Tuesday, 31 July 2007


We have this totally excellent second-hand book shop in Aarau that always has the books you're looking for. Obviously most of the stuff they sell is in german, but they also have a not-inconsiderable english section, the contents of which seem to change with surprising regularity. Today I went there not really intending to buy anything (although that never happens) and I found a copy of Claudius, The God (which I had been thinking of reading, but then I found that the local library has I, Claudius on DVD so I abandoned the book plan and borrowed the DVD and I am now forcing Reto to watch and enjoy it, all 658 minutes) as well as some Nevil Shute stuff that goes nicely with my A Town Like Alice theme lately, as well as assorted other things that I couldn't really resist (including something that might make an excellent present for one of my friends, but as it's someone who reads this blog I guess I can't say what it was). On other occasions I have gone there looking for John Irving (and come away with A Widow For One Year), Evelyn Waugh (and found A Handful Of Dust), and anything immensely trashy (I found Marian Keyes, and then abandoned her as soon as I could, feeling slightly dirty and used).

Of course the secret is probably to go there as infrequently as possible so as not to prove to myself that in fact they have an abysmal range. Or to learn german, perhaps. At 1.50 a book, though, I guess I may as well read my way through the entire english section first.


I'm reading A Town Like Alice at the moment, and lordy the language is from another time (or possibly just another place since I guess it's really the language of the outback that features). Scarcely a sentence involving the Australian character (Joe) goes by in which he doesn't say boongs, Abos, Nips, cobber, bonza, chunda, dinky-die, tucker or any other ludicrously Ocker expression you care to think of.
UPDATE: And his affectionate nickname for her is Mrs Boong! And he also says "fair cow" a lot, which seems to be a generic term for anything that is bad/slow/a long way away (eg. "You can't get chaps to come and work in the outback. It's a fair cow").

Monday, 30 July 2007


Ingmar Bergman died today.

Once, in an effort to fulfill my dream of becoming Australia's premier authority on the cinema of Scandinavia, I went to a course thing on the films of Ingmar Bergman. It was run by David Stratton (who as it turns out is just in real life as he is on telly. Margaret was always my favourite, though), who told a bizarre story about being naked in a sauna in Finland with Harriet Andersson* in the 1970s or something, and who made me realise that my dream may never be realised as long as he, David Stratton, lives**.

* Sometime lover and leading lady of Ingmar.
** Fortunately for David Stratton, I have since decided that becoming Australia's premier authority on the films of Scandinavia might be a bit of a big ask, so he need fear me no longer. That being said, I may have my eye on being Australia's (or possibly Switzerland's) premier expert on Danish cinema instead now, and I can think of at least one person who might be standing in my way. Hmm***.
*** Just in case you are getting the wrong message here, rest assured that I'm not insane. Or murderous.

Happy Birthday Steph!

Happy birthday, Steph!

Friday, 27 July 2007

Like Clockwork

I met Reto for lunch today. The plan was to rendezvous outside the library at 1pm ish, and since Aarau is so tiny I knew I would only take a few minutes to get there. I didn't want to have to lurk around and wait for too long, so I checked my watch before I left. It said it was 12.51pm. I checked our alarm clock. It said 12.58pm. The non-alarm clock said 12.54. The CD player said 12.56. The TV said 12.48. My computer said 12.49. My phone said 12.54. When I checked later with Reto's watch it said the same time as mine, so if we were both being punctual it would have been fine, but still.

And so, in a remarkable display of Swissiness, I have synched everything up to match the TV time (since that is the only one I can't change). The alternative really was driving me cuckoo.

Hurting Technology

Reto and I watched a DVD of Dogville last night. Well, I watched it and he fell asleep. I really enjoyed it (although perhaps it was a bit slow-moving. 3 hours really is too long), and I thought the whole thing with it all being done on a stage with no walls or anything was great for creating an atmosphere of oppressive proximity and interdependence between the characters and so on.

Sadly, though, when I say that I watched the movie, what I really mean is that I watched the first two hours, then moved slightly to make myself more comfortable and dropped the DVD player thing (I was watching it on my laptop, lying in bed, and none of our cords and things are long enough so the DVD drive thing, which I guess would be actually in the computer if it wasn't a laptop, was perched precariously on a pile of junk. Until I yoincked the laptop across a bit and knocked the DVD thing over, anyway. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I do have a DVD thing in my laptop, but it's set to Australia and so wouldn't have played this DVD, which is from here) and then about 5 minutes later the DVD froze. Further inspection showed that the DVD had some enormous scratches in it. Which apparently I am being blamed for.

