So I guess I should write something really. I mean, I’ve been here a couple of weeks now...so my first observations of this country?
Let me start by saying I love Toronto. I love everything about this city - its people, its attitude, its whole vibe. It’s a night time city, a totally different place between the hours of 11pm and 6am to how it is during the day. At a time when in England last orders are being called, here people are just starting to emerge and start their night. Up all night, sleep all day. It’s how everywhere should be and suits my nocturnal tendencies perfectly. Avoiding the oppressive heat of day and enjoying the relative cool of night.
So what have I been up to? Quite a lot actually. I’ve spent time with friends old and new, and met some cool people, including a crazy German who was just at the end of a year of cycling 16,000km around North America, and I’ve seen some great music.
I’ve been to the Toronto Pride Parade with its mix of colour and random public nakedness and joined patriotic Canadians in celebrating the countries 146th birthday.
This was no flag waving 4th July style party a la their southern cousins though. There’s something quite reserved about Canadians and it’s cute. Of course there were flags and lots of red and white and copious amounts of poutine, but there’s no flamboyant over the top attitude to go with it. In fact this comes across in just about everything I’ve seen here so far. Canadians are reserved, respectful, friendly and just plain nice.
Take Canada Day for example. After a day or music and merriment and when the fireworks on the beach at Ashbridges Bay Park were done, people queued politely for the buses to take them downtown. There was no pushing and shoving, despite the fact there would be an obvious wait. If anyone cheekily tried to jump the queue they were gently chastised, asked not to and for the most part they willingly obliged and moved back. When the buses came and the friendly local police officers asked people to wait before boarding the bus, again people waited patiently. Everything here seems to come with a cheerful acceptance and a sense of logic. I haven’t driven through motorway roadworks here yet, but when I do I guarantee that cars will filter politely when the lanes are reduced - one from the right, one from the left. Things like that just work here.
Last weekend I spent at the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF). A strangely titled event perhaps given that it has nothing really urban or roots about it. Nevertheless it was a sweet indie music festival and again a chance for Canadians to show they know how to behave. There was virtually no litter anywhere, no sea of empty cans and plastic cups – people actually used the bins - and polite and friendly security guys and girls smiled when you arrived, apologetically glanced into your bag, and warmly wished you a safe journey home as you left. Brixton Academy staff could certainly learn a thing of two from these guys. Even on the last night in the pouring rain, having been soaking wet and up my ankles in mud for 4 hours, nothing could dampen the spirit of anyone there.
After seeing John Grant play a beautiful show at a tiny place to a very respectful crowd earlier in the week in the size of venue I never thought I’d get the chance to see him in again, I’d say music wise this has been a week that’ll be hard to beat for a while.