M - that's Mick.
Due to a bit of an emergency, Mike was unable to work with me on Thursday. I have to confess that didn't break my heart as I had an accumulation of emails that had been put on the long finger - feedback to doctoral students, a response to the review of our centre, summarising discussions with CPCO, notes of thanks to people who had assisted me earlier on in the journey, and preparation for my meeting with senior staff at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. There was plenty to fill a day at the desk.
Meantime, Anne went exploring.....
A - that's Anne
So I started the day doing the first half ie about an hour, of the Explorer bus tour after lining up for the Second City tickets. The tour was in a double decker bus and I sat upstairs for a good view. There was an interesting commentary as we passed various landmarks including the Church of Scientology and the Bata Shoe Museum which claims to have 12,500 pairs of shoes. Then there are the home grounds of the Maple Leafs- hockey, and the Blue Jays- baseball, neither of which has won anything for a considerable time. I remember Mick's Aunt Mary getting so mad when we were here in 1984/ 85 that she threatened to throw a tomato at the Maple Leafs - and that is coming from one of the gentlest people on the planet! I decided to get out at the CN tower and take a look at the world's tallest tower with its glass floor and glass inserts in the elevator to aid vertigo! Several people were quite put off by this. The 360 degree view from the extra level above which I chose to pay for was spectacular and I am glad I did so because there was limited viewing from the main platform below due to construction which I saw no warning about as we bought our tickets earlier.
Our apartment was literally behind the Second City Theatre - a part of the internationally famous Second City network. This particular theatre gave a start to people like Dan Ackroyd, Martin Sharp, John Candy, Mike Myer etc. More info here . Anne had bought tickets at the T.O. Tix booth in town earlier in the day, so we just rolled out of the lounge room into the line to get into the theatre. They have the whole business end of the theatre down to a fine art. You arrive early to make sure you get a good seat. This means they can sell food and drink at moderately inflated prices (no big deal since the tickets through T.O. Tix were so cheap). They must have had a mathematician design the floor plan as it would be physically impossible to cram one more chair or table into the room. Anne and I were at a tiny table with a couple from South Carolina. (Noticed they paid in US currency. That was probably a benefit to the Canadians once upon a time, but now.. just bad manners, I think.)
The show itself was excellent. A whole range of skits called "Dreams really do come true: and other lies". Six fine comedians - good acting, good timing and almost every skit a winner. One of the best was a scene with a gormless mother getting help with technology from a teenage son, bribing him with all kinds of concessions as he protested at having to help with: " But mom..... its so-o-o-o- easy".
Mick has described Second City well and it was great to know he and Beth had shared similar laughter two years ago. Before we headed off for that we rang Barbara for her fiftieth. She will have a gathering of the clan tonight.
Friday was back into harness for me - and back to the TCDSB. The subway, as Anne has already noted, is terrific. Works even better when you don't get off at the wrong stop, as I did - but I was in plenty of time and quickly realised what I had done. The only damage was the extra three bucks for fare. I had a meeting with the TCDSB senior staff. They were particularly interested in the way in which Catholic schools are addressing the question of identity in Australia, and having had some feedback on my session with principals were keen for a briefing on LTLL as well.
Meanwhile, Anne was out on the town:
Friday saw me do the second half of the bus tour, starting at the CN tower, where we drove past the Distillery area which at one time was the world's largest distillery. Nearby, lots of Irish moved into the area as a result of the Potato Famine when so many died back home. The newcomers were not made welcome and in the end Enoch Turner started his own school for the Irish children so they would not miss out.
I alighted the bus back where I started at Dundas Square and walked up Yonge and along Carlton to find the Primrose Hotel where Beth lived for her semester of uni in 2009. This was exciting for me- I asked the hotel receptionist to take a couple of photos of me there. I then got the subway to Union station and walked to find lunch at the St Lawrence Markets- ended up with a tasty meal- all of which I could eat this time. Stopped in at the Hockey Hall of Fame which is a comprehensive display before I spotted a coffee machine at Abika Mozzarella Bar! There I drank the best coffee I have had since leaving home nearly a week ago.
When we had both returned from our respective day's amusements, we tidied up and headed out again, this time to visit my first cousin once removed (just checked it!) - my cousin Rita's daughter Natasha. She has a 14 month old daughter, Violet, and lives with her husband Chris in Runnymede, near High Park in Toronto. About a half hour by street car to Spadina and subway to Runnymede - a lively suburb with lots of families and an interesting shopping centre, characterised by the fact that the "chain" types of stores seemed to be outnumbered by interesting local businesses. Bakeries a-plenty.
Natasha made us most welcome - as she had Beth during her stay. We had the usual conversations one tries to stitch together while a toddler tumbles and cries and laughs and chatters and eats and .. generally acts as a magnet for attention. Fortunately we were able to meet Chris as well, as he returned from a busy day at work. We left around 6 and headed back to the apartment to pack - via the Runnymede Lebanese restaurant - Ali Baba's - where we were served by a distinctly non-Arabic person.
When we got back to our unit we called the girls who were together, as Marthese is staying the weekend at our place. The evening before ie Friday had been lots of fun at Barbara and Gerard's for Barbara's birthday and it sounds like the special birthday rendition of "Hey there Barbie Girl" went down a treat. I am so glad I was as much a part of all this as I could be before leaving the country and it was a good surprise for her. It was also good to hear that the fridge saga will continue at 6 pm Sydney time when an assembly of workers from my family will attempt to move it upstairs- a big thank you to all of you.