The up-side is that I don't know that I could have stayed awake for another hour of the movie. It really is kind of grim and awful, and according to ruinedendings.com, it didn't really get a whole lot more cheerful. The other up-side was that I then saw most of this adorable French animated movie (with very little dialogue, happily) about a cyclist who was kidnapped and his grandmother who went to save him, and these three old ladies who made wacky music using vacuum cleaners and fridge shelves, and who favoured the dynamite-assisted version of fishing. Which was lovely, and quite the antidote to all the rape and oppression.

Thursday, 26 July 2007


Yesterday we went to see a friend who is staying in Rheinfelden, a tiny town at the very north of Switz, just over the river from Germany. I'm sure no one else would agree with me (and really, it does seem kind of a mean thing to say considering the lovely time we had having dinner and lounging on the rooftop terrace and so on) but the highlight of the trip was definitely this big metal dinosaur sitting in the middle of a roundabout in the entertainingly named town of Frick (hee hee), which we saw from the bus on the way to Rheinfelden. It was all very reminiscent of my childhood, when we used to see a big and garishly-coloured fake dinosaur (more of the papier mache variety than the all-weather metal type, but still) sitting in a field whenever we went to visit my aunty Pat.

Sadly we had no camera at the time, and a brief and half-hearted google search yields nothing useful either, so you'll have to wait (possibly forever) to see the Frickosaur.

UPDATE: Thanks to Nick (and www.frick.ch), here he (the dinosaur, not Nick) is. Imagine him more lumpy and home-made looking, and a bizarre fluorescent type colour and you have aunty Pat's version.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Someone is doing something to the house next door. A few days ago I noticed it was all covered in scaffolding, and then the next day someone was spraying it with a high-pressure hose, and now, and constantly for the last 2 days, something involving a lawnmower or a clunky old VW or something is going on. I don't know what else all the racket they are making could be coming from, but it's relentless (except when it stops for a tantalising 30 seconds or so, and you hope maybe it won't start again, but then .. it does) and it's starting to drive me insane. Grr.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Being Poisoned And Robbed

This morning I went on a bit of a wander around town and two things of note happened.

The first thing is that I spotted zillions of blackberry bushes. This was not surprising as I had seen them all in the cooler months, but back then I didn't pay much attention because they were not then, as they are now, bursting with fruit. I love blackberries, and I enjoy them far more when I have picked them rather than bought them. I have all sorts of fond childhood memories of going blackberry-picking, getting stabbed half to death by all the prickles, my hands and lips turning purple from scoffing so many of them, and then of eating blackberry pies for months afterwards. Is it socially acceptable to pick blackberries within town-limits, though? Presumably they aren't sprayed with poison in this country as they tend to be in Aus, but I feel as though something else is holding me back from scoffing them all, something other than the threat of death (or at least a bit of low-grade poisoning). Hmm.

The other funny thing that happened was that I saw a bloke walking along the street trying to open car doors. He tried the handles of two parked cars, but both were apparently locked and so he kept walking. Was he some sort of extremely unsubtle and relatively unmotivated criminal (because I imagine if he was more motivated he would have made some attempt at breaking in)? What other explanation could there be?

Saturday, 21 July 2007

It's A Short List

Things that I had forgotten that I missed about Switzerland:

Seasonal yoghurt! I've just been to Migros and apparently the yoghurt of summer is Kiwi and Stachelbeere (which is gooseberry, whatever that is), Red Johannisbeere (which is red currant, whatever that is too, although I do happen to know because I picked a bunch of them in Norway once, but I had no idea what they were called until I googled them just now), and, in a lovely gesture towards Switzy-Australian relations, Peach Melba. I haven't tried any of them yet, and I am a bit sceptical about how nice they will be (I don't think that kiwifruit goes with dairy products, and red currant is too tart), but I like the fact that they exist.

And that's about it. I said it was a short list.

