Monday, 28 September 2009

Lafino makes his first media appearance

Four months I've been here, hunting out a job in journalism, desperate to feel that familiar ego massage that comes with seeing your name in print. All to no avail.

And then just to add a bag of salt to an already gaping, gangrenous wound, my fellow Bruffian Lafino makes an appearance in the local media before me.

There he is poking his head up from the back of the scrum against Capilanos RFC as seen in last weekend's North Shore news. Meanwhile my head is still stuck inside the sweaty, smelly boiler room that is the front row where no photographer will ever find me.

Life just isn't fair sometimes.

Friday, 18 September 2009

A healthy dose of perspective

AS I cycled to catch my bus yesterday morning at 6am in the lashing rain, I had already planned out my next blog posting in my head.

It was going to be a sort of 'woe-is-me' piece. A tongue in cheek whinge about how awful it was that I had to endure a bit of precipitation at such an unearthly hour. I even had a few hilarious (in my head at least) quips ready to use.

When I got on the bus, however, I got chatting to this elderly gentleman that I had seen before but never spoken to. As with all new acquaintances here, upon hearing my accent the man enquired as to where I was from. After I gave my reply he informed me that he was German but had been living in Canada since he was 14 after fleeing persecution from the Nazis in his home country.

On account of being Jewish, six of the man's family of eight were murdered but he was spared due to his age and his ability to milk a cow which made him more useful, he explained.

With the help of neighbours and friends of their deceased family, he and his 11-year-old sister managed to find their way into Britain. Despite not having a word of English between them, they then got work on a ship that brought them to Canada. He hasn't returned to Germany since and said he couldn't be made go back for all the money in the world.

Within a few years of arriving in Canada, the man's sister married a soldier from the Canadian army. Because of her age - 15 - and there being no possibility of getting her parents' consent, the couple had to receive a court's permission before the marriage could happen.

My new friend found work on the railroad and made his way to Vancouver where he would spent the next 40 years working in a mill on the docks. It was still very early in the morning so I didn't have enough wits about me to ask what kind of mill it was he had worked in or if he had started a family of his own in Canada.

I did find out though, that during all that time spent in the mill, he had cycled an hour and a half to and from work every morning and evening. He had enjoyed being active and having the chance to work, he explained, adding however that he is barely able to walk now and life had been made no easier by him developing cancer.

"It's a struggle, I might not be here to see you on the bus next week but I'm here now," he said with a smile, adding that it was nice to have met someone to talk to on the bus before disembarking at his stop. I hadn't even found out his name.

On my own again, I felt like the greatest jackass alive for even thinking about complaining about some bloody rain and having to cycle a couple of minutes to my bus in the morning.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Canada, Episode 9; In search of the soft life

MY FLIRTATION with manual labour, my friends, has soured and as leaves, rain and temperatures start to fall around Vancouver, the quest to weasel my way back into a cushy indoors job has begun.

The Whistler dream died a death earlier this week when I called the hostel manager to enquire if he fancied giving me a job. Perhaps he didn't like the look of me when we met or maybe business isn't panning out the way he'd hoped but either way he couldn't say for certain if he'd have work for me. A vague promise to call if something came up was made but I'm almost certain I"ll never hear from him again.

Cutting lawns and trimming hedges has done me fine for a summer that saw some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in Vancouver but in the last week, Mother Nature has thrown us a few hints of what's in store for the winter and I'm getting concerned.

Behind it all, you see, I'm as soft as a feather-filled cushion. I like my comforts, my lie-ins, my coffee breaks, my lengthy bouts of procrastination. But opportunities to lose myself in these passions are few and far between when you're getting up at six in the morning to go landscaping for the day.

To further add to my concern, I was told during the week that because there isn't much growth during the winter, landscapers spend a lot of their time clearing snow and salting icy roads, often starting as early as four in the morning. Balls. To. That.

I've been trawling through jobs websites looking for something suitably soft and even sent out a few CVs but there's been no bites as of yet. Apparently, there isn't much demand for writers of questionable talent in Vancouver.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Canada, Episode 8; What I've been up to

REJOICE my people for I have returned. With the Trojan Horse beaten, I am once again free to provide updates on the Canadian adventure thus far.

But before I get back into the business of writing aimlessly on whatever subject happens to have taken my fancy today, I should first give a recap of what's been happening in my corner of Vancouver.

Flaming Fords
; Two trucks at my employer's office were burnt to a cinder by a gang of arson enthusiasts the weekend before last. This meant we got work off for a day for the police to examine the scene. Believe it or not, the mounties missed a human-sized hole in the fence right beside the trucks and when one of my co-workers found it the next day, the cops said there was no point investigating all the torn clothes and hairs left on the fence around it, as they couldn't prove it wasn't us who made the hole.

Six became five
; With the summer drawing to a close, sadly our house lost one inhabitant, as Bo Bo returned home to resume his studies in Ireland.

Five became six; With the door still swinging from Bo Bo's departure, McGoo arrived on a two and a half week holiday. A week at the Galway races had been sacrificed for his holiday so the pressure was on to show him a good time if I valued our friendship. Thankfully, he wasn't disappointed and our friendship is still intact. My liver and I are no longer on speaking terms after McGoo's stay however.

Celebrity school; I found out the other day that the school only a few hundred yards from our doorstep - where we regularly kick ball in the evenings - was attended by none other than Seth Rogen. It was his experiences there with his buddy, Evan Goldberg, that inspired him to write Superbad. If you scroll up to the photo at the top of the page, you can see the school in the background.

Give a whistle; Probably my biggest piece of news from the last few days has been a trip to Whistler Mountain that myself, McGoo and Grief undertook at the weekend. The place is breathtakingly beautiful and will host the Winter Olympics in 2010. When checking in, I jokingly asked the owner of our lodge if he was looking for any workers and sure enough he said he was. Worryingly, he described the available position as a "lodge slave" and told me the money would be brutal but that food and accommodation would be thrown in. It would mean leaving my travel companions to move to the mountains and seriously cutting back on my expenses. At the same time though, there's a bit of me that thinks I'd regret not taking the job a lot more than I would if I were to stay put.

With that mindset, I sent the owner a CV at the weekend. Updates on how this next adventure (or non-adventure depending on my CV-compiling skills) unfurls will be a lot more regular than what they have been in recent weeks, I promise.