Thursday, 31 July 2008


The country is appalled today, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word, by the news that a passenger on a greyhound bus in Manitoba, repeatedly stabbed and then decapitated a fellow passenger who was listening to his i-pod. He did it 'like a robot'. Truly, truly psychotic behaviour, but blimey, doesn't bear thinking about. So far they're saying it was a random killing, so someone's son, just an ordinary kid, brother, boyfriend, gets carved up by a psycho killer and his head held aloft to taunt the police. Beyond sick.

This weekend is Pride, the 30th year for Vancouver. I imagine the face of it has changed over those thirty years. 1978 would have been before the AIDS crisis, before gay marriage, before so much. I guess the gay community in Squamish and Whistler won't be represented unless they can afford the helicopter to get them over the landslide. On the TV this morning there was a guy from Sri Lanka, where homosexuality is illegal. Seems like some have a long, long way to go.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008


We stayed with my cousin in Oakville, just outside of Toronto and her house was not only wondrous in its dimensions, but it was gleaming. I mean it quite literally gleamed. I was impressed beyond measure. I now feel inspired.
We have a long weekend coming up and it is my intention to paint some more walls, to banish the Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup colour, but now I will also scrub and polish and scrub some more.

It seems almost impossible that tomorrow is the 31st of July. Almost, but not quite.

The Sea-to-Sky highway, which Kevin and I had to travel a few times during the winter, has been closed by a rockfall. It will possibly be closed for five days while they clear it and this effectively cuts Whistler off from Vancouver.
There are some dodgy roads in paradise.

My walk to and from work is now taking ten minutes longer than usual because the blueberries are starting to ripen. It's impossible to walk past them and what can you do, really, leave them for the raccoons?
For just a split second yesterday, I thought there was a small black bear loping towards me down the Shell Road trail, but then I realised it was actually a large dog that seemed to have forgotten to take its human for a walk.

In the TV series Robin Hood, they seem to have killed off Maid Marion, and I fear that the Sheriff of Nottingham has got his lustful mitts on Guy of Gisborne.
I suppose with Keith Allen playing the Sheriff, there was always the possibility for gaiety.
Or maybe Guyity.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Lake

Last week, I was inordinately sad to hear of the death of Estelle Getty, Sophia from 'The Golden Girls'. I loved that show greatly, I used to watch it with my mum and then later, during the dark ages, I watched it alone and sometimes with Alex and I thought of my mum.
Of course, I had no idea Estelle Getty was still alive.

The picture is of Lake Ontario, although it could almost be any shoreline here in BC, or down in Washington. Lake Ontario is beautiful and vast, more like a sea than a lake.

On Thursday afternoon, I found myself locked in a men's toilet.

On leaving a restaurant which had seemed clean and the food well-presented, nothing dodgy that I could see, I started to experience the stomach cramps that normally presage imminent toiletage.
They did, with increasing urgency. After a couple of hours, we were near the studio where Kevin's brother works - he who draws Tony the Tiger for a living.
Clenching, I held out while Trevor keyed the code into the front door, while we honoured etiquette during introductions then reached the loos, only to discover the ladies' was engaged. I went into the men's and locked the door. Then I looked down and noticed a scrap of paper telling you not to do so. Oops.
Crisis over, I tried to open the door, couldn't. Finally I phoned Trevor on the cell phone to say I was locked in, but fortunately, I must have jiggled something in the mechanism into place and was free again.
Ah, the good life.

After so many days of sunshine, it has finally rained. It poured all day, I was drenched several times, and yet when I went out in the afternoon in the middle of the biggest downpour so far, although the ground looked wet, when I scratched the surface with my foot, it was dry and dusty barely a centimetre below.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Out East

The last time I was in Toronto, other than just on the tarmac at the airport, was in 1979.
It was the first time in my life I had seen morbidly obese people, Dan and Roseanne obese, and so many of them.
I didn't see any this weekend. I would say that on the whole, people in general seemed a bit more padded than here, but then Vancouver-thin lies somewhere between thin and gay-thin.

We had a lot to do and we did a lot. We stayed with my cousin in Oakville and we met up with Kevin's brother and partner in Toronto. We went down to Niagara-on-the-Lake for our friend's wedding. We stayed in a motel and ate in St. Catherine's.

The main differences that I noticed were the ones I would I suppose. Cars seemed huge, and all saloons. Here you see a lot of small, fuel-efficient cars and the majority of taxis are hybrids, there I saw one Fit, one Golf and one Prius. And there are a LOT of cars, the traffic was horrific in spite of having much better public transport than us.

