Penticton, British Columbia
The 1970s seemed full of science fiction – an endless stream of feature films, lots of television series, countless books.
One film remains in the memory – if you can supply a title, let me know – the hero is transported somehow to a planet similar to the Earth, but not the same, its most noticeable difference being the two moons in its night sky.
The story revolves around attempts to get him back to his own time and space. At the conclusion, he believes he has got home, but looks up into the sky to see the two moons.
There are moments when Canada seems to be almost home. The queen’s head on the coins, pale ale in the pubs, the Union Jack in many places, English spoken everywhere; a whole series of things down to eating fish and chips for your tea (if you so wish!).
Then the two moons moments set in.
Landscapes that cannot be found anywhere in Britain or Ireland; wildlife that is dangerous, very dangerous; towns that have sprung up in a couple of generations; the lack of any national newspapers; the endless permutations possible when ordering meals in a restaurant (“No specifications”, said one waitress “you guys are really easy to deal with”).
The moment of truth is on the roads. The hire car is a fairly ordinary family-sized MPV, the term here seems to be a “van”. It’s a Chevy Uplander. The only European cars that have been alongside us for comparison have been a Nissan X-Trail and a BMW X5 – it is bigger than both. It has a 3.9 litre engine, an engine that is not overly large by local standards, the pick ups favoured by many people seem to be five or six litres. It took almost seventy litres to top up the petrol tank at the last garage. It all seems excessive, but if I was driving the roads here year round amongst lorries that dwarf anything in Europe, I think I would want at least the 5.4 litre Ford Triton that was beside us in the car park. (It takes a brave man, such as the Canadian Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, to raise the question of carbon emissions).
It’s a land of two moons.