August 12: Rest day in Vancouver - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

August 12: Rest day in Vancouver

Heart 0 Comment 0

SOME DAYS you're a traveller, others you're a tourist. Today we were tourists and we did what tourists are supposed to do, which is walk slowly and unpredictably and get in everybody's way. We wandered the streets and gawped and gazed. We saw the steam-powered clock in Gastown and

Vancouver's steam-powered clock has steam-powered chimes as well, although the mechanism is wearing and it sometimes misses a beat.
Heart 0 Comment 0

we talked with half a dozen Americans touring the area - and the city - by bike. We walked through Chinatown, which with its chaotic and ugly electrical street wiring is exactly like China itself.

Heart 0 Comment 0

And we visited the police museum and marvelled at the destructive ability, and cruel destructive ability, of arms that Vancouver police have confiscated from miscreants: not just your everyday daggers but barbed steel balls whirled on chains, blowpipes, and knuckledusters with sharpened points.

Errol Flynn: the hero of Captain Blood, Robin Hood, Don Juan and Gentleman Jim was sent home in a box marked "Please handle carefully."
Heart 0 Comment 0

We studied the preserved brains mangled by bullets and we read the autopsy papers of Errol Flynn, the roustabout actor found dead in Vancouver in proximity to his 17-year-old girlfriend. The swashbuckler who fought sword battles from chandeliers and swaggered on sailing ships was sent home to Hollywood in an anonymous box marked "Handle carefully."

The funny thing is that two friends from Vancouver had no idea there was a police museum. But then you don't, when you live in a town. Mike Musto and Alan Lefevre were strangers who became friends. Mike is here on the Crazyguy site and Alan is a schoolfriend who joined my first cycling club when we were in our teens. I had never met Mike and I hadn't see Alan for 40 years. Alan moved to Canada in the 1970s, when Britain was going through a particularly bad patch and the end seemed nigh. Mike, on the other hand, is from an Italian family and is about to tour Italy for two months. Both invited us to stay with them. We declined with regret and thanks. If you have one day in a city, you need to stay in the centre.

They were both aware of the reputation of Hastings Street. But, to be honest, the hotel is perfect and the local residents aren't so terribly shocking if you've seen something of the world. Lindsay, the highly educated daughter of the hotel's owners, says the area is getting better but that she still has to calm the nerves of delicate flowers who've never seen anything so shocking.

Another sort of street people: only chance and misfortune separate them from the folk at the other end of the street.
Heart 0 Comment 0

As Steph says: "They are street people who live their life on the streets. They live in public view, which in a way is what we have been doing for the past three months." That said, we aren't penniless, we're not alcoholic and we're not drug-takers.

I have a sympathy for these people. It wouldn't have taken much misfortune for me to be sleeping under the stars or worse. There is not much between me and down-and-outs and the rest of life's unfortunates but good luck on my side. I've talked to sad cases and I'm astonished how little it took to push them the wrong side of the line, and how hard it is for them to get back again.

I find it hard to condemn. It could so easily have been me.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 2
Comment on this entry Comment 0