Wednesday 30 June 2004

two years of successful British-Canadian relations

It's our second anniversary on Monday, which I suppose will no longer be our anniversary when we get married. How strange to think that our anniversary will now take place on September 25. Should we still celebrate both? Hey, why not...if it means going out for a nice anniversary dinner twice a year, that can't be a bad thing.

I bought an enormous bag of crystallized ginger. It only came in one size but it looked pretty darn tasty. I envisioned snacking on it like dried papaya or trail mix, and since I love ginger so much, it was bound to be a treat. So I tore into the bag and stuffed a big piece of it in my mouth. My immediate reaction was "HOOOOOOOOOOOOWHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" Seriously, that's the noise I made (luckily, I was at home with the dog at the time and he generally doesn't think that I'm weird). Now I know that ginger is rather pungent, but man. My sinuses have never been so clear. Ever. I think it's really meant to be nibbled in small doses or used in cooking, so this bag is probably going to last me a good ten years. If anyone wants some crystallized ginger, it will be available at my desk starting tomorrow.

Tuesday 29 June 2004

moving pictures

It's time for the Cambridge Film Festival, and for the first time in the four years that I've lived here, I'm actually going to see a film at the festival. Go me! Heather suggested that we catch a flick together (leaving the boys at home to babysit and dogsit), and I'm really looking forward to it. So strange to think that I used to attend every festival that swung into town when I lived in Montreal - and believe me, that's a lot of festivals. There's sort of a running joke about Montreal having festivals for everything (for example, restaurants in touristy areas are forever having a "festival des fruits de mer" or some such thing), but it was fantastic to live in a city with so much going on. I loved going to the (please forgive my spelling, I am but a poor Anglo) Festival de Theatre des Ameriques, the Festival du Nouvelle Danse, the Fringe Fest, Jazz Fest, and of course the Montreal International Film Festival. Since I moved here, I've seen one play, saw the Fast Show live, danced the night away at a Lemon Jelly concert, sang along to Billy Bragg at the Folk Fest, and attended a film screening presented by Robert Lepage. I have so much catching up to do.

We plan on seeing the film "Clean", which happens to be Canadian. I'm also quite keen on seeing the new Jim Jarmusch film "Coffee and Cigarettes", but sadly have to miss out on the new Robert Lepage film "Far Side of the Moon". There is another Canadian film on that is about, of all things, snow. And it's based on a Farley Mowat novel. No, really. As Heather said, it's like a NZ film about sheep.

In addition to this cinematic feast of cultural enlightenment, I also really want to see "Shrek 2". Hee hee. Donkey.

Monday 28 June 2004

like a walk in the park

Yesterday, 2,000 of us walked and/or ran 5k for Cancer Research UK in lovely Bury St. Edmunds. It was a glorious day, which was amazing considering the damp, miserable, grey hideousness we've had all week. Paul and Jasper waited for us to complete the walk, and Jasper made several new friends, both canine and human. It was nice to be able to finish a walk for charity without feeling like my limbs had been pulled through a pasta extruder, fully clothed, and before 4am. You can still sponsor us until Friday - see the blurb at the top of this page for info. To those of you who have donated, thank you so much. We managed to raise £1,320, including the amount matched by my company. That is so very cool.

Friday 25 June 2004

exposing myself

It's Friday, and that means I must reveal my big secret. This is slightly more exciting than EastEnders, but not quite as riveting as this year's Big Brother (and what the merry hell is up with the people in the house this year, anyway?).

Right, so. My big secret.

There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just come right out with it. In the early 90's, I attended a Star Trek convention in Montreal. I wish I was joking, but I was a big Next Generation fan at the time. No, I didn't dress up. No, I never watched any of the other series. No, I didn't go with people I met on the Internet. The big guest star was James "Worst Scottish Accent Ever" Doohan who is, sadly, Canadian. I am not proud. I do hope you will continue to read this blog, even though I am obviously so nerdy, even software developers are laughing at this post.

