There’s an insidious drug, endemic the length and breadth of Canada. It’s rarely spoken about, far less fashionable than other so-called ‘designer’ drugs. Its side-effects include reduced mobility, shortness of breath, and, most alarmingly of all – a light browning of the tongue. That’s right. I’m talking about the scourge that is chocolate milk. Ban it now! Won’t someone think of the children? This sweetened dairy is (in) directly responsible for me gaining a stone (6.35029 KG) in weight. It can’t be lack of discipline or willpower, because I possess both of those traits in bucket loads, as anyone who knows me can attest to. I’m addicted, but only because I’ve no longer access to that far superior narcotic, ubiquitous in Ireland, but sadly inaccessible here, known as banana milk. Mmm milk of the banana.
The weather over here in Canada at present primarily consists of snow, a big freeze, a slight thaw, more snow, a big freeze…repeat ad nauseam. The sidewalks [paths] are slippery traps. Hidden beneath patches of snow lurk shiny ice bastards waiting to humiliate you and smash the bones of that wrist you were once able to windmill in panic. They say you must walk similar to how a penguin traverses the tundra in order to avoid cold pain and hot shame. I can eat like a penguin. I can even squawk like one. Walking like one is proving far more difficult. I’m just too cool. One other thing living in a land often blanketed with snow has made me realize is that dogs p*ss absolutely everywhere.
We spent some time in Quebec last weekend. Quebec City and Montreal are cities of real character and beauty. The cold was painful though, literally sore on the skin. Like my intelligence quotient it reached -44 at points. One morning I stupidly decided to descend the many steps down from the lofty perch of Lévis, to the Tim Hortons at the edge of the world, within the ferry terminal. Bad idea. As I ascended the steps on my return, holding breakfast in a bag and coffees in one of those large egg box-type containers, my two scarves began to slip down my face. With no hands free, my face and lugholes were now exposed to the biting wind. I thought I’ll keep going without putting the breakfast down and readjusting. When I eventually got inside again my ears were burning. On fire. That’s frostbite I thought. I can’t lose my ears. I hate putting in contact lenses. Luckily this never transpired, and it just turned out I’m a wimp. In my own way I like to think this is my own far more thrilling version of The Revenant.
In Quebec City it seems just having an Irish accent will induce barmen to give you free Jägermeisters and various beer samplers in-between your own choices of alcohol. That’s all well and good, but I know myself and spirits mixed with a beer frenzy is inevitably going to engender a Tasmanian devil intent on producing a pointless argument between himself and his bff/gf. This unduly occurred. I stupidly dropped my phone in the snow, and instead of adopting the attitude of hardened stoicism, I instead lost my s**t temporarily. As it turned out someone found it, contacted the last 3 people I’d PM’d via Facebook to tell them they left the device at the reception of the Hotel Laurier. Canada’s Premier was staying at the hotel that night, a visitor to the Winter Festival. I like to think it was him who found it. A man of action. Whoever it was thank you very, very much.
The General Election takes place in Ireland this week. I don’t want to say too much on this subject because I can already feel my blood begin to boil. I love Ireland, the land and the people, but I hate the State. I always have done. Even as a child, I was just yet to fully realize it. You’re not really aware of discrimination and class when you’re a kid. It’s been 100 years since the rising, when we putatively threw off the shackles of 800 years of English oppression (myth). All we managed to do within the last 100 years was replace the British with our own homegrown oppressors. Worse still, we attempted to define ourselves as not-British rather than simply Irish. A chance for a true social revolution was blown. We painted the letterboxes green and allowed the status quo remain. As long as we had an enemy, the post-Civil War parties could write a Gaelic hued history we could take pride in. Would this self-determination ameliorate the suffering of the poor and those without a voice on the margins? Ireland became a regressed backwater, the State abdicated their responsibly to educate the masses to the Catholic Church. Many of these ‘Educators’ turned out to be sadistic zealots. Women hidden away in Magdalene laundries, still crossing the Irish Sea to have a procedure that could be carried out at home. We had the chance to be a progressive European nation – more radically democratic than the U.K. Instead we’re left with our own very particular brand of venal career-politicians. The pretense that they are progressive is a smokescreen. You think they really care about equality, a referendum for equal rights in marriage was pointless. It should have just been enacted long ago. This was done because they can only make easy decisions that don’t cost money, ones that are already a fait accompli (our national deficit is scary). This was just political point scoring.
Fine Gael cronyism
This might be a good opportunity to show US Republican Ted Cruz show his humanity:
Ted Cruz kisses his daughter… it doesn’t go well.
We were promised the doing-away with cronyism, nepotism, quangos, parish-pump politics – a fairer society, but now we’re left with a neo-liberal nightmare. The gap between the haves and have-nots is a chasm. Protesters are branded sinister in a media that no longer questions but acquiesces. We’re told there’s a recovery afoot, but we came from such a low base there always had to be one. The jobs that are being created are shit. We know there are less services in health and policing. We’re treated like idiots. If FG are given another mandate; those less off in society will be hit disproportionately harder. And if you think ‘Well, I’m alright – f**k them’ – there are always knock on effects to society as a result of these policies. “And after all isn’t that what the fighting is all about,” is a line from a Pink Floyd song. And to keep with the musical theme, ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next,’ is the title of a popular LP. I guess I’m hoping that people will vote for change, and that real change might be possible in Ireland. It may all be a chimera. Vote often, and vote early.
Below pic c/o of Alan O Regan.