You know it is civilised, because the mens’ toilets are always utterly spotless and have baby-changing facilities, unlike in the UK where fathers with bladders are discriminated against on a daily basis. I ponder this as I stand at the urinal – everything is so fresh and clean and – well – nice. Even the toilets. Especially the toilets. You can tell everything about a country by the state of its mens’ toilets, and Canada has impressed so far. Some British people just moan at a country’s differences when they go overseas, whereas I am constantly filled with wonder and delight.
I return to my seat.
“It’s absolutely swimming with piss in there,” I tell the LTLP. “And the seat is missing.”
Her tired shoulders drop.
“Well I suppose I’d better take the Toddler,” she sighs. “Again.”
The LTLP disappears off to take the Toddler for her poo. “Perhaps they’ll be better in Montreal,” I call after her, before sitting back and taking a long relaxing swig of ‘Mikes’ coffee. (Note to UK readers – ‘Mikes’ is like Little Chef, but with food.)
I check the Lonely Planet for our next destination, but quickly chuck it back in the bag. You can tell when you are getting old because the Lonely Planet ceases to be a useful travelling tool and becomes a hilarious self-parody of student tightwadness.
‘Avoid the nice-looking restaurants with clean tablecloths and tasty food, and proceed to Mama Miggins’s on the corner of 17th and Bloor. Here, for all of two dollars, Mama will serve you a traditional and heartening meal of her own scabs, served in the old-fashioned local way, from a bag. Alternatively, rather than paying over the top in a touristy ‘cafe’ it is better value and nutritious to lick the sidewalk’.
The main problem with Lonely Planet Canada is that it is written by Canadians or people who want to be Canadians, and Canadians are too nice to write useful travel guides. This is borne out by the ‘thanks to’ section – everybody knows that any book’s interest to the general reader is in inverse proportion to the number of words the author allows himself to witter on about thanking people. The ‘thanks to’ section in Lonely Planet Canada goes on for 769 pages, and features every single resident of the country, namechecked individually. I may write to Lonely Planet to offer to write the next one; it will be shorter and contain more useful advice (‘go to the toilet! You’ll love it!’)
The LTLP returns with a beaming Toddler. The nice girl from Mikes’ gives us all a lollipop and does not charge us £9.99 for each breakfast. I am cheerful and ready to proceed with my holiday.