Victoria’s Secrets

“Look at this place. Look. It’s like. It’s. It’s not like North America. It’s. It’s like the UK. It’s like the UK came on holiday and stayed.”

“It did. It’s called colonialism.”

“Look at this place. Look. It’s like Vancouver if Vancouver were left to be and they didn’t tear down all The Old to build things in glass.”

“If Vancouver were left to be it would look decidedly different from Victoria. Heritage Buildings were not born with this place nor that one. Heritage Buildings are built just like condos. Heritage Buildings also tore down someone else’s Old to build New.”

“Look at this place. Look. There’s a Totem Pole there. Did you hear about the one that was burnt down somewhere up North? I read about it. It’s something like a death.”

“Look. It’s China Town. Look! The building there! They kept this, this old Chinese school. There are so many layers of different cultures here. Like in the The Princess and The Pea. If only we could just all really feel the pea.”

“Is there a drug problem here on the island? Like in Vancouver? Are there a lot of desperate people looking off west waiting for their sun to set forever?”

“Sure. It’s bad here too. The weather is better if you live on the streets in this part of Canada. Better than Calgary. Imagine those winters if you had to live on the streets.”

“Look! The Parliament Buildings. There’s a throne there. In the garden. But it’s wet from the rain like someone peed on the seat.”

“The magnificent German lady we visit tells me that the deer are a problem here because they eat the things you try to grow. Their neighbours have to put a fence around the Cherry Trees that they planted so that the deer do not get to them. The Cherry Trees now look like that rose from The Little Prince, the one kept in the glass. But you cannot complain of the deer. They are here, the deer, like us. They have no predators, sort of like us sometimes. You have to live with them. Luckily they are cute. Not like rats. Nobody wants to “just live with” rats.”

“The magnificent German lady tells us that she recently became a citizen of Canada. This involves a swearing in ceremony where you pledge allegiance to the Queen. I picture the Queen’s face and I picture the magnificent German lady pledging allegiance to her, and suddenly I don’t know how anything works.”

“Why is everything so luminous? The greens? I have never seen Green like this. Like Glow In The Dark alien merchandise we got at arcades as prizes when we were kids. Like a 90s rave is happening on the floor with the bugs. It’s so green I get all tear-filled that anything could be this ee cummingsly. Perhaps this emotion is called chloro-fill.”

“Look across. Those are the San Juan Islands. That is America. Some say that some of the people living there would rather be part of Canada. Some say that Cascadia would be a good idea, an independent nation made up of West Coast territories. Some say that people are funny for constantly drawing and re-drawing these lines around themselves and each other. Like they think their Bit is a Cherry Tree. Like they think the deer are coming. Or worse, the rats.”

“Not everyone can live on an island. Some people can’t. Just because of. Like Philosophically.”

“The Empress Hotel is a fancy place with opulent forks and carvings in the high wooden ceilings, illuminated by natural light that visits it all perfectly in the afternoons. If I take a poo in the Empress Hotel, would that make it all seem a bit more Real? Perhaps. There are ladies in hats. They are having tea in hats. The Tea is High. All those ladies will poo out those nibbles sometime. Even High Tea has to be pood out, unless you want to explode.”

“There’s a castle and it once belonged to this coal mining magnate. It is called Craigdarroch, the castle, but they never wanted it to be called a castle, the rich people who built it. The Dunsmuir family. Scottish. Full of bloody secrets, the family, but that’s the thing that families are usually full of, because it is impossible to poo them out. The father left the fortune to the mother and the mother didn’t share properly. The brother died an alcoholic, in love with an older divorcee. The daughter, as is customary with daughters, was declared a lunatic.”

“There are so many flowers all over this city. Look at these flowers. I have never seen flowers like this. How can anything be So? I keep tearing up and saying “Wow”. At another time, I, like other daughters, would have been declared a lunatic.”

“The Saanich Nation of Coast Salish peoples. They were here before Victoria had any secrets. It’s confusing this thing that white people do. I think of this guy that we had dinner with once. He was some big shot Hollywood scrap of a man and he spent most of the evening trying to convince me that colonialism all must have been a very good thing because, really, where would Those People be if not for White People’s technology and, really, can you think of another population apart from White People who have developed so much? I mean, Really. And If We’re Honest. I would have felt sorry for this White Man and his sheer lack of imagination, if only him and his opinions had not always been so violent. But that is not just a secret of Victoria, I’m afraid. And I know how my very existence makes me complicit in keeping it everywhere.”

“Our faces when we taste beer and truffles look like cartoon orgasms. I look at My Love and we look out at the sea and down at the flowers, and the sky starts to tear up and drizzle on us. Everything is green from the tears falling. The world says Wow! and is declared a Lunatic. We get in a car which gets on a boat, and off we go back to the mainland. I think a thought I thought when we travelled in the opposite direction: If you want to understand a place, you must understand its island. I’m not quite sure what that thought means, but I think for a second of Robben Island, and then fall asleep on my favourite shoulder.”

4 responses to “Victoria’s Secrets”

  1. So evocative and revealing. And I, not sure I had even heard of Victoria, now have a whole new world in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments, Megan!


  2. Sheesh I love this x


    1. Ah. Thank you, Em!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: