A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for November, 2006

Crazy Swiss Alpine roads.

We are forever building roads in Switzerland. Wonderfull roads, feats of Swiss civil engineering, hewn through our granite mountains,costing us billions of Swiss Francs and sometimes lives. Not that we necessarily need them,but the trucks of north, south, east and west Europe do- so that potatoes grown in the Netherlands can be taken to the south of Italy to be washed and then transported yet again to somewhere in the north of Europe to become chips. Where they are taken to for their plastic packaging I dont really know but you can be sure it’s somewhere south of the Alps.

Please note that the basis stone of our mountains is granite (I stand to be corrected by Geologists) and we have it in abundancy. Enough anyway to build roads and tunnels for a long time to come,the excavation of it also giving employment to men in areas where work is difficult to find.

Today I heard on the radio that for road building purposes in future Switzerland would be importing granite from the Peoples Republic of China.

Isn’t it a man made crazy world?


Ambulance crews

I have always ben very thankful to the men and women of the Emergency Ambulance Services.

Whether our encounters have been in my private life or in the course of my workI have always been amazed with what calm efficiency they work. What has also impressed me of course is their never failing humour which has saved many a hysterical situation, and how they always know where to set their priorities. It is just this that makes me want to relate a happening last weekend.

We had to call an Ambulance again. Because of the difficult access to the house, and inadequately sized lifts they were obliged to park on the lower road and roll the sretcher carrier with all the necessary emergency equipment up the narrow path by a field to the rear door.

It so happened that in the field there was a small herd of sheep grazing, they must have got a fright by the sudden noise,for on my way to open the doors I looked out of an upper window and couldn’t believe my eyes, for crouching in the middle of the field looking for all the world as though they were resuccitating one of the sheep were the two ambulance men.

I couldn’t refrain of course from calling out that they had got the wrong patient. At the same moment the farmer arrived on the scene and wanted to know who the hell had called them to one of his sheep!

All was explained. In their hurry to run away one of the animals had caught their head in the plastic fencing and dragged it into the field with her, the constricting bands of it wound around her neck. Once again first things first.

Train Stations

What is it about big city train stations late at night.

The shadowless neon lighting. The hollow noises .The uncleared litter of a working day.

Surreal people waiting,watching, staring. Can they be trusted? Where did they come, from where are they going to?

I feel almost frightened by them.

I have waited at many of them.

Grand Central NYC

Gare du Nord

Frankfurt am Main


and now it was Paddington.

I knew I shouldn’t have come, and I did say I wouldn’t,but suddenly the warm room didn’t seem so inviting.

I’d have to get a taxi or I wouldn’t make it in time.

It had rained enough to turn the London pavements into mirrors, reflecting the dazzling city lights and almost hurting my eyes.

The theaters were beginning to come out,but luck was on my side. Past Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and down the Mall, Buckingham Palace lighting up the end of it,on the roof The Royal Standard dancing like a Prima Ballerina in the wind.

We swerved around Hyde Park Corner almost throwing me off the slippery leather seat. St Georges was still there under another name. Funny we had only been a stones throw away from each other in those days. Up Park Lane and at last into the Bayswater Road. Three minutes past ten,I was going to get there on time.

The 22.15 from Oxford was running late.

Do any trains run on time in England, thats just in Switzerland and nowadays they are often late there.

There was nowhere open any more except a station Pub where the clients looked as though they had been there since they left work,that is if they had been to work at all.

The handful of people in the eerie station had found somewhere to sit where they could stare at the automatic arrival boards and decipher them if they could. I had the feeling they were being manipulated by an eratic hand which changed it’s mind every few minutes. I asked someone politely to remove the packaging of his ‘big mac’ from the seat and joined the starers. The 22.15 from Oxford was expected at 22.40.

I thought I’d hide when the train came in, somewhere I could observe him and think why it was.

He wasn’t on it, and suddenly the Station took on horrifying proportions.

I waited for the next one,but he wasn’t on that either.

