“And there’s no feckin’ thing called a Square roundabout”. I remember singing this Irish song in JJ’s. In 2011 the news media had taken to called the Pearl Roundabout “Pearl Square”. They were trying to align “Tahrir Square in Cairo, with Bahrain. Arab revolutions were kicking up all over the place but as people on the ground, we knew it was goin’ nowhere.The so called ARAB SPRING came to a halt mighty quickly.

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You can see the pink Cairo museum in the background. Anyway Bahrain thought they’d have a go at this in 2011. Dave managed to get tons of photos right on the ground in the “Pearl Roundabout”. I was way too nervous to go down there.I stayed in the Mall with Meg. There had been rumours of mad Shias running through the Mall threatening people.

Image result for image of the unrest at the Pearl Roundabout in 2011 Bahrain

There she is: the once “Pearl Roundabout”. Well we got home that Thursday evening. The next morning , up in Jubail I called to Dave:

“You better come see this”.The Saudis had rolled in the tanks and destroyed the Pearl Roundabout-mowed down everything in sight. Let this be known: all the bleeding heart liberals in the world needed to take note:while you were  singing Kum by ya, and “calling out” people who don’t agree with the alt left agenda,  the Saudis are rolling across the border taking care of business. They had absolutely no regard for the Bahraini Shias. In fact, a Saudi Sunni would rather deal with me, a Catholic, than a Shia. It’s quite ridiculous. It was then I realized that the rule of law did not and would not EVER apply in Saudi Arabia. Flash forward to 2018 and the horrible murder of Mr Kashoggi.I called that three years ago when I said to Dave:”that poor man, if he doesn’t watch what he says, they will get him and they will kill him”. Didn’t take a genius to call that one. Utterly sad but true.


That’s what the Saudis did to the Pearl Roundabout. It was a frightening time. They still have never re-built it and I don’t think they ever will.the ruling Sunni minority doesn’t want a symbolic place for the Shia to gather. Yikes. That was about as scary as it got for us overseas, especially when we drove into a “black flag” Shia neighbourhood in Bahrain. Nice enough people, but boy, we did NOT belong there. We turned around pretty quickly.We were trying to find the Rugby Club -we were playing music there, and we definitely took a wrong turn!

Image result for Shia black  flag villages in Bahrain and images

I also remember quite vividly driving into the midst of a MASSIVE Shia uprising in Bahrain. They were shouting “Down with the King”.Mike Gorrie was driving along peacefully saying “I just golfed with him yesterday!” We were chanting “Up with the King!” in the car, just to take the mickey. But honestly, I was bloody nervous.

We kept going, Mike driving very, very slowly through the march. I mean, they could have overturned our vehicle and torched us, but they didn’t. This is what we drove through:

Related image

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Well, we survived it! I’d like to go to Bahrain again just to see what’s going on, but maybe I’ll wait for a bit. Those were tense times but boy was it interesting!


After much demand I have published the Lyrics for the Square Roundabout and would ask for all left on the island to sing it in unity across the Island at 3 pm this afternoon.

The Square Roundabout (Tune of Wild Rover)


I’ve been in the Middle East for many a year,

…And I ‘ve spent on all my money on whiskey & beer,

This week I was shocked when I wandered on out,

For  Sky news told the world of the  square roundabout



And it’s no, nay, never

Yes  we CAN  hear you shout

Could there be such a notion

Called  a  square  roundabout


I went to the city to check it all  out,

There were  thousands of people at the Pearl Roundabout,

You could get cups of tea and popcorn galore

They even had tents for to  sleep on the floor


Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……


Six hundred thousand came out on the streets,

There was Facebook & bloggers & plenty of tweets,

The Sunni’s & Shia’s tried to figure it out,

Could there be such a thing as a square roundabout?


Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……


The word went to Saudi and the good King found out

He decreed he must glance at  this square roundabout

“We’ll  will send in the lads and  we’ll clear them all out

And demolish this thing called a  square roundabout


Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……


Thanks to Sky News, Al Jazeera & the BBC,

They sent pictures worldwide for the whole world to see,

The aerial shots left little to  doubt,

That there’s no f— ing  thing as a square roundabout



And it’s no, nay, never,

Yes I  CAN hear you shout,

That there’s no f—-  thing

As a square roundabout


Zero Dark Thirty in a room full of Saudis

Not sure if I can ever top this one:Dave and I went to Bahrain for our usual Friday: breakfast, massages, shopping and a movie before the session at JJ’s.

We saw “Zero Dark Thirty” and, no kidding, it was me, Dave and an entire theatre of Saudis and Bahrainis. In fact, I think, by the gutras, it was  mainly Saudis and their wives.Just to back up, when we first arrived in Jubail, the signs were everywhere that said “Bin Laden Construction”.The Bin Ladens are a massive family with a huge construction business. If I am not mistaken, the Bin Laden family had the contract to entirely re-build Mecca after some crazy sabotaged it:I think the guy’s name was Angry Face or something like that. Mentalism as per usual.

To the Bahrainis’ chagrin, Friday (formerly Thursday) was the day Saudi “invaded ” Bahrain. It was Saudi Disneyland coming to Bahrain. Coming to a country where normal was, well, normal! You could drive a car, see a film, drink a drink, eat bacon, in essence, normal.And Saudis came by the car-full. That’s where I picked up my “niqaab”-at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain. Some Saudi woman chucked it on the ground as if to say “I don’t need this sh**” in Bahrain! Quite right! I grabbed it as a souvenir. Of course I did.

