With all this mist and mellow fruitfulness around, thoughts are turning to winter and even onward to Christmas although last month the weather continued to turn this way and that like a Tongan fly-half, with one day feeling Indian and another practically Orcadian. Today is Michaelmas, associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. Archangel Michael, one of the principal angelic warriors, is a protector against the night and posessed of cosmic intelligence. This hasn’t helped us much in terms of health, as we have all been under the weather for much of the month past – various ailments featured but chesty coughs and sore throats predominated and even Alli, whose health is normally stentorian, has felt none too good for several days. I have been wheezing like a locomotive and hobbling around like an old man. I went into work by tram more often than usual, but when I did cycle in, I could feel the misty swirling autumn on my knuckles and knew it was time for the gloves. I far prefer cycling into work although my willpower comes with more difficulty in the dark clammy-dank mornings. Nevertheless, despite the bike seat feeling a lot harder than usual, I must say that I do enjoy gliding smoothly past my colleagues sleep-standing by bus- and tram-stops on the way to work.
Following the successful quince harvest of last month, Alli has been picking up freshly fallen walnuts from under the many walnut trees in the woods around our house during her daily walks with Bonnie. There are hundreds of ’em now in fruit bowls on the dining table, in pots and plates and other receptacles around the living room. They are in plant pots, vases and glasses, tin cans and bobble hats, tankards and tea-cosies. When I look inside the biscuiit tin I find it’s full of walnuts.
Ella’s visit to the Jungfrau, where liberal helpings of snow can be seen, was highly successful and she wrote about it very well afterwards in a school essay. She has also been elected to the school council. I went to Asia on business at the beginning of the month but also spoke at a conference in Barcelona, managing to get some time to wander down the Ramblas afterwards and revisit some incomparable old haunts from yesteryear. I bought a bike for Jessie (replacing one that had been stolen) from the bike sale that takes place annually at the city’s ice rink. Now Jessie cycles to school at least once a week. She received excellent results for her Middle Years Program (equivalent to O levels and GCSEs), scoring 51 from 63 and perfect marks for her personal project (the piano book for children). This achievement was marked at a rather perfunctory prize giving ceremony at the school, much enlivened by Behind the Bike Shed, the Stanbrook Sisters’ band, who performed creditably but carefully, having probably been told not to raise the roof following the awards. Gwen’s picture for the school pantomime (Jack and the Beanstalk) that she features in next month will be hung up around the school as an advertisement for the event, which occurs next week.
Sideboards have made an appearance on the sides of my face, which is of course where they are supposed to be. For the first few days it was touch and go, as my famously disproportionate and unsymmetrical features threatened to generate sideboards not only of different lengths, but also at different angles, different thicknesses, shapes and even colours. But I kept to the task and remained patient, deliberately not asking Alli what she thought of the work in progress. Now even she is lost in admiration at my new and ironic-modern profile. At least I think that’s what her look signified. It might also have been the pleasant memories of my presents to her at her birthday earlier in the month. I committed, deliberately, the sterling error of buying her a necklace of Arizona silver and, sure enough, she did not like it. Luckily she was able to exchange it a couple of weeks later at the shop for a necklace that she did like. The shop also polished her garnet ring, which buffed up beautifully. I also bought her a digital photo frame which I destroyed just a week later after changing its British plug to a Swiss one without a fuse.
Alli and I went to the ISB’s junior school in Aesch (where Gwen goes) one sunny Saturday afternoon. It was organised by the Parents’ Association to welcome new families to the school and to celebrate the opening of the new Campus. One amusing feature that I had not seen before was a live kids’ table football game in a bouncy castle format, in which the kids were strapped to the cross-bars with Velcro and could only kick the ball if it came near them. I won’t say that it was humorous but I nearly died laughing. Alli and I also went to a friend’s 50th birthday and leaving party and featuring also the farewell concert of his aging rocker band Wysh. I particularly enjoyed the band’s last encore, which they introduced as the Swiss national anthem: Smoke on the Water, obviously. The party also featured our teenage children and their friends. It was an evening that saw Alli and me drink too much, dance around on a beer-smeared floor with assorted teenagers and generally stay up into the wee hours having confusing conversations. We got up very late the next morning. OMG – Teenage life is soooooooo tiring.
Yours with fire in the sky,