Castles And Cats

Last night Reto and I went on this "Nacht der Schlösser" thing, which was (as the name suggests, if you're into that sort of thing) a night of castley fun. Two local castles, Lenzburg and Hallwyl, were open until 2am and there were shuttle buses running between them, and there were people dressed up as folk from the olden days telling stories about the castles and demonstrating things and leading informative tours around the place and handing out glühwein (none of which, apart from the glühwein of course, was so handy for me what with it all being so relentlessly foreign-speaky). We did a lot of wandering around and peering at moats and olden days prisons and thick stone walls, and we met an adorably friendly castle cat and ate this wacky peach tart thing (which was not Olden Days at all, but it was delicious). There was an outdoor movie theatre at one of the castles, which was interesting (but as it turned out nowhere near as super as the outdoor cinema that Reto and I went to in Fribourg (in Switz) last year, which was in some medieval fort) but extremely poorly patronised owing to the fact that the weather was sort of abysmal. Which turned out to be a bit of a boon for us, because the dark-of-night castle scenery was punctuated by the odd dramatic flash of lightning. Of course this also meant that we were occasionally rained on and stood in a few puddles, but I suppose that's the price you pay.

Turning Into A Lizard

Apparently I have absolutely no powers of homeostasis.

Just a few days ago I was sittting on the couch having breakfast in the living room of where I live in Sydney when I realised that my toes had turned a numb-ish and deathly sort of grey from the cold (which is a shade never seen before. Interestingly, when I was young my extremities used to turn sort of purple and orange, then later it was more like blue, and now apparently my toes turn grey and my fingers turn white).

Fast forward a few days and I am back in Switzy where it has been something around 30-ish degrees for the last few days (ie. hot but not ridiculously so) and Reto complains every time I lay a finger on him because I am so ludicrously warm all the time. I had to put my feet under the cold tap the other night before I went to bed because otherwise I end up lying in bed feeling like they are about to spontaneously combust or something (which is not conducive to falling asleep, not even for someone just back from 30 hours of air-travel-based sleep deprivation). This whole cold-tap-foot thing is not new, but normally it is something I only had to do when I was visiting my parents in their former home in one of the more tropical parts of NSW, where Christmas day was known to be in the 40s.

Anyway, it seems I am turning into some sort of cold-blooded reptile type. Expect to see me lying on the roads in the winter months, trying to suck all the warmth I can find out of the bitumen.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Congratulations To Me!

Hey! While I wasn't paying any attention I accidentally posted my 100th post. I had noticed the other day that I was up to 98 or something, and I meant to realise when I did my 100th one. Appropriately enough, though the one entitled "Disorganisation" was the one I forgot to note.

Thursday, 19 July 2007


Well, I'm back and I only have time for a few sentences before I completely abandon my best intentions of not being all jetlagged, by which I mean of staying awake all day and going to sleep at a sensible time.

Why don't they give you enough food on aeroplanes any more? I'm sure that in the olden days I used to feel as though I was having food forced on me all the time. These days I am starving. Two crappy meals on a 12 hour flight is not enough, especially not when those meals are separated by about 9 hours.

Why don't they give you enough water on aeroplanes any more? Especially in this brave new world of DVT (if you don't drink enough you'll get blood clots and die) and terrorism (if you bring your own water bottle you'll probably use it to blow the plane up)?

How super is it not to have everything confiscated from you when you land somewhere? In Sydney they scowled at me because I took the tiny unopened packet of Lurpak which I salvaged from my aeroplane dinner. Here I wandered through with fresh mangosteens (courtesy of Bangkok airport) and chai tea and nobody batted an eye.

And now it's time for a nap.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Well, in the best tradition of international travel, it's 11pm ish on the night before I'm leaving and I haven't really done all my packing yet, I haven't finished eating dinner yet, and I'm a little bit tipsy (this in spite of swearing on Monday that I would never drink again, sigh). On the up side, I did just make some rather fantastic custard, but sadly the chocolate self-saucing pudding that my sister was in charge of seems to have gone awry (it seems to have self-sauced itself out of existence. I mean, there's a lot of sauce and not much else).

