The beginning of the month found us all in very bad shape, and even yours truly rather unusually succumbed and had to take time off from work on account of not being able to walk without falling over. The whole family caught the bubonic plage from each other and then it came around again for another go, so the early part of February I mostly examined bedroom walls and stared gormlessly at the television, which admittedly with Sky is very easy to do. The children were all ill as well, and of course Alli was ill at the same time as me, so once again chaps I received no sympathy when it was most needed. Sound familiar?
The really big news this month is the return to the rightful place at the hearth and home of my CDs, which had previously been languishing collectively in the rather damp air raid shelter in the basement of our house. I considered that this was probably OK for the Neil Diamond, the James Last, most of Ramon’s cassettes and much of the vinyl, but a couple of large and long CD shelves from Ikea saw to it that the CDs were repatriated appropriately. They now stand testament on each side of my also brand new Cinema Center (which is basically just a quadraphonic CD and DVD player).
We have experienced Fastnacht, both in Oberwil and in Basel a week later. This consists of people dressing up in stupid clothes and masks and joining a cacophonous procession, then throwing boiled sweets and small teddy bears at kids and handing out flowers to attractive females, as well as showering all and sundry with great bucket-fulls of confetti. We have been sweeping up confetti from the house for days afterwards. Gwen liked the general principle of the celebration but didn’t much go for the confetti. The really strange thing about the whole do, which quite literally brings Basel to a total standstill for three days, is that no-one seems to get drunk. I am confused.
We have had our first weekend ski outing, to a largish ski resort about two hours away called Grindelwald, near Interlaken. When we got there, all the tell tale signs of a proper ski resort were apparent. There was, thankfully, snow piled on each side of the street, heavily bundled up people were clumping around in ski boots and snow shoes with skis on their shoulders. The tosser count was reassuringly high. The resort was on several levels and was well provided. It looked exciting. But it was raining and damp. It was not good weather for skiing. We thought wistfully about our original booking for the previous weekend when apparently the conditions had been perfect. Gwen and I put our names down for the ski school and Jessie and her friend Rosie went off to the slopes via the main ski lift. Alli and Ella were not intending to ski and so they were thinking about doing some shopping. Luckily they never succeeded. Gwen and I went up and down the infant ski slopes, practising going down, then holding the wire of the children’s ski lift to go up. That evening we submitted ourselves to the luxury of a Swiss cheese fondue with plenty of wine at our rudimentary hotel on the side of a mountain. Alli said how pleasant it was to eat food that she had not herself prepared. The next day Ella took my place with the ski instructress and I did some independent skiing, as of course I had learned remarkably quickly. Still the conditions were not good. It kept snowing, at times becoming quite heavy and every now and again a great snow mist would hang over the slope until it became difficult to see anything. We drove back on the Sunday evening so that Jessie could get up for the beginning of the Basel Fastnacht proceedings at 4am and witness the first “waggies” come out. Apparently this was an anti-climax. However, a few days later Jessie spent some days in Klosters skiing with her friend from England. Evidently there had been plenty of visits to the bar, they pretending to be 18 years old. They had met “fit” boys and had lots of fun après ski. At the same time Alli, Ella and Gwen were in Luxembourg with Tony, Alli’s brother. I just carried on working without protest, as one does.
The snow has continued to fall, practically all through the month, on and off, and today, the last day of the month, has been no exception. It remains also very cold indeed, and most of the time the temperature has been below freezing. This has severely curtailed my cycling, as you might have guessed, and I have had to admit defeat quite a few times as I weigh up relative chances of survival between going to work in a warm tram and going to work on a bicycle on freezing slush.
We should have seen the Killers the other day, in Zurich (an hour and a half away by car), but a note on the door of the venue announced its cancellation, suddenly, due to the band not having the right papers to work in Switzerland. I had taken five very excited girls there, had a rushed pizza dinner in expectation and walked all the way there from the only available parking space in Zurich. As the American bloke said in A Fish Called Wanda: “Disappointed!”. If I was a Killer I would kill my manager.
But, we all snow-plough on. Tomorrow is another month