Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Last day of work today, which is weird, especially weird since tomorrow is a Bank Holiday - Canada Day.

This evening we finally went to see the Star Trek Movie and it was SU-BLOODY-FECKING-PERB. I was entranced, spellbound, from start to finish, and for every second in between.
I have just one question arising.
Why do Vulcans have English accents unless they are half-bred Vulcans?
No, that wasn't it, erm...
Oh yes, say you star in, basically a low-budget stoner movie, 'Harold and Kumar do a little something something'. Which direction would you prefer your career to take - advise the real life President Obambi on how to be a kick-arse dude, or star in the remake of a legend?
Mmm....I think I'd have to go with 'star in Star Trek', seemed like great fun.

This is the Wizard's night-time ball.

Sunday, 28 June 2009


So, I now have a wizard's....ball. Only a wizard would use this crackled glass item. Of course, I have to work out whether a witch really is just a female wizard, or if not, what the difference is - I know what the difference is in Pratchett terms of course - duh, who doesn't - but I need to know the REAL difference. And why doesn't she have a ....wizard's ball.

Anyway, so....the wizard's...ball. It's solar-powered, as I imagine are all wizard's.... magical equipment, at night, it changes colour, it's quite, quite mesmerising.

Yesterday, Kevin and I dragged our unhappy carcasses out of bed at the crack of dawn, oh well alright, around 9.30 and schlepped over to Kitsilano for the backstage tour at Bard on the Beach.
It looked decidedly deserted.
'Oh,' said the girl at the window, resembling a gazelle caught in the headlights of a Hummer, 'didn't someone call you to tell you it had been cancelled?'
Dear God how I had to restrain my sarcasm diodes.
I WANTED to say,
'But yes, of course they did, I merely got up early on a Saturday, drove through Saturday morning Vancouver traffic and presented myself at your window because I naturally assumed the person was lying and I wanted to catch you out, having a tour without me,'
Instead, I bit my tongue and merely said,
'Oddly, I wouldn't be standing here if they had,' and then smiled, although it was probably a mad, twitching rictus.

SO instead we went and bought solar lights.

For some reason, AskOxford.com directed me to what seems like an out-of-date but fascinating page on their website. It has a list of words that entered the language in a particular year.
Apparently it wasn't in the sixties that sex was invented, it turns out it was 1929, but we didn't get sexy until 1956. Some are as you might expect, Blitzkrieg in 1939, snafu in 1941, but megabucks goes all the way back to 1946, and Wonderbra to 1947. Despite that, spellchecker doesn't recognise it as a word.
And here's how out-of-date 'awesome' is - 1961.

Wizard was the word of the year in 1922. I presume as in 'wizard prang!'

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Yesterday we had big, pouring, teeming, drumming, drenching rain. And it was good.

Anyroad, apart from the rain, it's that time of year again, yes! Bard on the Beach. Last night we went to see the dress rehearsal of 'All's Well that Ends Well'. And it was, as ever, most excellent. Even the weather added to the atmosphere, right at the end, the cast were competing with the noise of the heavy rain, which was perfect. My only small reservation was in that it was set, notionally, in Victorian times, and since this play features the King of France, it seemed an odd choice of time period, given that fifty years before, there had been an absolute surfeit of 'Off with his and her head!'s across the channel. Still, mustn't split hairs.

Tonight we ate home grown broccoli and a minuscule amount of courgette. Made me feel ridiculously healthy and happy, which just goes to show it's all mostly psychological.

Sleepy has bought me some potato bags, bags in which to grow spuds. This also makes me ridiculously happy, but first, I must find seed potatoes. Home Depot claims to sell them, but I don't know.... Still, I feel that this quest is going to be most fruitful, in a veggie kind of way.

