You’re never too old to learn, they say. I say you’re never too old to learn you’re ignorant.
Why, just the other day, I learned that the chorus of the Beck song “Loser” is partly in Spanish: “Soy un perdedor,” it goes, which translates as “I’m a loser.” I’ve been mumble-singing “sore I am head the door” for the past 18 years, never considering that the lyrics might be in a different language. Does that make me racist? It’s true that a lot of things that never used to make you racist now make you racist. I was imitating an Asian accent the other day and my son said, “That’s racist.” Really? I would think it would be more insensitive than racist. But doing a British accent is still okay, right? What about doing Newfie? So confusing. Sometimes it’s just not worth trying to be funny and white.
Speaking of unfunny, white and British, the same day I had the “Loser” revelation, I learned that Queen Victoria’s birthday is celebrated only in Canada. I always assumed that Victoria Day was an Empire-wide thing, like licorice allsorts and a fearless embrace of drink. But only in Canada, you say? Pity.
The holiday goes way back to 1845 when the Legislature of the Province of Canada declared May 24 a holiday in recognition of the Queen’s birthday, making Canada the suckiest of all the colonies, a tradition we uphold to this very day.
Queen Victoria, of course, has been dead for over 100 years, and yet we still celebrate her birthday. I’ve had birthdays that carried on after I’d gone to bed but 100-plus post-death years is plain impressive. The question is, would Queen Vic be amused by this extended party? And, more important, would you let her be in charge of the music?
Despite naming a holiday after her, modern Canadians know very little about their former favourite sovereign. With Victoria Day falling as it does at the height of spring, many Canadians are under the impression that Victoria is the patron saint of lawnmower sales. But this is not the case. Queen Victoria did, however, file a patent for a prototype of what would later become the Garden Weasel (coincidentally her nickname for Sir John A. MacDonald).
As you get ready for your Canada-only long weekend, here are some other facts about Queen Victoria, party-rocker:
- Victoria came to the throne in 1837, which was just in the nick of time because there were cities and towns all over the world waiting to be named. What became known as Victoria, BC, for example, had previously gone by the description “stuffy Pacific outpost.” This remains the city’s motto.
- Victoria was a mere 18 years of age when she became queen. This seems awfully young, but it’s important to remember that, taking inflation into account, that’s the equivalent of 76 years old today.
- Queen Victoria never said “We are not amused,” as is often attributed to her. What she said was, “We are not a moose,” which was her response to some rather hurtful comments in the press about some recent weight gain.
- After Prince Albert died, the queen’s companion and personal servant was a Scott named John Brown. Though he was never formally recognized for his service, that’s Brown’s face you see on Canadian Tire money. This explains why going to Canadian Tire is a traditional Victoria Day activity.
- Queen Victoria could bench press 120 pounds.
- Queen Victoria hated olives.
- Queen Victoria never visited Canada, which just shows what a fat lot of good sucking up will do.
- Queen Victoria thought the lyrics to “God Save the Queen” were “Send her victorious/Happy and glorious/Lawn terrain over us…” Some say her long period of seclusion was due not to mourning but to profound embarrassment once she learned the truth.
- Queen Victoria could put on a wicked Indian accent but was not considered racist. Taking inflation into account, however, that’s the equivalent of pretty darned racist today.