So as we are watching this whole thing I’m thinking…..

“Any minute now, one of these bas**rds  will rise out of their seat and shoot us!”.

But they didn’t. Like us, they sat in total silence. They were ashamed of Bin Laden, and so they should be.

He never represented Islam: he was just a thug as were all of his deluded followers. And I am saying this: EVERY Saudi I ever met was kind and wonderful to me. They were polite and gracious. I never, ever, in five years, had a Saudi be rude to me. I know, I know, they were were awe of my blonde hair, my western ways.But I loved them and I miss them.Once I was at Heathrow airport and some British kids were being very, very rude to an old Saudi man, and I immediately went into protection mode, thinking “Hey back off you little punks, these people are my people!” Imagine that eh?

I remember being in Medina, at the airport. Of course I was the only white woman. Naturally I wore hijab to respect Islam. We had a magnificent time at Madain Salah. The desert was in bloom, we met our cousin Ben there. It was magic. The only thing that put me off was the big frickin’ “haram” sign that said we, as Christians could not go into the REAL Medina. I call BS. Seriously, Islam needs to move past that. You can come into the Vatican any time you want, so get over it!

Returning to Medina airport, we met with a beautiful Saudi family. One nephew, age 21 was the chaperone for about 9 women ranging from ages 7-70. The little girl , age 7, said to me “Please, please, take me with you!”

I said :”All of you, your English is wonderful. How did you learn English?

“Madam, we listen to Eminem! Ok, I was not expecting that!”

They were a very polite family. They lived 200km outside of Riyadh. You cannot hate people, when you know their story. I will always remember them.

And I also remember seeing a little boy, age 10, in Jubail, driving the car with his Aunties in the back. Dave wagged his finger at him, telling him to put on his seatbelt. That poor little kid drove on the Jubail highway, which was essentially the “highway to hell”. I still remember seeing that car moving, with no apparent driver-he was too short to see! Insane, totally insane. And the covered up Aunties were letting it happen.That’s what desperation does to you. Now they can drive.

Trump recently called for the “death penalty” to all suicide bombers: yeah, I think they beat you to it Donald!

Back to the film………..

And so that was that. We all filed out silently, knowing that the Yanks did what had to be done. They had to kill that man. Mission accomplished.

Trump recently called for the “death penalty” to all suicide bombers: yeah, I think they beat you to it Donald!


UP in the air at 39,000  feet and the unspeakable, the unthinkable happened……


It was 1960 and I was born into a Scottish family. With that lineage there was only one thing that was guaranteed….sugar…..

My Granny moved to Canada with my Mum and Aunties in 1957.She missed Scotland.There is nothing worse that a Scottish person missing their homeland.

To that end, she continually received parcels of Scottish treats and when babies came around, more sugary treats followed. Somehow, my Granny, finding herself in the land of plenty, ie Canada, equated hitting the big time with endless amounts of sugar. She fed us “Edinburgh Rock”

Ross's Edinburgh Rock Box *

Needless to say,  by age three I was in Dr Kapluitz’ dentist chair and it was not pretty. My mouth was riddled with cavities. I cried and cried after getting fillings on baby teeth. Afterwards, the nurse at the front desk said “No you won’t be getting a ring because you cried!”

Years later, at age 18 I was married to Dave. I worked at the Bank of Nova Scotia and one Friday night we went for our usual “Dinos” lasagne and red wine. My front tooth started aching and by the next morning it was unmanageable pain. There was only one thing to do and that was to visit my very handsome Dentist Dr Bruce Ward. Man, was he handsome!

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Anyway…… at 8am in the morning we phoned Dr Ward and  I said, “I’ve got to come in.I’ve got an unbelievable toothache. So in we went, Dave and I. Dr Ward showed up and said “Dave, you’ve got to be my dental assistant!” Dave suited up and away they went.

First Dr Ward tried one freezing, then another. When a tooth, especially a front tooth, is so abscessed, it often requires at least two different freezings. Finally the freezing “took” and Dr Ward drilled a hole in the back of my front tooth. The relief was immediate.

He then cleaned it, packed it with antibiotics and said we had to come in for a range of appointments, because this tooth needed an immediate root canal.  Luckily I was still on my parent’s dental plan!

Flash forward 15 years, 1993.   The front tooth had  began to “darken” without a root and needed a crown. A crown was installed and all was well–until 2005.

Dave and I took a flight to the UK with our son Niall, my Mum and my Auntie Syl. We had slept through the night and now it was 7am, ready for the descent into Heathrow.

The stewardesses were obviously behind their time as they were hustling around trying to throw breakfast at passengers. When I had gone to the restroom, I had noticed their breakfasts were “oozing” dry ice:it looked like most of the food was frozen. They started chucking frozen granola bars at passengers.  In my half- asleep state I began gnawing at a frozen granola bar, using my front tooth- a crown. Suddenly I felt something very, very strange. I said to Dave:”Does my front tooth look ok?” No sooner had I said that but my front tooth came right out in my hands. So there I was, in economy, with no front tooth, making a descent into Heathrow airport. I was in a total state of shock.

