Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

This is right up me street mate. Yer see I was born a cockney. Now I ain’t going to write all that rhymin’ slang cos ya won’t understand it, I can’t be bovvered to explain it all and you probably won’t get it all any’ow. The fing is you ‘ave to drop all your aches. You know that letter in the alphabet, comes after g and before i. I don’t mean it makes a crash bang and lands on the floor, it just don’t exist in cockney, don’t need ‘em, so frow ‘em away. Like we live in a ‘ouse. Somefing else, we luv doing two no’s when we talk. Like I ain’t got nuffing, see. If you ain’t got nuffing, then you ‘ave to ‘ave somefing, but you don’t ‘ave somefing cos you’ve already said that you ain’t got nuffing. Simple ain’t it.

Nah I was ‘appy wiv all this way to talk. Me mum understood me, me dad knew wot I was talking about, and so did me aunts and uncles. Of course it weren’t the proper Kings English was it? At least I don’t fink that Queen Elizabeff talked like that. She was more in the way of talking wiv an apple in her gob.

Then I got older, like wasn’t a cockney sparra any more, but grew up and ‘ad to go to a posh school, like ‘igh school and they wanted us all to talk proper. We were all from the East End of London and cockneys, some more than ovvers. I was a bit more. All the same I ’ad to learn to speak proper, so if you can’t beat ‘em you join ‘em and I was quite good wiv me vowels and consonents. I even started to use me aches.

And then something remarkable happened. I threw all this cockney behind me and left England to work in Switzerland, thinking that I would get by with my English language and my elementary German. Wrong! If you think that German does not have any dialects or accents, then forget it. The Swiss invented the dialect. No-one speaks good German at home, on the streets or in the supermarkets. They invented the dialect. First of all they have four languages. German in the East, French in the West, Italian in the South and sandwiched between all of this somewhere in the mountains in the east they speak Romansh which is a language descending from Vulgar Latin. That would be complicated enough, but dialect being the mother of invention in Switzerland Romansch is also split into roughly four dialects.

The German language in Switzerland has more than 30 dialects, varying according to which village or town you live in. What the French do with their language I am not sure, but I do know it can vary with the way things are said, and the French find the Swiss French quite amusing. Italian is spoken in a sing-song sort of way.

I would add that in the Swiss German schools, so-called high German is spoken, otherwise the Swiss children would grow up speaking a dialect that only the Swiss would understand. Switzerland is a small country with approximately seven million population, so the Swiss would be quite isolated with their strange guttural dialect(s). Broadcasting language is also basically high German the news and the weather forecast also, but the rest is a mixture. They seem to speak what they feel like speaking.

So there I was, a simple cockney sitting in Zürich with two years high German confronted with everyone speaking their own dialect. I decided to move from Zürich to another town, perhaps hoping that the dialect choice would be restricted. No, I was a sucker for punishment. Not only did they speak differently in Solothurn, where I arrived, but I even married one of them, my Mr. Swiss.

I have now been living in Switzerland for forty-six years, forty-four of which I have been married to a Swiss and even possess a Swiss passport. Mr. Swiss brought two Swiss children into the marriage, who could speak basically only Swiss German. I myself made a contribution of two children, who grew up in Switzerland speak Swiss German as their mother tongue. What choice did I have?

So that the story of a cockney in Switzerland. Not that I ‘ave forgot me cockney. Oh yea, I can still speak it if I want to, trouble being that no-one would understand it. Mr. Swiss can understand it, ‘e ‘ad to, ovverwise we would ‘ave ‘ad problems. The kids sort of understand it, me youngest best of all. ‘E likes to frow a few cockney words in when ‘e’s speaking English, but I fink ‘es just showing off a bit.

And now I will close down this bit of blog stuff. Life ain’t easy when you are surrounded by a lot of foreigners all speaking their own stuff, I just ‘ad to learn it meself. No problem, but when I see me dad in England ‘e sometimes asks wot language I’m speaking. See I get a bit mixed up now and again, but you can’t blame me can you.

Weekly Challeng: A Manner of speaking

Daily Prompt: Art Appreciation

Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?

Me in front of Centre Pompidou

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is art, whether a painting, sculpture or even a building. Many years ago we were in Paris and on the photo I was appreciating the statues by Niki de St. Phalle in the fountain outside the Centre Pompidou (me, the tall one on the right next to the fountain).

