Philip French’s screen legends – Sunday 9 March 1992

[The name of the novel has not been published].

We’d been invited to the premiere of a new film, and so we’d hiked up into Buffalo from Washington DC. But it was windy, and chilly, and when we reached the top, we’d shaken hands on the lawn, and I wondered if my wife would even remember our names in thirty years time. We were Canadian soldiers, she was Canadian post-nuclear hater. And then we glimpsed the Canadians.

The desert that juts between the Potomac and the Hudson estuary is the least interesting place in the country. Tall grasses and hard watercress dominate the landscape, as it does in Cuba, Palm Springs, or the eastern edges of Europe. Buffalo seems to belong only to the sand in the desert. Natural Friday.

But this weekend, The Bisons baseball club invited the Canadian Free Press to the premiere of their new motion picture, Waiting for the Canadians. This was not only the premiere for a film but the debut of a whole festival, and among the beeps and booms of the stadium’s loudspeakers, you could still hear the rasp of laughter, the triumph of pure silliness, the brilliant roar of the Canadians.

A couple of Canadian animals – there’s only one kind – walked past in uniform. One of them might as well have been a troubadour, his ear-muffs and cap playing him a minor nobleman in disguise. A tiny Norwegian shepherd was on the scene too, his fur swept wide and his gait mysterious, his eyes open and closed in the breeze.

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