Saturday, 30 June 2007


It's super to think that someone has made a musical about a former Prime Minister, especially one who was only around as PM a decade or so ago. Last night I went and saw Keating!, my sister having given me a ticket as a birthday present. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was really super. The whole production looked really simple and there was basically no set, but sneaky use of lighting, and also of band members, made it all seem much more elaborate than it actually was. The songs were great, really funny and wordy and really varying a lot in style, and much mean-spirited fun was made of John Howard (current PM, and the one who defeated Keating at elections in 1996, for those of you too foreign or ill-informed or poor of memory to know), which it is always good to see.

Obviously when the memory of someone is enshrined in musical theatre form, they will come off looking shiny and excellent and fun, but I think to quite an extent Paul Keating actually was shiny (with his fancy suits) and fun (with his fondness for entertainingly mean insults). It's been a drab and largely mean-spirited 11 years since he left, and sadly those 11 years have also coincided with my life as a member of the voting public. Happily there is to be an election later this year, but even if we get rid of Howard, shininess will not be the outcome. Still, it would be better than nothing.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Home, Grr

As it turns out, Sydney is really quite annoying. In spite of basically the whole of Australia being in the midst of the worst drought in a thousand years (or something like that), there has been barely a day since I arrived (more than 3 weeks ago now) when it hasn't rained. It's been consistently freezing here too. What little laundry I have done here takes about a year to dry. I don't know anything much about any of the shows on telly here, or if I do they are all series that are in strange other places compared to where they are in Switzerland, so I don't know what's going on (in fact, I'm not really even sure how the TV works. My sister got a new DVD player and the new remote has so many buttons on it that I lost interest before I was sure of how to change the channel). My friends are scattered hither and yon (or somewhere) across the city and beyond, which means I end up spending forever on (extremely unreliable and non-Swissy) public transport (not that I am complaining about my friends. Especially not since they are the bulk of the people reading this, I imagine. You lot are great. No, really). The cheese section in my local supermarket is abysmal (although admittedly there is a grocers nearby that has a super cheese selection).

Obviously there are many nice aspects of being back here (seeing people, speaking english, embracing actual paid employment for a change, rediscovering my cupboard full of shoes and junk that I had forgotten all about), but really, there are more bad points than I had expected. Although I do also suspect that being relentlessly cold is giving me a bad attitude. At least there is the (slightly 1950s-ish, but more environmentally friendly than an electric blanket) succour of my nice hot water bottle in bed every night. Not quite a toasty-warm-boyfriend substitute, but sadly, I'll take what I can get. Sigh.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Apparently We're All Going On A Summer Holiday

I've just been having a wander through blog-land (as I tend to these days because I'm foreign and unemployed. Hee hee, I'm foreign, although not at the moment, obviously. Here I am very local, and in fact someone who I didn't know but was speaking to the other day seemed to get the idea that I actually was Swiss and she commented on how I seem to have picked up a bit of an Australian accent since being here), and it seems that absolutely everyone is on holidays. What's that all about? Is it because it's summer (because the bulk of the blogs I read are by people in Europe, or specifically Switzerland)? Don't people only go on holidays in summer if they are or have school-aged kiddies (because that's when there are some decent-lengthed school holidays)? Doesn't everyone else go in the much more pleasant shouldery type times at the edges of summer (or even, gasp, in other seasons)?

Give me a holiday with less sun and less kiddies every time.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Blood and Therapy

Today, because I am a socially responsible citizen and not an IV drug user (not that there is anything wrong with being an IV drug user, apart from the obvious of course, but the blood bank doesn't seem to agree) I gave blood. After all the faffing around with forms and haemoglobin testing and so forth I finally got around to giving blood. The actual blood-related part took about 10 or 15 minutes in total, during which time I had a bit of a chat with the nurse who was doing the taking of blood, and in that time she told me that she had recently had an operation to have a cyst removed, that she had cancer some number of years ago, that she doesn't like her mother in law (who was scornful of the amount of time she spent recuperating back then because it was only "a little bit of cancer"), that she has really bad anxiety attacks occasionally, that she is seeing a therapist in order to deal with these anxiety attacks (and at these therapy sessions she also talks a lot about not liking her mother in law), and she also implied that she (the nurse) regrets never having had children of her own. Plus we also managed a bit about the weather, about Switzerland, about the process of blood donation in Switzerland (which was brief because neither of us knew anything about it), and about her brother who lives in some crazy foreign country with his crazy foreign partner.

My friend who I had dinner with later said that she thinks people like to take me into their confidence, but I think the woman might just have been fond of inappropriate sharing of information.