What does this have to do with the four clues I've given this week? Absolutely nothing. What, you thought I'd provide useful hints to help you figure out my big secret? Tsk. So gullible, you lot.

Thursday 24 June 2004


Day four hint: February 23

My favourite South African, Mr. Adrian Sevitz, has been kind enough to provide us with his version of "Pass the butter, please". Click here to launch this scintillating audio file. Conclusion: South Africans don't sound quite as cowboy-esque when imitating an American accent, but they are equally amusing. Now I know for a fact that certain individuals are playing this game at home but are too chicken to send me an audio file, even though they have discovered the unending hilarity that is "pass the butter, please". Please, don't be shy. We're all friends here and we promise that we are laughing with you. You can remain anonymous if you prefer, although when Hollywood comes looking for an English person to star in the next big blockbuster cowboy film, they won't know who you are. The choice is yours.

Similarly, any non-English people wishing to record themselves attempting to be English would be most welcome. For this exercise, use a phrase of your choice. For example, "This parrot is bleeding demised", "Cor blimey, Mary Poppins", or "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" would do nicely. I thank you.

Tuesday 22 June 2004

chips ahoy

Day three hint: my big secret has nothing to do with the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, or that kid from the Oscar Meyer ad ("My bologna has a first name...").

Tosha and I needed chips today, so we headed out on a mission to obtain deep fried potato products. There's a new hotel right by the office with a brasserie that happens to serve club sandwiches. Now there's something you don't see in this country every day. In fact, I've never seen club sandwiches on a menu in this country fullstop. They also have waffles and banana splits, so along with the extremely attentive service (how many people can ask if your meal is alright? Answer: approximately 4), it was like being in a restaurant back home. Except the place was full of English people and we paid in pounds.

I had a dream last night that I was working in Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. Maybe I should stop eating ice cream right before bed.


I went to the osteopath today and he asked how I was doing, with that gleeful glint in his eye. I told him that I'm 5 weeks pregnant and he clapped his hands together with joy. I'm telling you, people are going to get suspicious.

My evil triplet (I used to be evil twins with Gary, but we now have a new addition) Tosha is 10 weeks pregnant! How spooky is that? We seem to be in synch a lot of times, but this takes the cake. Mmmmm cake. Where was I? Right, yes, Tosha's due one month before me. How very cool! I really wanted to share my news with her, but it's too early and more importantly, I don't want to steal her limelight. She's going to make the news "public" in a couple of days and she should bask in the attention from her colleagues! Um, that's assuming engineers are capable of noticing stuff like this and actually care about it. At any rate, it'll be really nice to have a pregnancy buddy so close by.

I've kept most of the moodiness at bay, although I find I get irritated very easily and my face has erupted in pre-teen zits. I'm one step away from slamming my bedroom door, shouting "You don't understand! I hate you!", and playing AC/DC really loudly for the next 8 months.

Am I glowing yet?

mrs. peacock, in the conservatory, with the rope

Day two hint: Five (no, not the boy band)

Here's something fun to try if you're North American and know someone who's British. For some reason, English people sound like cowboy movie rejects whenever they try to do American accents. Thanks to my friend Jen, I discovered that a fun phrase to get English people to say is "Pass the butter, please" in their best American accent. Go on, give it a try!

If you're very bored and English (not that the two are usually synonymous), why not record an audio file of yourself saying "Pass the butter, please" in an American accent, and send it to me at: broad[at] Record youself even if you're not English or North American - it'll be a fun experiment to see if you sound like a cowboy too. If I get any, I'll post them here. Go on!

Monday 21 June 2004


So this Friday, I'm supposed to reveal a secret about myself. Why? Because Gary told me to. More accurately, this blogging week has been declared a "hint around at something secretive and reveal it on Friday" week. Imagine how riveting it'll be! Imagine!

Day one hint: In September, I will be maintaining a longstanding family tradition.