Monday, 16 July 2007

Undue Diligence

I'm so impressive when I'm drunk. Apart from all the hopeless blathering and embarrassing of myself, of course, but last night when I stumbled home all vile and boozy, instead of just collapsing in a big pile, I did a bunch of useful but unnecessary things. I washed my face. I considered brushing my teeth but decided against it because I had been drinking red wine and apparently brushing your teeth too soon after you have been drinking red wine is a bad idea. I wrote a few remarkably not-appalling emails which I checked thoroughly for bad spelling and general humiliation factor before I sent them (someone already replied to one of the emails I sent and I reread what I had written and it was really great and not drunken at all). I drank a bunch of water and got myself a bottle of water to keep next to my bed. I boiled the kettle and filled my hot water bottle (which is quite the hand-eye feat for a drunkard). I located and successfully put on my pyjamas. I hung my jacket on a coathanger.

And I was really quite drunk. I am so bizarrely diligent at times.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Sigh (part 2)

I was out having lunch today in a weird suburb that I never go to and where I don't know anyone, and I ran into someone I know. We had a chat and it was lovely. The other day I was in a bookshop in the city and I was waiting to meet a friend and I ran into someone else I know (actually, I don't really know her but we have met a few times) and we had a chat and it was kind of weird (I don't know her name, nor anything about her at all) but lovely. In a shop just a while ago I was having a chat with the sales person and she told me a story about some mentally disabled kid she knows who stole a fairy penguin from the aquarium (the penguin was later found alive and well in the kid's school bag, and I guess it was repatriated to the aquarium). This sort of stuff doesn't happen to me in Switzerland, and now that it seems to be happening so much here, I am going to miss it when it stops.

A lot of my conversation these days seems to be about how I am sad to be leaving Australia again. I had my legs waxed yesterday and as it turns out I seem to have some sort of disorder that makes me blather incessantly when I am having my legs waxed, possibly in an attempt to stop me from surprising myself by yelping in pain. Anyway, I was blathering away inanely, and eventually, after harping on about all the bad things about Switzerland (which you must admit makes for much more entertaining conversation than telling everyone how happy and in love and jet-set you are) I told my waxing woman that I would never recommend an international boyfriend to anyone. Which, in the warm fuzzy light of sitting on the couch at home and not having people cruelly ripping things out of my legs, seems a bit harsh and untrue.

In fact, I am quite looking forward to getting back to Switzy. I can't wait to see Reto, and I am looking forward to a bit of summery weather (although it doesn't sound like there has been much), to sitting on the balcony and having a gin, to forcing myself to learn german (grr. I am not looking forward to that at all, actually, but I am looking forward to it being over, or at least easier) to eating an elaborate range of cheese and so on. It doesn't mean that leaving isn't difficult though.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Oh, For A Rest

It's all a bit of a feast or a famine, my life at the moment. For the last few weeks (apart from when I was off visiting my parents) I have been involved in a frenzy of activity, seeing people and getting things done and generally being a bit hysterical. I am heading back to The Land Of The Switzer next week, where I fully expect to become, once again, a bit of a recluse. Really, I could do with the rest and relaxation it will provide, but it would be nicer all round if everything balanced out a bit more instead of being either all or nothing.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Watch Out, Grandma!

My grandmother has slippers that look like sharks. She says they are very warm and comfy, and fortunately she also says she doesn't leave the house wearing them.


Well, the sad farewells have started. This morning I said goodbye to my father before he left for work, and then to my mother this afternoon before I left to come back to Sydney. It was sad. That seems to be my unavoidable future as long as Reto and I stay together - every time go anywhere there will be some sort of sadness. At least in the olden days of our ridiculous long distance relationship, the emotional airport farewell scenes with Reto were tempered by the fact that when I was leaving here to go and see him (always for a short time only) I was always really happy. Sigh.

Apart from that the trip to see my parents was lovely. Lots of lolling and eating and reading and having of no social plans (which was a nice change from the previous weeks). I got kind of sick, but even that was fine because there was nothing much else going on that it got in the way of.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

What's That, Skip? In Front Of Oncoming Traffic?

I've been in Regional Australia for a good half a day or so now and look! Here's the proof, grazing on my parents' front lawn:
About half a minute after this photo was taken a car drove past and one of the kangaroos jumped out in front of it (good instincts there, Skippy). The driver slammed on the brakes, the other 2 kangaroos bounced down onto the road to help with the "getting in the way" duties, and happily they all survived. Which no doubt saddened Sammy, my parents' cat, who has recently discovered that owing to a terrible shopping miscalculation his breakfasting needs for tomorrow morning (kangaroo meat) may well not be met.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Hot Or Not?