Incidentally, I was given a pen as a reward or something because I have apparently donated blood or plasma 25 times, and also I discovered that my blood pressure is lower than normal (not a good thing in my opinion) and my haemoglobin level is also a bit useless. Part of the reason I wanted to give blood was so that I would find out that my haemoglobin was super (and then feel smug about it) since I haven't donated blood for ages and since I have been a bit of a meat-eater lately in Switzy, but alas, that little happiness was denied me. Sigh.

Like Living In A Barn

There seems to be some sort of horrible design flaw in this house that makes it colder inside than it is outside. I wake up and skulk under the covers for hours, dreading having to face the icy morning air. I rush to the shower and stay in there for far too long (stoopid water restrictions. Meanwhile, it has been raining relentlessly ever since I got back here, none of it in the catchment area, of course, or not much at any rate, and water is leaking into the house making rain pour from the ceiling of my sister's bedroom. I'm sure she will wake up one day to find that she has been crushed to death by her ceiling collapsing under its own soggy weight and falling on her head). I noticed this morning as I was having breakfast that I could actually see my breath (and I wasn't having my breakfast outdoors. I was having it in the kitchen). My toes are so numb I can hardly walk. I don't like it here. Then again, I don't like the way that windows don't have flyscreens in Switzerland, either, so I guess I can't win.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Laundry Revisited, Again

Now that I am back in Australia you would think my laundry woes would be over, but no. I did a load of laundry today for the first time since being back (which is almost 3 weeks! My standards of personal hygiene have slipped enormously since I moved to Switz, but I don't care at all. Admittedly my sister did a load of laundry for me once, but that was a fortnight ago, so it hardly counts) and as it turns out our washing machine is broken broken broken. It fills up with water alright, but somehow it doesn't know when to stop any more, so you have to stand there watching what is going on so that you can turn the water supply to the machine off if necessary (which it isn't always, just to keep you on your toes) to stop it overflowing all over the floor, but then if you have turned it off you have to turn it on again so that they cycle keeps going, and then you have to do it all again while it is rinsing. Which means you really have to be there staring at the machine for the entire time it is doing its thing. Which is annoying.

On a happier note, Reto apparently managed to break the washing machine and some of his clothes in Aarau the other day too, which fills me with a strange sense of satisfaction and non-incompetence. Or at least the feeling that if I am incompetent, he is too. Which is comforting.

Being Stared At By Furry Chickens

My first official post-Festy activity was to go to Katoomba and visit my friend Angela who moved there a while ago and turned all maternal (not necessarily in that order). As you may recall, I made a bunch of finger puppets a while ago, which yesterday I gave to Ange's daughter Ivy, who recently turned one. Ivy seemed strangely scared of them at first, but warmed up to them later and was subsequently inordinately fond of the pink cow (which everyone else seemed to think was a pig, the philistines).

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Festy Roundup - Spoiler Alert

Well. Two weeks, 80 hours (of work) and 29 movies (that I actually watched) later, it's all over. I really like movies. It always takes me a while after the Fest is over to see what I enjoyed the most, and what stays with me the longest, but at the moment I have a short list.

I wanted to see La Vie En Rose and After The Wedding (ah how I love the films of Denmark) when I was in Switzerland, but I didn't because the language barrier got in my way. Sadly (for Reto) they were both on at the Fest and so now I have seen them and he (who kindly didn't go so as not to leave me out of the loop) has not. I really enjoyed both of them, but then again I expected to, so they don't really seem that exciting.

King Corn was super, as I have already said.

I watched a moody, dialogue-light movie from Russia (The Island) about a man who was forced to shoot his captain (or someone) during WW2 and then spent the rest of his life being a monk and feeling repentant and kind of insane, which was a bit arduous at the time but in retrospect it was great. It was full of grim symbolism,or something, and I really felt that every scene added some atmosphere and emotion to the movie. Which is odd, because it's not at all the sort of thing I normally think.

The other thing that stands out at the moment is the latest from my favourite Czech director (because doesn't everyone have a favourite Czech director? This dude, Jan Hrebejk, also made Cosy Dens and Divided We Fall, the latter having been nominated for an Oscar a few years ago). It was a movie called Beauty In Trouble, and sadly the blurb in the festival brochure totally ruined the plot (a woman leaves her deadbeaty husband and finds a man who is rich and kind and can offer her everything she has ever wanted, but she just can't stop having sex with her ex, never mind the fact that she didn't have sex with her ex until the last 15 or so minutes of the movie). It was a nice movie, the characters were likeable and believable, it wasn't smarty-pantsy or confusing, and it was fun. As opposed to The Island, which was not fun at all.