Of course it would be very easy to say the way the artist lives his life has nothing to do with his paintings or creations. I was going to write a short piece but then I remembered that Adolf Hitler tried his hand at painting as a young man and even wanted to become an artist. His paintings became valuable, although they had no real artistic value. It was more sensationalism. He was never actually recognised as a great painter, but I must admit his results were better than mine would have been. Would I really like to have an Adolf Hitler painting in my possession, on my walls? No thank you, there I must admit I did not agree with his lifestyle or his politics. I would be ashamed to own one of his paintings.

I am not a great art connoisseur, but I do know what I like: Picasso, Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Marc Chagall, René Margritte, Salvador Dali, just to mention a few. You can also add Ferdinand Hodler, Paul Klee, Cuno Amiet, Albert Anker, and Jean Tinguely some Swiss artists. We have an art gallery in the town of Solothurn where I live and they often have art exhibitions.

All the artists I have mentioned are a mixture of lifestyles, politics and appearances, but they were not responsible for harming others. A few of them might have had mental problems, perhaps did not have a serious life style, but their paintings were good. It might be that if they had been different, more establishment friendly and had a perfect life style, their paintings would not have been so good.

Spending money on art means that you have to have the money to spend. You go to a local market and suddenly see the perfect painting and you buy it, at a reasonable price. It might be worthless, or it might be discovered as an original Picasso that had been lost. Buying paintings is not for every man. You cannot eat a painting, drink a painting, or wear it, you hang it on the wall and look at it. I have never been moved enough to actually buy a painting. I would just not trust my taste.

Daily Prompt: Art Appreciation

Daily Prompt: Unleash your inner Dickenson

National Poetry Writing Month is nearly at at end. To celebrate it, try your hand at some verse.

Train Departure Solothurn Main Station

Pregnant silence prevailed at the station
In the air something?
A mouse skipped over the rail
Hurrying to find refuge
Pigeons pecking scraps
Took to the sky
Humans gathered on the platform
Carrying bags
Pulling packed cases
A flurry
No, a wind engulfed time and space
A voice boomed out
The train arriving at platform 1…..
blergle, bumble, blah
Deafining noise
An arrival, an appearance
Doors opening
People pushing
Jumbling up the entrance stairs
Mind the doors, the blow of a whistle
Silence prevailed
The train departed
The mouse returned, relieved
Pigeons repossessed their crumbs
People gathered
Waiting for the next train

Daily Prompt: Unleash your Inner Dickinson

Daily Prompt: Cringe Worthy

Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

Feldbrunnen road to Riedholz closed

Here we have the country road which connects our village to the next village of Riedholz, but at the moment Riedholz is cut off from the Feldbrunnen population. You are suddenly confronted with a sign saying the road is closed until end of May because of water maintenance.. I think it suits them to close the road for the water maintenance as it coincides with “be kind to frog month” when the road is usually closed because the frogs are hopping across to get to their mating poind.  It could be that the poor little frogs get squashed by the tyre of an oncoming car seeking their life’s partner.

Back to the subject of this blog, I am going to be very selfish, ignorant and you could even say malignant, but I could not care less if someone else is being embarrassed. If I am embarrassed for some reason, I have never experienced that anyone has come to my aid, defended me, or even taken pity (heavens forbid). At the most there will be a couple of onlookers who are perhaps staring or making funny faces. They might turn their heads for a quiet giggle and generally wait until I am not looking and laugh and talk about it: so is the human way of dealing with things.

How often have I fallen down (proof: twice a broken left arm). Did a stranger come to my help, did someone stop to see what had happened: definitely not. I have learnt my lesson.

There are a few exceptions to my selfishness and I do tend to help especially when a physically handicapped person is involved. My eldest son is handicapped, not physically – he is autistic, and very rarely needs help. Based on this life’s experience I have had a lot of contact with handicapped people and have no problem in saying “can I help you?”. An example is once in the local supermarket where a certain person had difficulty in packing his shopping in his bag. Everyone was watching to see how it would turn out, but I marched up to him and asked if I could help. Before he could answer I took his shopping bag, opened it, and he put the shopping in. A simple job (for someone not handicapped) and everything went well. At the worse he could have told me to clear off, but he did not.

