Category Archives: Kingston

My Kingston Cana-diary. Part XX. Bovine Chocolate, Walk like an Eejit & The Unelectables.

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.

choco

 

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.

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.

Oh Enda.
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.

Irish General Election 2016

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My Kingston Kana-diary. Pt. IX. Blizzard of Ont. Slán abhaile Starman.

Winter is here. And to quote my parents, “you wouldn’t put a milk bottle out in it”. Although this expression doesn’t really work in Canada because, as mentioned previously, milk over here is sold in 4 litre bags. It’s the equivalent of the Irish public purchasing their potatoes in a carton. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Yesterday, and today, the temperature, when you add in the wind chill, has dropped to -20 C. A carpet of sneachta (Irish for snow) has enveloped the Land O’ Lakes. As beautiful as it looks, it’s treacherous underfoot. I’ve already comically slipped on a patch of ice. Taken by surprise, I lost control of both feet, careered through the air backwards, did a full body twist, and landed on my front, cushioning the landing with my left wrist. Yelling an expletive (possibly fiddlesticks), I was sure I broke my arm. Despite the pain, I up-righted myself and brushed off the snow. It was early morning and I was stood in a business carpark surrounded by lorry drivers (They call lorries ‘transports’ over here). I wore the type of face that dared those large rig drivers to laugh at me. I walked on, head held high but my dignity eroded. Gawd, did it hurt!! When I returned home that afternoon my socks were wet through. My desert boots from Ireland were not up to the task. I was worried I would have the first recorded case of trench foot since 1917. I had to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of water proof boots. Happily, the January sales are ongoing.

Kingston, snow.

Pic courtesy of the Kingston Whig

Got to see a lot of movies over the Christmas break. The Revenant, Room and The H8ful Eight probably being the best of them. I also found the time to watch the movie ‘Brooklyn’, which storyline revolves heavily around a young Irish émigré. It was a little bit too schmaltzy and saccharine sweet for my liking – although, it is a well-crafted movie, and it will be to many others taste. Its set in the 1950s and some of the themes touched on still resonate in modern Ireland. Suicide is still a blight on the land. At least the Church won’t refuse to bury these victims of hopelessness any longer. Anyway, there was a piece of music featured, sung entirely in Irish (as Gaeilge), which gave me real pangs of homesickness. The song in question is called Casadh an tSugain which means the twisting of the rope. Sung entirely in Irish, it has a haunting quality, which would bring a tear to a glass eye. Not sure why I was so affected, as I can hardly string two words together in Irish. I can still say ‘Can I please go to the toilet?’ as this was drilled into us all in primary school. If you didn’t say it in the native tongue, I guess you just had to wet yourself, or worse. Try say it yourself: AN BHFUIL CEAD AGAM DUL GO DTÍ AN LEITHREAS? Phonetically it’s ‘on will cad agum dull gu d on latter us. You can listen to Casadh an tSugain sung by Iarla Ó Lionáird here: bit.ly/1Pry5zr courtesy of irishcentral.com.

Brooklyn

I don’t think I’m making as many social blunders anymore due to cultural differences. I must be getting assimilated. I do stand up and take my hat off during any rendition of the national anthem, ‘Oh Canada’. It’s routinely played in all schools every morning and before sporting events. I prefer to sing it in an admonishing tone though, as in ‘Oh Canada, you silly thing, what have you gone and done now? Wipe that poutine off, it’s all over your face’ kinda manner. I’ve noticed I do say ‘yer man’ and ‘yer woman’ a lot when I’m describing someone whose name I don’t know. This confuses the hell out of my girlfriend’s father. He’s thinking, what man is he talking about? That woman doesn’t belong to me.

I must mention the passing of David Bowie. I was sure someone so other-worldly and supremely talented would outlive us all. It feels like his death has left a hole in my life. It was always a comfort to know that a producer of such great music lived among us. I’ve never been so shocked by a celebrity death. Although he never really felt like a traditional celeb, just a man of music whose songs were gifted to me, and everybody else, as a friendly gesture. The post-bowie age feels so less rich than before he left us. RIP you freaky old bastard you!

Bowie, Changes

I dedicate this blog to Proinsias O’ Compeau. cailín álainn.

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