Thank you, come again.

Sunday 20 June 2004

swing shift

I seem to oscillate between feeling great sentimental affection for those closest to me, to wanting to slap complete strangers in Tesco. There are moments when I am in such a fantastically wonderful mood, and suddenly I find myself trying really hard not to tell people to bite my Canadian arse. I'm either speeding around the house cleaning every surface in sight or I'm too exhausted to move. I can't wait to get into work to finish up the projects I'm working on, but on the other hand, my job is a complete waste of time and everyone in the company pisses me off.

I've got 35 more weeks of this. God help you all.

Saturday 19 June 2004

is that a bun in the oven, or are you just happy to see me?

Here's the post wot I wrote on June 15. I wasn't sure if I should put this up here now or wait a few more weeks, but considering how few know about this site, it wouldn't exactly be spilling the beans to the world. And besides, I'm bursting to tell! So for the elite few of you, here's the post:

I'm pregnant!

I'm thrilled, excited, scared, nervous, cautious, over the moon, ecstatic, worried, and a bit gassy. It's strange because I'm in that odd place between wanting to tell everyone in the world and not wanting to say anything just in case this little one doesn't stick. There's the old "wait until the first trimester is over" tradition, but I want to tell our parents sooner than that. I will tell my friends about it before the wedding (I will be 18 weeks pregnant by then) because they'll all get very suspicious if I don't drink on my Hen Night. I'm really bursting to tell everyone, though. I'm so bad at keeping secrets; never let me know if you're planning a surprise party for someone.

I rang the surgery today and got (thankfully!) a lovely receptionist who told me to come in and fill out some forms. We stopped by on the way back to work and filled out the paperwork, then the receptionist dumped half a ton of booklets on the counter saying, "These are for you!" "What, no mug? No t-shirt?" I asked. Apparently a midwife will get in touch with me and unravel the mysteries of giving birth in the UK.

So far, I haven't had many unusual (i.e. non-PMS) symptoms. The only weirdness has been a dull lower bachache, a strange pulling/stretching sensation in my lower abdomen, the odd headache, and my boobs now seem to have a life of their own and are apparently preparing to feed a small African country (including wildlife). Otherwise, it could be any typical month of womanly fun, what with all the bloating, fatigue, irritability, and increased appetite. I've read that I might experience any of the following symptoms: cravings, backaches, bloating, thick hair, huge boobies, weight gain, and mood swings. So it'll be like me but much more so.

I can't stop reading books and online articles (I really should stop that as the conflicting information is just annoying me), and I can't help but look ahead to the future. Paul is really happy and we are both so looking forward to having a baby (I'm sure Jasper will be thrilled too, mostly because the baby will drop lots of food and provide several thousand new toys for them both to chew on). I can't wait to start telling people. I can't wait to go buy baby things. I can't wait to be a Mummy.

But mostly, I can't wait until I'm past the first trimester so I can relax a little.

please leave a message and we'll get back to you in about 10 weeks

I rang the surgery today to find out when the midwife will be getting in touch, but it shut early for some reason. The recorded message gave a number for the NHS helpline, so I thought I'd give them a ring and ask them what happens next. A very nice nurse called me back (I'll say it again - hurrah for nurses) and explained that "not a lot will happen for quite some time". Although a midwife will probably get in touch and take my medical history soon, I won't have any tests, scans, or even a check-up until I've reached 14 weeks. She said that the only thing to do at this point is make sure the baby progresses and if I have any difficulties, I should give them a call. Although she was very diplomatic about it, the message that came across was that it's very early days yet and they want to make sure I'm out of the high risk phase before they start any antenatal care.

So I told Paul about this and burst into tears, thinking that I could miscarry at any minute and that's why the NHS don't want to see me. I posted a message to BabyCentre and sent one to Heather asking if this was the norm, which prompted several comforting and informative messages that made me feel a lot better.

