Yesterday was my birthday. Another year down. 62 it be, whether I like it or not. I remember though, being a boy, when I thought of 60 as “ancient”. My dad seemed so old to me when he was 60. In fact, people started to seem old when in their 50’s and of course in many ways, that was actually true, due to their lifestyles. Work, eat, drink, work, eat, drink repeat. The idea of doing things to make you look and feel younger, just didn’t seem to exist.
For me, now, I am 62 and I cannot change that fact, but I have my music, my writing, my swimming, my performing, all as part of a regime to help me in this process of aging. Of course I hear ....”Oh, it’s only a number!” Lol right, tell me about it!! Tell that to my legs and my back! Lol But it’s MY number and it’s getting higher and higher all the time, WAY TOO FAST!! But what’s the alternative? Right? We all know what THAT is. Three years ago while suffering a stroke on a hospital gurney, I would HAPPILY have accepted someone saying, “I can make this stop, but when it does, you have to be 62.” “Done!” So welcome 62. Please however, take your time becoming 63 would ya?
We had a lovely day together. I had a great birthday. Other than being home, I couldn’t have asked for better. A day surrounded by my “other family”, my band, my dear friends for a day of sharing conversation, time, fellowship, love and oh yes........sake!!
We left the hotel here in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, around 2:30pm. headed downtown on foot, taking in the beautiful, November, Spring-like weather.
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, and it sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The City of Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than even Toronto.
Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897) and the Empress Hotel, (opened in 1908). The city's Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after Francisco’s.
We walked around the bay marina, passing by those historic buildings and we settled first on a beautiful pub called, The Bard & Banker. What a truly beautiful interior to enjoy while having one of the best pints of Guinness in Canada.
For fun, I asked each of my companions if they knew what a “Bard” was. Nah, they didn’t get it. Do you know without looking it up? What if I told you that Robert Burns was a bard? William Shakespeare was also a bard? Got it?
Yes, a bard in medieval Gaelic and British culture, was a professional story teller, verse-maker and music composer, employed by a patron (such as a monarch or noble), to commemorate one or more of the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities. “So you’re a bard!” says Joe. “Hmmm, I never thought of that before, says I, I guess you’re right!” 😂
We enjoyed one pint of Guinness before heading off to the beautiful Irish Pub, known as The Irish Times.
Voted Best Irish Pub in North America this year, the Irish Times was first home to the Bank of Montreal, built in 1894 by Sir Francis Rattenbury. It was Rattenbury’s first design in the chateau style stone work used 10 years later on his development of the iconic Empress Hotel. Today within its walls you will discover cozy fireplaces, rich dark wood, Victorian-etched glass doors and windows, shining gold chandeliers and a fascinating collection of memorabilia. Yet another pint of Guinness was thoroughly enjoyed.
We then headed to GOZEN for some of the best sushi and sake I have ever had, period! I thought I was selecting a fine bottle of the stuff for the others because I am not a fan of sake. But this was different. This was high-end and served to us chilled, as if white wine, and it was FANTASTIC! It complimented the sushi as a fine red wine compliments a great steak.
We all had an emotional moment when Sam mentioned to me how proud he was of me, due to the fact that when Charlotte (the terminally ill woman from the previous show) was brought back stage to meet us, he said I immediately became “a nurse” once again. Not a singer, not a performer or any thing close to a so-called celebrity but rather just a nurse, Alan Frew R.N. He embellished a bit more and it caught us all off guard and made us emotional. I am proud of those letters after my name. They have served me well throughout my life. I worked hard for them and I loved being an R.N. Of course I understand how uncomfortable and scared and reluctant some people may feel when discussing “life” with someone who is in the fast process of “dying”, I get it and I respect it. For me though, I have no problems conversing with those who are dying because number one, they’re not dead yet. Yes, they are living minute by minute and those minutes are precious, but I also know that since we never know what’s around the corner for the rest of us, we could just as easily be conversing with “ourselves”. So, we had our emotional moment, I thanked Sam for his kind words, after which we all raised our glasses and toasted Charlotte, then got on with our own process of living and enjoying our time together.
Nightcap back at the hotel and off to bed.
Just before sleep I saw the gut-wrenchingly, awful report of yet another mass-shooting down south in the USA. I saw a mother screaming at the camera “I don’t want your thoughts, I don’t want your prayers. I WANT GUN CONTROL!! This was the tragic figure of a woman, completely broken because her son was caught in and survived, the Las Vegas concert massacre, only to die in a hail of bullets the other night in Thousand Oaks, CA. Holy fuck America, what’s it going to take?
True story. When I had my stroke, they took my drivers licence away. Stroke protocol. Ok I get it. But what I had to do to get it back was nothing short of demeaning. I had to take tests that would have embarrassed a 2yr old Golden Retriever. Could I draw a line from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 etc all the way to 20. Could I spot an elephant hiding in among the zebras. Did I remember what year it was when I was born and could I write that year down? On and on and on they came and at the end of it all when I passed their tests and they approved me mentally fit to drive a car, I took the actual driving test and they charged me $800 to get my licence back!! All because I had the audacity to fall ill.
Dear America, would it be too much to ask therefore, that a little psychological test should be required of someone who wishes to buy an AK47?? Is it too much to ask, that killing devices, capable of destroying dozens-upon-dozens of people with one hail of bullets, NOT be purchasable, by regular, everyday folk, or worse yet, everyday folk with mental health issues? In Canada we have had 15 mass shootings since 1885!!! Why is that? Ask yourself why that is and when you find the answer, ask yourself if you would like that for your street, your neighbourhood and town, your city and state and country. My heart goes out to you America, for I KNOW that the vast majority of you want proper gun control, but corrupt, shady and unethical, big business, just won’t let that happen. Your neighbours and friends and your families and YOUR CHILDREN are being slaughtered 😢....RISE UP! DO SOMETHING!! REBEL AGAINST THIS NIGHTMARE!!
Our show in Victoria was held at the quaint and lovely McPherson Playhouse, known as The Mac, originally built as a Pantages Theatre in 1914. In the 1960s it was donated, with supporting funding for its renovation, to the people of Victoria by Thomas Shanks McPherson. It became part of the Centennial Square redevelopment, finished in 1965. Renovations preserved and refurbished the Neo-Baroque auditorium but added a modern lobby and various technical improvements. A lovely little spot and we “knocked it out of the park” before a very lively audience indeed. THANK YOU GUYS!
Also once again we had a great “signup” for CAMH (Centre for Addiction & Mental Health) THANK YOU AGAIN GUYS!!
Bed around 1 a.m. tomorrow is Nanaimo.
Goodnight all, until that time.