October 14, 2010

A trip to Canada where everything is big

Woo hoo, it's me! Lady M (aka Anne Dickens), from The Day after Yesterday! I am guest blogging for 'Alfred Lives Here' whilst Brahm is off gallivanting on holiday. So here I am inside his blog, and it's all a bit echoey in these parts with no one here. And in case you were wondering, I can tell you that it is also very organised. Below me (all neatly stacked up) are the posts that Brahm has already published, and above me are all his scheduled posts, ready and waiting to be go like tightly coiled springs. Crikey, I wouldn't like to see the results of his Inkblot Test.

To be honest, I've always been a bit wary of Canadians ever since I first met one whilst partying in London with some friends a few years ago. The music was pumping, the beer was flowing and everyone was in a jolly good mood. Then a group of three tourists made their way to our table; "hey" said one of them in a funny accent, "can we join you?"

"Sure," I said, smiling and motioning towards some empty chairs, "we welcome all types of Johnny Foreigner here you know."

"Thanks," replied the guy, before adding, "you come from London?"

"Yeh," I said, "and, judging from your accent, I take it that you guys are from America?"

The expression dropped like a stone from all three of their faces, and they slowly turned to face me. Although I wasn't entirely sure, I think the music in the bar also stopped, and all the other party-goers paused, regarding me with horror.

"What?!" I asked perplexedly holding my hands up and looking around the bar, "It's not like I accused him of being a member of the Taliban or anything."

"No, you did way worse than that," the guy spewed, "we are Canadians not Americans." I was surprised that he didn't finish up by saying; "you speaking to me, or chewing a brick? Either way you are gonna lose your teeth girl."

Gulp. Reading between the lines, it appeared as though I had unwittingly poked a nerve. You live and learn, and I was just bloody glad that they didn't kill me until I was dead.

Fast forward five years, and I was invited on a snowboarding holiday to Canada. I was hesitant. My encounter with the Canadian in London had scared me ... plus I didn't know how to snowboard ..... but I decided to make like a lion and give it a go anyway.

Because I am a bit like Mother Theresa (except that I'm not dead), I decided not to bore you with the details of the whole vacation. Instead I am merely going to focus on two things: 1. Canadians are cunning opportunists; and 2. Everything is bigger in Canada than it is in the UK.

1. Canadians are cunning opportunists

We arrived in Canada as a wet-behind-the-ears group, and hired a car so that we could drive to our destination; a chalet in the ski resort of Fernie. Our journey was well under way and things were looking good. The sky was sunny, the scenery was amazing and the long empty roads were flanked with lush green vegetation. Then Fat Bob decided to engage in some scaremongering. He was sitting in the back seat reading Fernie's small print; "It says here that we will need to buy tyre chains if we hire a car to get to the resort," he shouted out. Lanky Jim contemplated the clear sunshiney day, and given that there wasn't so much as a snowflake to be seen, retorted, "bugger off, I noticed that tyre chains cost $20 at the last Service Station we stopped at. I ain't paying that"

As the car climbed the mountains towards our destination, we noticed that the road had started to accumulate a light dusting of snow, which quickly became a blanket of snow as we got higher. And still we continued to ascend until the car was slipping and sliding and bumping into drifts at the side of the road. Visibility was virtually nil as the snowflakes hit the windscreen; it was a bit like the Starship Enterprise going into warp speed.

"We need tyre chains!" screamed Johnny Red the driver as he narrowly avoided yet another collision with a tree. This time everyone nodded in agreement, and Fat Bob shouted, "I told you so." So it was with relief that we saw the green lights of a service station ahead.

We pulled slowly onto the forecourt and ran inside the garage to procure some tyre chains. THANK GOD! They had some tyre chains! We were saved! But they had no price on them. Ommmmm. dodgy.

Fat Bob picked them up and went to the cashier, handing over $20.

The cashier looked Fat Bob up and down, then looked at the cash and grinned ....."Sorry," he said, "but these tyre chains are $130.00."

We had been backed into a very cunning corner. Blimey, we needed those chains and we had been 100% totally gibbed. Opportunism... I love it, but I prefer it when it works the other way round.

Everything is Bigger in Canada

I am not going to lie, because I am sure you will see through this section for what it is: A blatant excuse for me to post some of my holiday snaps of Canada. I may be shallow and transparent, but that doesn't change the fact that everything in Canada is bloody big and amazing.