My son said “Eww Mom, you look gross!”  You look like a witch!”

We explained what had happened to the stewardesses but they couldn’t give a damn. Later on Air Canada did award me $1000.00 and some airline points but that’s another story.

I cried and sat in the chair absolutely shell shocked.My Mum re-assured me saying “don’t worry Charlotte, we will get it fixed!”

But I knew we still had a long journey to Aberdeen, taking a British Midlands flight to  the North of Scotland.It is all a blur but somehow I managed to get on that flight, holding my tooth in my handbag, in a tissue. Dave told me in no uncertain terms, that I might have to spend the rest of the holiday, ie three weeks, without a front tooth. I was beyond horrified.

The next morning I looked up several Dentists in the phone book. It was a Sunday. Sure enough,an elderly gentleman answered and said, after his Church service, he would me us at his Dental surgery in town. We drove there and waited outside.

Tight on time, at 11am he was there. He said to Dave : ” I’ll need you to be my dental assistant!” Good thing Dave had training back in 1978.

He took a look at the tooth, and said the best words I could have ever heard:”don’t worry my dear, we can fix this”.somehow he mixed up some strong Scottish glue, and with a blue laser light, managed to affix my crown. He said “Now you’ll be feeling that you have no confidence at first, but I assure you this will hold.” Just carry on as usual until you gain confidence with the tooth. It should hold for a few years!”

I was terrified, but thanked the Dentist profusely. I was mentally and physically exhausted.

I said to Dave:”let’s go to a pub and have some lunch!”The pub was near the Law Courts and I believe it was called The Thirsty Barrister. AS we walked in, we were greeted by the doorman who said, in a huge  toothless grin “Welcome to Scotland!”

Dave noticed this young man was missing the exact same tooth as me and promptly said “Well, it doesn’t seem to bother him now does it?”

Image result for mcewan's stout

I headed straight to the bar and downed a McEwan’s Stout . I didn’t even like beer but I needed it. The tooth episode was over for now and I was able to survive three weeks in Scotland and Poland.

Flash forward three years to 2008.

Dave was down in Victoria, taking graduate courses. I was in the house watching a show, drinking a gin and tonic. As easy as pie, my front crown just slipped off without a whisper. I knew what to do: I saved it in a tissue and went to Dr Galway in the morning. Finally Dr Galway was able to get a good look at the tooth and he proclaimed “it’s time for an implant”.  I went to Dr. Zokol in Vancouver, the famed Dentist who seemed to have invented the dental implant.

Dr. Ron Zokol

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Diplomate, American Board of Oral Implantology

Dr. Ron Zokol graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia in 1974, where he continues to be a faculty member.

He is proud to acknowledge his 20 year practice partnership with his father, a certified specialist in prosthodontics. Prior to his involvement with implant dentistry, he became recognized for his restorative skills with direct and indirect gold restorations, resulting in him being awarded “Clinician of the Year” by the American Academy of Gold Foil Operators award in 1997.

Dr. Zokol is a Diplomate of the American board of Oral Implantology / Implant Dentistry and of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He holds Fellowships in the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the American College of Dentists, and the Academy of Dentistry international. He has over 30 years of experience in implant dentistry and has spent more than 10 years as a surgical instructor for the Misch International implant Institute. Over the last 30 years, Dr. Zokol has been appointed to many posts in serving many dental associations including the presidency of the Vancouver and District Dental Society, Chair of the General Examination Committee, and Chief Examiner for the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia.

Dr. Zokol has lectured internationally for many years in the field of Prosthodontics and Implant Surgery and is presently a director of the Pacific Institute for Advanced Dental Education located in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Zokol lives in Vancouver with his wife, Marie and their three sons.


One year and $8000 CDN later, I had a front tooth that seems to be lasting.  It took  from August 2008 to June 2009 to get the implant fully finished.  Three months later we found ourselves in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, beginning our international career.

I seemed to have developed a skill set to cope with the tooth loss this time but I’ll never, ever forget the anguish that was “up in the air” at 39,000 feet, landing at Heathrow.


EGYPT 2009

Dave and I had arrived first, December 2009.Previously that week our Christmas concert at Jubail was cancelled by the Vice Principal. He was afraid the Muslims would flip out. It was all Frosty and Rudolph, not a lick of Baby Jesus in the house. Our last song was ‘Feliz Navidad” but what Arab would know what that meant? All the Filipina assistants had many beautiful Christmas banners and I guess that’s what spooked the VP They looked “too Christmassy. But can you blame them?These poor Filapina ladies were hungry to Christmas too and we were all terrified of expressing our Christian faith in Saudi. I get so angry when I hear SJW spouting off on how we should be honouring others’ faiths. Yeah, go to Saudi and see how long you can sing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” before you get thrown in jail!

I remember Mary Pettet  crying about it, her Childrens’ Christmas concert cancelled.  I was heart broken too.

The next day Mark . Wotton let us do the concert but no parents were invited.Sigh…

Anyway we flew to Cairo and met with Mary Jean and Neal.Mary Jean walked us around the town, where she was known as the Mother Theresa of Cairo! We ended up performing the Christmas concert at the “Found Orphanage” of Cairo. My God, this was bizarre at the time, but when I think of it now, it was not that crazy.The children loved the music and asked if they could have my copies.Sure I said, let’s go photocopy the music for you.