And yet there is green awareness. There are recycling facilities wherever there is a rubbish bin and people seem to be switched into it, they also seem to be better able to remember to take re-usable bags to the shops.
But still, there is the whole car thing.

All in all, Toronto lacks that wow factor that Vancouver has, it is different, it's a big city in the way London is, so I guess it depends what you want. I wish it weren't a 'plane journey away, but then, with all the extra pollution they must be causing, maybe that's not so bad.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


So I have a bit of a long weekend coming up. I kind of like the idea of a weekend that starts on a Wednesday.
Tomorrow evening, or...night, me and the auld fella are flying to Toronto. We are going to a friend's wedding, but will be seeing my cousin and Kev's brother too.

So, a bit of a lacuna in the bloggage until Sunday.
Happy Birthday to son-in-chief.
Happy Anniversary to son-in-chief and best daughter-in-law.
And...I'm sure there'll be a few sighs of relief that term is finally over in the UK.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Your God, the one to whom you pray and with whom you share your most intimate thoughts, whom you have created in your own image, to whom you confess your sins, to whom you call out in your deepest despair and moments of greatest fear, can you really, honestly say that you think she cares as much for every single person on the planet as she cares for you?
A tough one.

Bindweed is in flower here at the moment - as I'm sure it is in England. It's in the same family as Morning Glory, being a convolvulus, but is neither as spectacular, nor does it give poisonous, hallucinogenic seeds, containing a substance akin to LSD (LSA).
Not a tough one.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Tempest

Ooh, I've had a lovely day.

We went on the backstage tour at Bard on the Beach and this was quite splendid. We got to meet all kinds of fascinating people and see what they did and how they did it.

Apparently you should never use Febreze for example, but rather vodka. Voddie will take the smell out of anything stinky, just make sure you only buy the cheap stuff and label it 'poison' and that still won't work because it will still mysteriously disappear.

We mosied down for lunch at a lovely café near to Vanier Park and then came back for The Tempest.

Oh. My. God. There are insufficient superlatives for this. Well, maybe not, but I have insufficient. It was mesmerising. It was spellbinding.
There were no weak links. The director, Meg Roe had a clear vision of the whole play and that vision was brilliantly interpreted.
The music was perfect.
The costumes were enchanting.
The set was ingenious.
For me, the star was Jennifer Lines who played Ariel, or...she was Ariel and next most stellar were Naomi Wright and Colleen Wheeler who played Trincula and Stephana, an incredible double act and a stroke of absolute genius from director Meg Roe to have women playing these parts because it increased the tension and humour by adding a sexual dimension between them and Caliban.

The opening scene where Prospero calls up a tempest and thence the shipwreck, was an example of every element of live theatre perfectly choreographed. The boat was a rope that all the actors pulled this way and that, tossed and pitched at sea and then as one, all went into slowmo.

The play was a marvel.
It will stay with me.

Friday, 18 July 2008

18th of July

A very important birthday today, Holly is four. Happy Birthday angel!

Remember the dawning of the age of Aquarius? When was that and how long did it last? What age are we in now?

Apparently there are real answers to these questions.
The Age of Aquarius isn't just some fanciful era in a hippy musical. Depending on which web page you read, the ages last from 2,000 to 2,160 years long and will arrive in fifty years or the C27th or has dawned.
Anyroad, I was just wondering.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the age of Virgo.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


My God, the city of Vancouver and the mountains behind look mystical from my bedroom window, mist floating between Grouse and Seymour.

Hanging in the sky, like the stairway to Heaven, are the lights on the piste on Grouse.

There's not much snow up there at the moment, but there is some.

The wolf enclosure at Grouse mountain is up a fairly steep little path, so when Kris asked me to take the seniors up there while she parked the bus, I feared that I would be leading them panting and they -athletic all - would be springing past me like mountain goats.

It didn't quite work out that way, but a couple did get ahead of me and horrified me by grabbing hold of the wire fence on which were bright yellow signs saying 'Electrified Fence'. Turned out that was inside the labelled one. Phew.
Then one gentleman started howling at the wolves.
Seniors behaving badly. Hmmmm.
The wolf got up, looked as though he were going to mosey on over and then hung a left and showed his contempt.

The day was glorious, glorious.
We saw the bears, we saw ravens, we saw raptors and we only had one minor medical emergency.

All that and salmon for lunch.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Marks and Sparks e-mailed me about their sale. Bastards.