I think I have to just simply enjoy being pregnant and let nature take its course. There's nothing I can really do at this point but provide a nice warm comfy room for the little one to snuggle in to, and there's no point in worrying myself into a stupor. This is what I've been daydreaming about for the past year or so, and this is a wonderfully unique experience. It is pretty flippin cool, I have to say. Plus, I should savour the moments I don't spend with my head in a toilet.

**Update: I spoke to a midwife at my surgery (not THE midwife, but anyway) who said I should have my first at home appointment at 10 weeks, and my first scan at 12-14 weeks. After realising that at this point there's not much that can be detected or not much than can be done if something goes wrong, it makes sense not to be poked and prodded until I'm further along. Also, after seeing so many American women panicking about things like beta tests (which checks HCG levels throughout early pregnancy) and how little they actually gained by having early scans (some at 5 weeks!!), I think the way it's done here makes more sense. And will probably give me less to panic about!

Friday 18 June 2004

happy friday

Last night, for the first time in at least 20 years, I made cinnamon toast for myself. I've been craving cinnamon rolls all week, so this was the best substitute I could come up with. For those of you who haven't experienced the joy that is cinnamon toast, here's what you need: toast (white), butter, sugar (I prefer brown sugar), and cinnamon. Butter the toast, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Give it to your kids and watch them bounce off the walls for hours!

Cinnamon toast makes me very, very happy.

Thursday 17 June 2004

back away from the mental lady

I'm fat. I can't fit into any of my clothes, even my fat skirts. I had to order some trousers and skirts from Next in a stupidly huge size, even though I didn't want to buy any more clothes until we go to the States for our honeymoon. Everyone is annoying me and I've had to make a conscious effort not to spew abuse at people in a Linda-Blair-pea-soup kind of way. I'm tired, dizzy, and achey. I feel like I've got the flu with the added bonus of having hayfever at the same time. My boobs are the size of a pair of hovercrafts. I have a headache.

Sing along with me: "I enjoy being a girl."

i'm fine, thanks for asking

I just tripped up the stairs (loudly and with great finesse) with not one, but two engineers right behind me. Neither one of them asked if I was okay, and in fact, one of them gallantly let me hold the door for them when I got to the top of the stairs.

And these people wonder why they never get any dates.

Tuesday 15 June 2004

adventures in babysitting

So the very lovely and incredibly trusting Jack and Heather asked us to look after little Rebecca on Saturday. Since we need the practice (if minding someone else's baby for a couple of hours actually counts as "practice") and we think Rebecca's cute as a button, we were happy to oblige. Jack whipped up a very nice dinner, and we chatted for a little while before they went out for the evening. I had the crash course in Baby 101 courtesy of Heather, and they got ready to leave.

That's when we learned that Rebecca has the lungs of a younger and somewhat balder Luciano Pavarotti.

The poor wee one screamed and screamed and screamed, which in babyspeak is the equivalent of saying "I can't believe you're leaving me with these strangers! Your own flesh and blood! These people don't even have kids, for crying out loud!" Jack and Heather reluctantly left her in our care so they could enjoy their very first evening out (and have a belated anniversary treat). I carried Rebecca up to her room thinking that maybe the heat was bothering her and the cooler air upstairs would help. Nope. I tried giving her a bottle again. Nope. Checked her nappy. Nope. Patted her on the back and rubbed her tummy. Nope. Put her down to sleep. Nope. Made silly noises and twirled her mobile over her head. That worked, sort of. In between gasps and sobs, she momentarily got distracted by the felt animals swirling above her. Phew. Silence. The phone rang, and it was Jack checking in and all was well. Five minutes later, the wailing began again. Right - bottle, nappy, rocking, cuddling, walking, burping, singing, talking, bouncing, hey look at Mr. Bunny!, and let's try the bottle again - bingo. She finished her bottle, let out some rather impressive belches, and very happily watched the football on my lap and then Paul's. Oh, the drama.

