Sunday, August 27, 2006

Girlfriend In A Coma 

There was a man outside Hilary’s Café carrying a placard.
“Have a beautiful day!” he said in a friendly voice. “Thank you. We will,” I replied.

We love breakfast in cafés when you’re on holiday. It’s just the best thing. We walked in, placed our order, then found a nice table from which to soak up the bustling atmosphere and coffee aromas .
Only later, when the shouting started, did we realise Placard Man was staging a protest over unpaid fridge repair bills. He was very vocal. Negotiations between the two parties had clearly come to an impasse.
We were itching to hear the other side of the story, but what can you do?
The lady who served us seemed kind and patient, and wore an expression of resigned embarrassment about the man outside. He would not stop.
I’m afraid it kind of took the edge off the moment. Nobody wants to dine in the middle of a war zone. We felt strangely guilty. On the other hand, it made not one dent on our appetites, and breakfast was great.

Afterwards we walked around Stanley Park. It’s a ten kilometre circuit, a peninsula with sea on three sides. Cyclists and rollerbladers get their own lane, which they must travel in an anti-clockwise direction. On paper this sounds a tad authoritarian, but when you see just how many people are out walking, jogging, skateboarding, cycling and rollerblading on a Sunday morning - literally thousands - anything else, except for everybody going clockwise instead, would lead to certain carnage.

Vancouverites are, without exception, slender and gorgeous and committed to worshipping at the temple of the body beautiful. No wonder you don’t see many old people about - they’ve all dropped dead while taking exercise. A steady trickle of ambulances carried away the expired, all of them sixty or thereabouts, all of them in shorts, and most of them on wheels. Way to go, old dudes.

We passed a rock balancer at work. Part performance art, part mystic happening - the improbable stacking of boulders as a metaphor for the fine balance of, you know, the natural world and stuff - it was an amazing spectacle. He worked quickly and confidently, and didn't change his mind once he’d decided what he was going for. We never saw one of his works fall down. A crowd gathered, open mouthed in wonder, whispering “How does he do that?” We hung around for twenty minutes or so, putting five dollars under a stone for a greetings card before wandering on.

I asked someone to take our picture under Lion’s Gate Bridge, looking towards Grouse Mountain. It was a bit of a fan moment, both being significant landmarks in Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend In A Coma: a kind of literary equivalent to standing outside Salford Lad’s Club with a gladioli in your ear and a handful of deaf aids.

Then we cut inside for a walk in the woods. Stanley Park is North America’s largest urban park, nearly a thousand acres of dense rainforest, a semi-wilderness in the middle of the city. How great is that?
At Beaver Lake, a conservation group had set up a stall with, amongst other things, a glass display case crammed full with birds that looked as if they had been deaded for that very purpose.
“Here is the last known breeding pair of Yellow Spotted Something Or Others,” a sign might as well have read. “We killed them only this morning.”

Still, I like the way you don’t have to have conked out dead before you can have a commemorative plaque put on a bench in your honour. I’d like one of them for me and Girlfriend, please.

I could have spent a lot longer watching an exquisite Oriental girl in tight black T-shirt and shorts with a formidable forehand in the tennis court district, but, well, you know, the guy in the baseball cap was looking at me funny.

Later on we hopped on a ‘bathtub’ ferry and had lunch on Granville Island.
There’s a big indoor market with a really good food hall. We sat at a table by a window and spent a happy hour watching crowds wandering around with paper plates piled high with international cuisine and hoping that somebody would free up a bloody table soon so that they could eat.

In a former industrial area that had lain derelict and rat infested for decades, there are now some light and spacious art galleries. Hooray!
Only one company with a questionable slant on sustainability stood in the way of Art’s relentless advance.
There was some really good stuff on display, bold and imaginative and prohibitively expensive. I made some excuses that we’d never be able to fit anything in our rucksacks and scarpered off for a beer.
There were shops that sold dresses and that.

It was evening by the time we wandered along Sunset Beach back up to the hotel, and the rollerbladers showed no sign of letting up. I was beginning to fancy a go myself. There was even a car park that the council had cordoned off as a learners area. Would that ever happen in my hometown? Somehow, I don’t think so.
A common story of love and sorrow came to an end here.

I don’t know if it was the time difference I was taking some adjusting to, or being on that little ferry, or having carried a heavy bag on my back yesterday, or maybe the rock balancing guy had put a curse on me, but I had a real Wobble Head on. I felt dizzy all day. I could be standing at the sink brushing my teeth, for example, and I’d have to steady myself, like I was still on that boat. Oh well.

Had curry for tea and drank loads of beer.

Breakfast Shot.
Wobble Head Factor: 10

Powered by Castpost

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Copyright(c) 2004-2010 by Tim, A Free Man In Preston.
It kind of goes without saying, but this is my blog. I own it.

Slightly daft MP3 disclaimer: All MP3's are posted here for a limited time only. Music is not posted here with the intention to profit or violate copyright. In the unlikely event that you are the creator or copyright owner of a song published on this site and you want it to be removed, let me know.