It was around 3. We were driving home after a visit to Winners- boots were needed urgently. The Princess had chosen beautiful dark brown laced up boots, slim in the front, sturdy at the back. By complete coincidence, they were exactly the same as her best friend’s boots. I had resisted the urge to howl “sheeeeple” and gnash my fangs at the crowded aisles of Winners- they really were the nicest boots. They were expensive too. We resisted the urge to check to see if they were genuine leather- what if they were not? I sniffed the leather wolfishly, trying to catch a whiff of long-dead animal.

The drive is beautiful, curving round the glistening expanse of water. I have wrote of it before. The road is lined with glowing orange trees. I changed the radio channel. The final bars of Stairways to Heaven melted away.. “And she’s… buyyyyying a staaaairway to heeeeeaven” whispered Robert Plant. “Well, sounds like she picked up a good bargain at Kijiji” remarked the DJ tartly, without missing a beat.

It cracked me up. Gripping the steering wheel, I began cackling with laughter, and I couldn’t stop. As if all the resisted urges broke loose. I rolled round in the car and out on the orange-lined wet fall streets, laughing and laughing. The Princess reacted as always when I laugh at something she doesn’t get “What are you laughing aaaaaaat? I don’t get GET IT! WHAT? WHAT? TELL ME!”

Gasping for breath, I told her. “Kijiji- you know, the site where everybody buys and sells stuff. The song- really famous Led Zeppelin song- “Buying a stairway to heaven”… that’s the lyrics. So the DJ is joking- that she found a good bargain on stairways on kijiji…”

Canadian humour- even slyer and sillier than that of their British cousins. Usually they’re moaning and groaning in that polite sniffy and slightly paranoid way they have, till you want to bang your head against the wall, but once in a while, the humour flashes out, like a ray of fall sunshine piercing through grey clouds. It catches me off-guard every time.

And bang! a memory sealed in my soul, and hers. That is the power of music. Never again can we listen to that song, without remembering that drive, the sunshine gleaming on wet orange leaves, dark brown laced-up boots smelling faintly of leather, and a bargain stairways to heaven.


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