Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007:
Helsingborg to Montreal.
And back.
And tagged.

What I think:

Blog! Oh yeah, I knew there was something I was supposed to do when I got back.

Oh dear, It's now been over a month since my last entry. My apologies.

I've also been tagged to do yet another one these "things about myself" things. I was tagged by Aaron Cook. I've known Aaron, in the modern never-met-but-paths-seemed-to-have-crossed-over-the-Internet-a-few-times kind of way, for about four years or so.

Do check his list of "8 Random Facts". Here's a guy whose tongue detects things in foods that the average tongue cannot. Blessing or curse? You decide.

Since I've got a lot of other stuff to catch up on, I thought I'd kill two blogs with one stone just throw in my tag duties at random throughout this entry. For those of you who just want to read those bits, I'll point them out and mark them in bold. OK?

First things first; here are "The Rules" of the tag:
1. Post these rules before you give you the facts.
2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) eight people and list their names (linking to them).
4. Leave them a comment on their blog letting them know they've been tagged.

There. Now, on to some stuff about the trip.

About the weather:
From what we've heard and seen about the weather here in Sweden while we were away, and indeed about the weather throughout western Europe for those two weeks, we definitely left the continent at the right time. While torrential rains drenched many parts around here at the end of June and begining of July, the weather in Montreal was generally really nice, with few exceptions (more on that later).

The journey:
We took the ferry to Denmark, the train to Copenhagen, and flew to London. We went to the pub, hung out, had a few drinks (too many, in my case), participated in the pub quiz, and crashed out at a friend's place. Jacqui's great; just get her some cheap fags (US/CAN: cigarettes), and the spare room's yours. It helps if you know her though.

Early the next morning, we took the tube to Victoria and the train to Gatwick.

We got to Montreal, and there was no one to greet us. Hhmmm. Odd.

Turned out that my dad had fallen off a ladder, and bounced his back off a balcony railing, and landed on the ground below. He was in hospital.

He'd wanted to paint the pillars at the front of my parents' place (a duplex - look it up), he'd climbed a rickety little ladder, against my mother's wishes, and paid the price.

Never do anything against my mother's wishes.

My girlfriend got quite a hilarious introduction to my family. And to all three of the emergency services who were part of a huge melée at my parents' place on day two of our visit.

Imagine a fire engine, ambulance and police car outside, and many heated discussions taking place about whether or not to bring wheezing Dad to hospital on the evening after his accident.

Long-story-short: Dad's OK. Just a few broken bones, and a two-piece back-brace that make him look like an old-age Ninja Turtle. He was given the nickname "Leonardo" for the remainder of our stay.

Random Thing About myself Number One:
My second toe is longer than my big toe.
(This contextual thing sometimes eludes me.)

One thing I had to introduce my girlfriend to was a typically Quebecois dish called "poutine" (pronounced poo-teen). It's chips (US/CAN: fries) with some chunks of cheese curd, topped up with gravy. Many eat this with a burger or a hotdog.
You can actually check it out out on Wiki.

Mine looked like this:

We did the walk-along-Ste-Catherine-Street thing, past all the shopping places, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and strip clubs. We went all around downtown, around St-Denis and Place-Des-Arts (The Montreal Jazz Festival was on during our second week, so there was a good atmosphere).

While we were staying at my parents' place on the West Island, we'd take the train to central station and start our days out from there. The station's right next to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where
John Lennon recorded "Give Peace A Chance" in room 1742 in 1969. Cool, eh?

We were also in town for St-Jean Baptiste day, which is known to the Québecois as their "National Day", even though it's really just a province. But Quebec is so unique that it might as well be its own nation.

Besides, "Provincial Day" doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?

There was a good atmosphere and many a Quebec flag. The entertainment was provided by Robert Charlebois, one of Quebec's biggest and most important recording artists (Céline Dion doesn't count; she totally sold out and produces crap).

Everyone seemed to have a brilliant time,
except for this little chap
being held by his proud mum (US/CAN: mom):

July 1st was Canada Day, but we didn't go to any fireworks exhibitions or anything like that (we'd already seen an impressive display as part of the fireworks festival held in Montreal each year). Instead, we went to another outdoor event. It was a three-band festival, culminating in a brilliant performance by Manu Chao in the evening.

The weather was bizarre on that day; one minute it was really sunny and hot, the next it was pissing down for at least fifteen minutes. Then it was sunny and hot, then it rained. Then sun, then rain. Then sun with rain.

I looked around for a rainbow. Not only did I see one, but a second one materialised above the first one. I'd never seen that before.

Here's me during a sunny break:

* Random Thing About Myself Number Two:
Next month, I will have worked for the same company for 21 years. I'm 42.
This means that I will have worked for
this company for half of my whole life. Yikes.

