Friday, March 1
There is a mix-up in the delivery of newspapers. Something entitled the Toronto Star arrives with the coffee and croissants. It is really a clever little idea. For those not familiar with the journal, it is a motoring and advertising broadsheet with one or two columns and stories by the enthusiastic but, it has to be said, badly educated staff. I enjoyed it, though I had run out of reading material before my croissant was finished.
The editor of the freesheet (at least I assume it is free) is an enterprising immigrant called John Honderich, who has only recently mastered his new tongue. I say three cheers for such Germanic industry. Honderich is an example to all those new Canadians who moan and mince.
After only four years in Canada, with only the most basic understanding of the nuances of the English language, Herr Honderich is editing a major advertising periodical. Well done, sir!
Friday, March 15
I have not yet visited the Museum of Civilization; so spend the afternoon perambulating along the corridors of this fine building. It was built by Douglas Cardinal, the Red Indian architect who enjoys sitting nude in a steam tent. He is certainly a cheeky but clever young man.
The exhibits and displays at the museum are most enlightening, with lots of buttons to press, and instructions in 18 different languages. I had been brought up to believe that Canada was settled by the British and the French. What a misled fool I was.
Apparently the British only arrived in the early 1960s, and Canada was built by a combination of French workers, Indian warriors and various women of colour. This is good to know. I shall not be hoodwinked in the future.
Friday, March 29
As I stroll up Yonge Street to patronize my favourite tailor, a man with a tea towel around his head rushes toward me and screams, “You are Canadian soldier, yes, yes! I love you, I kiss your buttocks! You free my country, yes, yes! I love you, love your Jesus, love your ‘Star Trek,’ blessings.”
After a brief conversation, it transpires that the agitated chap is a Kuwaiti. He saw the medal ribbon won by my father at Tobruk, which I occasionally wear on my topcoat in filial memory, mistook me for a soldier and could not contain his emotions. I explain that I am not a military man at all, though I welcome his outburst as a symbol of gratitude.
He is slightly peeved, but offers to sell me some highly entertaining photographs of his younger sister. Funnily enough, they are very similar to those purchased by my father in North Africa in 1942. The girl must be older than she looks.
Saturday, March 30
Having spent $85 on a consummate cigar still reeking of the female Cuban thigh upon which it was rolled, I, of course, wished to light up as soon as possible. This I did in the middle of the public park known as Allan Gardens.
Before I could say cancer, however, a police officer came to my side and advised me that I was breaking federal, provincial and city laws, and could be imprisoned for such an offence. I was taken aback. I pointed to the obliging West Indian fellow 10 years away offering white powder to some inquisitive schoolboys, to the group of HIV-positive female impersonators selling their sexual services just over the officer’s shoulders, and the mugging of an octogenarian grandma by a gang of youths behind the wall.
“That may be,” said the lawman, “but you are endangering the community with secondary smoke, so don’t give me any of that clever talk.” I told the buffoon that I was an advocate of multiculturalism and a keen ecologist, but he was not to be dissuaded.
Another blow to the economy of Fidel Castro, the only true socialist ruler remaining.