She was lovely, though. There is something so infinitely cool about seeing a baby smile and giggle at something you're doing, and to see her eyelids droop in a milk-induced drunkenness. And to cap it all, I am still baby barf-free! Go me.

move along, nothing to see here


Sorry, I am truly evil. I blame this on the fact that I'm sure that I'm losing my mind. I just spent 15 minutes scouring both office kitchens looking for my mug. "Bloody cleaners," I muttered to myself as I rifled through all the cupboards (the last time my mug went missing, it had been broken by one of the cleaners who neglected to tell anyone about it). I grudgingly used a plain, white, boring mug and plodded back to my desk...where my nice Lisa mug was still sitting happily from the day before.


Maybe I shouldn't handle sharp objects or drive heavy machinery today.

Monday 14 June 2004

Sunday 13 June 2004



More tomorrow.

new life

The sun is shining and we have just seen the first flower on the lily pads.

Life is good.

Thursday 10 June 2004


We got a new coffee machine at work recently. It's the most civilised coffee maker I've ever encountered. It has a display that says "please" a lot and when it's done making your coffee, it cheerfully tells you to "enjoy your drink". I don't drink coffee, so I continue do deal with an incredibly rude kettle who never wishes me a joyful beverage experience and gives me three inches of limescale with each cup of tea. It even scalded me once; it's a very unhelpful appliance. It was great fun watching people trying to figure out this new machine first thing in the morning. Being put off by the very "American" chattiness of the display and trying to figure out which coffee to drink (the names of all the varieties have changed), there were a lot of grumpy and perplexed engineers in the kitchen.

I love the smell of coffee and chaos in the morning.

Tuesday 8 June 2004

recommended reading

I got a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility yesterday, and I have to say, it's one of the most useful and informative books on women's reproductive health I've read. If you can get past the "most people in the medical profession don't know squat" rhetoric, it's a fascinating read. I think I've learned a lot in the past few months about my own body, but it was mostly centered around how to maximise my chances of getting pregnant. This books also provides insight on how our bodies function each month - pregnant or not - and discusses other health issues such as menopause and PMS.

It's the kind of book I would give to my daughter, in my new age Mum attempt to be as open with my kids as possible. It's quite shocking to realise how little you know about your own biology, especially something as significant as your reproductive system. Considering how much of an impact it has on us each month, it's worth knowing that it's more than bleeding, feeling bitchy, bloated, and crampy every 30 days or so.

I would, however, recommend that you keep this book away from your partners. The pictures of cervical positions and cervical mucus are enough to scare them away from your nether regions for a very long time.

Monday 7 June 2004

and may i just add...

Need to vent. Sorry, but if I don't get it out somehow, I'll just end up in a book depository in Dallas. Where was I? Oh, yes. Venting.

Why is it that there are approximately one bajillion signs that you're fertile, but there is no real way of knowing that you're pregnant until your period is late? If you want to time conception right, you can use ovulation prediction kits, take your temperatures and go by previous cycle patterns, and you can check the position of your cervix and anything it may be secreting at the moment. Grand. Post ovulation, you're on your own, sister. You may not have any pregnancy symptoms (it seems most don't happen until weeks after fertilization, anyway), you can't do a pregnancy test until your period is late, and all those "symptoms" you've been experiencing are the same ones you feel every month during PMT. So basically, all the experts say wait until your period is late. Well duh. Pffft.

Hate the two week wait. Going to eat chocolate now.

feed me, seymour

Oh, how I love it when people have us over for dinner (thank you, Gary and Ruth). We really enjoy having people over to our house (and when we do, we have a habit of cooking as if a small Eastern European country may be stopping by without prior notice), but we are thrilled when someone else does the honours. I love going to Paul's Mum and Dad's for the weekend, because there's usually a fabulous Sunday lunch involved. One of the first things my Mom does for me whenever I come home for a visit (whatever time of day) is have a meal waiting for me. We're not lazy, it's just such a treat to sit at a table and have food placed in front of us.

