It's Canada Day - Yay!
Mrs Toque and I went dog-sledding on Spray Lakes the other day. Physical exercise in minus 20 temperatures, at altitude, and dressed like the Michelin man is hard work, but I recommend this to anyone - you can always just sit in the sled and let others do the work. However, if you're not the one in the sled then you should be prepared to run alongside the sled, uphill through snow, in heavy snow boots, to help the dogs out. Did I feel it in my legs the next day? Err...Yes.
Merry Christmas everyone.
We managed to catch the first flight from Heathrow to Edmonton, Canada, and walked into Edmonton airport to a media scrum. Here's Mrs Toque talking to the media of her home town.
We made the news (see the video here).
It probably didn't help matters that Matilda was wearing her Santa suit.
This is the porch of the Laughing Fish, Isfield, a pub where we enjoyed some fine pub grub on Saturday.
Reading the potted history of the pub from the back of the bar menu, Mrs Toque was amused to discover that the porch was constructed by her compatriots.
On 3rd November 1939, soon after the start of the Second World War, the pub was taken on by Mr Fred Pullinger. However, he quickly realised that it wasn’t making any money. He was on the point of giving up the tenancy when, out of the blue, an army officer turned up in a staff car and told him that three and a half thousand Canadian troops were about to be billeted at nearby Sutton Hall and they would need somewhere to drink! Army Officers were also living in the White House opposite. This secured the immediate future of the business. The new customers were not entirely well-behaved however – one night Fred had cause to eject a group of them. In their drunken state, they then returned with high explosive and blew up the porch! The following day Fred calmly went to see the Commanding Officer, who immediately arranged for the same troops to rebuild the porch.
My buddy Paula is bidding to become Miss Canadian Universe.
Click on the photo to visit her Facebook site and pledge your support.
Douglas Todd, writing in the Vancouver Sun, suggests that the Canadian province of British Columbia should change its name because they're "so far from being culturally beholden to our "British"ness that it's not funny". Bizarrely he suggests changing the name to 'Caledonia', which to me suggests nothing but Scottishness, and a romanticised version of Scottishness at that.
The "British" in Columbia is misleading because:
The people of the Canadian West Coast tend to be innovative, anti-establishment, future-looking, nature-revering do-it-yourselfers....But we poor sods on the Pacific Coast of Canada are stuck with a name that makes us sound like a 19th-century colony of Britain, where we still drink too much tea and eat too many crumpets and Yorkshire pudding.
Personally I like British Columbia, but "Pacific Coast" might bring in a few more tourists.
Douglas defends himself here.
On Saturday night we went to Proms in the Paddock in Lewes. Amidst all the waving flags of St George and the Union, an understated little Canadian flag, planted by Mrs Toque, stood proud.
The biggest round of applause of the night, apart from the fireworks, went to Jerusalem, but I think Land of Hope and Glory was sung with more gusto, admittedly to the flapping of Union flags rather than English ones. Gordon would have been chuffed.
Lewes Dancing Man was upfront, and for most of the night had a big posse of kids mimicking his every move.
|Taken from the Sun newspaper in England (as mentioned previously the Scottish Sun doesn't carry Kelvin MacKenzie articles). I honestly have to say that I don't recall children ever waving at me when I was on my way to work in Edmonton. They do have good magic mushrooms there though, not that a policeman would ever...|
The Edmonton Journal carries an interesting account of the England victory as it was enjoyed by drinkers at my old watering-hole, Elephant and Castle on Whyte.
Typically though the Canucks just don't get it.
On this day the people rejoicing were not Brits, they were English. You can bet your bottom loonie that that the majority of Scots would have been honouring the Auld Alliance and supporting France. And as for the Welsh, well, they would rather die than see England win the World Cup.
Peter Preston, writing at Comment is Free, sums up:
So it came to pass that, yet again, the standard, slightly self-serving lecture on Britishness was duly shredded and scattered all over a foreign field (called the Stade de France). "This is a proud day for the country," said our sort-of elected leader: but he could only clamber aboard such a patriotic podium because Scotland had fallen off it already. And, in truth, there was no way of disguising what had actually happened. Not a Welsh moment or a Scottish moment, but an English moment that - in the winding way of these islands - had somehow morphed into another National Moment.
There he goes again with the 'the country' routine.