So, today seemed to be English-as-a-completely-unknown-language training day at Stuporstore. And that may seem like a crass thing to say, but I genuinely bow down in admiration at the sheer determination of some of them. They make EXTREME eye contact and they watch your lips as you speak, which sounds impossible to be doing both at the same time, but maybe it's like photons, you observe them either as waves or particles, depending on how you choose to observe them. The photons, not the checkout assistants. And they still manage to do their bloody jobs! (The checkout assistants, not the photons, although since we can see stuff, I suppose they do too). I got my groceries, with all the coupons taken off. We did have a sticky moment with a persimmon though.
'What is please?'
'A persimmon.' She looks through her list,
'Persimmon,' Perhaps it's my accent, so I attempt something that may or may not sound more Canadian. Blank. I offer to look through her list, we don't even call them bloody persimmons in Britain anyway, we call them Sharon fruit, and Stuporstore has a bizzare habit of randomly deciding to list something by the English name. But then she found it and squealed, causing me to jump.
'Ah, puhsmn Fuyu!;

In the car park, a man driving a boat starts beeping at me.
'What!?' I scream at him. I'm not in his way, he doesn't appear to be trying to get into my parking space, he is just....beeping. I wave my arms at him. He has what my friend R refers to as a 'crip tag', and she can, because she has one. In my head I am telling myself, 'Mustn't call it a crip tag, mustn't call it a crip tag.'
I wave my arms at him again and he winds down the window.
'Leave your cart there and I'll give you the loony when you pull out of your parking space,' (a loony being a one dollar coin, which we put in the shopping trolley to release it).
'Please,' I remind him, 'and why do you want my parking space, you're right next to the disabled space.' He says he hadn't seen it. Hmmmm. He does an eighty-seven point turn and finally manages to get his boat into the space. I wait for him, it would seem rude to put the trolley back now.
'Oh,' he says, 'I'll get another cart now I'm in the disabled,'
What? Argh. I consider kicking his good leg, but decide against it.

On to the Petrol Station. Back to the non-verbal communication.
'Can you fill it up with regular?' I say, handing over my credit card.
'Fii uu, reglah,' the student watches my lips and makes an attempt at the unfamiliar words. BUT...I got my petrol and my receipt and coupon and yet again, I am impressed.
They're both probably nuclear physicists in some other country.
Not the bloke with the crip tag though. He can speak English and doesn't bother to be polite.
Bloody non-foreigners.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Magic and Politics

This was weird. On Sunday, I noticed there was something wrong with Word, I mean, seriously, terminally wrong, and Word plays quite an important part in my universe. So I wrestled with it, we both did, there was swearing. Almost tears.

Yesterday, I wrestled with it again. Not only do I NEED Word, but since the advent of the 2007 version, I have been spoilt, because that is a thing of great beauty, as software programmes go.

This evening, wrestled again. Went away, watered the plants, did some stuff, then there was an e-mail from my friend M, asking me to do something that...yes, involved Word. But as soon as I saw her e-mail, I knew what to do, and I did it, and it worked. I'm beyond stunned.

I'm also stunned, and again, in a good way, by Obambi's speech about the treatment of protesters in Iran. Nicely done my friend. Of course, Gordon Brown did it first, just that no-one noticed because he's not the flavour of the millennium.

Both Margaret Beckett and Ann Widdecombe are quite splendid MPs, both of whom have been knocked out of the race for the job of Speaker of the House of Commons.
Of course.
But wait...the MAN who was elected seems to be annoying his own party by being pro-choice, not homophobic or misogynistic,and generally, sort of...not very Tory like.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


The sky is cloudy and lowering but can somehow only manage a few random spots of rain.

If your church doesn't offer wine-tasting, then you're going to the wrong church. I, on the other hand, am going to the right one.
Yesterday evening was a lot of fun, although my doctor probably wouldn't approve of the amount of cheese consumed. The object seemed to be to find wines and cheeses that complement each other. There were some mighty fine examples of both.

One thing I can't do though, is the 'auction as charity event'. After the wine and cheese tasting, bottles of wine and some cheeses were auctioned off. This causes a short circuit to my hard-wired English politeness.
You bid for a bottle of wine, already the price is over what you can buy it for at the Offie, so there's no particular motivation, and then someone else indicates that they want it by bidding against you. OK, so someone else wants the wine, so you do the decent and polite thing and step back.
I find it better not to play.

Didn't make it to Ikea, in order to be able to drive, I had to literally just taste, and then poured the rest of mine into Kevin's glass, thus he was tired, but merry enough, and I was just....tired.
Never fear though, I had had the one dollar breakfast there, having gone in during the morning for coffee, and had bought lunch from the downstairs 'bistro', to have at work. I think that fulfills my needs AND obligations.

So, last week at church, one of the ladies that leads the prayers told me I should volunteer to do that. Apparently you have to compile a list of people and stuff to pray for. Personally, I can see a return to good old-fashioned smiting with me getting to lead. She was also complaining that people don't really listen, which would be an advantage too I feel. I'd have them entreating God to smite the enemies of Israel, that'd take care of a whole bunch of undesirables, including sorting out the current unrest in Iran, smite the misogynists and homophobes, so that'd be the Pope out of the picture, then I'd get down to the nitty-gritty. Smite the people who chuck litter out of their car windows, talk on their phones whilst driving and don't corner properly, then finally, I'd tidy up the whole grammar situation, smite those who use adjectives instead of adverbs, use the wrong prepositions and make up their own past participles.
I'd just call it a return to family values. Seemed to work for the Tories.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


I guess this had never occurred to me. But here in Canada, some of Her Majesty's subjects speak French as their first language. I think I'd largely thought of the Québecois as bowing to M.Sarkozy, but this evening, on TV, there was a lawyer, 'Procureur de la Couronne', how cool is that? It's just like 1066 and all that.

Yesterday was the last programme of the year at work. We've had a pretty hectic season and the weather has been fine for most of the time. Now I'd like some rain, some serious, serious rain.

Dammit, Ikea is having Midnight Madness tomorrow evening, Swedish heaven, and Kevin and I are going to a wine tasting. Well, I'm looking forward to that of course, but I feel I won't be in any fit state to wander down to Ikea afterwards.

Kevin is watching Jamie Oliver's 'Ministry of Food' and Jamie has just had afternoon tea with Marguerite Patten! She not only really exists, she's bloody well still alive! Even in our house, where cooking was not an activity that was much enjoyed, we had several of her big, glossy, themed cookbooks. Wow.

Bizarrely, all Jamie's cookery students are wearing T-shirts with 'It's pucker to pass it on,' emblazoned across them. I'm not sure I understand the play on words here. I mean, I know that Jamie Oliver is famous for talking about pukka food, but pucker? Kiss? Wrinkle? What Jamie? Explain yourself.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Stress and Scrying

Ah, tiny courgettes, so phallic.

I'm françaised out. Stressed, I have been about today's programmes, two for the actual French school, we've only done immersion before, but, turned out they were happier than I could have hoped for. At the end, one of the teachers told me that it was nice to go to a programme which was booked as a French programme, and it actually was in French.

Speaking of French, Michael Ignatieff is seriously worrying the opposition, his opposition being the government. They have upped the ante, complaining about his French, yep, you heard it, his French.
The previous leader of the Liberal party (Federal), not to be confused with the Provincial Liberal party, who are in no way connected with the Federal Liberal Party, was too French, his English it seems, was not up to par.
But then....what's wrong with Ignatieff's French? It turns out it's too French. Yep, his French is too French.
The French as she is spoken in France, is sometimes, nay often, referred to here as 'Parisian French', which it isn't, that's like referring to English English as 'London English'.
You catch my drift no doubt.

By a strange co-incidence, I used the word 'scrying' in my story at writers' yesterday, and today, it was the word of the day on the Oxford Online webbie.
" scry
• verb (scries, scrying, scried) [no obj.] foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface.
— derivatives
scryer noun.
— origin early 16th cent.: shortening of descry."

I would just like to add that the reflective surface referred to here is often a mirror, and it is also used as a method of contacting the spirit world.
No, it's not at all disturbing that I know so much about spookeria.
Yes, I did make that word up.

FYI - a great, GREAT new programme is 'Nurse Jackie' with the Soprano's Edie Falco as the eponymous nurse. Her English doctor friend is a phenomenal character too. If you can get it, watch it.

At ease.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sookie and Bill

Yes! In spite of virtually everything else on TV having finished, the vampires are back, and right from the off, 'True Blood' is as good as ever.

That's all.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


What is it about perpetual sunshine that makes you drink lots and forget that basically, there's a hell of a lot of shit going on out there ?
Or maybe it IS just the tequila.

