Tag Archives: London

Too Busy For the Habs That Year

003 This is my passport photo taken when I was 17.

I was getting ready to go on a big trip, which ultimately would cause me to miss most of the  Montreal Canadiens’ 1968-69 season.

I’m unable to talk about watching Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley in goal and rookie coach Claude Ruel winning the Stanley Cup in his rookie coaching season and most of the other details of that year, mainly because I wasn’t around.

When this passport picture was taken I was working in a factory, having quit school after grade ten, and was saving my money. I worked for a year in this old place, but on November 22, 1968, a month after I turned 18, my friend Robin and I took a train from Orillia to Montreal, boarded the Empress of England, and sailed for eight days and nights until we reached Liverpool, England.

My thoughts weren’t on the Habs at all. They were filled with swinging London, the Beatles, long-legged lovelies in mini-skirts, Carnaby Street, and of course the great British bands like the Stones, the Who and the Kinks. The sounds that had come out of there while I was stuck in Orillia, and all the photos which described to me a special place where kids were cooler than cool, drove me crazy until I knew I needed to go and see for myself.

From Liverpool we took a train to London because that was ground zero of all that was good and cool about England, and we took a room at the YMCA. (A few years later I also stayed at another YMCA in Sudbury, Ontario, and I don’t know about now, but I can tell you, YMCAs aren’t the Ritz).

I had no idea what was happening with my Habs and I’m ashamed to say it, but I suppose I didn’t really care at this time. We were in England and that was all that mattered. While Beliveau and the Pocket Rocket zigged and zagged and the team geared up for the playoff run, I ate fish and chips, rode double decker buses, and wondered if my hair had grown a bit more.

At one point we went to the Beatles’ office on Savile Row, knocked on the door, and asked a lovely young secretary lady if the boys were in. She said no, and to this day, I’ve wondered what I would’ve done if she’d said yes.

We traveled up through the Midlands in the dead of winter, into Derby and Nottingham, hitchhiking from the other side of the road of course, and I recall sleeping standing up in a phone booth one freezing night. We also got beds at a Salvation Army shelter for the down-and-out, and it was the two of us with heavy woolen blankets over top of us, listening all night to old, homeless men snoring and burping and farting and talking drunken gibberish.

We were in Swinging England! Robin bought a Victorian top hat at  the Portabello Road flea market which he wore when it wasn’t wet and windy. And we saw John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (with future Stone Mick Taylor on guitar) at a jam-packed Railway Tavern (Klooks Kleek), a place that also housed bands throughout the 1960s like the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Yardbirds, and more.

Back home, the Canadiens were rolling along to a first place finish, with big Jean Beliveau ending up second to Phil Esposito for the Hart trophy as league MVP. Yvan Cournoyer finished with 87 points, just five ahead of Beliveau, and Tony Esposito, who of course became a huge star in Chicago, was a Hab that year and replaced Gump Worsley in goal when Worsley had some sort of nervous breakdown.

And in the playoffs, the Canadiens first swept the Rangers, beat Boston in six games, and took out St. Louis in four games to win their 16th Stanley Cup.

There’s just not a lot I can tell you about this Habs season. I was busy.

Doing The Abbey Rd Shuffle

Abbey Road Studios, which opened in 1931 and where the Beatles recorded the majority of their work throughout the ’60s, is just a couple of dozen feet from the crosswalk at the corner where they walked across for their Abbey Road album cover.

You can see how it’s all laid out in the photos below.

Drivers have to stop for pedestrians here, which must be a pain in the keister for them. It’s a fairly busy street, and when I was there, there were plenty of Beatles fans strolling across as cars waited.

When the Beatles did their walk, police had traffic blocked off from either end, and the photographer was perched on a ladder in the middle of the street.

Anyway, I did it, it was terrific, and it’s now crossed off the bucket list.

Abbey Rd 4

Abbey Rd 6

Abbey Rd 2

Abbey Rd 3

Below, the studio.

Abbey Rd 8

Abbey Rd 9

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What goes across must come back.

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Abbey R

London Calling!

LondonA couple of months ago my brother called and asked if I had any plans from the 15th to the 24th of November. Then he left it like that for me to scratch my head and wonder.

A few days later he  told me what he was up to, which was an offer to buy me a plane ticket to London, England as a late birthday present. Now that’s a brother. And today’s the day we leave.

I’m gonna walk across Abbey Rd. Then there’s those great seats at the hit musical Sunny Afternoon, which is about one of my all-time favourite bands the Kinks. The massive flea market on Portobello Road is gonna be explored I hope.  And of course the pubs, because we’ll be thirsty from crossing streets and stuff.

And another thing while I’m on about London – I’ve always felt that the Queen’s chest size has been underrated for years.