It will be interesting to see how I feel about it all in another week or so.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Was It On Screen Or Did It Really Happen?

Yesterday I turned up 10 minutes or so late for a movie I wanted to see (Beaufort, about Israeli soldiers in a fort on the border with, or possibly in, Lebanon). Before I went to see it I didn't really remember what the movie was about (more than a week earlier I had read the programme and marked what I wanted to see, and since then I have just been mindlessly turning up to watch things). When I arrived there was a man on screen who was there to defuse a bomb, and he seemed to be the centre of all the action, so I assumed he was the main character and that I should become emotionally attached to him. And so I did. About 10 minutes later he was killed by the bomb that he apparently failed to defuse.

It was kind of more like real life than a movie (not that my life is packed full of mines and soldiers and international unrest). I was missing all those clues that you normally get in a film as to who is important and interesting and who is expendable. I was shocked by his death, and spent the rest of the film thinking that he had been hardly-done-by because he was mourned so little.

Monday, 18 June 2007


I went to the supermarket this evening for the first time since I got back to Australia, and it seemed very strange not to weigh the fruit and veg before I took them to the checkout. Funny.

In less nice news, I seem to be having some sort of post-travel sleep disturbance that involves not being able to fall asleep before about 2am, and, if left undisturbed, sleeping until noon. Which wasn't so bad last week, but this week I am working 9-5pm and it's turning me into a zombie. Sigh.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Corn Shock

In another long and arduous day at the Sydney Film Festival, today I became outraged about corn. I watched a doco called King Corn (so unheard of it doesn't seem to even have a spot on imdb) and I wasn't really planning to enjoy it that much, but I did and now I am revelling in my outrage. Americans eat so much corn that they are practically made of it. They kill cows with it. No doubt they destroy biodiversity and therefore entire ecosystems by growing so much of it. They poison themselves by eating it relentlessly. It's all fertiliser/pesticide laden and genetically modified. It's economically and nutritionally unsustainable.

Now I want to see the same thing but about soy. I'm sure I could get angry about that, too.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Hello Stranger

One of the nicer things about being back here is making inane chitchat with strangers about nothing. Not that I am really the sort of person who likes to waffle endlessly with strangers, but I like the fact that when someone says something to me here I can understand them and can usually think of something funny or interesting or relevant, or polite at the very least, to respond with. Aah the luxury of not being a foreigner.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Movies (part one of seven million)

I suspect that any posts I post in the next 2 weeks are going to be relentlessly boring and badly written. I had my first proper day of film festing today (for that is what I am doing, in case I haven't explained it. The Sydney Film Festival is on). Last night I saw La Vie en Rose, which was the opening night film, which was handy because I had wanted to see it in Switz but didn't because the french/german thing (as in, with no english subtitles) held me back. As it turned out it was super. Today I watched a relentless stream of movies about dysfunctional families, and about being an immigrant (illegal or otherwise), and also about the downfall of communism. Oh, and there was something about bread and revenge, but I missed half of it because I was eating lunch. All of which was excellent, if somewhat depressing and tiring. Still, only the first day of 14 or something, so I am bracing myself.

The down side (apart from being tired and depressed) is that people keep phoning me and I miss their phone calls and am unlikely to ever call them back because I am constantly watching movies and also, I have no credit on my phone (which I am about to remedy). So rest assured, people. If you have tried to phone me it's not that I'm ignoring you. Or at least, it's fairly unlikely. Maybe I'll call you back in 2 weeks or something.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Cheesy Birthday Fun

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my best friends. For various reasons all our elaborate plans that we had made fell apart, so in the end I went to her house and we put the raclette grill that I gave her for her birthday to use for dinner. Which involved first traipsing all over Sydney in search of an electricity converto plug thing (which we found) and raclette (which we didn't). We were forced to substitute gruyere (come on, it comes from Switzerland and it's delicious. Near enough), which we were then forced to slice ourselves with a big scary knife, with only torchlight to save our already diminished fingers (because apparently her kitchen light is broken and can't be fixed). I was sceptical about the gruyere, but it was surprisingly delicious, although far too oily and it solidifies far faster than raclette does once it has been taken out from under the griller. Not very traditional but still full of cheesy goodness.

My friend's cat was the main source of entertainment at her house. The cat, Insey, is obsessed with chasing things, her favourite being a laser pointer thing which she will pursue relentlessly across floors, over furniture, up walls and anywhere else it goes.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Semi-Coherent Pre-Sleep Ramble (aka Hello From Sydney)

Well, I'm back. The flight was as arduous as you might imagine 26 hours in the air(ports) would be, but I had 2 seats to myself on both flights, and an exit aisle on the first (shorter) one, so that made things a bit better. I watched thousands of abysmal movies and my luggage was hardly destroyed at all (just slightly squashed), so quite successful all round, really.

