TORONTO, 2000-08-20

Another summer spent in Toronto, and a thankfully quite lucrative one. It got better through the weeks, although that hasn't caused the excitement of returning to Vancouver to diminish too much. In the grander sense I had to deal with my bout of Anglophilia, which I think will subside a great deal once I am in Vancouver. Anyway my appreciation of England can probably all be summed up in a sentence, so why bother going any further.

Someone did say that the great British humour is in part derived by their tendency to make fun of things they perceive to be better them then, so is it really that bad that along with Rolls Royce, quiet English countryside, mad London, and the greatest writers, I also remember that Britain also values, giant dance clubs with at least 20 pounds cover, such as Cream, Ministry of Sound, or Ibiza, where djs share the same god-like status as the few rock celebrities, and even being a radio dj is a step down, but everybody knows their acts by heart whether it's "musn' grumble", "Zoey's Angels" or Chris Moyles for his ability to hang up on people, but half the time their job seems to be to tell you what's on television for the evening, or what they saw last night, which isn't too exhaustive a job when everyone's 101 pound telly license fee only covers for five channels, but this does mean that everyone from John O'Groats to Channel Isles sees the same evening movie on Sunday and isn't afraid to remind you it was on when you are caught reading the novel it was based on on the train, but holding such a book is still safer than one of the national newspapers that includes the dep-set social stygmatism of it's reputation, so much so that being an Independent or a Telegraph reader is considered a fairly clear summary of one's character, although sales cannot possibly be restricted to one paper per person, since so many newsagents can survive on selling papers, tabloids and the latest big breasted issue of FHM, but newsagents aren't quite so frequent as the pub on every corner offering that genuine English charm and drink that is shoddily imitated around the globe, although it is the clubs for the 'Cool Britannia' teenagers that are the hardest to find elsewhere with a Friday night turning into a mess of shrieks and straps and the girls throwing away the Cosmo induced lack of self-esteem to wear the same sleeveless, backless, mid-riffless top regardless of what body shape they are trying to contain underneath, which can be viewed as evidence of self-empowerment, however this may be one of the few cases where Britain leads on Feminist issues, but it begs to be qualified when the girls equal themselves to the boys only in the sense that they drink just as much, and try just as hard to be snogging someone at the end of the evening when the schmalzy Robbie Williams or Take That songs are played, but the habit of pulling purely based on looks as seen through beergoggles is spreading up towards the 30-year-old set in Britain, who are shying away from the relaxed, more traditional drinking of the elderly pub-goer, but who are still too old to go on the pull wired on Vodka and Red Bull in a hip club, meaning that their night is spent in a theme pub like "Brannigans", which is identical to the one in Blackpool and Milton Keynes that looks as if it is an American copy of a British pub, but with plenty of parking, although you know that "Hooters" is destined to make a killing by unashamedly taking the theme one step further, but considering the physique of the British lass, "Tight Bottoms" might do a better job of offering the unique, yet no matter how extravagant or lively the choice venues are for drinking, everyone still winds up at the same brightly lit greasy-white chippie for their after-evening portion of chips with kebab meat or Southern Fried Chicken, so you are obviously not snogging anyone if if you can fit food in your mouth, but that might have something to do with the Vindaloo and Garlic Naan you had before you entered the club, but as a whole, the whole evening might have cost you 40 quid and when you sober up you may wonder if there is anyway to escape the high prices, and amazingly there is, since a flight from Liverpool to Mallorca is often cheaper than a return rail ticket Edinburgh to Birmingham, but when looking at the arrivals board at the airport you wonder if any Spaniards are coming to tour Merseyside, or does the plane only serve those making a week long shopping trip to acquire a years supply of alcohol, but with minimal amounts actually making it onto the plane, although a plane is not nearly half as much fun as the de-nationalised train service which is generally quite good if not up to continental speeds and you stay at least 100 miles outside of London, but should you dare enter the capital, you have to know that one walks through the subway to get to the underground, not the other way round, and that is clearly signed just like the tactful "elderly people" sign, which is probably a little better than the sickly "children crossing" in Dublin, although not half as unique as "Humped Pelican crossing", "Humped Zebra Crossing" or my personal favourite, "Beware of Pedestrians", but such literalism that is so removed from the popular context is very much in the nature of the English language, and attempts to relate things to quite clear concepts such as Zebras and Pelicans only serve to confuse outsiders more who stand there bewildered at the choice between man-size and family-size facial tissues, before they give up and go down to the aisle with all the meat sauces, so no matter how much time is spent in the standard supermarket or the run-of-the-mill fast food joint, nothing replicates a (dare-I-say) quaint English cottage or village set in rolling countryside and more-than-likely the south of the Country that will be asthetically eternally and global adored, but that doesn't excuse Bull Ring and the unfortunate fact that the hordes of people who pass through New St. Station are more likely to think of their surroundings than the countryside, but why expect so much from a manufacturing centre, with the Cadbury factory such a pleasant anomoly, neatly set in a affluent residential neighborhood, and next to a Victorian cricket pitch and pavillion so perfect that it would do Hyde Park or even Stanley Park proud, but there is still some awe passing the grey Jaguar factory on the M6 or the HP Sauce plant just up the road, and I'm serious, brown sauce is really really good on pizza crusts, as unappetising as it may sound, but that is a hurdle that must be overcome on arrival to the country, you wonder if sticking cheese, butter and white bread in a sandwich machine, or eating a baked potato with cheese or sweet corn is supposed to be good, well yes, yes it is, and that and a whole other fatty carbohydrate dishes that you manage to create from your latest Tescos purchases, unless of course you couldn't be bothered and settle for heating up a can of hot dogs, macaroni, 'Full breakfast with sausage bits', or anything out that can be served with toast, but one need only see the vast selection offered by Sainsbury's baked beans along with the price-leading loaves of bread to believe it, and so it makes sense that french fries and bread go together, since a chip butty is a combination of two readily available staples, but there is always the haute cuisine of England, served at five star hotels at cost of less than twice the take-away which is proportionately affordable, but you have to have the class savy to know that Crème Anglaise is indeed custard, but the local PMT transit service isn't likely pass by that hotel in its big red bus, that looks for less unique than the beloved double-decker, and you wonder who thought to just have one door at the front for everyone to squeeze out of, but it keeps everyone's manners up to scratch, since you can't walk by without saying "Cheers," which is something I still seem to be saying a lot, and I am quite fine with that since I still adore the place where I picked up the delightful habit.