Oh sorry Madam, we don’t have a photocopier”.

Most of the kids were Somali or Sudanese orphans. I walked in and said  “As-Salaam-Alaikum: and they immediately answered : “Wa-Salaam-Alaikum! Wow. This was really happening!

Soon our own kids arrived. Kirsten and Livi arrived first.I think they had a big fight on the airport about her ne’er do well boyfriend at the time, Shawn.

Then Suzanne and Niall’s flight was delayed on the tarmac at Heathrow.According to   Niall BA gave them free booze. According to Suzanne, Niall was pulling minis out of his backpack! She thinks he was swiping them off the cart! Who knows, but it makes a good story


Suzanne on the camel!

We all arrived at GIZA.The scammers grabbed Suzanne and hoisted her up on the camel.

“Baksheesh” they demanded!

Dave swore at them, I yelled “Yalla, Imchee!” We tried everything. Finally they let Suzanne down. Bloody bastards! But it was funny.

The Dancing baby: at New Years all these ARAB men were up high on a balcony staring down at “something”-we figured it must be a sexy dancer. Nope.It was a dancing baby!

Up Mt Sinai: up I went, with goats and bastards following me. They could see I was the weakest of the bunch. Little did I now but my red blood count was low:basically I had enemia from pre-menopause. The Doctor wondered how I was able to breathe!

Anyway, Livi was my little goat.She waited for me and I went up the 776 steps of repentance. When I got up there Kirsten was hula hooping for about 100 Indian men.


The Steps of Repentance

We also went to Abu Simbel. There was a free tour to go on and I think it was the most gorgeous temple.But the others were so jet lagged that Dave and I went on our own. I think that happened when we were on the mini cruise.

Egypt was a lot of work. But it made it all great when Suzanne came along with us.

I remember in Luxor Suzanne got another marriage proposal. The guy was touring us around on a felucca. He was proposing that Suzanne buy a house and he could visit her every couple of months.

It was really kind of  MJ Crouch and Mr Crouch to let us stay in their apartment.

There was one screw up though. Another Christian group tried to go through the GAZA tunnels to deliver supplies.They were turned away and had to stay in the apartment with us.So when we returned there were 5-6 “more” people staying in the apartment. It was a bit overwhelming. At the time I didn’t realize one of the guys was HOBO- Kevin’s priest friend.I was too busy being angry that these people were there. Yup, I’m pretty selfish about space, always have been. It was just a bit upsetting because my whole family was leaving me the next day and we wanted to have a nice family time that night.

If I had been kinder, I would have realized it was Hobo and I could have had a nice chat with him. So I learned a lesson, not to be so selfish!

Mary-Jean was so generous to give us the apartment for three weeks!

Still it was a great trip.She also set up huge travel plans for us, flying us everywhere.It was quite incredible. I just sent her the money and that was that!

I hope I paid her enough.

Then in 2011, Egypt went ballistic. It was great that we saw it in time.

I don’t think I’d want to go back,

I remember being in the PINK Museum and Kirsten saying “Gee I came all the way to Egypt and I never saw a single sarcohagous”. I said “Turn around Kirsten” and lo and behold she was standing in a room FULL of Mummies! “Ahhh!”, she screamed!

In Garbage City

I said “Niall, take a picture of that lady!” He took it and she threw a purse at him and an orange! Niall caught the moment on film! Oh my that was funny!




ONCE IN A WHILE….you experience something, then read about later on the internet.This happened to us in Siem Reap the first time.

We were hanging out on Pub street, not really knowing what we were doing. Our hotel was a lot farther out so we didn’t really connect with Pub Street. We had food on the street and it was then this little girl came up to Dave and I saying, in a very harsh sounding voice:

“I don’t want money!”  want milk for baby! This little gal was about 8 and on her hip was a 2 year old baby with a blue topped baby bottle that had a tiny bit of milk in it.


Naturally I told her to get lost. Then I saw a lady walk into a corner store, with the same blonde hair as me. It was like watching myself get scammed.The tourist followed the little girl into the Mini-mart and paid $25 US for the “one” can of powdered baby formula. The tourist walked away, feeling great.

The little Cambodian girl then returned the can of milk to the shelf and handed over some of the $25.00. The rest she gave to “Fagan” on the corner with his little band of thieves.

The next night we were sitting at Molly Malones with Bob Andre. Some young Brits walked in, but before they got to the entrance, the milk scam started with “I don’t want money! I just want milk!”

I yelled to the young guys :”Watch out fellas it is a total scam!”

The guys thanked me and offered to buy us drinks. Well first the young Cambodian girl gave me the finger but then….the 2 year old toddler gave me the finger too!

“Oh yeah, I says, that’s it! Now the baby is giving me the finger. You guys suck, I yelled!”

The kids just laughed at me, gave me the finger again and then ran off to scam somebody else. It really was hilarious but sad that these youngsters are being used to fund unscrupulous people. Who knows how much those kids are abused?It’s terrible actually, but, at the time, freaking funny to get the “finger” from a toddler.

