The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday 15 July 2016

And so the bastards strike again!

Who knows how many times we will have to wake up to the news of these murdering bastards wreaking their havoc, not just in France of course, but anywhere in the world where these morons with enormous chips on their shoulders have a supposed "grudge". I didn't hear about Nice until this morning as I didn't stay up for the fireworks. Many small towns in France have the Bastille Day fireworks on 13th so that people can "recuperate" during the day on 14th July, which is a holiday here. Not for me, of course, since I work in Switzerland, so I only heard about the atrocity this morning when I got up.

The pathetic thing is, though, more often than not the bastards who carry out these atrocities are just pawns - cannon fodder, if you like - in the games played by the "kingpins", who are usually too cowardly to carry it out themselves. They are society's "rejects" - drugged up zombies, or more often than not petty criminals, who see this as their one shot to "be Mr. Big". If only they knew, they are destined to be used, chewed up and then spat out by their puppet masters, brainwashed into carrying out these heinous acts and then consigned to the cesspit of history as the cowards they are.

I feel so tremendously for those caught up in it, for the emergency crews confronted with such horrors, and also for the innocent, law-abiding Tunisians (I believe in this case), going about their daily lives, minding their own business, and who will surely bear the backlash of this in some cities. Indeed my best friend is Tunisian, and you couldn't ask for a kinder, more hard-working family man than him. I am sad beyond words!

Monday 11 July 2016

Thank God the Euro is over!

When I was on the bus going home on Friday night, a couple about my age got on at the train station, and ended up having to stand as it was pretty crowded. Eventually they both found seats though not together. When we were almost at the P & R the man's phone rang really loudly, and he seemed to be being "Facetimed" by a couple of youngish-sounding kids speaking in English. The man was obviously French-speaking but his English was excellent and I get the impression they might have been his kids (divorcé?). He told the kids he was on the bus and scanned the camera round for them to see, and then one of them asked if he would like them to sing happy birthday to him! To which he replied yes, of course! So the kids sang happy birthday at the top of their voices with the whole bus listening in - and you know what, it was really sweet. He obviously thoroughly enjoyed it - all the more so when everyone on the bus started clapping when the kids finished singing! What a lovely way to end the week!

And on another planet, Euro 2016 is finally over (thank God - I really can't be faffed with football). And at the risk of being shot, I was almost glad France lost - but only from a purely selfish point of view, I promise! With France playing Portugal in the final last night, it was a fair bet that the noise from the partygoers was gonna be loud and ongoing in the event of a French win.

I had been out most of the day up near Chamonix and after pottering around and getting stuff ready for work the next day, I sat down to read for a while before going to bed. I briefly had the final on TV but only as a bit of "background noise" really. In fact, I so much "don't care for football" that I actually went to bed but left the TV on for about 10 minutes of extra time just so I would know who had won - but then gave up as I realized I really, really didn't care even to wait for the final score! Trouble was, it had been scorching hot all day and I really wanted to have my bedroom window wide open to create a through-breeze, but with the partying going on I eventually decided to close it and hope for the best.

I woke up sometime around 1 a.m. and that's when I realized France must have lost because there was absolutely no partying going on outside - none at all. So giving a totally selfish sigh of thanks, I opened my bedroom windows again and got some air for the remainder of the night - though whose bright idea it was to have the final on a Sunday night I have no idea - bright spark, er not!

This morning coming in to work on the bus I spotted a French flag lying in the middle of the road - you know, one of those supporters' flags you attach to the car window. While I'm sure it had just accidentally fallen off, it did look rather forlorn, I have to say.

Yeah, yeah I know that's not the French flag - I just couldn't find a photo!
Which reminds me, several years ago, during a rugby world cup, I had a couple of these flags on my car in support of England. It was a Saturday and England had just played (and beaten) France, so on my way back from grocery shopping I drove all the way up to my village tooting my horn like mad. The problem was, the actual flag must have flown off and I was left tooting my horn with just a plastic stick hanging off my car window. They must have thought I was a complete nutter - and I suppose they wouldn't have been far wrong would they!