Pic.No.1. Blimey. The hills in Canada are a lot bigger than the ones in Oxford

Being a novice snowboarder, I would like to have said that the size of the mountains struck a note of caution with me, but alas, they didn't. I mean how hard can snowboarding be? I'd seen it on TV and there didn't seem to be much too it. So on the first morning, I put all my gear on and informed my chums that I was going to tackle the same slopes as them.

Johnny Red eyed me dubiously, "are you sure?" he said, "I didn't think you'd been snowboarding before?"

"I haven't," I replied, "but I have the physique of an athlete, and the grit of ermmm .........unwashed spinach."

Johnny Red eyed my physique even more dubiously, and then reluctantly agreed, pointing towards the chair-lift. We made our ascent and I was pumped and feeling proper gnarly dude, "bring it oooooon!" I shouted to Johnny Red even though he was sitting next to me. We reached the top and both jumped off the chair-lift onto the exit ramp.

My snowboard instantly took off (with only one foot attached to the bindings), and I desperately tried to regain control by speed hopping with my free foot. It didn't work and within seconds I ploughed head-first into a group of German skiers all sporting moustaches and wearing fluorescent all-in-ones.

They looked derisively at me as I attempted to stand up, but failed, falling back into a crumpled heap at their feet.

"Dumbkoft!" one of them shouted, before gliding off.

Not one to be deterred, I got back onto my snowboard and launched myself down the mountain. For about ten feet, everything went swimmingly..... but then I noticed that a tree was rapidly coming closer and that I had no mechanism with which to circumnavigate it; i.e. I didn't know how to steer. I had two options: 1. hit the tree, but that could be painful, and 2. throw myself to the ground, but that could be painful. With split second timing, I chose option 2 because snow is softer than trees.

I crouched down and threw myself backwards into the snow. Everything would have been hunky dory if my snowboard hadn't caught an edge, catapulting me fifteen feet forward and causing me to land heavily on the base of my spine (I think it is called the cocyx. I like that word because it sounds rude but it isn't. Like flange).

For several minutes, I lay on my back, heavily winded.

"Jeez!" shouted Johnny Red, who had watched the whole spectacle, "are you ok?"

"I'm not sure," I said struggling to my feet, "but I want to get down now."

Pic.No.2. It soon became apparent that I was over-stretching myself as a novice

It took me two hours to descend the mountain, and the vast majority of it was spent on my knees. If that wasn't enough, the pain in my lower back was getting more intense as time marched on.

Pic.No. 3. The houses are all bigger than in the UK, and this is our Chalet. It is made out of wood like a dog kennel

It was with relief that Johnny Red finally hauled me into our chalet and dropped me on the sofa, by which time my back had completely seized up. I tried getting up from the couch, but winced and fell back down.

'So, sicknote', I hear you cry, 'did you eventually get back to snowboarding?'

Did I heck! For a full three days I couldn't move without assistance (yeh, I needed help to get to the bathroom - how humiliating), and thereafter I was only able to undertake was a pitiful hobble. My high hopes for snowboarding had been deflated with a squeak.

But coping with life as an invalid has its advantages as the next picture demonstrates.......

Pic.No.4. Keeping a girl amused: ordering a pizza in Canada is a very different affair to ordering in the UK

What with snowboarding off the agenda due to serious injury (nay, near death), the rest of the week was spent doing non-strenuous sight-seeing and taking pictures of all the big things in Canada. Like this.....

Pic.No.5. Even the trains are bigger. But they are painted a dodgy pink colour

But my all time favourite has to be this picture of a truck that I took just outside Fernie (just to clarify, I took the picture, not the truck). I was like... this can't be for real, it is bigger than my bloody house! But it was for real, and I took a picture of it just to prove that it really existed.

Pic.No.6. My 'p'iece d'resistance. The bloke that owns this has obviously got a very small nob (and yes that is two people you can see next to the front tyre)

So the big truck / small nob brings my time at Brahm's blog to a close. I have to say, that I've had a blast..... I don't know if thinking this is wrong, but once you take the reins of someone else's blog you kinda of get a big gung-ho - "yeee haaa! I can write whatever shit I like and it won't affect my blog readership or ratings one bit!"

Ha ha!