JAPAN 2019

Dave and I left Thursday April 18th for a whirlwind trip to Japan.The goal was to see three cities:Osaka,Kyoto and Hiroshima:mission accomplished.

We landed in Osaka and found our way out of the airport .We thought it would be easy to grab a taxi:sure, if you were willing to pay $250 CDN for one! No way!

So we jumped on the bus and they dropped us at Osaka Station. We took a taxi to “Shin-Osaka” where the Courtyard Marriot was.

The next morning, April 19th we got up at 7am and jumped on the Shinkansen bullet train. I had previously booked the tickets but only “one way” which was a good choice.


Image result for Shinkansen train and image in Osaka

It was so easy from the Courtyard Marriot as it is literally two minutes from the station.

The Shinkanesen tickets are expensive though. We went off to Kyoto and saw the Inari shrine.

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I think Inari is a Shinto shrine.I like Shintoism!

10 Differences Between Shinto and Buddhism


After that we went to the Geisho show in Gion.

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It was super slow moving but very beautiful.Dave fell asleep and I nearly did too. It truly was gorgeous but we were so tired. I was entertained by a very bratty family of kids that kept fooling around.Their Granny was getting so upset and embarrassed.


After that we found a Ramen place called Ramen Non

The little  Sapporo beers were awesome!

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We also walked around Kyoto looking at various shrines.Later that evening we returned to Osaka. While we didn’t see a lot of Kyoto, we managed to have three great experiences.

Shintaro Restaurant


This was an experience. We walked up and down, up and down, trying to find the location on Shintaro.Of course if we could read Japanese, it would have been easy.


Finally we took a chance and knocked on the door. Previously a man, at the end of the street, wrote out the characters for us:we searched for them and yes, we found them. We knocked on the door.An elderly lady with a long gray pony-tail answered. We asked if we could come in.She said “just a moment”.She returned saying, yes we could come in, but we had to understand it was 8000 yen pp for dinner and it was set menu. Dave said “ok”, which surprised me!

We sat down. The lady offered Dave a beer and me some sake. It was the best sake ever.I had previously given up on sake as the sake I had in Bangkok was rubbish! But this sake, wow it was divine. And then slowly the tempura dishes arrived. Each piece was cooked to perfection and the only dipping sauce was a bowl of crushed salt.

There were two chefs who did their tempura dance and three waitresses behind us. Basically we had a private waitress.She poked her head around to me and said “you lika more sake?” “Sake it to me!”

Dave and I shared the 2nd one. Sake is strong but it hits you like wasabe and then disappears.  Yes the whole meal cost us $250 CDN but it was worth every penny.

Saturday April 20th 2019

Well it might be 4/20 for some, but we spent it at Hiroshima. What a sight to see.So many stories.The irony is ,out of the ashes, Hiroshima rose and is now one of the most livable cities in Japan. We took a # 6 tram to the Atomic Dome, which is called the “Hypo-centre” of Hiroshima.From there we spent nearly two hours in the Peace Park.the main museum was closed to renovations. That would have kept us there at least another 2 hours.There were so many stories too numerous to tell but the most moving one for me was this: a young good looking male teacher, at the hypo-centre, tried desperately to save his students by throwing them in the water cistern so they wouldn’t burn. What an act of heroism.It made me proud to be a teacher, but horrified nonetheless. It is a lot to take in. You need to go slowly through the Peace Park.When the museum re-opens I think you need to give it at least 3 hours to take it all in.Japanese teacher in Hiroshima prior to A bomb.jpeg

From there we walked to Hiroshima Castle and then back again to the main street area.We grabbed lunch at Junia.They specialize in the soul food of Hiroshima, called Okinonayaki-the Japanese pancake. It was delicious and a site to behold.The Sapporo beer washed it all down!

Image result for okonomiyaki and image hiroshima style



That evening we returned on the Shinkansen to Osaka. We had a bit of a sleep, likely brought upon by eating Mcdonald’s for breakfast two mornings! Also we ate some just coming off the Shinkansen. It was quick and easy.

We woke up around 830pm and went to Commodo, a Jazz Club in Osaka. It was great.

We met some great people there and I was able to take Japanese style Sochu-which is very different from Korean Soju.


Next morning was Easter Sunday.We went to Mog’s pancakes, but they weren’t very good. We meant to go to Micasadeco Cafe but I didn’t have data on my phone.

Oh well….on our travels we saw this fabulous French restaurant! Too bad we didn’t find it earlier-it was on the way to more Shinto Shrines.

We returned to the Courtyard Marriot Shin-Osaka and made our way to the airport train.

It was easy to take the JR line straight to Kansai airport. We were bumped up to Business Class and that was divine. All in all a wonderful holiday. The best part was Hiroshima by far. Out of the ashes, a new city has arisen, and it is a great place!



It was 1972. Auntie Syl and Uncle Erik were attending the historic fight between Muhammed Ali and George Chuvalo.The Sorensens lived on Poplynn Drive, in Lynn Valley.The original house was wood framed, painted green. It was a standard 1960’s home. The new one built in its place was wonderful.

