Thou shalt…not

Since we’ve been in Canada, Mrs S and I always get a shock to the system every time we skip back across the water to visit friends and family. Canada may be one of the more highly regulated places this side of the world, but there’s none of this nitpicking day to day micromanagement that goes on in the old country. Apart from the various smoking bans in restaurants and bars, which everyone fails to get too stressed about. You want to smoke? Sure buddy, over there. Just not here, okay? I’ve yet to see any of the hand waving hysteria that gets reported in the UK.

For example, no self respecting coffee shop over here would dream of not offering cream with coffee simply because it’s suddenly become ‘company policy’ for some strange and arbitrary reason (EU regulations. no doubt).

Pharmacies over here don’t refuse to sell non prescription items, even if they aren’t usually on the shelves. To be succinct, I’m on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet regime to shed a few pounds. 1) Because I like it, and 2) Because it guarantees the weight loss without the cravings. Now one of the little monitoring tools used to regulate this diet are called Ketostix, reagent strips used to measure ketones in the urine. Ketostix are not a drug, they won’t hurt you even if you chew through an entire package, and they are only used as a urine monitoring device, rather like a pregnancy test kit.

Last time we were in the UK, despite their non-prescription status, several large outlet ‘pharmacists’ (Unqualified minimum wage shop assistants in white coats) refused to sell Ketiostix to us, stating that it was ‘company policy’. “Yes, but who will you sell them to?” We asked.
“Diabetics.” The answer came back. “If they have a prescription.”
“But Ketostix don’t need a prescription, and how do you know we’re not diabetics who’ve left our documents at home?.”
“Ah, but it’s company policy not to sell them to anyone but Diabetics with a prescription.” Said the pharmacy assistant.
“Why?” I asked. “What else do you refuse to sell because it’s company policy?” I snarled as a parting shot, and did not wait for an answer before wandering round the corner to a more traditional pharmacy where the request; “I’d like to buy some Ketostix.”
Was met with a cheery. “Here you are sir.” And money changed hands for goods. Sorted. All smiles. Job done.
Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart and couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelves, so I asked one of the Pharmacy Assistants. “Sure. Have an awesome day.” She said, handing over the Ketostix. Big genuine smile, friendly eye contact. You don’t get those in the UK either.

We don’t have the silly 16 tablet pack maximum restrictions on Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Paracetomol) either. I could go on, but upon reflection the majority of you voted for Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and the EU, and will keep on voting for the same old, same old, so you’ll get no sympathy from me.

At this point the line from Tommy, the Who’s 1969 Rock Opera pops into my head;
“You’ve been told many times before,”
“Messiah’s pointing to the door,”
“But no one has the guts to leave the Temple………”

Kitimat and Enbridge

Don’t normally post about BC, because I generally consider myself still very much learning the ropes over here. However, there are things that pique one’s attentions, so I thought that instead of running off at the blog, I’d find out what was really going on in the Northwest corner of the province where a lot of people are up in arms about the proposed terminus / refinery for the Enbridge pipeline. According to the Wikipedia entry, Kitimat is a company town built by Alcan Aluminium in the 1950’s with a population of just over 8,300 people. I’ve looked at it from Google Earth, and as far as I can see, there isn’t much of the pristine wilderness about the area.

The town of Kitimat was designed as a ‘garden city’ back in the 50’s and looks quite spacious while some of the actual industrial facilities have a run down look about them, even though RTZ, the current owners, are putting a new smelter in place as part of a modernisation project. It’s a heavy industrial site. Go look for yourself.

Google Earth shows a first nations community down the fjord from the Alcan works, and a sheltered deep water channel with existing deep water port facilities open to the Pacific. These are already in use by shipping.

Terrace, and Burns lake are two other towns which are slated as points of interest for the Enbridge project. These are ex logging towns which could both do with a serious economic injection. Neither of these areas are ‘pristine wilderness’ as claimed by some eco-worriers. ‘Thousands of lakes’ are not even in the same valleys that the proposed pipeline will pass through. Wildlife tends to recolonise as soon as all those pesky two legs and their noise have moved on and left this big long shiny thing which is about as threatening as a Ground Squirrel.