Thanks for reading dahlinks ...... love and kisses,

Lady M x (aka Anne Dickens, The Day after Yesterday)

P.S. I know you are missing Brahm and are probably wondering what he is up to, so I thought you might like to see this email I got from him today: "Hey Lady M, have seen two shows so far, Rock of Ages (liked) and Promises, Promises with Sean Hayes (loved). Tonight is the new David Mamet, starring Patrick Stewart and TR Knight - looking forward to that one a lot. That is it for now... off to grab healthy good (I think pretzels).... B"


scargosun said...

He he he... Actually those Canadians were very wrong in the first section. They are Americans...as are people in Mexico and points south. South AMERICA, Central AMERICA, not to mention NORTH AMERICA. I think would have had to throw down.

poet said...

fabulous story. yeah, those 'hills' out west are sure big! nice part of the country.

Jabacue said...

Couldn't disagree more with 'scargosun'. Each is a separate country unto itself and as such, each of it's citizens is called after that country. I live in Canada and thus am a Canadian. You live in the United States and are thus a United Statesian???? I do see your point now but please do not pack us all together in one heap. That does not work!

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Order in Court! *wink* actually Jabacue... you have a very good point which was well argued.. Hey Scargosun.. you know you can add to the debate!

injaynesworld said...

Well, that was quite a tale and thank goodness you lived to tell it. I went skiing ONCE. I did it to impress a guy. I borrowed my friend's very hot looking ski outfit... I was the best dressed person face-down in the snow.

There's a special place in my heart for Canada though I've never been there -- in this life, anyway.

Good piece, Annie.

bmat10 said...

I too am Canadian. And you can't lump us all togther. Canada is far to big you have to lump us into smaller groups.

The mining truck you have in your picture is actually quite small. I've seen them a lot bigger than that, and they move fast. Lucky for us they don't actually go on the road.

I lived in BC for 10 years. One sunny day I went up to whistler. When we got there in the afternoon the hot dog was about 4 dollars. In the evening it started to rain and it turned into quite the storm and we were trapped in the mountains. We went back to the restaurant, the same hotdog was now 7 dollars. They knew we were trapped. So yes, there are a few of us Canadians who are opportunists. I've family in London, and you are not all saints yourselves, which isn't a bad thing, is it?

Katie Gates said...

Great guest spot, and I don't blame the Canadians for being offended at your assuming they were American (particularly not several years ago!). These days (only because of Bush II, mind you, and the vitriol he left in his wake), I would love to be presumed Canadian!

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Hi Jayne! Yes, I have been several times and the place is absolutely amazing! I had to laugh at you being the best dressed person person face down in the snow. You can join the uncool club with me given that I spent most of my time on my knees!

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Hi Jabacue and bmat.... I hear what you are saying, but when you talk about people from another country you do classify them as being from that country, rather than a region in that country. For example, you would call me British not Oxfordshirian.

Absolutely bmat... there was no inference that us Brits are saints.... and I love opportunism.... it makes for many a good blog post!!

Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

Hey Annie -

Faaantastic post, thanks so much for doing it.

And yes I am off galivanting, now a bit of a break in the hotel lobby before heading out into the rain. There is no internet access here except in the lobby, holy crap, it is like going back to the 12th century. Except are on the 36th floor of a Westin. Anyhoo...

Some salient points you raised:
- we do not like being mistaken for Americans, and it predates Bush 2 though is much stronger since then; some Americans allegedly carry Canadian flags while travelling overseas, if true I have a tax bill for you folks
- we have big houses and big trucks (nothing to do with overcompensating for anything, except for one guy I once dated....)
- we take snow as an everyday type thing (I live in Alberta, we have winter 9 months a year)
- we can order pizza easily (if I put in on a plate I call it home cooking)
- and we will happily take tourists money fairly or unfairly. Having eaten in both fine and dodgy restaurants in London, I safely say we have that last one in common!

One small correction to my email to you, I think was heading out for 'healthy food' which yes became a hot salty pretzel from a street vendor...

Thanks again, you rock!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Well done.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

Hey Alfred and Lady M

Came in via Lady M's blog
Fantastic description as usual, laughed out loud at your Canadian/American faux pas! :P

well done

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian, who digs most Americans, take my word, you NEVER call a Canadian an American unless you are trying to insult them.

I am sure that I don't need to get into the reasons why. Mostly - it's their war mongering ways and self centered approach to life.

It's like calling a Scot Irish, or worse, a Welshman British.

They will kill for less.

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