With Canada Day just behind us, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has put together these small titbits of experience from various people on how Canada is perceived from abroad. Below, Nasser Hussain his experience in the United Kingdom and is, by far, one of my favourites:
One issue about being Canadian in the U.K. -- I've lived here since 2003 -- happens every time I get into a taxi and open my mouth. No matter how hungry, tired, rushed or tipsy I am when I tell the driver my destination, the conversation is always the same:
'What part of America are you from, then?'
'I'm not from America. You're close, though.'
A moment's thought, and, 'Oh! I thought I heard something in your accent! You're from Canadia!'
And it's that little slip of the tongue that tells me everything I need to know about my audience. Canadia is not Canada. It is a fantasy of Canada, full of maple-syrup-soaked bears wearing plaid shirts and drinking weak beer. Canadia is as cold and wintry as the U.K. is wet and moldy. Canadia is 'nice, isn't it.'. And everyone in the U.K. has a cousin who lives there, but they can never tell you exactly where.
This is the point in the conversation when I say 'It's all right, mate. All you Irish guys sound the same to me' -- which usually gets an initial laugh, but when the irony sinks in, the rest of the ride passes in the peace that only silence can bring.