I'm conducting a poll for a friend. Is Johnny Depp hot or not*?

* which reminds me of this awful TV show that is on now and then in Switzy where a mean panel of judges harshly judges semi-clad teenagers with regard to whether they are hot or not, and the winners get to stand on a dais briefly.

Out And Proud(ish)

As it turns out, everyone likes the Gilmore Girls (well-known now-defunct TV show). It used to always be my favourite crap fallback show, one that was always lurking around on pay TV or real TV, waiting to be watched when there was really nothing else on, and I was always more than happy to watch it. I always kept this kind of quiet, though, because it really is a pretty stupid show, but I have recently found out that everyone likes the Gilmore Girls. Heaps of people who I have the utmost respect for have told me that they enjoy it.

It would be my favoured crap fallback show in Switzy too but it seems that it's only ever on there in weird foreign languages, and so instead my favoured crap fallback show there is Friends (which actually is crap).

Hello Public Transport

I just got my proper full drivers license yesterday. What I should have done was get it in the mid 90s when I was young and vibrant and lived in a small town with no traffic, with my parents conveniently located right there (handy when I am getting them to teach me to drive), and when there was almost nothing that had to be done to get your license (do a test on the road rules, learn to drive, do a driving test in a small, slow country town and off you go). Instead what I did was occasionally feel enthusiastic enough to get my Learners license (which I eventually had about 4 times over the years), almost never feel enthusiastic enough to attempt any actual driving, move to a city with public transport galore (sort of, anyway), employ others as my chauffeurs, and then finally take the whole driving thing seriously at some point in my late-ish 20s when getting your license involved doing 4 separate tests over a space of 4 years, doing many hours of compulsory driving practice, paying a motza in fees here and there and being trammelled by excessively strict rules that were all designed to not let teenage boys kill their friends.

Now that I am officially a properly licensed driver, I fully intend to not drive as much as I can. I have noticed myself always veering to the right to avoid people when I walk on the footpath. I don't want to replicate that on the roads.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Thorpey Crash - may contain spoilers

Today Thorpey told me that buying vintage fashion (aka 'second hand' if you only speak 90s and earlier fashion lingo) will save the planet.

Last night I saw Oil Crash, or Crude Awakening as it's called here, apparently (which is all about how we, and specifically Americans with their fondness for Hummers and so on, no offence to all you Americans out there or anything, or at least none more than is your due, are wasting away all the oil in the world and how life as we know it, which in every aspect is heavily reliant on oil, is going to fall apart quick smart when we have no more oil and we will all suddenly turn into farmers and then die, because we don't know anything about being farmers and even if we do we don't really know about being farmers without fertiliser and machinery and so on. I mean really, it's worse than the Great Corn Threat), so I'm a bit sceptical that some aging, bug-infested polyester dresses, regardless of how fun they are, are going to save me. Reto and I were thinking of seeing Oil Crash in Switzy a while ago, but we saw Edmond instead, thinking it would be more cheerful. Edmond was the horrible story of a man who leaves his wife and then goes wandering the streets for a night and is attacked and robbed and generally treated quite poorly and then murders Julia Stiles in a hideous, blood-soaked stabbing frenzy and goes to prison and is raped by other men (although eventually he forms a loving relationship with his former rapist, so the ending was actually quite happy, really). And as it turns out that we made the right decision. It was still more cheerful than Oil Crash.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Thorpey's Retirement

It's good to see that Our Thorpey, now that he has given up on swimming, has something else to occupy his time. He has become an eco-warrior (possibly not news to anyone else in Australia, but I hadn't heard). No doubt he is doing other things too, but this arvo while in a frenzy of telly-viewing, I have been told by Thorpey about ways to build a good compost heap, and about how to make my workplace greener. Which is all well and good, except that I am unemployed and I live in a small apartment on the 9th floor (or is it not the 9th floor? Good lord, I have been away for a month and suddenly I might not be able to get home again. Reto, if you are reading this you have to come and collect me at the airport. Or at least at the train station). Plus of course I am ludicrously green anyway, if you don't count all the flying back and forth across the globe (sigh).