Tuesday 5 July 2016

It's a different world out there!

Oh my goodness, haven't times changed! Or maybe they haven't, it's just that the place and circumstances changed. Ya see, when I was a kid growing up in central Birmingham (UK), our idea of a holiday was a day trip to Stratford-on-Avon for my dad to go fishing. Admittedly, times and finances have moved on since then, but last night really brought home to me what a little bubble Geneva really is. I'm not saying it's bad or good, it's just so different.

For a start, there is a lot of money here. Of course there are people who don't make a lot of money too but there is also very, very obvious wealth. When I was a kid, during my first year of high school, they were organizing a one-week camping holiday to Crackington Haven in Cornwall (lovely spot by the way).

Our nutty (but extremely effective) English teacher had an antiquated old school bus that he used to drive us kids down there for the week. God alone knows how he got that thing (think large sardine can on wheels) down the tiny Cornish roads but somehow he did. And of course "camping" was probably a posh word for what we did. In reality we just had a bunch of maybe ten small tents pitched in a field, no washing facilities, primus stoves for cooking and the loo was a field's walk away. Yes we were expected to wash and brush our teeth in the stream which, as you can imagine, turned into a very perfunctory job because of how bloody cold the water was. Still, we had a great time even if the "facilities" were somewhat rudimentary (I mean, we were all working class kids and didn't really know "posh"). Every night one tent made dinner and another made desert and this being England it was actually cold enough in August for the huge desert dish of jelly to set outside! One night I remember eating my "desert" when I commented to my friend that I didn't like the peach slices much, to which she replied "what peach slices?" I looked down at my bowl of jelly and there was half a slug staring back up at me - I had eaten the other half!
Sylvester the Slug
Now being of a "sensitive disposition" I immediately wanted to chuck up, but also, having some manners, decided I couldn't possibly do it in front of my class mates (in the middle of a field - why not?), so ran all the way across two fields to throw up in the "facilities" (read "bog" kindly provided by the farmer). Yuck, but then I suppose it didn't kill me and indeed I have very fond memories of that, and other such holidays (with the exception of "meeting" Sylvester the Slug)!

One place that really did impress me was the Witches' Museum in Boscastle, where we got to see not only the horrific details of the torture meted out to so-called witches years ago, but just happened to be there during a freak evening tide, which was really spooky!

But you know, none of us had any money and something as simple as a week's camping like this was such a treat. And, something I really appreciate now, after we had packed our tents up we were made to spread out in a single line and walk the full length of the field picking up any litter - so you see we left the place cleaner than we found it. And that is the way it should be don't you think.

Compare that to this. Last night, as I was leaving to catch my bus, I saw my friend having a drink and he called me over. I couldn't stay for long as I had to meet up with a tradesman who was coming to give me a quote, but I sat with him for a short while. Eventually another friend joined us and we got talking about holidays.  When I mentioned that I was going to Mykonos and Santorini in September she said "Oh my son is there right now. A whole gang of them go every year when school is out - it has become something of a tradition"!


Don't get me wrong, she is a very lovely person indeed, but her son is 18 - and this is what his "holiday with the mates" looks like!  She is Spanish by the way, not Greek, otherwise he could well have been going to visit family, I suppose. But her kids, like mine, were lucky enough to go to one of the international schools here, and there you see wealth by the shedload! Many families (like hers and mine) work but are lucky enough to get financial assistance from their employer.  Others, though, are just loaded and for them this is nothing out of the ordinary! I mean, how come I get to eat slugs and they get to party in Mykonos? Not jealous at all, it's just that it really brings home how my life and circumstances have moved on. In fact, many years ago, when my oldest was still at school, one of the parents rented an apartment in Verbier for her kid to invite his friends to go skiing! I mean, my kid got to go skiing in Verbier, Switzerland!!!  Good Lord, I've never been skiing in Verbier! To be fair, the lads were great though, and as soon as they arrived they moved everything that could be broken into a cupboard and, I am told, left the place absolutely spotless. So credit where credit is due I suppose. In fact, my ex used to throw New Year's parties at the (isolated) farmhouse he rented after he left me and while I insisted everyone slept over rather than got behind the wheel, they partied all night and then all pulled together to clean up afterwards (Sonya Anne - there's an idea for you after your 4th of July party!), so fair play to them.