As far as television embarassement goes, forget it. Television staff are only interested in one thing, their spectators. The more the merrier and the more turnover, It means money, so they will do anything to get more people watching, no matter who is harmed or embarrassed. Not really rocket science, so anyone who decides to join in on the TV has only himself to blame if  no-one claps their hands afterwards. Television is very good at twisting the truth but it is up to you to realise this. Journalism is not far behind. I do not believe very much what I read in the newspaper, it is only written to sell as many copies of the newspaper as possible.

So someone being embarrassed does not generally affect me with just one exception as explained above. As far as squirming is concerned, I just squirm at the people who stand and watch, perhaps giggle, or make funny faces. They are the idiots not those who are directly affected.

Daily Prompt: Cringe Worthy

Daily Prompt: Your Time to Shine

Early bird, or night owl?

1 bird

I would say neither nor. Sometimes there are circumstances in life, when you are more or less forced to be one or the other and you even think it belongs to your way of life especially in the younger years, but once you discover your life is you own to choose and do what you like, a little more common sense prevails perhaps.

A teenager in the swinging sixties in London – who cares when you go to bed and how much sleep you get? A certain influence was administrated according to when the last underground train left for your home destination. In my case my Saturday evenings were spent in Leicester Square dance hall, about 30 minutes train ride from Bethnal Green where I lived at the time. Of course there was compensation on Sunday morning, sleeping in until elevenish, although this was also combined with getting out of mum’s way when she was preparing the Sunday lunch. A delicate matter it seems and better not to appear in the kitchen, being “in the way”.

During the week you arose in the morning to go to work, so you had no way of choosing to stay in bed. You arose with the early bird and if you went to bed with the night owl, then you had problems to leave the security of your bed the next morning.

Years go by, you become independent, no mum and dad, just you, yours and yourself. Great, at last the chance to become a haunter of the night. No-one to tell you when to go to bed, although unfortunately you were still forced to leave your bed early in the morning, when the owls were probably sleeping and counting the worms and mice they had caught during the night.

I did lead quite an active life, taking advantage of parties and events, although I suffered during the day trying to keep my eyes open and not falling asleep in the office. Did anyone notice? I do not think so as they probably had the same problem after a night on the tiles.

Married life changed things a little. For your children you do everything, so it was waking every four hours when they were babies. You were a living milk supply and your babies did not care. They were hungry so they screamed and made noises until they were fed.

Eventually the kids grew up and I returned to work. I just slept at every opportunity. Regularly arising in the morning at sixish and having a fully packed day, was no ideal for becoming a night owl. Generally I fell asleep in front of the television early in the evening. Unfortunately office hours in Switzerland were a little different to England. The morning began at 7.00 o’clock in the office and work was finished when it finished according to what you were doing, but we had generally a 42 hour week, so work that out.

Today I am retired. You do what you want when you want to. I never did become a night owl. I detest falling asleep in an armchair during the evening. I go to bed when I am tired and I arise about eight in the morning. Even if I am awake earlier I do not care. I savour every minute I can lay in my comfortable bed. Of course as it happens in age, you do go backwards in your life. My children always had a midday sleep and I find this also very rewarding as you get older. After dinner an hour or two in a horizontal position in bed is just what I need for a relaxing session. Combined with an hour Tai Chi practice during the day it is ideal. I want to make the most of the years I have left.

The birds never wake me in the morning, usually the local road train that does its first daily journey around six in the morning. I sometimes even hear an owl in a nearby forest during the night, such a reassuring noise, knowing it is his problem and not mine.

So if you want to see me shining and full of life, call in around 3-4 in the afternoon. It is the best time and you might even get a piece of homemade cake and a coffee.

Apple Rings

Daily Prompt: Early Bird or Night Owl

Daily Prompt: Wall to Wall

What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?

P1030787

I have an artist in the family, Mr. Swiss. He has been painting for many years and brought most of his art works with him when we got married: sometimes in oil and often aquarelle. So what do we have on the walls of our home? paintings of course.