Man made pollution has been a problem in the past, but modern technology is a lot less leaky and far cleaner than the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The proof is all around us. Hell, I live less than five kilometres from a massive pulp mill, and the only time you know it is there is when the wind shifts to the North. Locally, no one pays it much mind, and even when the gluey cabbage pickling smell does pop round like a visit from an ageing tramp, it’s taken more as a weather omen. Locally the Harmac mill has just been given a grant of nine million bucks to clean up its act and reduce the stack emissions amongst other things, but even so, when the smell finally goes I think we’ll actually miss it.

Regarding past pollution; the city where I live and work is half built upon coal mine tailings. Yet Nanaimo is known as a very clean place to live. Twas not always thus. Mid 19th century photo here, and a helpfully annotated picture of the same area from 1858, here. Likewise, the Departure Bay coal wharves of yesteryear, and the same general area now (ish).

Isn’t a little industrial archaeology interesting? Go check out the local coal mine exhibit at the local museum. Read books like ‘Boss Whistle’ then have a walk around downtown for the landmarks. See any? They’re quite easy to miss, even though in plain sight.  This place used to be filthy.

I’ve also been looking at the causes of pipeline spills, and in the main these tend to be accidental due to a combination of poor contractor information and accident, with a little sabotage (people making their own taps into large pipelines to steal the oil), and even dynamiting installations thrown in for good measure. Ironically often by people who claim to ‘care’ about the pollution threat from any given pipeline.

Another area for concern is in older pipelines (around thirty to fifty plus years old) where the corrosive nature of oil and water vapour have corroded weak spots / welds in the lines, connections to valves and similar locations.

So, pipelines do leak, but how do they compare with road accidents? Or rail? There is little available data apart from news items on rail derailments and road tanker crashes. Yet the oil has to move, to be sold, or it can be left in the tar sands as part of the biggest natural oil spill in the world. But hey, that’s Alberta’s problem, right? Or if BC doesn’t want the jobs a new pipeline, refinery, and attendant extra shipping can bring, it can continue to hemorrhage skilled people and their taxpayer dollar.

My conclusion?  BC needs the pipeline as much as Alberta and the rest of Canada.  BC needs the jobs and the income, as does Alberta.  The pipeline and refinery should be built because comparatively speaking, the environmental risks and impacts are fairly low compared to the economic impacts of not selling a resource to an available market with real money; a.k.a. the Chinese.  We can clean up any spills because we know how, and there’s another employment opportunity.

*I’d like to point out that I have no association or affiliation, paid or not, with any of the interested parties, apart from being a payer of Canadian tax dollar.

One I will be watching

Just popped into my inbox. The trailer for the second part of the movie series ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Due for general release 12th October 2012.
Lots of Hollywoodesque special effects of course, but the theme of the rights of the individual against the collective is still as valid. Not that it will make the theatres up north of the 49th parallel. I will no doubt have to order it from Amazon.

Didn’t see the first of the series being shown locally. Nor will it appear on Netflix. Too subversive for the proles no doubt.

Just as an aside; another of Rand’s uncompromising ‘objectivist’ novels ‘the Fountainhead‘ was made as a movie back in 1949 with Gary Cooper in the lead role.

Sarc
Those damned selfish individualists! When will they understand all their hard earned belongs to everybody? /sarc

Government as Godzilla

Picked up from the irrepressible Frank J Fleming of IMAO, the idea that most modern Governments resemble Tomoyuki Tanaka‘s comic creation, the fictional raging Japanese Manga* Monster, Godzilla. O-okay. Kind of weird and goofy as a mental image, but upon careful examination, quite accurate, even witty.

What do Governments do best? Hmm. That’s fairly easy. Big stuff like defence, wars, infrastructure, all that jazz. What do Governments do worst? Another easy one. Everything.

Asking Government to fix a relatively small scale problem is rather like calling for Godzilla to do your windows. The end result is the Windows smashed, your home and all its contents trodden into an unrecognisable pile of rubble, and the shrubbery thoroughly trampled. Not to mention the resultant defoliation caused by its radioactive breath. Watching Big Government at work is an entertaining spectacle from afar, but not so funny when you’re the poor sod getting under its feet. Big Governments do not do small. They do the one size fits all thing very well indeed, but when it comes to the fine detail bring the Loki like law of unforeseen consequence grinning and dancing in their footsteps.

