- "Bonjour, Je m'appelle Benjamin. Avez vous un pair of skis which je can attachez to mon chaussures?"
- "Excuse me sir, you do realise you are in Bracknell?"
An easy mistake to make, non?
Particularly if you are promenading down the breezy boulevards that lead to the 'tres chic' Twin Bridges Roundabout, or sightseeing from that jewel in Berkshire's architectural crown, the Fujitsu building (the philistines of Paris didn't appreciate the Eiffel Tower at first either)
However, I had no such excuse, because I was reacquainting myself with 'la technique de Franz Klammer' at the John Nike Leisure Centre's artificial ski slope.
You see, I am off to Quebec on a skiing trip and as a self-appointed Stanislavski I think it necessary to get into character in every possible way. The travel method, if you like. If that means testing my Franglais on the JNLC's charming army of teenage instructors, then so be it. I last studied French back in the late 80s. Coincidentally, about the same time as I last put on a pair of skis. My verb conjugation and parallel turns both needed some refreshing and Bracknell ski slope was, in the words of Del Boy, 'Bonnet de Douche, Rodney' (i.e., spot on)
Sadly, it is unlikely that your holiday itinerary includes a sojourn in the exotic paradise of the South's number one post war new-town (although I advise you get there soon, as I suspect this blog will make it as 'a la mode' as the French Riviera) so instead let's concentrate on Quebec.
I was once told that Quebec is "like France, but without the rudeness". In the spirit of entente cordial let me insist that our Gallic neighbours have never been any less than lovely when I have crossed the channel. But there's no doubt that their Canadian cousins are indeed a friendly bunch. Given the beauty of their home they would have every right to have a certain arrogance and so it is to their credit that such a trait is untraceable.
I have been lucky enough to visit this province on a number of occasions and each time been to some memorable places. All of which you can easily experience yourself. Here's a few:
1 - Chanel your inner Scandinavian, put on the horns and shaggy jerkin, and explore Quebec's Viking past. Who knew?
2 - In Montreal, I share a bed with John & Yoko - albeit I did it 40 years too late. (By the way, it is National Bed in for Peace Day on March 20th. So get back between the sheets and celebrate)
3- The Lanaudiere region showed me the benefits of carrying extra underwear as I battled with lightning on the Berthier Islands.
Yet the most endearing memory I have is of a moose caller. The written word cannot do justice to the skills of this man, who 'sang' into the gathering evening gloom in a bid to prick the curiosity of any female moose (should that be a moosette? A minnie moose? Zoologists, please help me with the terminology*) who happened to be passing.
No doubt in Nepal there are hot-blooded throat singing monks who would be jealous of his elastic larynx. Pony tailed and dashing, he was truly a man with a gift. The gift of wooing.
As his subtle groans slipped like honeyed moose-bait pillow talk from his throbbing cheeks, there was a cry in the distance. The animals were answering him back - simpering, lusting, as he triggered their urges.
Yet I must curtail this post here, as it is all getting a little bit '50 Shades of Grey' and I need to take a lie down.
So whilst the nurse takes my temperature, retreat to a private place and watch the man in action.
Au revoir, mon petit choufleurs, au revoir.
*A zoologist called. Cow.