Titchy Jo

all about me, my boys and my adventures in Canada

Parallel Universe

on 10/01/2012

I’ve been here a month now and still feel as though I’m living in a parallel universe.  Things are different but not totally foreign, people talk a bit like Americans, there’s a Starbucks on every corner but you can still get a decent cup of tea, the Queen is on the money yet whenever I’m trying to pay for something I still have to stare at every coin as if I have early onset dementia.

In this parallel universe It’s constantly raining yet people don’t moan about it, just put on sensible clothing (another difference to the UK) and say ‘ahh that means it’s snowing in the mountains”…come ON have a little moan about the weather, you know you want to.

Alcohol is fairly frowned upon, you have to have it in a bag if you are out and about and can’t be seen drinking outside, wine is extortionately expensive and is only sold in “Liquor Stores”…no handy supermarket booze aisles here or Tescos special little yellow labels shining promisingly from the shelf, yet people openly smoke marijuana in the street.  The first time we saw this Neil and I exchanged an “ooh they’re being a bit daring” look before realising most of the cloud above Vancouver must be a smoke fog, there is a constant whiff in the air.

Cheese is another hugely pricey commodity (I might have to do a “Worrall Thompson”).  Tofurkey is actually a food (vegetarian turkey – I don’t fancy asking where that is in the supermarket “umm excuse me where is your Tofurkey?”) and Clamato juice a popular and refreshing drink made of, yes, Clams and Tomatoes and sold everywhere.  Well, I say refreshing drink, I haven’t actually tried it…I’m not Bruce Parry.

People REALLY love the Royal family even when there isn’t a bank holiday in the offing.  There isn’t a magazine or newspaper with out Will and Kate smiling out from the cover.

Squirrels are black and furry and eggs are all pure white.

Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine are still omnipresent but poor Neil Morrisey and Ringo Starr are distant memories, replaced by bland American voiceover artists.  A new favourite in our household seems to be “Dinosaur Train” a shameless attempt to combine two favourites of young boys everywhere.  It is however perhaps the best Canadian made programme I have seen, we haven’t been watching much TV (shock horror) but I did manage to catch a children’s programme which spent a full 30 minutes working through the problem of what to do if you go to the park and there is bird poo on the slide, I learned a lot.  A TV guide for Jan/Feb 2012 was delivered to the house advertising brand new drama for the new year: Ballykissangel and Monarch of The Glen.  Luckily through some technical wizardry we have been able to keep up with the masterful Sherlock – the BBC really is a wonderful institution.

Strangers talk to each other on buses and in the street, no hiding with your nose in the latest John Grisham here – people like a chat, probably because there aren’t many pubs.  I still find this a bit disconcerting and whilst it is definitely friendly it does also bring the nutbags to the surface.  In nice reserved Britain only the truly certifiable nutter makes his/herself known in a public place full of strangers but here there is plenty of opportunity.  We’ve heard a multitude of strange stories ranging from the drunk who apparently had a daily habit of a bottle of $2400 Cognac yet was trying to buy his way into a $5 a ticket party with a litre of eggnog and the sprightly Chinese man who swore he was 96 then jumped down a flight of steps to the man quizzing people on the surname of the Queen.

However, whilst they do seem very keen to talk to strangers on buses it seems mums are less keen to talk at playgroups.  Real life started this week with Neil starting work and me attempting to get the boys out to make new friends.  His job seems to be going rather better than mine.  My first go was a Toddler Gym Time at the local community centre which I thought would be a good opportunity to meet and chat to other mums (whilst the boys are wonderful it’s fair to say that their small talk is fairly limited, Theo’s all about the Dadada Mamamama and Casper mainly wants to talk about who may or may not have done a poo) – we arrived and Casper got stuck in straight away on the bouncy castle and dragging round Ice Hockey sticks, I looked around expecting to see groups of women chatting about the highs and lows of being a mum but they were all either on their own with their children or sitting round the edge on their phones or reading the paper – maybe they were seizing the opportunity for a bit of ‘time off’.  The one woman who did talk to me noticed my British accent and said that she’d once lived in Reading, I was delighted by this piece of shared history and gladly told her that I was from very near Reading, she said she had hated it and blamed Reading for her divorce (though she did admit she was rather fond of Oxford), there wasn’t really anything I could say about that so I sidled off to the ball pool.  Oh well better luck next time.




2 responses to “Parallel Universe

  1. Iain says:

    Great read
    Keep them coming. Was lovely to speak to you all on Sunday

    Take care

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