Penicillin Maquisards Caractacus
The early days of the year slung me down low with a mystery virus that came and went in three and a half juddering chariot days of sleeplessness, creaking limbs and mumbling feverish absurdities, then left me with a severely swollen right leg. Only Bonnie, of all the women in the house, empathised appropriately with my sudden predicament and hovered close by, at one stage lying on top of me for several hours. Alli also suffered the return of a recurring (and separate) virus and was equally incapacitated for several days, also getting the Bonnie comfort treatment. I was in and out of the Bruderholz Hospital and my local clinic, getting checked for a variety of assorted ailments. A specific concern at one stage was thrombosis, as my red and swollen foot visibly alarmed my doctor, who packed me off to the hospital without further ado. After a morning of painsgiving tests with complicated beeping equipment at the hospital it turned out to be a blood infection. I took large doses of penicillin for a couple of weeks while feeling stupid on sofas with my leg stuck in the air. With my health still insured in Switzerland, I also signed up to meet a small army of people regularly. So apart from a weekly visit with my GP, I am now seeing two physiotherapists, a dietician, a urologist, a podiatrician, a neurologist, a haematologist, a scientologist, a presbytarian, and a couple of others whose roles I cannot remember. Alli and I both had very low energy levels for days on end so the house was becalmed. Earlier, Ella left for University, four kilos heavier (her baggage, that is – we nearly had to pay a hefty surcharge for her suitcase). Jessie left shortly afterwards, also overweight in luggage, and Gwen had a few days away on a school skiing trip. I was impressed to learn that Ella’s boyfriend Sam distinguished himself considerably by completing the “Tough Guy” ritual, poetically described on its web site as “grace laced with fear, panic and claustrophobia”.
Notwithstanding the unwelcome illnesses around the family, it was still difficult to get myself back into a brisk and Bristol-fashion work environment. The collapse and suicide of my godforsaken Apple Macbook did not help, and I shall shortly be rejoining the Windows community after wasting time, brain cells and money on the big change. Being freelance certainly improves an impression of individual freedom during working times, but it also introduces a pervasive sense of guilt into weekends. I took refuge in procrastination and so the guilt increased. Nevertheless, we organized another EnglishSwissTalk evening in Basel at a pleasant new pub, Le Concierge in Klein Basel. I also organized a New Year’s dinner of the Leymen English-speaking residents at the Au Chasseur near the Landskron Castle on the top of the hill overlooking the village, under whose stables seventy years ago the local Maquisards had stashed their weapons during the German occupation. Sixty years on it was a perilous night to drive a car to the brow of the Landskron hill as an early evening rain on snow and slush was turning all roads and pavements in the whole region into black diamond ice, upon which it was almost impossible to stay vertical, and that was without the several bottles of Mercurey that were cheerfully downed by the English crowd during the evening. On another evening, the husbands of the ladies who put the powder on the noses of those attending the monthly cards evening met for a manly steak dinner in Biel Benken. I felt as if I was once again in the court of King Caractacus. We also went with friends to the Lion d’Or in Rosenau, our third visit within a year, and had a truly memorable and friendly evening and an excellent meal, enhanced by our cooperative investment in a taxi there and back.
Sam and Ella, January 2013
Feeling that one’s get-up-and-go had got-up-and-gone was most uninspiring and we were at least encouraged by an abrupt change in the weather, which added no less than 20 degrees centigrade from one day to the next. The snow, which had lain encrusted across everything for weeks, disappeared abruptly and despite the ensuing mud batter that Bonnie brought into the house practically every day, we were soon dreaming of deep rich blue skies and an early Spring. It was too soon for such an idle fancy. Another snowfall has pointedly occurred together with a drop in the temperature back to freezing, and I am writing much of this during a sudden and unheralded clattering hailstorm.
Yours changing the weather,