(james benedict brown) on the road

Not everything changes…

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 23 March, 2006

On Tuesday night, we came home from our French class to find someone had let themselves into our apartment, and was zizzing in the spare bed. Which was a good thing, because for a while I didn’t think our darling Gem would be able to decipher my unnecessarily complex directions or find the cunningly hidden key to get her into the apartment. But I underestimated her energy, cunning, and sense of direction that got her from the airport to our place via two buses, a métro train and a bit of old fashioned walking. She was a little zonked by the flight (two hours longer than she was apparently expecting… maybe Stephen Harper is pulling Montréal closer to Alberta?) so we chatted for a little while and let her sleep off the time zones.

The flexibility of being an agency temp allows me to take unpaid days off here and there, so that’s just what I did on Wednesday. To fuel her for a day of Montréaling, we had breakfast at the Mont Royal Binerie (see He was not wrong… for my last visit) and set out to ascend to the top of the Mont Royal mountain. Despite some adverse weather conditions (clear blue sky, warm temperature but solid ice under a centimetre of snow on the mountain’s normally traversable paths) we made it to the top, and crunched our way along deserted paths through the bare trees until we reached the pavilion that overlooks the downtown district. Only a troupe of recent mothers pushing three wheeled prams on their post-natal exercise circuit disturbed the peace.

We returned to the plateau by bus, and walked the length of Boulevard Saint Laurent. We meandered (as much as one can meander on a dead-straight street), stopping to divert down pretty side streets, to peer into shop windows and to inhale the salty smell of smoked beef piled up in the window of Schwartz’s Deli. Chinatown was reached sooner than I expected, and we paused to take some tea and to check for prizes under the rim of our paper cups in a cheap and cheerful coffee shop (no luck… neither a Toyota Rav-4 nor a Broil King barbeque was found). In the old town we saw firemen, tourists and a film set being prepared on the ice in one of the inlets of the port. By the time we had turned west again, and found ourselves near Central Station, our legs had had enough.

So we went to the pub, which is not easy at 14h30, because unlike in Britain not many hostelries seem to be open here in the early afternoon. And we talked, talked and talked. I had forgotten just how much there has been in the back of my mind about our first year in Sheffield (almost five years have passed since we three first met), about what’s happened to our mutual friends, and what will happen to all of us now we have largely left the sheltered world of academia.

And over two pints of Rousse, five bottles of Boréale Dorée, two bottles of Fin-du-Monde, a pichet of Rousse and big plate of poutine (shared with Ryan who by now had finished work), three pints of something else, a pichet of Rickard’s that tasted foul, three cosmopolitains, a game of pool and (to finish off) three glasses of Bailey’s-look-a-like, we properly caught up where we had left off.

Pity the one member of the household who had to get up at 6h30 this morning to go to work on his synergies…


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