Tomorrow - bears, wolves and a packed lunch. Grouse mountain.

Oh, here's a gratuitous picture of a 63-year-old woman wearing a bikini.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Guerilla Sun

The sun is still daily beating down on us. The trails at work are dried up and cracking. The ditch I used to have to ford or wade through I now just walk over, it's dry too.

On the trail to work someone has planted a little patch of vegetables. Guerrilla gardening. Like the sun that sneaks up, ramps it up to full while we sleep. Guerrilla sun.

I can no longer dig deeply enough to find worms to feed to the little snakes. Next door to us a tree has turned yellow, then brown, then dropped its leaves. Some of the Parks may have to be closed because of the hazard of fire. Time passes so quickly, time passes so slowly.

This morning I needed bananas. I have to eat bananas because of the blood pressure pills, but I ran out days ago. In this heat they speckle up almost overnight. I crossed the road to the greengrocer's opposite the Park, it was ten to nine.
'Are you open?' I ask,
'Yes,' says the man, but they're not. Yes is just the English word he knows.

I go and sit on the verge, watching the sky and the trees, watching the ballet of set-up as the man and then a woman and then ever increasing numbers of Chinese people appear from nowhere and scoop up pallets with fruit and vegetables, scoop them with the arms of miniature forklifts, set down, rotate, align, assemble.
Other customers gather and from time to time, the man who knows the word 'yes' smiles as he passes me and says, 'sorry,' but he isn't.

I think I'll go back later, but I never do. I wilt although my office is cool. I feel like I'm the only person to discover that if you keep the lights off and open the windows, the room stays cooler.

Monday, 14 July 2008


On TV a picture of a couple, killed last night by some stupid kiddie racer, someone's parents, someone's grandparents killed by the egotism of someone's son. Scum. But here, driving is seen as a right, not a privilege and thus, drinking and driving, and speeding, street racing, are not taken seriously enough. The grieving children calling for harsher penalties. And so there should be.
Here, I'm seen as a bit of a crank for sticking to one drink if I'm out and driving. In Britain, I'm seen as a bit irresponsible for having even one drink when driving.

Boris Johnson. He has removed five women from their posts at City Hall and done away with the post of women's advisor. You think he's a joke? Not a clown, an arsehole. This is the thin end of the wedge.

Ohmygod. In the background someone on TV is discussing the Jolie-Pitt babies. And they have just explained to us that 'Vivienne' is the French form of the name Vivian. Good bloody grief, the dumbing down of the whole planet.

A US American deserter is being sent back to the States. Some hand-wringer on the news said that this was the first time EVER that Canada had deported a deserter back to the States. Right, so we want everyone to KNOW that? We expect them to deport our criminals.

I'm pretty horrified to see that a Registrar in Britain who refused to marry gay couples, has been allowed to do so as opposed to being told her services are no longer required. But the biggest kick in the teeth is that she claimed it was against her religion. What? The woman's a Christian. There is NOTHING in the Christian faith that discriminates against people. For pity's sake, we're SUPPOSED to even love criminals. Frankly, un-christian it may be, but some people just need a good slapping.

My writers' group has been cancelled this evening. Our friend Bruce is back in hospital and is having treatment for a brain tumour. Not that we can't cope with that, nor is it the reason for the cancellation, I just wish he'd hurry up and get better.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Week Ending

Saturday was a hot, hot day. It was the day of Richmond's City Centre Celebration. I had to lug 'the beast' and a couple of extremely heavy boxes across a field to set up. The beast is a huge wheeled container containing our metal folding backboards.

Having set up and sat down, we were then told to move to another location. I put my foot down and refused, but this was pointless since blue-T-shirted volunteers were already taking my stuff down and moving it like a team of relentless nanobots.

Across the field, now at a bigger table, we found ourselves next to what could have been the cast of some new sitcom. A large, alert black woman, a skinny black man, and a mouthy, buxom white woman who sat and complained loudly about everything. There was a lot to be complained about frankly. Lack of toilets for one. No food either.

We had been told there would be food vendors, so not to worry so much about bringing our own. At the last minute, the City shot its own foot by introducing stringent new food prep regulations that pretty much took everyone out of the picture. There was some iced tea available. Yuk.

The good thing about the day was the company I had to help. I enjoyed that part of it. Clearly we're not doing a good enough job of educating the public about nature though. Many identified a crow as an ostrich, or in some cases even a camel.
One lady came and peered at the sign, then read it out. Finally she realised who we were and exclaimed,
'Oh, many blueberry bushes park!'
'Yep, that's us.'