In my family, food is a gift. When someone has you over for dinner, you thank them for this lovely gift by bringing them the gift of even more food. When you have people over, you send them home with food (preferably not the food they arrived with as their gift to you). You bring food to birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, and bon voyage parties. You bring food even if your host begs you not to bring anything and the table is already starting to buckle under the weight of 800 lbs. of potato salad. My Mom spends $100 on postage to send me food, and has been sending me care packages for the last 18 years since I left home. When Jack and Heather announced the birth of their daughter, one of my first thoughts was that I must bring them food (and I did). All of our gatherings with friends involve food. My hen night will end with a dinner. We picked our wedding venue based on the fact that we loved the food. One of the things that impressed me about Paul (and still does) is his ability to cook. The way to this woman's heart is through her rather voluminous stomach.

And of course there's wine. We will accept that as thanks for a dinner anytime.

virtual symptoms

Last night, I had a dream that I threw up. So here's my theory: maybe if I get morning sickness when I'm pregnant, it'll only manifest itself in my dreams.


Saturday 5 June 2004

i feel like chicken tonight

The ovulation prediction kit has been rather cool - I like new gadgets. It does seem to work well with taking my temp every morning, and has given me a better idea of how my cycle works. There's something slightly comforting in getting advance warning; a positive means go for it and you've got two days to do it. Otherwise, you're guessing and wondering if you're too early or too late.

This has also turned out to be entertaining for my beloved fiancee. Since hearing the news that ovulation will occur in the near future, he has been making chicken noises at me periodically. Eggs...hatching...get it? So, he brrrrrrock bock bock bock bock bock bock bock bocks at me and asks me if I'm incubating. So glad that he can make light of this - seriously. This has the potential of turning into a stressful chore, making him resentful. Instead, he's been keeping both of us giggling with his barnyard impressions. This, along with the "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming" song ("Finding Nemo" reference) has made things far more fun.

I can't wait to see what he comes up with once I'm actually pregnant. If he mentions Alien, I'll throw something hard at him, though.

Thursday 3 June 2004

tick tick tick tick tick

It's the dreaded Two Week Wait: the days between ovulation and when you are supposed to start your period, where you fuss and fret about whether or not you're pregnant. Whee. Gosh, I never noticed that tiny bump before - I wonder what that means? Oooh I feel a slight twinge within a 2 foot radius of my abdomen, does that mean anything? I think I feel moody/hungry/barfy/sleepy/achey/bloated. What could that indicate?


I would type more, but it's difficult to use a keyboard when you've got all your fingers crossed.

signs you need help

I know I'm a sad, sad person because:

  • I hate everyone on Big Brother this year, and yet I still watch it nightly.

  • I've ordered a t-shirt after having seen it on Diarmuid Gavin recently.

  • I'm pleased that I've got a big jar of Welsh's grape jelly at home so I can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

  • I've asked more than one person to bring me maple syrup when they come visit in September.

  • I'm really excited that the Star Wars trilogy is coming out on DVD.

  • I'm really excited that we've decided to make a roast chicken dinner on Sunday.

  • Why are most of these about food?

  • I've still got an episode of ER to watch on our TiVo.

  • And television?

I'm not proud, but at least I'm happy. I'm a simple gal, really.

Wednesday 2 June 2004

pass the peanuts

I've just explained to someone that there are only two airlines that fly to Canada from the UK: British Airways and Air Canada. I told him why I think BA would be a better choice, but this joke sums it up nicely:

A guy was sitting at an airport bar and noticed a beautiful woman sitting next to him. He thought to himself, wow, she is so gorgeous, she must be a flight attendant.

So he decides to scoot towards her and try to pick her up, but couldn't think of a pick up line.

After thinking for a while, he turns towards her and says, "Love to fly and it shows?"

She gives him a blank, confused stare and he immediately thinks to himself, oh crap, she mustn't fly for Delta.