On a totally different note, yesterday I got the wonderful news that my son had passed his final exams in plumbing after a two-year apprenticeship. I am so thrilled for him. He is going to continue another two-years of study to take further exams but at least he has got that under his belt. When I sent him a message to congratulate him he wrote back saying "thanks, and thank you for everything"!  Oh, I want to cry.  Weird how that's all it takes isn't it - a bit of recognition!

And moving seamlessly on, this weekend my lawnmower started going on the blink (probably needs an overhaul) and as it was so hot I got really, really sick to the back teeth of the idea of ever cutting my grass again! I had been talking to my neighbours, who feel the same way as I do about their lawn, so I called the guy who comes once a year to cut my hedges. The upshot is that we have both set up an agreement with him to cut our lawns in future. So that's one thing less to worry about. I don't have a lot to cut but I hate the heat and end up looking like a lobster so while I don't mind doing the rest of the gardening (slug chasing ha, ha - payback time you bastards), he will now do the grunt work. And in fact he isn't asking as much as I was expecting so it's win-win all round as I sense he needs the work. So now I feel like Lady Mary in Downton Abbey - having to manage my "staff".  Posh isn't the word for it!

And how about Nigel Farage resigning! Whatever his reasons it seems like all those that orchestrated the "out" vote for Britain are now like the proverbial rats leaving the sinking ship. As far as I am concerned let the two ladies run the country (May and Leadsome could make a good team, IMHO) - I'm sure they can't screw things up any more than the pillocks who just crawled back under their rocks now the real work has to be done. Oh and last one out, put the light out will you!

So on that note, I will love you and leave you. For Anne (New Happenings at the Table), I did weigh myself on Monday as promised and you know what, whether I weigh myself in lb, kg or stones, it still don't get any better! Bloody awful in fact. But at least yesterday I was good and hopped off the bus on the Mont Blanc bridge to walk the 30 minutes to work and went to the gym at lunchtime (hee, hee, I hear you snigger - we'll see how long that lasts)!  So back for the weigh-in next Monday then! And good luck!

Friday 1 July 2016

This and that

Oh I'm so glad it's the week-end after the last 10 days or so of racing round like a lunatic (not to mention a very contentious referendum and all the fall-out from that). I'm glad the referendum is over but I wish we could just get on with working out the best way forward for the country, However, given the behaviour of some of our so-called politicians I feel we are in for a long and bumpy ride.

Talking of the referendum, I would hazard a guess Brexit has actually increased job vacancies in one area at least - for those working in passport offices! From what I understand there has been a run on Brits asking for new (mainly Irish) passports, so much so that the Irish passport office have had to issue a "hold your hosses there folks - we've run out of passports" notice. Not surprised really, as those Brits having the right to another EU passport are wisely doing the necessary to obtain them (as I will do myself shortly). I imagine, also, that those non-Brits currently living in the UK are also flooding the UK offices with requests for naturalization for the security that will afford.  My poor colleague and her husband (both Brits) had a baby three weeks ago here in France and have applied for a British passport for her in order to travel to visit their folks in the UK next month. Well good luck with that, I suspect this is the worst time to be hoping for a quick turn-around time for a new passport!

Talking of Irish passports, my (Irish) colleague has been reading out to me some of the banter going round the internet about how to apply for an Irish passport. (1) Get your application in early; (2) Wear green; and (3) Turn up drunk! I would hasten to add this isn't coming from me - but we both burst out laughing.  "Test to verify aptitude for Irish citizenship - drink 10 pints of guinness in 15 minutes"! Again, I would stress, not coming from me - off the internet - but I'm sure the Irish in any case would be the first to poke fun at themselves!