We had a swift turnaround.
We met Steve and Christine for snacks and an exorbitantly expensive bottle of wine, then we went on to a stand-up open mic at the Film school where Steve teaches.
All the comics were men, which was a shame, because the tendency was for a lot of adolescent male humour, although several of them were exceptionally good.
We were very late getting home.

Today was another hot, hot day. I painted. And ...well...sweated.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Inspired by the green gardens of Portsmouth, well, Austen's and Sleepy's, I now have a compost bin of my own.
I had been taking our compostables into work, so they were being recycled, but THIS is brilliant, I will now have my own compost too and I won't be confined to a little ice-cream bucket.
Finding a composter wasn't that easy however, I had already searched the two main DIY stores and their garden departments, and turned up nothing, but Kevin was convinced you could buy them from the city's recycling depot.

Nothing was visible. No-one was in the office. Finally I found a lady in overalls and a straw hat who took me to another office at the other end of the yard and told me about her relatives in Suffolk. I encouraged her to go there. She sold me a bin for $25, tax free.

The French rock. Not always, but on this one, go Sarko!

Tomorrow, the City Centre Celebration, and the temperature is set to reach 28. No fun. I'm hoping for a rainy miracle.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


I don't really fancy the idea of the musical 'Mamma Mia' on the basis that it is in fact a musical. Having read Peter Bradshaw's review in the Guardian, I think I would make considerable effort to avoid it. The review makes inspired reading, I think he's probably spot-on but I hope never to find out personally.

One of the things I miss from back home, is being able to get to the end of a sentence without being interrupted, or, if I, or whoever is speaking DOES get interrupted, those listening are able to retain the beginning of the sentence and expect you to continue.
Just saying.

But then perhaps that is what has prompted me to write, I never used to in Britain.

On the 'plane back to Vancouver, two films were shown, both were aeroplane class movies.
The first was some old tosh which was disappointing, since it starred legends Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The bucket list was about as entertaining as an evening in reading the instructions on the microwave. This could have been improved instantly by having Bette Midler and Kathy Bates play the two characters.

The other film was rather surprising. 'Fool's Gold' with Matthew McConaughey already sounds like a recipe for disaster, and of course his bit was. But Kate Hudson was excellent, and really should be given some proper acting parts. Donald Sutherland was also, as always, a welcome addition, he was playing an Englishman, while Ray Winstone played and American. I love Winstone as an actor, but in this film I felt Sutherland did a better job.
The storyline was ...meh...but it didn't bore me into a coma, so that's quite positive really.

On TV we have been watching 'Swingtown', which I have mentioned before because 'Coupling's' Jack Davenport is in it. It's an excellent programme because it explores some of the emerging issues surrounding sexual liberation for women in the 70s.

Another film that we watched shortly after returning is '1408'. Genuinely creepy. I love a well thought out premiss. Nicely done and thought-provoking, given as I am to thoughts of hell.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Mr. Lube

I visited Mr. Lube today. It was my first time. Ever. Mr. Lube - or at least his acolytes - were very gentle with me, bless 'em. Now the car no longer has a threatening illuminated spanner on the dashboard, warning me to change the oil.

After work, we had to make haste while the sun shone and get our newly lubed Honda over to Vanier Park for the Bard on the Beach champagne reception. We actually didn't realise it was a champagne reception, but two of the musical directors from this year's plays were there, plus the costume designer, who was the tallest woman I had ever seen in my life. The food was yummers too.
Which reminds me that on my last day in Pompey, Holly gave me a little smile by describing what she was eating as yummers.

So, a severed foot has now turned up in Sweden. Maybe a copycat shark. It's getting to be more mysterious than crop circles. Alright, not really, but still, pretty spooky.

The Church of England has made a step towards the 21st Century, no, sorry, more like catching up to the early part of the 20th, by finally allowing the ordination of women bishops. I'm sure there's a joke about not bashing the bishop in there, but it escapes me. Hallelujah anyway.

Graham Norton last night (we're seriously behind with our viewing of this, the current series was shown in the UK in 2007) told us that he didn't blame celebs themselves for some of the dreadful things they wore or did, but rather their friends. Our friends are supposed to stop us going out in certain things and such like. For example, he didn't blame Britney, but rather Britney's friends for not pointing out that she had no knickers on. And then there is the dead cat on Amy Winehouse's head. Friends' job.
I can feel a mission coming on.
Most of my actual friends don't need things to be pointed out to them, but often complete strangers do. What a pleasant surprise and free service this will be.

