Monday, May 22, 2006

Kissing Cousins

Happy Long Weekend, Canada

Ah, Victoria Day. Despite Google's best efforts to convince us of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legitimate claims on the day, good Canadians spent the day saluting the monarchy.

Or not.

Actually, I'm thinking very few Canadians even remember Queen Victoria, for whom the day is named. This is understandable since her reign ended upon her death in 1901. She was born to the King of England, but he died when she was just 8 months old. The crown was passed on to her uncles, but "luckily" King William IV had 10 bastard children and none fit for royalty, so Victoria became Queen just after her 18th birthday.

So what exactly did she do to deserve a rare stat holiday in her honour? Well, one of the first things she did was marry her first cousin. Apparently, this was a "happy" marriage, and if "happy" means "gross", then I'm sure it was. There's nothing like a little royal incest to prompt celebrations in May. They had 9 children, and as we all know, the poor bastard children are tossed out on their heinies, but the children of inbreeding are bowed down to and revered. Fair is fair.

Four assassination attempts were made on her life the first 2 years of her reign, but sadly, this was not the lowest level her popularity would see. Next, she would be dubbed the Famine Queen because of her perceived inaction during the potato blight, when over a million Irish people died, and a million more were forced to emigrate.

Her husband died and left her a widow when she was 42. She wore black for the rest of her life, and became reclusive, although some say this isolation was not so much due to grief as to a secret love affair with her Scottish manservant, John Brown. Her popularity climbed and fell periodically. Still, she kept her claws on the crown and didn't relinquish it until her son had to pry it from her cold, dead fingers after 63 years on the throne.

Victoria paved the way for future royals to act as symbols instead of politicians. Proudly, the future monarch generations would accept generous wages for the taxing duties of waving, smiling politely, and occasionally eating tiny cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. She also marked the beginning of the royal emphasis "morality and family values" while laughingly, any sign of these things is ironically lacking between the castle walls.

As she got older, her popularity increased, and during her last days she was known as the "grandmother of Europe". She did get her face on a stamp, making her at least as cool as Bobby Orr and Elvis Presley. But does that make her worth celebrating?

The answer is: who cares?

Canadians don't. Very few of us sent birthday wishes to the current royal highness, or have ever had a thought to spare for our first Queen, Victoria. But we are thankful to have the day off work, and if Vicky and Liz are to credit, then we tip our beers to them.

Because let's be honest: Victoria day is all about the beer.

It's not called May 2-4 for nothing. I mean, sure it takes place on or before May 24...but is it just coincidence that a two-four is also a case of beer? Hmm?

I don't think so.

And beer is not a bad way to toast the monarch.

A bad way to toast the monarch: fireworks.

What's with fireworks anyway? I mean, when a city puts on a show, I get it. Oooh, fire in the sky. Pretty colours. Big noises. Entertainment for the masses. A bit dull and repetitive in my book, but I get it.

Fireworks in the backyard, I don't get.

And yet for the past week I have witnessed an embarrassing number of Canadians spending their hard earned cash on stupid little fire crackers that never work the way they're supposed to anyway, unless they're supposed to fizzle, crackle, produce smoke, and do little else but cause accidents.

Ah yes, the great tradition of Victoria Day accidents.

The average number of fingers per Canadian drops significantly the day after May 24.

I mean, clearly, you have to be a little, um, imbecilic, to think that backyard fireworks are good times. Unfortunately, this is just survival of the fittest crapping out again, leaving us with maimed dullards in our population instead of eliminating them completely.

Thanks a lot.

I mean, obviously these things are accidents waiting to happen.

And the fact that Toronto has made it illegal to set them off doesn't seem to stop anyone from doing it, and it certainly doesn't stop them from calling 911 when something does go wrong, which it will, inevitably.

Because when you mix dim-witted people with explosives (and probably a case or two of beer)...of course it's going to suck.

And so the ERs will be overrun with morons tonight, and someone or someones will wake up tomorrow without their thumbs. At the taxpayers' expense.

And according to the newspaper, there will be a dozen fireworks-related blazes around the city tonight. As I am writing this, I hear the distinct whistle of failed fireworks sizzling around me, a product of ignorant neighbours, thankyouverymuch, and all I can do is hope like hell they don't accidentally set my house on fire.

But on a day that pays tribute to the Queen of all kissing cousins, what else can you expect?

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