My family did not have such a connection to art. Now and again dad would take me for a walk around an art gallery in London, but more often we visited museums. The only paintings we might have had on the wall at home in London were probably bought at the local market, so nothing original. I have my husband a lot to thank that I actually recognise what art is and appreciate it. He introduced me to a lot of painters. If we went anywhere on holiday a visit to the local art gallery was always included. Yes, I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris, but I saw a lot of other paintings as well. New York was a fantastic experience. They had a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition in the Guggenheim museum so that was a must visit.

A few years ago Mr. Swiss and I went to the art gallery in Bern, Switzerland, where they had a Picasso exhibition of his blue period. Yes, I even appreciate modern paintings, even Andy Warhol with his Campbell Soup tins and Marilyn Monroe would suit me to have on the wall.

We do know a few artists, and bought an original a few weeks ago, which is now hanging in one of the rooms. It is such an interesting painting, that I have put that on one side to write a story one day.

We do not only have Mr. Swiss originals on the walls, but mostly. In every room there are paintings, either from Mr. Swiss or chosen by him. I think when we move house, the first thing we do is to hang the paintings before we start arranging the furniture.

We are not trying to create any sort of mood, a picture is a picture and you either like it or you do not.

Of course the blog illustrations are originals by Mr. Swiss.

P1030792

Daily prompt: Wall to Wall

Daily Prompt: Second Time Around

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Woodgrange Park Cemetery Dracula

I have spent many evenings reading the book, one of my favourites, so vivid and such a good story line. It was now one of those moonlit nights, just the right atmosphere for another re-read of Dracula by Bram Stoker.

“Story? never, although I must admit Bram did play a bit with the facts.” and my friend Morticia from  Transylvania flew through the open window.

“Morticia, how lovely to see you.”

“Hello Angloswiss, I had to pop in when I heard that you were telling everyone how good your favourite book is. When great granddaddy Dracula about fifteen times removed appeared to Bram Stoker in a dream telling him to write it all down, he knew he had chosen the right man for the task. Not that Bram had much success with anything else, but he really got down to the facts with granddad Dracula’s life.”

“True, it is such a captivating book. I have read it so often and each time I discover something else. I always wondered how Jonathan Harker managed to get away with it all. His visit to Dracula in the Carpathian mountains, and he didn’t lose a drop of his own blood.”

“Of course not” answered Morticia “granddad Dracula knew what he was doing. It would not have been a good idea to turn him into an undead like the rest of us. He would have returned to England and the residence for granddad would not have been organised. You know that old deserted church. Great uncle Jonathan would have been too busy looking for suitable victims and not attended to Dracula’s needs in England.”

This was getting interesting. It is so much more informative when you actually speak to people that knew the characters in the book.

“Did Jonathan marry into the Dracula family, that you call him great uncle Morticia?”

“Sort of, I mean not everything is the pure truth in the book. Mina Harker, Jonathan’s fiancée, was supposed to be cured although she wasn’t really ill, just slowly becoming undead. For all reading the book and not wanting to disturb their peace of mind, Bram had her cured. Even Jonathan thought she had overcome her thirst for blood, but cutting a long story short, Jonathan is now my great uncle. We welcomed him into the family with a wonderful feast, although he did have a problem at first not being able to see his reflection in the mirror.”

“I see. By the way Morticia, would you like something to drink, you must be thirsty travelling all the way from Transylvania to see me. If I had known you were coming, I would have picked up something for you at the local blood bank.”

“No problem Angloswiss, I dropped in on my way here and have a couple of plastic pouches with me.”

“I will give you a glass.”

“Not necessary” and Morticia pierced the plastic with her fangs and quenched her thirst.”

“Anything to eat Morticia?”

“No thanks, I will take a walk in the park this evening, might find something there.”

It was always something completely different having a great granddaughter of Dracula visiting.

“What about Van Helsing Morticia, he seemed to have cleared a few vampires out of the way.”

“Well you have to have a hero somewhere when you write a book. That was Bram Stoker’s idea and Dracula decided to let him have his way. After all, the book had to be a best seller to make sure that Dracula would never be forgotten. He had to leave his mark in the world of literature.”

“Yes Morticia, he seemed to have left many marks across Europe, a sort of fil rouge I suppose you could say.”

“True Angloswiss, it certainly was a red thread. We are so proud of him in the old country. If it wasn’t for people like you that re-read the book so often, granddad Dracula would have been long forgotten.

