Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada so, in honour of the occasion and celebrating our family links with that country, Mr B and I headed off to a Canadian
Thanksgiving Evening in the chilly surroundings of the local Football Club HQ.
Mr B insisted, as usual, on arriving early so that we could (i) park as near as possible to the entrance and (ii) nab the best
seats in the house. This meant (also as usual) that we arrived while the organisers were still stringing up maple leaf bunting and the catering students from the local college were still practising their pancake making skills. Not even the bar was open. Moreover
the best seats in the house had already been reserved for the Mayoral Party, of which we were not one. Or even two.
Two tables had been reserved for members of the Worthing Community Choir who would be providing
the evening's entertainment. This seemed perfectly fair to me. I thought Mr B might argue but in fact he professed himself perfectly satisfied with our table, despite the fact that it appeared to be the only table in the hall without a Canadian flag decorating
it. The Mayoral table, I noted, was adorned with some kind of festive tablecloth, a couple of flags and a stuffed toy (which might have been a moose) dressed up as a Mountie. Mr B pointed out that our table, unlike the Mayor's, was near the door leading out
into the balcony where he and any other smokers among our number, would be able to step outside for a crafty cigarette. This is the thing, you see: everybody looks at situations / choices / table plans differently. This is the Rich Pattern of Life. Had I particularly
wanted a Canadian flag on our table, then I should have brought my own.
Oh, yes, indeed, I do own several such flags, souvenirs from wonderfully happy holidays spent in the company of our Canadian cousins.
Thanks to them we were introduced to the realities of life in their home country - and we grew to love it. Some people think Canadians are much like Americans. It's rather like the way Brits abroad are so often - and so irritatingly - asked " Are you Australian?"
We know the difference, Mr B and I.
Some years ago we went to a performance of a production called "The Canadian Loonie" presented by an excellent fella dressed
as a Mountie whose name, regrettably, I forget. He told us the story of the American President who called in some major State of the Union-type speech, for "a kinder, gentler America."
"He wants Canada!" protested our host, to much laughter.
How true. We love America too - but Canada is, indeed, a kind and gentle nation
which, in the main, appears to cherish its links with Britain. Indeed one town we visited, Fergus, was far more Scottish than any town North of Hadrian's Wall, with every shop without exception proudly flying St Andrew's flag.
At this point in our reminiscences, Mr B noted that the bar was open. So I bought him a small bottle of red wine and, as I was driving, decided to treat myself to a mango, pineapple and banana smoothie.
I wasn't sure there was a Canadian connection but it was totally delicious.
Our supper considered of two pancakes - a savoury pancake filled with either chill
or roast vegetables, and a sweet version filled with (what else?) maple syrup. We all struggled to eat elegantly, assisted only by plastic forks. We averted our eyes from everyone else's struggles and hoped they were all doing likewise.
Our entertainers, accompanied by three talented soloists, sang songs by Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen (both Canadians) and a Canadian folk song about a donkey. Which I seemed to
remember from my childhood so perhaps it crossed the Atlantic somehow? We concluded proceedings by singing the National Anthem, O Canada! Our Mayor, a Canadian born, rose to his feet patriotically so we all did likewise.
"0 Canada! Where pines and maples grow
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow!"
I have been transported
back in time. I am no longer in the football clubhouse but in a reconstructed house in a Pioneer Village in Ontario. Our lovely cousin, Jacky, who went to entertain the angels with her music a couple of years ago, is seated at the old harpsichord, surrounded
by guides in the local dress of pioneer times. She sings God Save the Queen, especially for Mr B and me, in her clear, sweet voice, then strikes up with the first stirring notes of O Canada! Everyone is singing. It is One Moment in Time that I will always