I’m in Canada now, visiting my friend Nev on Vancouver Island.
For once, I’m the first one up and doing things, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that for me it’s past two in the afternoon and for everyone else it’s around six am. By “everyone else”, I’m referring to Nev and my two new friends in the flat: Nev’s cousin Ben (whose flat it is) and his buddy Mike.
I have a feeling that these chaps aren’t going to make it up for a spot of early sunday morning ornithology or a bracing run along Vancouver Island’s beaches. This could be something to do with the fact that we’ve been sleeping among the detritus of a fine evening eating pizza, drinking Canadian beer (not as bad as is rumoured, actually) and playing Guitar Hero II.
It was fairly tricky getting here. After 11 hours on a plane from the UK, I landed in Vancouver airport. The airport’s on the mainland and I wanted to get to the island. To do this, one can usually take a normal plane, a float plane or a ferry, but since it was so late in the evening, I couldn’t take a float plane (something I’d always wanted to do), and the standard plane was $410 for a 20 minute trip. The fare was $410 because the ticket agent knew that I had no time to get to the ferry terminal before the last one for the night set sail, so he could charge whatever he wanted.
In the end, I had the hairiest trip of my life in the back of a cab adorned with little pictures of Guru Nanak. With 2 minutes to spare, and my heart practically bursting through my chest, I made it aboard the ferry for the 90-minute ride to Vancouver Island.
Nev greeted me at the island terminal and we got into “The Beast“. Land yacht is about the right description for the car: it’s massive, it’s white and it floats along the road on generous suspension. I think we’ve hit gold as far as a roadtrip vehicle goes. The seats are like enormous couches. Sure, it may be more a question of how many gallons to the mile, rather than miles to the gallon, but we’ll be comfortable in our guilt.
More importantly, the boot of the car was nice and roomy. This afforded us with the opportunity to carry plentiful supplies of beer for the party we were going to, and when we arrived, we found the police (unimaginatively known by the party guests as “Pigs”) and Fire Brigade (more imaginatively known as “Fire Pigs”) pulling into the party’s driveway, lights flashing.
It was bedlam, a crushed pickup truck sat in the front garden and fire and police crews were running around whilst the party crowd (in excess of 100) in the garden jeered. Beers in hand, and crate under arm, Nev and I picked our way through the crowd to find his cousin, whose birthday it was. Instead we encoutered varied and nefarious locals who made us feel very welcome. Some highlights:
- “I love accents! I so love accents! Your accent is awesome!”
- “Im Irish, so I am. Yes I’m 100% Irish. Born and raised in BC!”
- “Say ‘Knickers’! Your accent is so funny!”
- “Dude! Chestbump!”
- “You came 5000 miles to get to a party? Cool!”
- And the common: “London’s so cool! I always wanted to go to London!”
The fire crews got to work and made a very thorough job of irrigating the bonfire. The crowd jeered and people got cold, but continued drinking, laughing, swearing, partying. At some point, the police and fire crew left. Under a full moon, we mixed well with the crowd and were made to feel very welcome. Everybody was very friendly.
A girl of about 5’8″ was talking to some chaps and a tiny girl of 5′ bounced across the garden towards her, screaming something. Hands went for hair and before you knew it, the bigger girl was bent over getting a good, solid, brutilicious kicking in the face.
Quite a few times, actually.
There was some good wrestling too, when it went to the ground. It was a completely unfair match: It seemed that whilst the tiny girl was about half the weight of the bigger girl, she dominated: “It’s not size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”.
Somebody broke up the fight. The little girl complained about getting blood all over her top and went off to get changed, and we did some tequila around a new campfire.
A 5000 mile flight, a sprint for a ferry after a knuckle-whitening Sikh-themed cabride, a party, a police presence, a load of beer and a nifty catfight all washed down with tequila: that’s quite some Friday night.