Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.05.11
Stanstead, Quebec


"Tea time" is not the same as a "doughnut run"

Canada announced this week that it will begin sharing embassy space and some administrative services with Great Britain. Ottawa says this won't affect Canada's foreign policy but will simply represent good allies helping each other while reducing costs. Still, as everyone knows, politics makes strange flatmates.

From: Superintendent of Services and Facilities, UK Consulate in Kurkusk

To: Canadian staff

My dear colleagues,

Over the past fortnight, we in the British Foreign Service in Kurkusk have been simply chuffed to welcome you, our Commonwealth cousins from "across the pond," into our midst. We continue to offer up a "hip-hip-huzzah!" in recognition of this joint initiative. May we enjoy years of foreign diplomatic cohabitation. Pip-pip!

However, as the vicar said to the chemist, "If I'd wanted pollywhacking, I'd never have knackered my fag!" (Har-har.)

All gibes aside, and not wanting to cause a row, the bush that I must straight away cease beating about regards certain proprieties that we wish the Canadian staff might strive to adhere to in order to ensure peaceful and efficient co-existence within the consulate and its environs.

To wit:

  • Please be responsible for your own washing up at the conclusion of each meal. Particularly troublesome are the pots of caked-on "Dinner" by Kraft rendered to cement (and incidentally coloured the identical bright orange as the jumper my dear Gran purchased for me last Christmas).

  • While it is helpful to direct consulate visitors to the appropriate queue in accordance with the nation they wish to seek, I find it less than diplomatic to do so through the installation of homemade signs that read, on the one hand, "Canada," and on the other hand, "Slaughterer of Iraqi Babies."

  • If you are "entertaining" a guest in the consulate, the code is to hang one of your public school neckties on the doorknob. We were frightfully embarrassed last week when we barged in to discover Canada having relations with China.

  • We shan't, I hope, be dropping water balloons on the visiting climate change scientists again, are we agreed?

  • It is charming the manner in which Canadians remain so devoted to the monarchy, but please refrain from pinching all our portraits of Her Majesty and hanging them on your side of the consulate.

  • We've received numerous complaints about Canadian officials stopping visitors and boring them for hours on end with details about the War of 1812. I hate to be a boggydagger, but we've had our archivist take a bash at researching this, and, not to put too fine a point on it, are you quite certain this was actually a war?

  • Speaking of history, Great Britain and Canada share an esteemed naval tradition, but we have no notion as to who these "Barrett's Privateers" were and would truly appreciate if the Canadians would abstain from singing about them quite so loudly at three in the morning. Incidentally, we may need to launch an enquiry into the disappearance of several cases of bitter from the consulate pantry.

  • Please do not mess about with the thermostat on the boiler. You may be used to your Arctic winters but our noble imperialist past has accustomed us Britons to sultrier climes. We refer to it as "room temperature" and not, as we've heard muttered in slurring voices, "bloody British beer temperature." (Also missing from the pantry: six bottles of Harvey's Bristol Cream.)

  • Loathe though we are to interfere in Canada's foreign policy (and perhaps we simply don't "get" Canadian humour), we've discussed it with the Foreign Secretary and have concluded that your staffers' insistence on projecting that horrid "Innocence of Muslims" video on the wall of the neighbouring Iranian Consulate is simply poor judgement and might put us in a spot of bother security-wise.

  • Not pointing fingers but we left a packet of crisps on the credenza, right next to our copy of Perhaps the Sun Does Set Just a Tad: Empires We Have Known, and it has gone missing. We think it would be prudent henceforth to label all our food.

  • Disagreements are par for the course, but shouting "You're not the boss of me," is hardly conducive to mature dialogue.

    This, of course, is merely my tuppenn'orth. I'm quite certain that, with mutual respect and a smattering of international diplomacy, we can all get along like skivvy lorries up the Ipswich.

With deepest regards,

Evelyn Bomstalfershire (Mr.)

P.S. "Spotted dick" is a steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit. It's really not that funny. Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at