This day last year I was getting out of bed in Montreal with a fearsome hangover having got back to my hotel at 4am after doing the sixth date of my North American speaking tour. Like the six earlier Ontario dates I wasn't blogging at that stage so I thought I'd revisit this stop.
Over the previous five or so years a couple of NEFAC members from Montreal had visited Dublin so unlike any of my earlier stops I'd be meeting up with people I already knew. They'd contacted me about speaking and as it happened I was heading through Montreal anyway round about this date so it made sense to do the meeting them.
Unusually I travelled up from Southern Ontario by train rather than by Greyhound, I think in total I only did four trips on train, two of these on what were really commuter services. It's a long trip with a change at Toronto, I think about ten hours in total. Winter had arrived and snow covered landscapes quickly become montonous, I spent most of the trip playing a computer game.
Montreal had been hit by a snowstorm just before I arrived (it gets a ridiculous amount of snow) and I caught on item on the TV where someone from the council was defending their actions in clearing up the city. he was explaining that they had in fact taken 76,000 truck loads of snow off the streets and out of the city, the problem was simply that there was too much of it.
A fair proportion of the main streets were somewhat clear but the side streets were often buried in snow, the presence of parked cars being camouflaged by the solid walls of snow they sat under. I had dinner at the house of one of the people organising the meeting before we drove across the city to the venue. The venue was a housing co-op, the Coop Généreux which had a huge communal living space / dining area. The idea was for my presentation to be followed by a fundraiser party in the space.
The attendance was very good, something in the region of 50 people but the only problem was the need to translate everything I said into French. I hadn't given this enough thought in advance because this meant my usual 30-40 minute talk would double in length. I quickly realised this as we got underway and tried to edit things down a bit but I reckon it was still far too long. Still people seemed interested enough and there were a good few questions afterwards.
The party went on for a good while and they wouldn't let me pay for drink at the bar. At the end of the night I was still up for staying out so they dropped me into a skinhead bar in the city centre where some of those at the party had gone. This involved drinking Fin de Monde a excellent but potent Quebec beer accompanied by shots of Jameson that people kept buying for me.
By the time I decided to call it a night around 3am I'd defintely had a little too much and one consequence of this is I only bothered getting vague directions back to the hotel. I realised this after I'd set off. The streets were buried in snow and it was very cold (although probably it was a 'warm' -10c). At one point I remember trudging through the snow on a deserted street I though was leading in the right direction to look up and see a snow plough the size of a combine harvester descending on me. I rapidly switched to another side street.
Obviously I made it back. In fact looking at a map the next day I saw that I had randomly followed almost almost a perfect route back.
WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )