Sick, damn it. Sick. And my first time in Montreal too. Taxi straight from the train station to Hotel Le Roberval picked out at random on the internet, down some Advil and retreat under the sheets with the air conditioner on full blast.
I try to sleep but people are chatting under my window, police cars are screeching , my limbs are aching and my head is thumping. Only the sound of reggae can rouse me from my sick bed. I open my first floor window and take a peak. Rows of people, six deep on each side of the road, are waiting.
There is even a dog dressed in a pink tutu and rainbow coloured vest. It is Gay Pride a la Montreal and I have a ring side seat.
A waving hand from a chauffeur driven black car provokes a Mexican wave of approval. It must be the young Trudeau, his good looks masked by the protective windscreen. It was only later that I learnt he was accompanied by Leo Vardkar, the first openly gay Irish Prime Minster.
There are bilingual posters – ‘DEDICATED, DYNAMIC and DIVERSE or DEVOUEMENT, DYNAMISM et DIVERSE.
Some hand made placards calling for the decriminalisation of sex work, a minimum wage of 15 dollars, black life matters – I muse at the difference between life and lives.
Everyone seems to be at this carnival.
Via, the train company that brought me on the rattlesnake train from Toronto; Air Canada.
The Liberal and other political parties; down town restaurants; the Museum des Beaux Arts and every club you can imagine – macho rugby men, a basket ball team that breaks into a spontaneous game mid-march and computer games enthusiasts.
Religious bodies too. A Jewish synagogue.
An Anglican cathedral.
And who are those two men wearing red fezes carrying an Arabic sign?
Multicultural Montreal is on parade too. A bevy of Caribbean flags, an Indian dance troupe. There is something so good natured and homely about the whole event – that is until the leather clad bikers come along but they too bely their fierce apparel.
And there are drag queens of course.
Glorious in glitter, holding up strapless, sequinned dresses that slip down their flat chests, flouting their feathers, playing to the crowd from the back of open limousines
or from trailers bedecked with wedding cakes, balloons and dildos.
My best moment, though, is when a group of men, dressed in blue, veering on middle age, break into an impressive display of synchronised cheerleading, smiling and shaking their blue tassels at me.
Enough to make anyone feel better.