For example; dealing with Government departments, as we all know, is a difficult and delicate process. One must always be aware that there is a massive gap between the brain, which like Godzilla is a long way off and difficult to reach, and the bit you want to stop doing what it is doing, e.g. radioactive halitosis, trampling, claws, tail and property damage. Unfortunately, successfully dealing with one Government department often leads you into conflict with another. Also like Godzilla, discovering it has another vestigial brain in its bloody tail which you must now successfully deal with. Which is frustrating. All the boxes must be ticked in precisely the right order to placate the beast and send it happily wandering back into the primordial ooze from whence it came.

So yes; I think Frank’s entertaining little metaphor works. Invulnerable monster, heavy handed, do not summon lightly. Yet there are a lot of people who will cheerfully call on the beast without a thought for the consequences. Which is where a whole new set of problems arrive.

*Yes, yes, I know, but the alliteration was just so darned tempting.

Is organic orgasmic?

Okay, a quick declaration of interest here; I don’t have an axe to grind one way or the other. I grew up on home grown food. Vegetables from our garden (in season), home reared chickens traded for favours or work done and I must say thrived on it. Some of it was flavourful, rich and much nicer than mass market store bought, but the quality was uneven, and you occasionally had to mind not sinking your teeth into a juicy apple or pear and having to spit out half a mouthful of Codling Moth larvae. Or tuck into a nice fresh green salad to experience the minor horror of half a caterpillar gently writhing on your fork tines. Maybe having to cook the chicken until it was slightly dryer (Or adding butter under the skin to keep the flesh moist) than fashionable to ensure the many bacteria that flourish in domestic fowl do not end up giving you a bad case off the trotsky’s. So yes, I grew up on organic food and know the meaning of the old country saying. “Eat a peck of dirt before you die“? A ‘peck’ being a dry measure of two imperial gallons, or just over 8 litres. That’s a lot of shit to hide in a sandwich.

Yes, but is ‘Organic food’ better? That’s the million dollar question; and my answer is you get what you pay for. Top notch non pesticide tainted grub is very good indeed, but because less of it, proportionally speaking, is fit for market. Pound for pound it costs way more to produce. Which is why ‘organic’ food stores charge like a Rhinoceros with a bad migraine and a psychotic hatred of 4×4’s. Apart from hiking their prices skywards to cash in on the middle class guilt factor.

So when one report says Organic food is no better than more mass produced foodstuffs, buck for buck I’d have to agree. When another report claims that organic food is way better for you than the mass market stuff, I’d have to hang a big “Not so sure” sign on it. Average quality organic, I can tell you from first hand experience, is not better for you, apart from occasionally acting like a vaccination against all the ‘natural’ pests we are heir to. Specifically letting your body get used to toxic bacteria and material in the ‘organic’ foodstuff by exposing you to low level doses like happens with vaccines. It’s all about exercising the immune system. If the foodstuff concerned doesn’t have this slightly icky quality it is most probably no better for you than its mass market equivalent. I derive my proof from the adage; “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Organic food has no more vitamins or mineral content worth writing about, contains no more calories or anything significantly pound for pound, and although the expensive stuff sometimes tastes much nicer (Providing you prepare it right) with major emphasis on ‘sometimes’, you are still paying for a premium product which proportionally speaking takes way more resource in terms of land to grow per unit produced. I won’t say it’s bollocks, but for me, organic food has never lived up to the hype. Even though I grew up on home grown.

As for ‘organic wine'; from the samples I’ve tasted, I’ve rarely been anywhere near even mildly impressed. In fact, if I’m at a function where such beverages are offered, the car keys will magically spring into my pocket, and I will politely demur on the grounds that I do not, under any circumstances, drink and drive. Whether I’d agreed to be the designated driver or not.

Organic meat is a conundrum; but quite frankly you’ll get the same result if you feed, say pigs, windfall apples in a farrowing pen, or let them root for apples in someone’s orchard or after a potato crop has been raised. It’s the feed that gives the flavour, and ‘cardboard’ meat as found in many supermarkets is more down to the quality of feedstuff than whether antibiotics and chemicals were used to ensure the animals were healthy right up to the moment of slaughter. I grew up in the English countryside, and many boyhood hours were spent watching livestock and listening to the farmers who raised them. Amazing what you pick up if you learn to just listen.

I’ve had my doubts about this Organic malarkey for a long time, mainly on the grounds that the overblown claims of health benefits had a phony ring to them. I spent a couple of years in Marketing, so am quite aware of grandiose, even spurious claims are made over any product. So it is with organic foodstuffs.

