Sal’s parents are of British origins. English, don’t you know? They claim not to be anymore because they are so very proud to be Canadian and choose to identify with ‘us’ rather than ‘them’.
Right. It’s like an orca claiming to be a salmon.
Sal’s mother has the manners and the mannerisms of the Windsors. More so, I suspect, since I am sure the Queen (Elizabeth) occasionally plays hall-hockey in her socks or air guitar when no one is looking. (Well, so rumour has it, anyway). Sal’s mum, on the other hand, is the queen at all times.
She really is quite regal. Sal comes by it quite honestly.
Today we and her parents celebrated Sal’s birthday (’cause we were in El Salvador when the day truly arrived) at the Bengal Room at the Empress. We took the Indian curry buffet complete with large gin martinis and a polite nod and acknowledgment to the senior waiter (over 20 years) who knows them well and seats us at their favourite table.
“Ya know…….? This is all very, very nice. Extremely so. Really. Thank you. But you have to admit it, don’t you? I mean, this is veddy, veddy British. Don’t you think?
“Don’t be daft, silly boy! Martinis are Italian. Of that I am quite sure. And if they are not, then they bloody well should be! And curry, of course, is Indian. Everyone knows that quite thoroughly. No contesting that, eh, what?! We are not in the least being British. What poppycock! We are Canadians. And I do not wish to hear another word on the matter, if you please. Tut tut!”
I guess I mention all this because we also saw my friend, D, who normally lives full-time in Hong Kong. He is Chinese. Quite, actually. And we really enjoy discussing our respective cultures. He, of course, is civilized. The Chinese truly are civilized. Read Confucius. I am, sadly, just a barbarian. Worse, I can’t really argue with that. Comparatively speaking, I am a barbarian. The more I see of Chinese high culture, the more impressed I am.
Don’t get me wrong – I can argue well the flaws in their larger culture. We all can. And ‘D’ wouldn’t argue back. But, honestly? If we simply put ‘civility’ at the top of the priority list, they come out leagues ahead. Think about it: 1.6 billion people! Cooperating!
There is a price for that social attribute (civility) and it is paid by the sacrifices of the individual for the greater society – something we barbarians are not always prepared to do. Still, harmony, good manners, order, respect, obedience, hard work, harder study and humility make for a very civilized environment. They don’t do hockey riots in China. They don’t do random mass shootings at schools or fast food restaurants in China (unless it is government sanctioned for the greater good, of course). Basically, they get along to get along. And they get ahead as a result.
I am not so sure that we really have a culture in Canada. Not high culture, anyway. We got the CBC, beer, hockey and trees and stuff. And lots of immigrants to provide some real spice and colour. We now have First Nations prominently adding something to the picture, too. I understand how Canada plays out differently than most other places. But a unifying national culture? Some kind of ‘linked-together’ bonding thing? I don’t think so.
I don’t think we even have any ‘real Canadian’ meals, do we? Poutine is French Canadian. Beef is too international to count. Salmon too BC. Wadda we got? Wheat!?
I dunno……I am not complaining. Not really. I mean, who wants to identify with fried bread, bangers and mash and squishy peas? Who needs too much civility, eh? I’m OK with being a bland barbarian, I guess.