I take the bike down the road to the Innsville. It’s hot. Baking hot. Hot enough that I think of stopping at the Tim Horton’s but carry on and park up by the Bell phonebooth and go in to the air conditioned main bar. The Innsville is really a hotel and restaurant but they have a circular bar with big, substantial hardwood bar chairs. Wood-panelling abounds. It’s a while before I’m served and I silently catch the end of the Argentina versus Belgium match. There’s an Irish Canadian guy holding court. Gerry sits at the end of the bar with his Molson Canadian t-shirt and Molson Canadian bottle. Outside a diver on his way to Saudi is sunning himself before his flight out tonight. He’s pounding through beers. We talk, and Jacqui the waitress serves me a Alexander Keith’s Red. I take a lunchtime Cubano sandwich which almost brings tears to my eyes. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. This is a serious pub lunch. Murray turns up (ex-trucker, retired 15 years). He tells me there is always work here. “Maybe not the work you want to do, but there is always work.” He has keen eyes and has seen more that I’d care to know about, given his line of work. He speaks of trips up to Quebec City to make a little cash. He eats a potato salad and heads off, shaking my hand.
After a while I tail it back to Bridgman Lane and serve up my new wife a cheeseboard on the farm, woozy enough from the couple of beers (well, three) that I take a Diet Coke with me and then I’m back on the bike and all the down Main Street West into Grimsby, ON. The former Township No. 6, now renamed, held its first town meeting in 1790 when it was part of Upper Canada. Its town bell, that rang out Canada’s Centennial on July 1 is in the Square too. I sweep down past the Syndicate Restaurant and onto Main and there’s a big fuss going on in Teddy’s Bar. I’m glad as the Netherlands match is on. But turns out it is Teddy’s 50th anniversary and its packed out and there’s a band and the place is heaving with people in the Oranje. I grab a couple of drinks and then a Clamato Caesar. Randy is next to me at the bar. He’s an ex-electrician that now has something ‘in the pipeline’ along with a failed marriage but ‘they’re still friends’. I tell him that’s great and eat the picked chilli my extra spicy Caesar came with. It’s as hot as a bakery in here and I go to take a piss. Back out and I’m wending my way down Main St W again in the blazing sun, running along on the Serengeti Trail Bike that’s a clear couple inches too big for me and has no back brakes. I see myself hitting the front set, going over the forks into the gravel, gouged out cuts and a deep gash that needs stitches. I take it easy at the four way stops as a result.
I stop to take in the Nixon Hall and the Coxon place and the MG for sale (drop top 70s model, mint condition). I take in the rolling fields backdropped by the Niagara Escarpment. Maybe that Guinness was a mistake: heavy for a bike ride, no? Gerry lives round here I guess (he was into ‘property’) and then there was the Newfie-born cop taking his chopper out for a spin.
“Do you wear ear protection?” I ask. “My friend does.”
Gerry talks for him. “We make helmets that take care of all of that,” he says, pointing to the gigantic helmet left on the bar.
The barmaid gives me a frosted Coors Light two pint pitcher as a souvenir and we head back later that night to take in the covers band, Retro Party Groove. They play Stones and it makes sense, barroom grooves, a pub band with talent. But when the Springsteen-ish lead man plays the notes to “Let It Be” it’s like someone beamed that music in from outer space and I know deep down I’m a Beatles man and whilst I’m reading Whitman and maybe getting off its retro party groove, I’m kind of wishing I could be Wallace Stevens and claim some of those perfect lines as my own.