To conclude; is organic food orgasmic? Well, I hate to say this, but not so’s you’d notice.

Mad dogs and Englishmen

At work recently, one of my co-workers was discovering the restorative value of what is colloquially known as ‘builders tea’. “You know.” She said to me. “I’m beginning to see what you Brits like about this stuff.”
“Oh yes.” Said I, airily, although a little nettled by the ‘you Brits’ label. “It’s one of life’s great restoratives. We built an empire on it.”
“Is it true that you guys used to stop battles to have tea?” She asked.
No idea where that one came from, but I thought I’d play along. “Only the senior officers.” I replied mischievously. “Generals and upwards. Colonels had to drink on the go, and all other ranks had to brew up in foxholes and the like while they were fighting.” Which is probably closer to the truth than most people would like to admit. You can’t exactly down bayonets and say to the other side; “Look chaps, we’re a bit hot and dusty, and it’s close to three o’clock, so would you mind while we take a quick tea break?” Although upon reflection, the sheer psychological value of doing so must have caused many a foreign potentate to think more than twice about taking on the English and their Northern ginger devils in skirts. Especially when the commanders of said forces decide to take a spot of Tiffin mid slaughter. “You don’t build Empires by being nice.” I pointed out. “Tea takes the stress out of Empire building. It’s very soothing.”
“Well you guys don’t have an Empire any more.” She pointed out gleefully.
“Ah yes.” I riposted ruefully. “That’s the curse of Empire, even stronger than Tea. Middle class guilt.”
“Middle class guilt?” She said, suspecting that I wasn’t being entirely serious.
“It’s why Empires fall.” I explained. “At every point in an Empires story, it becomes rich enough to support an extended middle class. Furthermore, the middle class evolves to a point where they feel terribly guilty for all the war and associated naughtiness required to build said Empire and they destroy it from within by not believing in it any more.” I expanded. “The expansion of Empires depend upon their self confidence and ruthlessness. Take that away and they begin to shrink because the energy necessary to push the boundaries of an Empires expansion grows less than the opposing forces. The supply chains get over extended because the will to maintain them fails. Tea is a kind of mental lubricant for this belief. Without it the Empire collapses. Happens to them all. The Greeks built theirs on trade and Hoplites. The Romans on Falernian wine and their Legions fighting discipline. The British on Tea and bayonets. The Americans on Coffee and technology.” I said. “The Germans and Austro Hungarians built a smaller version on Sausage, bombs and Sauerkraut, but that collapsed because it was mainly due to wind. The Ottoman Turks used religion. The French under Napoleon gave Empire building a go, but the smell of garlic and too much red wine did for them in the end.” I added with an air of impeccable logic. “Without tea and belief, Empire becomes too difficult to maintain.”
“What about Canada?” she asked.
“You’re too nice and civilised to have an empire.” I said. “With or without tea. You imported too much middle class guilt from England, and it’s too well embedded in your culture.”
“Oh, that’s all right then.” She said. Although I caught her staring at her teacup with new respect.

Yes I know. It was naughty of me, but I’m just a mad dog of an Englishman at heart, and must take my entertainment where I can find it.

Canadian wine

Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Wine in the land of the frozen north? Bill, are you taking the piss? Oddly enough no. Mildly irreverent and contemptuous of fools as ever, but no piss taking.

When Mrs S and I first made the jump over to this side of the pond I secretly wondered if I would ever taste a reasonable wine vintage again. At least nothing that was not Australian, New Zealand, a Chardonnay, which is not my favourite grape variety, or hideously expensively imported French. However, it is with significant pleasure I can report that there are some quite reasonable, even remarkable, wines springing full blown from the Okanagan valley. Even at the budget end of the market ($14-20 a bottle).

Although I make no claims to have an educated wine tasters or epicures palate, I do know what is drinkable, and would like to share my top nine vineyards and most liked wines (in no particular order) with whomsoever cares to visit this blog. To set my baseline; I like wines with a pleasant bouquet and nicely rounded flavours that leave little or no aftertaste.

