Kissing the cod in Canada begs the question: Is surrealism the new reality?

Terry Alderton - Pull The Other One last night

Terry Alderton – barking like a dog last night

… I suspect it always was.

Reality has always been surreal.

On the occasions I have talked to novelists, they have usually told me that their fictional works are often based on real stories and people, but they have had to tone down reality because, otherwise, no-one would believe it could ever happen.

Last night, I saw comic Terry Alderton at Pull The Other One comedy club in South East London. He was recently a regular in BBC TV’s mainstream soap drama EastEnders.

His act ended with 30 seconds of silence followed by him barking like a dog for one minute.

While he did this, he was holding two giant bench cushions, a lightbulb, the disconnected microphone and a separate microphone stand.

It seemed slightly odd until I got home and found an email from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. It read:

On the radio this morning, I heard that people are going to be lining up at the Vancouver Convention Center to kiss a cod fish. I am not sure if the fish is dead or alive. It is something to do with bringing east coast culture to the west coast.

When I worked as a stripper for a week in Newfoundland in 1979, I had the great experience of going out on a fishing boat. I was not sure if would catch a cod, but the fishermen laughed and told me not to worry and that I would.

And I did.

But, when the cod fishery industry collapsed, I felt guilty for my part in it. Cod fishing was the main industry in Newfoundland until the fish were all gone.

Now the Newfies (people from Newfoundland) are scattered across Canada. They are known for their unique sense of humour and for working very hard.

A couple of years ago, I told a Newfie that I felt guilty about my contribution to the collapse of the fishing industry and he laughed and told me it wasn’t my fault.

One of the senators I met at the airport hotel – Bill Rompkey – was a Newfie. It was a very serious meeting about light stations and maritime safety so I did not mention that I had been a stripper who had caught a fish off his coast. I would have liked to though.

Bill Rompkey, helped to save the jobs of the light keepers on our coast, who in turn have saved the lives of many people.

This August lightkeeper Jim Abram, who I met a couple of years ago, pulled nine people from the ocean when their boat overturned off Nanaimo.

Kissing the Cod certificate

The certificate you get for Kissing the Cod in Canada

The least bizarre part of that email message is that there is a Canadian city called Nanaimo. According to Wikipedia, it is nicknamed  ‘The Bathtub Racing Capital of the World’ – and ‘The Hub, Tub and Pub City’ because of its association with the aforementioned bathtub racing.

Apparently the tradition of ‘kissing the cod’ is a ceremony to welcome people to Newfoundland and is called a ‘Screech-In’.

The cod has to be kissed on the mouth.

The question is then asked: “Is ye a Screecher?”

The correct answer to this is: “Deed I is me old cock – and long may your big jib draw!”

After this, the newcomer has to drink a shot of rum (called ‘screech’) and he or she then receives a certificate from the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers.

The explanation of the meeting with the senators (also referred-to in a previous blog) remains swathed in mystery.



1 Comment

Filed under Canada, Surreal

One response to “Kissing the cod in Canada begs the question: Is surrealism the new reality?

  1. keith martin

    Once upon a time, i thought i could live there

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