One of the last persons to walk through the gates was the driver himself, was that the Oxford train I asked’ ”Yes but that was the slow, the fast has halted further up, it should arrive anytime now”

He grinned ”I thought you said you wouldn’t come.”

An Oscar for the Queen

Recently I was able to see the British actress Helen Mirren play the lonely role of Her Majesty in Stephen Frears’s extraordinary and understanding film ” The Queen”.

The outstanding performance deserves of course an Oscar, but then we all know that the American film Acadamy moves in many mysterious ways and maybe only the Queen herself can judge.

I came from a royalist family,and as a child spent many happy hours cutting pictures of ”Them” out of magazines, plastering the backs with flour and water paste and saving them in a scrapbook for eternity.

As a teenager it was more what they wore that interested me and later as a student the question as to whether we needed them. But the repect was always there- maybe a little faded with the years but despite the British media still there.

They were the same as you or I people told me. but were they?

For me the Queen wasn’t;  She was, and still is a woman who has spent her whole adult life serving her people,against many odds, and sometimes probably against her own beliefs with enormous discipline and stamina, for the love of her country and her ancestors.
On her 21st Birthday she made a speech.

”I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service……….”

And it has been.

For many too conservative ,too much establishment, too much ‘stiff upper lip’. Making her seem a gallion figure of wood

that she wasn’t.       It took Helen Mirren and Stephen Frears to show us the other side.

Who deserves the Oscar?


The French have a saying;

”Partir,c’est toujours un peu mourir”

Parting is a little like dying.

This might not always be true but it seems appropiate in my case.

I am definately wondering if we survive the grave for I am parting from so many things and it hurts. But then Anthony Trollope said;

”Those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer”

Firstly my work; In a few monthes I won’t have to get up at the crack of dawn anymore-( It did limit my social life for years)- funny though, when you can sleep in you wake up anyway. Will I miss it? I’m not sure, certain aspects certainly. The life, the drama, a few of the colleagues and of course the actors,though not all of them. Still wondering though how it would have been had I learnt something else.

Then a lifestyle; How do you end something you’ve been doing for years and start again from the beginning ( the third verse of Kiplings ‘If’ comes to my mind) with a completely new perspective. A while ago I thought it would be fun,I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m parting as well from things in my homeland which are very dear to me but havn’t been good for me and which I have held on to for too long and that is the worst of all.

But I can say like the French Sparrow- non je ne regrette rien, non rien de rien


‘The place is very well and quiet and the children only scream in a low voice’

Lord Byron 1788-1834: Letter to Lady Melbourne 21st September1813

Today I read, that inGermany a Kindergarten has to be closed because the children make too much noise and it is a disturbance to the adjacent houses.

The Kindergarten is next to a four lane motorway.

Armistice-In Flanders’field

“For the Fallen”

“They shall not grow old,as we who are left grow old,

Age will not weary them,or the years comdemn.

At the going down of the sun,and in the morning,

We will remember them.”
Laurence Binyon .1914

These words were engraved on a wooden plaque fixed to a wall of the Aula in one of my first schools. Underneath was a large wooden plaque telling us the names of Teachers and Pupils from Stepgates who had fallen in two world wars.

On November the 11th we will remember the fallen again. Some of us may wear a red poppy, others will just remember.

In London an ageing Queen will lay a wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and a handfull of Veterans will try and straighten their backs, shakingly salute, and with tears in their eyes march by.

Britain, the Commonwealth, and the USA will remember the Armistice, of 1918 and in many Churches services will be held to this purpose.

But according to an article in a London paper last Saturday,there are members of the Clergy who feel they can’t hold these services any more because they conflict with the ideolgy and lives of congregational members from other countries and cultures living in Britain. Must we all forget.?

“In Flanders’ field the poppies grow,

between the Crosses row on row.

We shall not sleep though Poppies grow

in Flanders’ fields.”

Lt,Col. John Mc Crea . Canadian Army 1872-1915

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