Mission Hill: 2010 Viognier, 2009 Pinot Noir
Quails Gate: 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve
Volcanic Hills: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Mt Boucherie: 2011 Pinot Gris, 2010 Gamay Noir
St Hubertus: 2010 Pinot Blanc
Cedar Creek: 2011 Pinot Gris
Gray Monk: 2011 Siegerrebe, 2010 Auxerrois
Intrigue: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Ex Nihilo: 2010 Pinot Noir

Best red: Quails Gate’s 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve. No question. By a country mile. Superb. Close second was Mt Boucherie’s 2010 Gamay Noir. Light and nicely balanced.
Best white: A tie between the subtly perfumed but eminently quaffable Gray Monk 2011 Siegerrebe, Cedar Creeks clean and rounded 2011 Pinot Gris and Mission Hill’s perfectly suppable 2010 Viognier. Honourable mention to St Hubertus Pinot Blanc.

We have tasted and purchased bottles of all the above wines and look forward to making suitable occasions to drink them. Did try an Ice Wine, but only one and did not purchase any so any comparison would not be fair. I would also like to mention that no Rose’s were tasted in the writing of this blog.

About the vineyards we visited: Some awards.

Bill Sticker Prize for most impressive goes without contest to Mission Hill. Their open air restaurant is superb and the staff a delight. Beautifully styled grounds. Architecturally stunning.
Bill Sticker Prize for most intimate: This is a toughie, but after due consideration I’d recommend Mt Boucherie. Smallest wine shop, but really worth a visit. Close run second; St Hubertus.
Bill Sticker Low Bullshit Quotient award: St Hubertus. No fancy talk. Small gift shop. Will go again. No question.

Downside: Being charged $5 for tasting three less than impressive wines.
Upside: Incredible views and some surprisingly sippable vintages.

We only managed to visit about sixteen vineyards, but were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of most. There were few disappointments (No names, no pack drill, but SBML knows who I mean), and places I wouldn’t visit again, but they are not mentioned in this post. As for the mentioned; fill your boots. They’re good. Even to a tyro with a Biryani ravaged palate like mine.

There are vineyards we didn’t visit simply because of time pressure. Which means, oh dearie me, heavy sigh, we’ve got to go back there at some stage. Life’s a bitch, eh?

Sharks

Before I left the UK, one of life’s little pleasures was a shark fishing trip.  A day on the English Channel, boots on the gunnels, hat over your eyes, lines drifting out on a turquoise sea.  There is nothing quite like it.

Then out of nowhere you get a bite. The buzz of the reel as the line is stripped away until it stops. The adrenalin rush as the buzz starts again and you drop the reel drag to strike. Then the rod bending almost double, and the creep of line slipping away uncontrollably off the big reel. Dumping your arse into the fighting chair, if the boat has one, or putting a foot against the side to brace yourself. The strain biting between your shoulders and stretching you upper arms with the sun on your back. Now the heavy, back straining, bicep creaking pump action as you reel it in, and then the line stripping off the reel, followed by another five minutes of straining before the Shark pulls down into the depths again.

This can and does go on for half an hour and often far longer. The bigger the fish, the longer the fight. Did I mention I’ve done a lot of shark fishing?  Only ever killed two, one deliberately, one by accident, the rest have been subject to tag and release.  

Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many days I’ve spent out on the water without a single nibble.  On the other hand I remember each and every scrap I’ve had with a shark on the other end of the line as though they were barely minutes ago; the experience is that intense.  

On one occasion I vividly remember staring down into a foot wide mouth of ripsaw teeth while holding a hooked gaff up with all my strength.  This to allow the skipper to reach in through the gills with gloved hands to release the hook.  Then the skipper and his crewman grabbed the animal behind its pectoral fins and let me ungaff the struggling creature and step smartly out of the way on a slippery pitching deck. Grabbing the tagging tool, a six inch spike in the end of a six foot pole so I could stick a tracking tag into the sharks flesh just behind the triangular dorsal fin.  Without sticking it in the skipper or his mate. This is a fishing social faux pas, and is not approved of.

This is a lot more difficult than it sounds.  Mr Shark does not want to be here.  Mr Shark wants to be off chasing other fish for a spot of tiffin.  He does not want to be thrashing around onboard a boat with these pesky two-legs, and like any sizable wild creature will take lumps out of whatever is in the way.  So it comes as no surprise to hear that a Scottish skipper got one of his boots chewed while p-p-p-picking on a Porbeagle.

