It was a typical Friday night in the nation's capital. Ottawa was getting ready for the weekend which meant that the civil servants were loosening their ties and packing their red tape away. The options for entertainment in Ottawa had improved since the days of Government-funded strip clubs in Hull, Quebec being the only show in town, but not by much.
The lineup of cars heading to Hull from Ottawa on a Friday night, as those who serve by stamping avoided home and family for the warm embrace of the fleshy delights, could be seen snaking across the bridge in the early evening rain from my office window. I wouldn't call it dark and stormy, maybe grey and damp; pretty much an accurate description of Ottawa even when the sun is shining.
What is it about nations' capitals that stifle all other forms of life except for those who are willing to be sucked dry by their strict adherence to the rule that unless it's in triplicate and countersigned it doesn't exist? Perhaps that's why the strip clubs in Hull are the favoured destination for either male or female staff.
All of them had been vetted and funded through loans and grants via the Business Development Bank of Canada. This meant they all had to submit to the rigours of meeting with the approval of the Civil Service. Anywhere that had to file receipts for everything from toilet paper to "servicing fees" warmed the cockles of a paper pusher's heart. They could feel at home in a place where they knew that the government signed the checks that paid that girl to lap dance and climb a pole using her thigh muscles.
Watching the rows upon rows of sensible cars obeying the speed limit and all traffic rules made me pine for wilder, more exotic locales - Prince Albert, Saskatchewan where you could at least watch the wheat growing sprang to mind - when the ringing of the red phone on my desk demanding my attention shattered my reverie. Not only did the sound startle me like waking up and finding myself in the middle of the gay women's caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada (I'd be startled if they existed let alone finding myself at one of their meetings), the fact that it was ringing at all set off alarm bells in my head that made a sound eerily similar to the balls on the brass monkeys outside of Parliament Hill clanging together on a mid-February night's freeze.