Canada 4.

There is an Ominous Noise.

I am pushing the Toddler in her snazzy pink buggy, down Montreal High Street. The sounds of the street are all there – cars, chatter, roadworks, Ominous Noise. The Toddler gazes up at me from her carriage, with a fearful look in her eye.

“What’s that Ominous Noise, daddy?” she asks. (I paraphrase, as I cannot remember the exact words).

I am a bit stumped by this, and am a bit hesitant to bring up the monster that lives in the ice-cream store one more time. The fact is that I do not know, which is an odd feeling for me. I know the answer to every question she asks me, or can be quite convincing, but even I am starting to feel a little uneasy. This could be that poignant moment for her when she finally discovers that her father is not the infallible, reliable, unerring rock that she takes him for (if you do not count the time when I walked into the glass doors on the way out of the delivery room).

We turn the corner and are confronted by some people.

It is a demonstration!!! There are people demonstrating, and marching, and carrying placards, and waving, and shouting. Before we know, we are mixed up in it. I sort of try to pull over to the side of the pavement, but I keep getting in peoples’ way, so I get sucked in further to the morass. I look round in some alarm, for the 1000000th time wishing that I’d paid more attention in French lessons.

I know that they are not shouting ‘Open the Window’, or ‘Mr Marsaud is in the Garden with the Dog’ or reciting the lyrics to the second verse of ‘Sunday Girl’ by Blondie. I search my mind frantically to try to work out what ‘Death to America’ would be in French, as demonstrators who shout ‘Death to America’ tend to be ill-disposed towards English people as well, even though I am a bit Australian and my grandmother was possibly sourced via the Irish Catholics.

For all I know, they could be shouting ‘Death to Slightly Portly Blokes Pushing Buggies’, in which case I am stuffed. I do not want to die on the whim of demonstrating Canadians. I could be the only person in history to meet his end at the hands of a reasonable mob.

As they flow past me, I notice one thing – many of the demonstrators have re-used their placards from previous events, simply reversing them, badly painting out the old slogan or poster, and daubing a fresh one on the other side. This reassures me. They are clearly general demonstrators, with nothing particularly personal against me or my ilk. After a while, I quite get into all the drumming and stuff. We demonstrate with them for a while, to show our solidarity with whatever is going on.

I am pleased with our participation. If anything major changes in the next year or so (end of global warming, no more poverty, reprieve for baby seals etc) then I will be able to hold my head high and say ‘I was there’.

Until then, it is time to go. I have greatly enjoyed my holiday, and would like to go back one day, perhaps with a different airline. For all that you have given me, Canada – I thank you. Please come and visit the Village some time.

23 Comments

  1. That’s the end? In that case I have just done the maths of how many days you were away for and how many pairs of pants you wore and I don’t like the answer.

  2. Did you bring back an environmentally responsible recycled placard? This sort of polite demonstrating in an incomprehensible language could be a good thing in Norfolk. You could walk the streets shouting ancient Icelandish slogans to protest The Closing of the Post Office or wave a beautifully constructed phrase in cuneiform discussing the Rights of Chickens. After all, it will be difficult to come down from all this excitement of foreign travel. You’ll definitely need to find a new interest.

  3. I’ve never been sucked into a morass. Sounds exotic

  4. “Slightly Portly” HAH!

    I’m on holiday myself, you know, so I don’t have time to waste in elaborately deconstructing this latest pile of piffle. You’ll just have to mock yourself for a bit. Not that that has been a problem for you up to now…

  5. There’s something in the pants, it looks…uh…brown…did it happen when you heard the Ominous Noise?

  6. I think I liked this diary more when it didn’t have pictures, just the occasional protest song.

  7. Maybe the ominous noise was really coming from daddy’s belly, and the protest march was just an innocent bystander….for once

  8. Gee. I wonder what they were protesting. Must’ve been small and unimportant, or surely I’d have heard about it on the CBC? At least CBC Ottawa, a mere hour’s drive away?

    Or maybe Quebec has finally actually really separated from the rest of us, but we haven’t noticed yet?

    Hmmm.

  9. Ilona, I’m betting the ominous noise was indeed the sound of the ripping of maps along the line of the Ottawa river as Quebec separates. Not that it matters here. Nobody pays attention to Maritimers except to call us lazy, pogey collecting fishermen. So I’ve got plenty of time along with the rest of the East Coast to come and visit you Jonny! Thanks for the invitation!

  10. Probably shouting ‘ Death to slightly portly blokes’ with an awful taste in underpants.
    Hardly ‘pulling pants’ Jonny!

  11. Those pants are in rags, JonnyB. I hope you left them in Quebec and haven’t been braving a Norfolk October winter in them, because I’d hate you to get chilblains on your nether parts.

  12. Maybe it’s the pair Nadia won??

  13. ‘You’ll just have to mock yourself for a bit. Not that that has been a problem for you up to now…’
    Do I detect a softening in your attitude Ivan?
    I can see you and Jonny ending up best buddies. What fun!

  14. Friends indeed, Pat! I’ll let up when he starts bribing me. And he had better not try to do it with pants.

  15. Which airline were you using? I detect some dissatisfaction.

    They didn’t charge you the cost of an extra seat on account of your…uh, “portly” proportions, did they?

    Heartless bastards. As if the fatties of the world didn’t have enough to worry about.

  16. What airline indeed? I travelled to Canada (and on to the US) with Air Canada. Very strange food….but OK apart from that…and setting unrealistic transfer times.
    But maybe the US immigration are the problem there. It is deeply disturbing going through immigration formalities in a country other than the one you are wishing to enter.

  17. Montreal High Street? Which would that BE? Montreal always seemed to be a rather biggish city to have a single High Street.

  18. I like the reasonable mob joke. Made me laugh.
    You should have a go at humour more, you know, often.

  19. Why thank you Tim. It made me chuckle, and I am a fucking difficult audience, I’ll have you know.

  20. I would hazard a guess that they were saying “Tournez à page dix-huit.” and “Repeatez aprés moi.” and possibly, “Mon cahier d’exercise il n’y a pas dans la biblioteque.”

    That’s all I’ve ever heard them say.

    I, too, like Lisa above, am from the Maritimes and am an unemployed, pogey-colleting fisherman* so I will take you up on your kind invitation. See you next week! I hope you don’t make me sleep with the chickens.

    *make contain traces of lie

  21. …’demonstrators who shout “Death to America” tend to be ill-disposed towards English people as well’…

    Thanks for making me laugh aloud while I am suppose to be sleeping.

  22. Hullo Darcus Grey and welcome!!! I had forgotten all about this post.

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