I'm back in Canada again. I've been here so much recently that I really should just bite the bullet and get a job with the Canadian Tourist Board and cut out the middle man.
I'm here on the first trip for my new television series where I go round the world getting drunk. Sorry, I mean set out on an in-depth journalistic investigation of the socio-economic effects of alcohol on different societies around the world. There is no way that this is just a big global piss-up that I've managed to blag off Sky One. No way at all. I want to make that very clear (hic).
The people at Sky are being peculiarly conservative about this series and have given me reams of information and rules from Ofcom, the television watchdog, as to what I can and can't get up to. Luckily they've definitely chosen the right man to do the job. There's no way that I'll be doing any drinking out of proper context and there will be absolutely nothing in the programme glamorising the consumption of alcohol (although I think that this, unlike glamorising terrorism, is still just about legal in Blair's Britain). There will also be absolutely nothing in the show to indicate that travelling round the world in search of alcohol is anything but hard journalistic graft.
To reinforce this point I have employed my old friend Pete, who lives in Newfoundland, to accompany me on these trips and remind me of the rules. The idea was to fly to Newfoundland, rescue Pete from endless days sitting on a bench staring at icebergs and then fly down to Miami where we would set off by car to New Orleans, taking in some of the Deep South en route. Or rather the "New South" as all the tourist literature insists on calling it, by which I presume they mean that there is slightly less chance of us getting lynched than there used to be, although I'm going to stay out of the sun in Miami, just in case.
Anyway, the premise was that we were going to visit some of the states that have "wet" and "dry" counties, ie in the "dry" counties booze is illegal. Things haven't gone quite to plan. St John's, the capital of Newfoundland has disappeared under an unbelievable blizzard that deposited three feet of snow in one day. Our plane was diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia where we are stranded.
I'll be honest, much as I love Canada, I don't think I'd have ever come visiting here unless this had happened. Weirdly, with the inclement weather that they get round here, this seems to be a common event and the whole city seems to function on an economy set up to cater for accidental tourists.
There's not that much going on here. To put it in context, Halifax is probably most famous for being the site of the largest explosion in Canadian history. Around the time of the First World War, a French munitions ship crashed into another vessel and exploded, levelling most of the city. Although I can think of many other places that might benefit from this uniquely French method of town planning it does set the tone of the place somewhat.
We've settled in well though and have started a period of intensive alcohol "research" that will definitely stand us in good stead when we finally manage to reach Pete in Newfoundland. When we do get there we are going to be "screeched in" which means undergoing some ceremony in front of baying drunk fishermen where you have to recite a poem, consume a copious (but contextually relevant) amount of rum and kiss a cod on the lips.
I'm sure we'll get there in the end but, until then we're going to have to make do here. We've met some sailors from a French ship that's in port. They've invited us to a party tonight on board their destroyer. Apparently there's going to be fireworks and everything. I think we'll go - it sounds a real blast.Reuse content