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!"
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"