So he thinks of something else and says, "Something special in the air?"

She gives him the same confused look. He thinks, damn! She must not fly for American.

So next he says, "I would really love to fly your friendly skies."

When suddenly the woman, irritated beyond belief with this guy, barks out, "Man, what the hell do you want?"

The man in a relieved voice says "Ahhh, Air Canada."

Tuesday 1 June 2004

when accents go wrong

Before I forget, I must note this amusing tidbit from this weekend. Jack, Heather, and wee Rebecca came over for a visit on Saturday. For those of you who do not know these lovely friends of ours, Jack and Heather are from New Zealand. Okay? Right.

So Heather says to us, "We almost had six the other night" (referring to hours of sleep). Kiwis have more vowel issues than Canadians, and the word "six" sounds an awful lot like "sex" to the non-Kiwi ear. Paul and I then tried to understand how one can "almost" have sex and what sort of expressions/words should we use in response?

Hey, they're new parents. It made sense at the time.

wrong in so many ways

Okay, I won't keep making jokes about the various things people do to improve their chances of conception. I understand that some people are willing to try anything when they're desperate for a child. I can respect that.

I cannot, however, stand by and let people do horrible things with green tea. Apparently it increases fertile cervical mucus, but the things some Westerners are doing with it are horrifying. They suggest adding things like honey, milk, and sugar to it! Some of them drink it iced with lemon and sugar! No, no, no, no, no - this is so very wrong. Please, I beg you, find a good quality green tea and drink it as intended: in a lovely china cup, with nothing added but hot water. You can try genmai cha, which is a bit more palatable to Westerners. We used to call it "popcorn tea" as kids, and it's very tasty. Just please, please stop adding things to your green tea. Please.

I thank you.

when voting doesn't count

I can't vote in the next Canadian general election. "So what?", I hear you say. "You live in the UK now, just in case you haven't noticed that it doesn't snow much anymore and everyone around you has a funny accent." Well yes, it's true. I do live in the UK now but up until this election, us ex-pats could vote from overseas. This election, I can only vote if I can give a date I plan on returning to Canada (I could lie I suppose, but that would make baby Jesus cry). After this general election, I won't be able to vote at all - after 5 years of living overseas, you are no longer eligible to vote in Canadian elections.

I think the right to vote should be based on how much Canadian-ness you've managed to retain while living overseas. A questionnaire could determine how Canadian you are. For example, here are some questions you can ask Canadians living in the UK:

1. When you hear people talk about "American ice hockey", you:

a) Smile and appreciate the fact that you can still hear about hockey results in the UK.

b) Giggle at the way those cute English people refer to it as "ice" hockey.

c) Irately explain to your partner/friend/anyone standing within hearing distance that it's not American hockey, particularly as most of the players are Canadian and we have Stanley cup-winning teams, for god's sake.

2. You see someone Canadian on television. You:

a) Quietly take pleasure in seeing a fellow countryman/woman and enjoy being reminded of home.

b) Make a note of it and mention it in your next letter home to your best friend.

c) Point and scream excitedly, "S/HE'S CANADIAN!!" repeatedly. (Except if the Canadian is someone embarrassing like Celine Dion or James Cameron, in which case, you keep very quiet.)

3. You notice that your local pub is serving Labatt Ice. You tell your friends:

a) "Labatt's is okay. Not really my favourite, though."

b) "Is that a good beer? I don't drink the stuff myself."

c) "No one in Canada drinks that crap! It's mass produced garbage! Let me phone my friend and have them Purolate some decent microbrewery stuff to us."

4. Someone says to you, "American, Canadian - who cares? You're all the same." You:

a) Politely remind them that Canada is actually a different country.

b) Keep quiet. Perhaps this person isn't well travelled and shouldn't be ridiculed.

c) Beat them senseless with your copy of the Littlest Hobo soundtrack and swear at them in two official languages.

I'm going to write to my (former) MP and suggest this testing method.