Rioting in the streets of Iran as a stunned electorate cannot believe that Mad, Bad, Jihad won the election. Nor can I, but probably not appropriate for me to riot, I have other battles that need my attention.

A driver in the UK was awarded a suspended sentence for playing chicken with an ambulance which had a dying woman inside it. I don't care how stressed she was, that is beyond conscionable.

And the other morning, on our TV news, they interviewed people about texting whilst driving. The people looked sheepish, but agreed that yes, they did do it. They had the lamest of lame reasons too.
'Oh, I don't like to not respond to anyone,' said one woman, just kill complete strangers then, yes, I can see how that works.

But there is good news too.
The brassicas are doing well. This broccoli will be ready to eat before too long.
And a new series of True Blood starts tomorrow night.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Arse from Elbow

I nearly blogged yesterday, but all I had to say was that it rained for about a quarter of an hour in the evening - although that was big news.

I'm a constant gardener - I keep moving plants around, my plants could never be bored, but on the other hand they never get to just relax into where they are either.

The Iranian election is interesting - mostly in that they have such things and that the female people are allowed to vote. None of the candidates are women of course, but in any case, as we saw in Israel, even when a woman actually wins, she often doesn't get to form a government.
So, there appears to be a reformist candidate, but oddly, he looks like a cleric, and in fact, IS a cleric. He's unlikely to win.
There's a moderate, who could possibly win, unless the ballots are rigged. Of course, that would be very unlikely to happen, wouldn't it?
There's another candidate who isn't in the running it seems, and then there's our old friend A Mad, Bad, Jihad, who keeps threatening Israel, enriching uranium and just generally being a twat.
We should know tomorrow.

Apparently, many British people don't know where their vital organs are - not because they've mysteriously misplaced them, but because they couldn't place them on a diagram of the body. I find this quite astonishing, since it seemed a bit of a no-brainer, if you'll pardon the pun, hopefully they'd all know where that is, but really, unless these Britons happen to be doctors, and even then, probably only if they happen to be surgeons, I'm not sure it's too much of a problem. So long as you know where your mouth and arse are, you shouldn't get into too much trouble most days.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Envy and Embarrassment

Last night's writers' group was at Bozo5's place. Now I am a big, BIG fan of the balconies around my own house, if they weren't around my house, I'd be dead jealous of them, especially now that we have our Ikea over-the-balcony-rail drop-down table.
But Bozo's balcony is something to be envied too. The view is heart stopping - as you can see - and he has totally wicked neighbours.
WHAT? I deliberately didn't use out-of-date word 'awesome' so that I could use out-of-date word 'wicked'.
His neighbours apparently sit out on their balcony and harass passers-by with poochies who look as though they aren't picking up after them. He mentioned this since that was what I was doing at the time. Not pooping, you understand, but harassing a passer-by with a pooch who had assumed the position.
Bozo also lent me a book, retrieved from his lock-up that he'd been back to England and cleared out, thus a one that couldn't be sent to recycling. (Been there, done that, it's harsh).
One of those books that I'd always been meaning to read and yet somehow never had. And instantly addictive it is, just from the style of writing and the quirky lower middle-class life it depicts.
Jeanette Winterson's 'Oranges are not the Only Fruit'. So far, so bloody brilliant.

How embarrassing is this?
Whichever one of us at work who does the meet, greet and seat for the programme, looks at the book on her way out, finds out the teacher's name and then tells the other who's already over there.
'Teacher's called Mrs. Simpleton,' hisses assistant J.
'No way,' say I, or something similar (and out-of-date).
'I know, but that IS what she's called, no doubt about it,' then there follows a short, whispered convo about embarrassing names, J knew someone from school with such a name, but couldn't remember what the name was.
Then the teacher came with my group and I couldn't bring myself to call her Mrs. Simpleton, although at one point I had to say her name, but managed to avoid it thereafter.

When I got back to the office, I looked at the book. Mrs. Singleton was her name. It turned out that J had forgotten to look, asked the teacher, and misheard.
I was so embarrassed, I rang the school and asked to speak to her. The secretary couldn't find her but asked if she could take a message.
'Well here's my dilemma,' I said, 'see if you can make it into a message.' I swear she was pissing herself at the end of the 'phone.