Image result for Muhammad Ali fight in 1972 vancouver George Chuvalo and image

Later that night their house caught on fire.Frances,Ricky,Tony and Kirsten were at home sleeping. Around midnight, Frances woke up smelling smoke. She quickly woke up Ricky and Tony.Earlier that day at Eastview Elementary, the Fire Chief had been around, giving a special assembly to children, telling them to crawl low to the ground where the air was still clean-in case of fire. Frances crawled around, got her two brothers and then made it to the balcony.As they walked past, they could see the red telephone (rotary style) melting.

They got to the balcony but realized they had forgotten  7 year old “Kirsten”. Somebody ran back to get her and then all four kids figured they had to “jump” off the balcony , into the hard packed snow, and then over the fence.

Frances went first and her nightgown flew up in the air. Then followed Tony. Little Kirsten (now known as Big Kirsten) refused to jump.I think Ricky threw her off and the two kids below caught her. Then Ricky jumped.They all scrambled over the fence in the backyard, now on the Viewlynn Side of the street. Almost as soon as they got over, boom!

The entire house blew up.The furnace exploded. The kids ran to a neighbours’ house.

Meanwhile, Bent Christensen called my Dad just after midnight and said “The Sorensen house is on fire”.Dad said “Well then throw a bucket of water on it!”.But Bent insisted that it was true. Dad jumped literally out of his skin: threw on clothes and tore down the road in his pickup, determined to find the kids. I mean he was really scared.

Meanwhile my Mom called me into her bed because she was so frightened.Just recently my Mom said she shouldn’t have called me in, because it likely traumatized me, but I think it was ok. I knew anyway because I’m a light sleeper and my Dad had already woke me up.

After that the Sorensen kids lived with us for over a month.Everything smelled of smoke. I remember that it was really hard on my parents having 7 kids and four adults in the house. Then the Sorensen’s went off to Denmark. I missed them.

When they returned ,Dad had found them an apartment down Mountain Highway and they stayed there for a while. It must have been very traumatic for everyone.

Here is the rebuild of the house after the insurance was paid out. It really was a wonderful house.Poplynn Drive.png

To this day I am terrified of fire.

Poplynn Drive


I don’t think I will ever forget this story. It was in Ribe,Denmark. And this how how it goes.

I believe it was 1944.The Nazis had taken over Denmark as best they could. They didn’t have a lot of soldiers left so they used young Hitler Youth soldiers to guard their outposts.The Nazis tended to preserve older towns by making the most beautiful cities their “headquarters”.That is why, for example, Krakow was never bombed nor targeted.

Image result for Ribe Denmark and image and the post office

Anyway, four year old Nick and his friend Pele were standing outside this post office, fooling around, sticking their tongues out at the very nervous, shaky 14 year soldier boys. One particular soldier was trying to “shoe” the kids away, and he inadvertently “shot” off his gun.He shot Nick. There was blood everywhere. But actually Nick was only shot in the lower leg.

There was screaming, howling, people running:someone scooped up Nick and took him to a makeshift hospital. However all the 14 year old boy thought was “Oh my God, I have killed that little boy”. The 14 year old soldier thought exactly that for most of his life.

Around 25 years later, the same Nick, was re-telling this tale to a group of men in a pub. They all laughed saying

“Oh Nick you are such a liar!”. Nick rolled up his trouser legs, and who should walk in but his old friend Pele, who now lived in the neighbouring town of  Olgod.

Nick said “Pele, please tell them it is true about the Nazi  soldier boy shooting me!”

Pele  said “Of course it is true, I was there with you!”

Many, many years later, around the year 2004, Nick was standing outside of his furniture shop in Ribe.He had owned this shop since he was a young man.

Image result for Ribe Denmark and image


He had a morning ritual of standing outside his furniture shop, drinking an espresso and watching license plates of cars passing by. He just liked doing that. One Saturday morning in 2004, he saw a car with a German license plate approaching him. For some reason the car stopped, and out of it came an older gentleman, a man at least 10 years older than Nick. Also  out of the car came an old lady and her three daughters. The old man said to Nick:

“Excuse me, are you from Ribe?

“Yes, of course”, said Nick. This is my shop.”

The older man paused for a moment and then said:

“Well have you lived here a long time?

“All my life, said Nick”.

“Hmmmm, well, I know this is a ridiculous question, the man continued,  but by any chance do you remember an incident where a little boy was shot over here by the post office and was killed?”

Nick said, ” Yes the boy was shot in the leg, but he lived, and actually, that’s me!

Nick rolled up his trouser legs and showed the older gentleman his bullet wound still visible after all these years.

The German man, fell back a bit, as if to faint, his wife steadying him.

“Oh my God, said the old man, I thought you were dead for all these years. I thought I had killed you, and I have come back to find the truth”. I am so sorry for what I did to you!”

Everyone cried and embraced. Nick said “It’s ok now, you don’t have to feel bad any longer. I am fine!”

What are the chances of this happening? And yet it did happen. Sometimes God plans it just right, that old mistakes can be mended and forgiven.


Getting stroppy with kids and parents

Today in parent teacher interviews at   I was ready to go to combat with a kid named K.

I handed his drama journal over to his parents:he made some excuse about not doing his Greek scene analysis. He said he put it on my desk. No, he didn’t.

Then he lied about “apologizing to me”.He was sent by the VP to apologize for his behaviour in drama class. He lied right in front of his parents. I said”Well either you are lying or I’ve got Alzheimer’s so which is it? Cuz I don’t remember an apology!