On a completely different note, I can't believe it's the 1st of July already and there is the usual mad rush here of people setting off on holidays, where the motorways become jam-packed and people become bad tempered. I'm so glad I don't  have school-aged kids anymore so I don't have to go on holiday to the south of France at the same time as 10 million other French people. But it's not just the holidaymakers though. Some lunatic was riding my arse on the motorway this morning raring to get past when in fact she couldn't get past anyone as there was so much traffic. Eventually I pulled over to let her past and she proceeded to ride the arse of every single car she came up behind. She was a relatively young woman and I couldn't help feeling sorry for her. I mean, if you are that hyper at 7 o'clock in the morning you are a heart attack waiting to happen surely. I'm just glad I'm pretty laid back as coping with a "hyper" personality would probably kill me in about two weeks. And all for what?

I remember years ago my friend telling me that he was driving through a set of two-lane tunnels in Chambéry. He was in the outer lane and couldn't get over because of the traffic. Anyway, a young man in a crappy car started riding his tail and flashing his lights. As Philippe said, "I couldn't get over even if I had wanted to - which I didn't". So this young lunatic had to wait until Philippe reached the end of the second tunnel and was able to pull over, whereupon said young man whizzed past him giving him the finger - and promptly hit the central reservation, effectively tearing the side off his car and totalling it. He wasn't hurt but I'm sure his pride was - and Philippe said he got a good laugh out of it. I remember also several years ago a young man doing the same thing to me one morning in central Geneva. He was behind me, tail-gating, and bursting to get past - which he eventually did. He continued in the same vein all the way, weaving in and out of traffic and being a thorough menace. A couple of km further up the road, I looked in my rear-view mirror at the traffic lights - and he was again one car behind me - so all the racing around didn't get him anywhere, except perhaps one step closer to a coronary!

Again last night I thought my time really was up. On leaving Geneva there is a pretty big motorway intersection, with two lanes (on the right) merging and the third, left-hand lane, separated by large bollards, where you have to go straight ahead. Well at one point there was a break in the bollards, where someone must have hit one, and a complete lunatic slammed his breaks on and tried to do a completely illegal right-hand turn to merge into the other two lanes. Luckily for me I wasn't going very fast, but I would say about four cars narrowly avoided him. Had there been anything coming up behind him, God alone knows what would have happened. It might not be Los Angeles but the speed limit along there is 130 km/hour (so of course everyone is doing 140)!  Seems some people have a death wish - I just hope they don't take me with them.

Since I seem to have got on the "I want to lose weight" band wagon again, this morning I thought I had better hop off the bus on the Mont Blanc bridge and walk the 30 minutes to work (competitive much?). As I was coming through Geneva I passed an Asian store so I decided to pop in and buy some coconut water (my latest guilty pleasure). Blimey, when I compare prices at work to the prices in town - what a rip-off. Geneva is expensive anyway but prices in the cafeteria at work are just so ridiculous it is unbelievable. In fact, there is a joke that goes "you know you've been in Geneva too long when you live in a studio but still have a cleaning lady"! And that's about the extent of it - there is a lot of money in this city and the prices really reflect it.

On a totally different note, I have been reading about the atrocities in Turkey as they are starting to piece together what happened at Istanbul Airport. One story in particular saddened me. A Tunisian father had flown to Istanbul to try to convince his son, who had run away to Syria, to come back home - the father was killed in the carnage! I only hope the son has to live with that for the rest of his life. What a senseless loss of life, and how Turkey seems to be taking such a beating right now. I have no intention of getting into the politics behind it all, but suffice it so say I have been to Turkey several times and it is a beautiful country with lovely people and I feel so much for those that have lost loved ones yet again in another senseless killing.

So that's about it for today. I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend of not much happening. I have a wedding drink to go to tomorrow from one of the young women in my sewing club but other than that a quiet weekend.  Thank goodness!