Eventually the teacher herself rang back, said she hadn't even noticed and that it has happened to her before. She enjoyed the programme very much. She was also pissing herself.
Just as well really.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Obambi Steps

We went, we saw, we didn't conquer.
I think I was expecting Obambi's New America to have totally changed since our last visit. Maybe there were some changes. It was certainly a good time to cross the border. Canadians now have to have passports to cross, although I thought that had happened last year.
We were behind two people trying to get in on an expired Korean passport. They were sent back. The office I have to go into to get my visa waiver form had a new fingerprinting machine.
'Forefinger,' said the man, I placed my forefinger on the machine.
'No, four fingers,' said Kevin, who had been listening more carefully, and not simply hearing what has always been said in the past.
We had to go to the end of the room to pay our six dollars. The two men sitting there just ignored us. I thrust six bucks at them, plus my form, and they managed to complete the transaction whilst still totally ignoring us.

The weather was hot, sunny, hot again, but I managed to swim twice so life was sweet.

I bought some yoghurt that had a space on the pot for you to write how you were going to re-use and re-use and re-use it, before recycling.

Obambi steps to a brave, cleaner, new America.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Weekend Update

Weekend Update without the SNL humour, sadly.

First trip across the border of the year. The weather is a bit more bearable at the moment, probably hovering around 20°, a great improvement over the 30+ of the past week.

Yes, I know, the US/Canadian border crossing looks nothing like Hadrian's Wall, but ... you know what I mean.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

High Dudgeon

One of the consolations of having been treated shittily, is the right to be in High Dudgeon. I am honing it, perfecting it, and getting the most possible mileage from it, because it's time-limited. High Dudgeon can only last so long before it becomes counter-productive.

The heat now is suffocating. Even the slight breeze is only shifting warm air around. The afternoon programme children wilt.

I have been to a meeting to discuss same-sex blessings. It seems that two people will leave the church if we continue to discuss it. So, put another way, censor yourselves or we walk. Oh, shucks, close the door behind you please.
I seriously can't believe that people are even allowed to spew this bigotry, oh yes, make no mistake, I want to censor bigotry.
But then I was criticised for referring to bigots as bigots. A bit harsh apparently. I consider it a human rights issue, so, like I said, close the door on your way out.

Afterwards, I had to go to a meeting with the folks who prematurely terminated my contract. Back home, if someone stabs you in the back, they at least have the decency to be unable to look you in the eye. These folks were all puppy dog eyes and 'take care,' type remarks, except the one person who didn't know, and his jaw dropped open and stayed there.

Bizarrely, sitting on my desk, is the latest programme evaluation, 'the children loved the performance,' it said, 'the actors were excellent.'
Partly, I wanted to feel the swell of praise, and partly I wondered whether they thought we really did engage actors, and that when we changed out of our costumes and then came back in as ourselves, pretending to be late because of the bus, they believed us.
Cynic that I am.

I think High Dudgeon may last a while longer, then I'll start my sulk, it's bad for my blood pressure, but rather good for my writing, and let's face it, I'm going to have to write a damn fine CV soon.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Flaming June

The heatwave continues.
Today two classes came in from Maple Ridge, about an hour and a half drive each way and I imagine those kiddies will sleep well tonight.

The whole sorry mess of MPs resigning over expenses is so very British. We are a great nation for falling on our swords. On the one hand, I do agree with Stephen Fry's comments that MPs fiddling their expenses doesn't really say anything about their ability to do their jobs. And then, there has been a growing culture of thinking that expenses are a perk of the job, and pressure to 'expense' things.
When my sister worked for a large London company, quite a few years back now, she was made to feel that she was letting the side down because she submitted too little in expenses.
Compare that with the post-war Labour leader and Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, who had to take a cab home from a late sitting of parliament one night, after public transport had stopped running, and paid for it himself, being unwilling to expect the British taxpayer to pay for a taxi.

But these are the times we live in. It's like a purge and, whilst I don't really blame the MPs who have stepped down, it's quite wonderful to know that there are so many who have not played that game, and that those who have are honourable enough to do the right thing.

We live in interesting times.