This kid was giving me the evils the whole time. Then I handed his parents his cheat sheet that he had stored during an exam. Then I handed him his plagarized essay with the internet fact checkings. He didn’t flinch.He might actually admire my heavy handed tactics.

Then his Mom started making all sorts of excuses for him and I cut her off saying right to the kid, staring him down:

“So, is this how it’s gonna be for the rest of your life?Mommy making excuses for you?When are you gonna stand up, shoulders back and be the man you are meant to be?

There’s a little bit of Jordan Peterson for you!

That kid hates me no doubt. But if my little intervention put him on a better path, then he is the lucky one. I guess I’ll never know!


New York City

I took three trips to New York City with kids.The first time I was 28 and I honestly didn’t have a CLUE what I was doing. My Mom came with me. I remember we left on 26th December, Boxing Day.Olivia was 1 years old. It was 1988. I had oversalted the turkey so I had ruined Christmas Dinner. My Mom was in our townhouse as was my Dad. Anyway, Mom and I left Dave and Dad with Kirsten and Livi. Off I went with 14 teenagers. I ight have been insane to do it, but I did it!

New  York City in 1988 was a freakin’ war zone.I burst into tears. I said to the “Break a-way Tours”  guide “Why would you let me take teenagers from little ‘ole Victoria to this war zone?” I was horrified.

I remember there were two very irresponsible teachers from Squamish. They just left their kids up to their own devices. One night a girl came running down the hall :”Miss, Miss, aren’t you one of the teachers from Canada? Please can you help my friend? I ran into the hotel room and saw a girl doubled over in agony.She was screaming in pain. I asked “Where are your teachers?” Not a single kid knew.

Ok. So I said to my Mom, “Can you make sure all our kids are ok?” She went to our four rooms and made sure all the Victoria kids were ok. It was around 10pm at night.

I called the ambulance.The ambulance came and asked her “Are you pregnant?”

She said no and kind of giggled through her pain. Then I went in the ambulance with the kid to St Vincent’s Hospital in NYC.There I saw a black hooker who was punched in the eye. The Doctors were giving her the gears, saying “Oh, your friend did this , huh?

I saw an Orthodox Jewish family with their older daughter who was rushed into Emergency for another attempted suicide by pills.The family was stressed beyond belief.

Eventually the Emergency doctors got to us.Their diagnosis was this girl had been living on coke and candies for 5 days.She had spent all her money on clothes and had nothing for food. That’s why she was so sick. Ok. Now its 2am. I finally get home to the hotel and tell my Mom all about it.

The next night: Drew Kemp also had a group from Spectrum and they were way out of control. He had no control over them either. I remember there was one red headed kid named “Flamer”. It was strange because “flamer” meant gay in those days.

Anyway, Drew had put this MOM in charge of three other girls. She was supposed to stay in the room with these three very wild, out of control girls.  No way.These girls were basically running a knocking shop in their room.Booze, drugs, sex, the works. The Mom was horrified. So Drew forced me to take this lady into my room.That meant Mom and I had to sleep in one bed and the lady in another. Yikes. But we managed. Pretty bad of Drew though.Drew was, in so many ways, an irresponsible teacher, completely out of his depth.

Anyway the next night, Drew comes pounding on my door at midnight. “You gotta help me Charlotte”.The so called “chaperone” that was sent to babysit Drew, some guy named Brian ,was pacing around the room. He was a boozer. I guess either he didn’t have enough alcohol or he was having some sort of panic attack.So off to the hospital we went.This time it was Roosevelt hospital. They tranquilized this guy Brian with Valium and sent us home. I had never heard of a “shot” of valium. I knew so little. I think the Brian guy came home on his own the next day. What a nightmare!

The good part was Drew came with me January 1st evening to a Club called “Fat Tuesdays”.There we saw BETTY CARTER live in NYC. Unreal! There was an Italian man there with a tape recorder hidden under a serviette. Betty picked it up and said “Sir are you trying to tape-record me?”
He answered “Bella, we cannot get your music in Italia.Please let me record you”. I thought she was going to kill him! But she relented.

I watched her like a hawk.She had a black piano player, a guy about 21 who watched her every move.Those guys didn’t miss a beat.She was a master of vocal jazz.

Sitting beside us was Whitney Houston’s cousin. Her birthday was the same day as mine.

She was beautiful. She told me all about Sissy Houston, her Aunt.There was so much of the world I didn’t know and this was long before the internet.

Also, that was Christmas time and New Years Eve was rough. We were in our hotel and there was a total weirdo “flashing” the kids with his full frontal. We ran to the other side of the hotel and he followed us. We ran out, desperate to get away from this man! The hotel clerk told me “all the weirdos come out on New Years Eve.His warning to us: “Watch your wallets, ladies!”

Then we all went for a special dinner at some hotel:maybe The Metropolitan. I ate some sort of rabbit dish.Anyway it made me super sick. I had acid reflux like I had never experienced.  Later, the kids were scattered around. Some were up in Central Park, others were down in the thick of it by the RED APPLE that fell at midnight. At precisely midnight we all got out of there and ducked into a pub.There was an Irish cop sitting with us.