We also spent time at Andrew & Maggie & Colin & Robert's place. Oh yeah, there's a cat there as well, bless. Maggie is an amazingly accommodating hostess, a wonderfully warm and sincere person, a seemingly talented teacher, and a fellow blogger. Looky here ->

I've known Andrew for about 25 years. We were in the same theatre class at college, we hung out together quite a bit, and we were in a band (
Rude Guru) together. Pretty much since we met, his family has been like a second family to me. He also makes a pretty mean pizza. Here he is in action:

* Random Thing About Myself Number Three:
In my second semester at college, I played the male lead (Jimmy) in the musical "A History of the American Film".

* Random Thing About Myself Number Four:
My stage name in the band
Rude Guru was Mark Blasé (Andrew was Dr Trinidad).

Andrew & Maggie threw a little party while we were there, and I got to see a few of my old friends.

Here's John - he likes Star Trek:

* Random Thing About Myself Number Five:
I'm right-handed, but when I do the washing up I use my left hand, so that it feels like someone else is doing it.

My mate Dave was also there. Dave is an avid SCRABBLE® player. He was actually the world champion in 1995, and he's currently the top player in Quebec. By the way, Andrew's currently rated Number 3 in the province. Look here ->

And so...
* Random Thing About Myself Number Six:
I'm a friend of the
1995 World SCRABBLE® Championships winner, that took place in London in 1995.

And Lou and Tony were there. I've known Louise for many years as well. She's brilliant. We went to the same high school, and she was in the same theatre troupe as me and Andrew, John, Dave, and Terence (whom I'll get to later). Actually, her brother Harry wrote and directed the plays for the troupe. And he appeared in The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio. OK, so it was only for a few seconds, but no one can say "How many cameras have you got?" quite like Harry.

* Random Things About Myself Number Seven:
I used to act in plays written and directed by the guy who asked Leonardo DiCaprio "How many cameras have you got?" in
The Aviator.

Then there were Terence and Irene. They live in a flat (US/CAN: apartment) above a
scream therapist. Luckily for them, they don't hear too much screaming too often, and their rent is really cheap because of the potential nuisance.

I've also known Terence for many years. We were in the same theatre troupe, the same theatre class at college (with Andrew and Louise), and we were a comedy duo called
X and Base in the mid-80's. Come to think of it, we were flatmates for a while during that time.

Terence has been keeping busy. Besides being a member of the comedy trio The Vestibules, he's a member of the On The Spot improv troupe who perform regularly at Montreal's Comedyworks.

Here's Terence with some guy I call "Me":
Terence also happened to mention that he did the voice for Robosapien 2, a toy robot. I found this particularly cool, as I have the first version. I've since been to an online auction, and will have Robosapien 2 within the next couple of days! Have a look at this (scroll down and play the video) -> You'll get to hear Terence's Robosapien voice ("Who's your daddy?")!

* Random Thing About Myself Number Eight:
I will soon have a robot toy, in my flat, that has the voice of one of my best friends, who lives about 3,589 miles (or about 5,776 km) away from me. I like technology and toys.

Coming back:
We got a lift to the airport by my brother. We got an evening flight from Montreal, and landed at "London" Gatwick (which is in West-bloody-Sussex) at around 7:00 (UK time) the next morning.

(By the way, you can check out cheap flights from North America to London at It's a pretty handy site, with guides and history and stuff.)

Since it was so early, and our fligt back to Copenhagen would not be until early-evening, I came up with the brilliant idea of going to Brighton, on the south coast of England (Gatwick airport is about halfway between London and Brighton).

But, also because it was so early, hardly anything was open yet. And we were tired, and carrying heavy backpacks. We ended up going to a Starbucks and having a few large coffees before heading back up to London.

Once there, we went to my local, up in Harringay. When we'd left London for Montreal, one was allowed to smoke in pubs. When we got back, one was not. This wasn't an issue though, as The Beaconsfield pub has a nice little beer garden where one can sit and smoke to one's heart's content (or detriment, depending upon whom one speaks to).

When we got to "London" Stansted (which is in bloody Essex), we found out that our flight would be delayed by two hours.

Then the train from Copenhagen to Helsingör (Elsinore) stopped at every little village on the way, and the ferry to Helsingborg was delayed. The ferry is rarely ever delayed.

I'd thought we'd be home before 11:00 that evening, but we eventually got in after 1:30 a-bloody-m.

But, all in all, it was a very enjoyable and eventful trip. The end.

Note to Jay from Kill The Goat: Montreal says hi back. And we ate well.
Note to Cooth from Breeze On By, thanks for the Haiku (third one down)!

* The Tagged
OK, just for something a little different, I'm going to tag some bloggers I don't really know.

You see, many bloggers (myself included) join blogging communities, make "friends", but never really make an effort to keep in touch after that initial contact. So let's try to reverse that trend, just a little bit.

I propose that those bloggers I tag also find people with whom they've had very little contact. Shall we try it? Let's go:

1. kellypea from kellementology
2. Colin McNulty
3. Jodi from Looking Beyond the Cracked Window
4. Bond from Big Leather Couch
5. David from echolot
6. Ishtar from Ishtar News
7. eastcoastlife
8. Halsted from cygnoir

When bloggers decide to become friends, they should mean it, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.