I’m going to miss four Habs games though – Monday, when the Canucks visit and take a severe pounding; Thursday, when the Coyotes show up to be slaughtered; Friday, when the Canadiens clobber the Islanders in Brooklyn; and Sunday when those same Islanders come to the Bell for more punishment.

I’ll have my iPad and will see the scores and scorers, but I’ll be so busy there’s no time to talk about these four games. Lots to do in just a week.

Please feel free to mention anything about these games here if you so desire. And when I get back, I’ll show some photos of this short but sweet visit to Swinging London.

One last thing – my thoughts are with Paris. It’s difficult to understand such evil in our world, and although the timing of our trip could be better, I’m traveling without fear. No way are these sorts of threats keeping me from walking across Abbey Rd.

Bye for now. Back soon.

 

 

London, Paris, And Powell River At Her Mercy

Travellers in London and Paris weren’t the only ones held hostage by Mother Nature lately.

High winds forced the ferry that delivers folks back and forth between Vancouver Island and Powell River to tie up until it was safe to sail, thus stranding people trying to get home for Christmas.

It was a mess. I know because I’m a ferry worker, working just south of Powell River on another route, and we heard all about it.

The ferry terminal in Powell River was littered with cars and people bearing gifts with nowhere to go and stuck until further notice. Hundreds of people. Many waited all night and through the next day. Anger and anxiety cropped up. The boys in blue were called to maintain peace and good will.

Some finally took the long and winding road south to Vancouver, crossed over in more stable waters, and headed back up the Island, an island they could see just across the water when they were stuck in the parking lot, before they made the decision to go the long way around.

An hour and a half journey on one ferry became a twelve or fourteen hour ordeal involving three ferries – two to Vancouver and one more to Vancouver Island.

One fellow, flying from Edmonton to Comox with plans to ferry over to Powell River to visit his dad, found out after arriving that the boat wasn’t sailing and decided to grab a cab down to Nanaimo to get another sailing across to Vancouver. The taxi ride cost him $200.

Late Christmas Eve, after two days of waiting, the winds finally died down and the ferry started up. It even sailed an extra sailing at midnight to make sure everyone going home for Christmas actually got there.

There are a lot of people in different parts of the world, including the slightly isolated little town of Powell River, BC, who aren’t happy with that old broad Mother Nature right now.

I Can’t Believe I Missed The Olympics

It’s been such a disappointment for me. I had fully intended to be in the Beijing Olympics, probably as a gymnast, but 2008 just crept up on me and before you know it, the Olympics are in full swing and I never got a chance to practice or anything.

But I’ve decided to change gears and concentrate on the London Olympics four years from now. This will give me time to train, and find a new sport because my wife and friends finally convinced me that overweight people over fifty aren’t usually gymnasts.

But Archery, now that’s sport! And I noticed in the paper a little story about Canadian archer Jay Lyon, who says, “I’m not much of an athlete. I eat a lot of McDonald’s, and I’m probably overweight.”

But I’m an athlete. I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byer’s Bulldozers Bantam hockey team, for goodness sakes. And I don’t care much for McDonald’s.

However, I like beer and sitting in a chair.

Watch for me in London four years from now. I’ll be the one with the bow and arrow and several beer in the quiver.

Todd Bertuzzi, Elmer Lach, And Some Guy From England

Now that pretty well every free agent has been signed by teams not named Montreal, including Todd Bertuzzi who is now a Calgary Flame, I guess the only players left for Bob Gainey are Teemu Selanne, Emile Bouchard, and Elmer Lach. Everyone else is gone.

 I suppose Bertuzzi, if he’s in the right frame of mind which remains to be seen, can be a real asset to a team because he’s huge and mean, with good hands. But when I heard he’d signed with Calgary, I admit I breathed a small sigh of relief that he didn’t end up a Hab.

 Bertuzzi, even before the Steve Moore incident, was known far and wide as a miserable type to the media and even to many of his own teammates. His best friend on the Canucks was Markus Naslund, and Naslund may have been his only friend. Yes, the grapevine extends to Powell River.

 I’m just not convinced he would’ve been a good Montreal Canadien. And not only on the ice. If he didn’t like interviews elsewhere, how would he have put up with the onslaught of reporters in Montreal?

 Not only that, a lot of women around Powell River thought he was a hot stud, which I never understood. I always thought of him as someone out of an Edgar Allan Poe novel.

 In other news:

 Philip Delves Broughton, writing for London’s Daily Mail newspaper, says British workers considering invitations to come to Canada to escape the UK rat race should think again.

Broughton says that while Britain’s national symbol is the lion and America’s is the eagle, Canada’s is the flat-tailed, slow-witted beaver.

And he also says that Britons shouldn’t think for one moment that watching Canadian hockey will distract them from our lousy climate.

“If you thought British sport was becoming crude and violent, try watching two teams of toothless brutes sliding around on ice and pausing every few minutes to beat the daylights out of each other,” he says.