It's peculiar being back, although less so now that I have had a nap. I had my hair cut this afternoon and the hairdresser and I had a lengthy chat about how strange Switzerland is with it's shops being closed on Sundays and ... urm .. people speaking foreign languages and all. Actually, I don't really know what we talked about. I am tired. I'm not too sure about my new hair, either. It's quite short.

I have discovered that my blog looks horrible on my sister's computer. On her screen the background looks sort of yellow and horrible. On my screen it's sort of salmony-beige and pleasant. It's disappointing. Perhaps you all have the wrong idea of me.

I'm starting to understand why Reto always used to be such a complainer when he came to Australia. Our tap water is kind of horrible (although I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough, and the tap water in Aarau is undoubtedly worse) and it's absolutely freezing inside our house (more so than it is outside. It's actually kind of pleasantly cool outside). I now understand the pleasant aspects of indoor heating.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Packing Crisis

I have an unorthodox packing problem. I am leaving for Australia in something like 10 hours. I am not taking that much stuff, because I think I still have a bunch of junk (like clothes and shampoo and so on) over there. The only suitcase I have here is ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS. I don't really want all my stuff rattling around inside a huge suitcase and getting broken and so on. What do I do? Buy a new suitcase? Pack this one full of scrunched up newspaper? Take more stuff?

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Go Team Aarau

I'm practically watching sport at the moment. Apparently the local football (soccer) team is the second worst team in the Swiss A-League, so they are having a play off (or something) against the second best team of the B-League (Bellinzona) to see if they get to keep their A-League spot next season, or if they are relegated to the B-League.

Reto is kind of watching the match on the telly. It's being broadcast live from the oval where it's being played, which we can easily see (and hear) out the window from our house. Aarau just scored a point and I can hear the yelling in stereo. It's practically like being there, only better because I don't have to watch and I'm not bored brainless.

UPDATE: Aarau won, 3:1.

Saturday, 2 June 2007


Reto and I went and saw Two Days In Paris at the movies last night (nothing to do with Paris Hilton, before you ask). I was vaguely hesitant because it is partly in english and partly in french, and I was concerned that I would have to try to understand the french bits by reading the german subtitles, which frankly is not ideal. And so I stumbled through the first 20 minutes or so, furiously occupied with reading the german subtitles whenever they spoke in french (which was a goodly proportion of the time, really) and not necessarily knowing what was going on anyway. It was only after I had sort of given up on it (because it all just involved too much thinking) that I realised the french bits were also being subtitled into english! Yay! Which was annoying because I had already missed lots of stuff, but obviously a good thing in general.

As it turned out it wasn't really that enjoyable a movie anyway. Neither of the main characters were particularly likeable, and they were a bit much into navel-gazing and talking at great length about nothing. I'm starting to think I have become far too critical of movies lately.

On The Couch

In the predictable manner of people who are supposed to be studying for exams everywhere (as in people everywhere, not exams everywhere), Reto has started doing thousands of things he never did before. Like cooking and doing the washing up, which is a good thing, and like reading random books he finds on the shelves at the library, which as it turns out is a bad thing.

He came home the other day and said to me "I've found something that will change our lives". Hmm. As it turns out it is a book about your self image and how it infuences your behaviour and how you react to things and blahblahblah. It sounds suspiciously like a self-help book. Ever since then, practically every conversation we have had has involved this book in some way ("you only respond like that because you have a static self image. If you were more dynamic you would have..."). It's making me paranoid. I think he might be judging me. Hopefully it won't inspire him to try to become a better person.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Grr, Part Zwei

I thought of something else annoying that happened when we were in Berlin:

We got to the first place we were staying at. I walked over to the reception man and started to say "Hi. I made a booking for a room for the next few nights. It's under the name Robyn", but before I could get all those words out the reception man said to me "Just one moment", turned to look at Reto (who was kind of around a corner and not trying to get reception man's attention in any way) and said "Are you Robin?".


"No, I'm Robyn", I said. "It's a girls' name in Australia", I said. I'm fed up with having this conversation.

Actually, I secretly kind of enjoy it. When I was a kid I used to watch A Country Practice and there was a character on there for a while whose name was Stephanie, but she was a bit of a tomboy and was commonly known as Steve (I'm not implying that she was transgender in any way, just that she shortened her girly name into a boy-ish one). My sister's name is also Stephanie, and I remember thinking at the time that it was cool that my sister practically had a boy's name. And now, 17 years later, my sister is generally known as Steph and everyone thinks I'm a man. Sigh.