I felt that, although the trip was fun, I was way too young to be handling these kids. I remember we saw Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. I can’t really remember any other shows. I know the kids fell asleep though because they were so tired.We might have seen Into the Woods-yes we did. That was the first show.The kids fell asleep!


On the 2nd trip we had the Rob-Vu incident! Rob bought a watch from a bad guy near Macey’s.It was supposedly a ROLEX. It had a Macey’s tab on it and it looked like it was stolen. It was not! Such a scam! Rob said to me,Gordie and Brad:”Miss Harvey, run for it! Get in a cab!” I can’t believe we did this! Anyway it was a huge scam. Rob paid $40 for it and it was maybe worth $5. Again, we knew nothing about fake goods.

Anyway, we all went to the Statue of Liberty. Rob didn’t tell us he was afraid of heights. Up we go and when we got to the cork-screw stairs, there was no turning back, one way only. Rob started to panic.He didn’t tell me he was afraid of heights.We got to the top and Gordie shook Rob.Rob retaliated by throwing a punch at Gordie.Well, Gordie was too fast.He ducked and Rob landed a punch to the head of a Japanese tourist. Oh God.

Rob ran down the stairs as quick as lightning and I didn’t find him for two hours. Gordie apologized and we kept going. Oh my…..what a mess.

That trip I remember we went to “The Fever”. This starred Wallace Shawn. It was a one man show and I loved it. I also arranged for a hockey game at Madison  Square Gardens. We saw NYC Rangers and Edmonton Oilers-pretty cool!

I remember it was St Patrick’s Day and we went to a live taping of Donahue. It was on body doubles.

I think we saw Will Rogers Follies with a very young Marla Maples.I can’t really remember any other shows but I’m sure it will come to me. There were a couple of plays. I remember going to”Circle in the Square” and there was a woman covered in big bumps:it was that fibro-metosis disease. It freaked the daylights out of me. She was in a wheel chair.

Going to NYC was an entirely new universe. I remember a great student named Erin who introduced me to Enigma.That was the year we all went to Sol’s leather shop, crossing Delancy, onto Orchard Street. We all bought leather jackets. At first I said “No, there isn’t one for me, but Sol said “Here’s the teacher jacket. $300 US. Oh no I said, I couldn’t possibly….. $150, $ 100. Ok, $100. I bought it and wore it for years.

I remember trips to FAO Schwartz, trips through the Bronx during the crack-house days.We went to Sardis and had some sort of strawberry cheesecake.Sardis was called the “biggest gag on Broadway” because all the food was pre-cooked.It was run down.”

I remember taking the kids to The Cloisters. We had guides.The first one was gay as you like, but very responsible towards us.

The 2nd one was rude as could be and kept talking to Brad saying “I’d like to take your cherry”. Brad was drinking Shirley Temples.It was super embarrassing. But what could I do, fire the guide?Break- away  Tours had assigned him to us. I remember the boys were thrilled to purchase the book “American Psycho” as it was banned in Canada.

THIRD TRIP:Spring time 1993

Well it started off terribly.We got stuck in the snowstorm of the century, maybe it was 1993? We were stuck in Seattle for three days-couldn’t fly out. We watched the movie Ground-hog Day.There wasn’t much I could do with the kids. It was awful.We got in the middle of a knife fight near Pike Street Market.I was terrified. I thought these two guys had guns but one parent said “Oh its ok, they just have knives!”-Ahh!!   I said “kids, run for it!!”

I remember going with Jaimie to see the actual basketball court of West-side Story, just three days before the wrecking ball destroyed it. It was close to Lincoln Centre.

We saw something at Lincoln Centre. I remember going to the Vivian Beaumont theatre but I think that was for Wallace Shawn.

The Edison Hotel was a dump. We stayed in the other one for the last two trips.

I can’t really remember any shows we saw.

But one thing I definitely remember:NYC had gotten so much cleaner. I loved it in Springtime too. The first trip was a Christmas and the other two were at Spring break.

I really have to thank Dave for looking after our three kids. I must have been crazy but I was young and so inexperienced.

I remember, I think on the 2nd trip  Zoe got out of hand, running out to some club in Greenwich Village, watching men dancing around in lime green bathing suits. Good lord.

What is something had happened to those kids?

I remember seeing the Orthodox Jews with their wives all decked out for Passover.

We went to the Nikon camera shop and we saw the Hassedic Jews working on all the cameras. What an amazing site it was.

I know we were on the Statton Island ferry and the Liberty Island ferry. We went, I think, to the Ellis Island museum. We saw Eddie Murphy’s wedding at the Plaza Hotel.

New York was a funny place because it looked all glittery, but just around the corner, could be major trouble. I know I took the kids to Bloomingdales and . Macey’s and Saks 5th Avenue. We went to Central Park and saw John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields.

In 1993 I stood outside the World Trade Centre with the kids. “C’mon up Miss Harvey!, they said”

No way I said.  I’m not going up there.There’s something about this place….it had been recently bombed in the basement but then opened up for business. But looking up to it I said “No way”. So the kids went up and I waited.

We also went up the Empire State Building. But for some reason, I just got the “heebies” looking up at the World Trade Centre.I had a premonition I guess.

So that’s my New York stories so far. I remember planning a UK trip for Spring 1994.I was going to write to Princess Diana and ask her to meet us. I was so naive!!