Meanwhile, back at Bard, I had the deep satisfaction of being able to harangue the salesman who was standing next to a Jag about its impact on the planet. He was good. He agreed in a most sociable manner with everything I said and thus completed a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


I've asked Oxford, it's a word.
The picture - Laurence's door.

I wonder if I'm one of those champagne socialists you used to hear about. Not anymore of course, socialism is so last Tuesday since Gordon was sent like the sacrificial lamb to the abattoir. You always know that they know it's all gone Pete Tong when they trot out a Celt.

Same with poor old Neil Kinnock, nothing wrong with the chap, perfectly respectable socialist and would-be leader of Britain only he was Welsh. You understand that Britons are indeed mostly English at such times. They'll pay more per capita for every Scot than anyone else in the country, but they'd rather have a no-mark buffoon running the capital city than a Scot or a Welshie in charge.

But whatever, I digress as always.
When I fly charter, whenever possible I travel premium. You pay a little bit more for a few inches more legroom, free drinks and a nice fluffy blanket. So I like all that, so long as I don't have to think of the other side of it, that to have more means that someone has less.

I want to have a special counter to check in, get on and off the plane first, have my luggage labelled 'Priority' in neon yellow, but I don't want anyone to not have all of that and I sure as hell don't want anyone to see me doing it. I'd like them to think that it's just the luck of the draw that rows 1-9 get to board first. I like the curtain to the premium cabin to stay closed not because I don't want to see them, but because I don't want them to see me. I'm a traitor in that respect you see.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Now back to being pissed off with other people. Barack bin Obama to be precise.
What's all this I hear about U-turns and suchlike?
According to The Week, quoting Dom Lawson in the Indie, BO,
*'having pledged to accept capped public campaign funding if his opponent did so, Obama has now opted out of the system, freeing himself to raise unlimited private funds and massively outspend his rival.
*Having backed the strict handgun ban in Washington DC, he now supports the Supreme Court ruling overturning the ban.
*He reversed his position on warrantless wiretaps,
*He went back on his opposition to the death penalty for crimes short of murder'
Then, as reported on the F-Word blog,it looks as though he's reneging on his long term support for pro-choice, ie for women's rights.

Just so's you know of course.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Return of the Non-Native

Me in my own grotto. From here I fail to work miracles.

Gatters. The London airport that's nowhere near London, and yet, conveniently located for those of us who spend our Blighty-side time on the south coast.
Fratton to Gatters can be direct, unless you travel, as we did, unfeasibly early.
Nil desperandum.

Gatters. The chavport. No, seriously, the charter airlines fly out of there, so mixed with the transatlantic flights are the short hops. Easy Jet, package tours to Tenerife, Majorca, Ibiza, Costa del Shite.
Here, you see the big hoop earrings, the keeper rings, the mushroom cuts and nearly-single-strand ponytails. The Adidas trackies, the sunbed tans, the features of the moneyed underclass.

And now, the flights to and from Eastern Europe. Eastern Europeans are the new Asians.
In the sixties, before the term 'PC' was on anyone's lips, you'd hear all the time how 'they' were 'coming over and taking our jobs'. They were Indians and Pakistanis, the coming over possibly happened a couple of generations previously and the jobs were the ones Britons didn't want anyway. Asians worked hard for a living, building up corner shops, driving the buses and feeding us with the Indian and Pakistani food we craved and of course, kept the rag trade and telephony going.

Now 'they' are coming over and undercutting building and plumbing services. Where once 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' showed us the phenomenon of British building workers taking up contracts in Germany, now Poles are coming over to be underpaid in Britain. And then there's the prostitution industry. Does anyone really want to claim that only British women should work in this particular market?

I must admit that I didn't believe it myself the first time I encountered a busload of Eastern European sex-trade workers jamming up the toilets of some E-road service stop, and yet, however much I argued with our bus driver that this couldn't be the case, it was me, not him who wasn't making sense.

But oh well. It's just an airport, the shopping's not as good, nor the restaurants as nice as at Heathrow, but then less temptation. And at least the trains are right there and mostly, they run on time.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


We went to Wiltshire for family reasons, but I found again the power of that area. I was particularly pleased to be there with my daughter because I feel it, as I have before, as a place of feminine energy. I felt centred, focused there.
It's like the eye of the storm and it's a place of great calm.