What also comes as no surprise is the extent of ignorance regarding sharks and shark behaviour in the article and comments of this item in the Torygraph. A number of issues raise themselves. Firstly; why was a fisherman ‘worried’ about sharks eating seals? Even if a Porbeagle was the guilty party, which is unlikely, why bother? Porbeagles are Mackerel sharks, and they are called that for a reason; a large part of their diet is Mackerel, Squid, Garfish, Red Bass, Whiting and various similar fish, which are a fisherman’s cash crop. Likewise Seals. Of all the skippers I’ve known over the years, Seals are either a) a pest; or b) a tourist attraction and source of revenue. As for the Porbeagle, mammals like seals rarely figure in their diet, if at all. I’ve never actually come across a report of a Seal being chewed by a Porbeagle. Porbeagles aren’t man eaters either. As shark species go they are way down the list of human predators. Indeed, if anyone were to make that excuse to me I’d probably laugh them off the boat. The closely related Mako sharks have been recorded in attacks on humans, but barely one of these happen a year. Two a year if you count pissed off fish hauled onboard a boat and taking a chomp at a crewman. Which is exactly what happened in this particular instance. Nothing to see here, man got his boot chewed. Silly season story.

Yet the frothing nutcases and pseudo eco freaks in the comments section made oi larf. These people have never been within ten kilometres of a real wild ‘n frisky Lamna Nasus, and know bugger all about them, a fact they are determined to share with the world. Then there are the armchair fishermen, and okay, they may have watched pro sharkers do it on TV, but maybe they didn’t watch the out takes.

Real life isn’t like TV. Real life is trying to tag a shark on a slippery tilting deck with the tag bouncing off its skin and the skipper shouting at you to stop fucking around and stick the bloody thing in, you great nancy. The shark thwacking its tail and snapping at everything in sight, and I can tell you from personal experience, that tail is not to be messed with. Mister Shark is best over the side and back into the clear blue water asap.

Trying to tag at the boat side is a similar comedy act. Two guys hanging on the hooked gaff, another on a rope looped round the tail, and the fourth repeatedly trying to stick the tag in the right place, and all the time the tag bounces off the sharks tough skin like a rubber ball. If you’re lucky, the tag goes in on the second or fourth try. If you aren’t, you lose two tags before one actually sticks in and the skipper and mate can release the gaff, followed by the other guy on the tail rope. If you have any sense you’re already sitting down and out of their way with the tagging spike and your rod properly stowed. Then everyone on board shares that feeling of Yeehaw! having hooked and tagged a live one. Then its time for a beer and cigar before you reset the lines for another drift. One of your boat buddies hooks one and it’s either your turn to step out of the way or get on the gaff or tail rope.

BTW: The picture is my first ever shark over 100lbs. Only a tiddler as they say, but an indelible experience that is etched in my mind until the day I die. What a ride.

Anyone with me?

Took a break over to Canadian wine growing country in Kelowna earlier this week and had a rather grown up time sampling the local nectars.  Canadian wine is growing up fast, and Okanagan wines are improving rapidly.

However, this is not the point of my post.  Today’s little gripe is about the noise levels in bars and restaurants.  Unlike many, my life has its own soundtrack, which is muted and inclined towards pleasant conversation and listening.  To this end I’m running out of places I want to spend my money, specifically bars and restaurants.   Two nights ago I went into a fairly upmarket waterfront place and almost walked straight out again because the owner and staff seemed to want to work in a Disco.  The staff were great; attentive and pleasant.  The food was reasonable Canadian fare.  Not up to French standards, but that’s another story.

Call me an old fart if you like, but I like to be able to hear myself think when I go out for a meal.  I like not to have to strain in order to hear what my server is saying as they reel off the list of ‘specials’ in that delightfully practiced way of North American restaurants and diner staff.  I like not having to raise my voice to be heard over the ‘Thump-thump-thump’ of some dumb fuck headed rap number making the air pulse in my delicate shell likes.   I like conversation and good company over the artificial noise some people need to keep their brains from working.

Are there any restaurateurs out there who can justify deluging our ears with a torrent of crap on the false premise that it creates ‘ambiance’?  Just let me know the name of your establishment and I solemnly promise never to darken your doorstep or spend my money there.  Please communicate; I’m sure there are a lot of others who would like to do the same.

I would wear earplugs like HM the Queen at the Paralympics opening ceremony, but then I would be unable to hear what my dinner companions are saying, and that would be impolite.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad

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