

Life is never simple, but in the fall, anything is possible.

Just like riding a bike.

Red Much