I have to be on my way now Angloswiss, it was so nice to see you again. Come, I will give you a big hug and kiss before I go. The family send their best wishes. We love you so much.”

“Morticia it was lovely that you visited me, I do not want to seem impolite, but I do have quite a cough and cold and would not want to infect you, so just a handshake will do. Arrive home safely.”

“No problem Angloswiss goodbye” and she opened the window and flew out until her cloak was just a black speck in the distance. I am running out of excuses for refusing a goodbye kiss, but when she approaches her fangs seem to be bigger and sharper and she never wants to kiss me on the lips, but on the neck.

Daily Prompt: Second Time Around

Daily Prompt: Clone Wars

If you could clone yourself, how would you split up your responsibilities?

Pat im Bipperlisi clone

I do not think I would even see eye to eye with my clone. Dr. Frankenstein told me it was very easy to do, but it might be that the clone wants to take over and that the clone might not be a pleasant type of person to get on with. On the other hand, after reading Dr. Frankenstein’s experiences, recorded by Mary Shelley, I decided he did it all wrong in any case. He first of all made a man, now what a stupid thing to do. If he had made a woman at the beginning, life would have been so much easier. She would have organised everything perfectly, being expert at multi-tasking.

“Mrs. Human” asked my chief feline Nera “what is a clone?”

“Not important Nera, forget it.”

“But it looks interesting. Seems you can make people twice, even more.”

“Nera forget it.”

“But Mrs. Human, if it works you could even clone me.”

“Nera forget it. One Nera is enough in this household.”

“But one Mrs. Human is enough as well” answered Nera.

“Go and play in the garden Nera, there is a lonely bird outside, looks very tasty.”

“Mrs. Human are you trying to get rid of me?”

“Nera, go into the garden.”

She walked off swishing her tail back and forth and muttering something about Humans not understanding the feline race.

In the meanwhile I returned to my cloning thoughts. Forgetting Dr. Frankenstein as I decided it might be a good idea. I had visions of sitting at the computer and at last writing my prize winning epic novel, not having to organise the housework, washing, ironing and cooking in between. .My days of multi tasking would at last disappear. My clone would do that for me. I could go on long field trips with my camera, taking the photos that I always wanted to. My clone would even look after the felines.

“Mrs. Human”

“She’s back. Yes Nera, go and play with the bird in the garden.”

“No Mrs. Human, Tabby is now chasing the bird. I have an important discussion to finish here I do not want a clone preparing my tuna fish, I am sure she will not do it in the right way. I also do not want a clone emptying my litter tray, and I am sure that there is no clone that would be at my beck and call all day.”

“But Nera, a clone is exactly the same as me, just a sort of double and can do everything I can.”

“In that case tell your clone to write the novel and take the photos. In the meanwhile you could do the housework and carry on being our human servant. Do not forget Mrs. Human, we adopted you. It is an honour to serve three felines, myself Nera, my litter sister Tabby and Fluffy our apprentice. We had a discussion and decided we do not want to be left at the mercy of a clone.”

Examining the whole case of cloning, I come to the conclusion that splitting responsibilities does not fit into the feline way of doing things, meaning that having a clone would create a conflict situation at home.

“On the other hand Mrs. Human I have a good idea. If you cloned me I could send my clone out into the fields to catch mice and birds and I could just sleep at home or rest waiting for my fresh meat. Yes, Mrs. Human clone me.”

“But Nera, you are unique, I do not think that would be possible.”

“Is unique something good?”

“Yes Nera, it means there is no other feline like yourself.”

Nera puffed her fur out, had a scratch and a lick and said “Mrs. Human you may empty my litter tray, serve a plate of tuna fish and afterwards switch the radio off. The noise disturbs my feline relaxation.”

Daily Prompt: Clone Wars

Daily Prompt: Stranger

Have you ever had a random encounter or fleeting moment with a stranger that stuck with you?

YMCA from Grenfell Avenue, Hornchurch

Sometimes fate plays a trick, brings you together with people you did not even know existed. Can you see him? The middle of the photo in the background, he looks quite innocent.

I am an amateur photographer, not that I aspire for a Pulitzer prize or have had my photos chosen for a magazine or newspaper. I did once for the Internet, a couple of insect photos and market photos from the East End of London, but no big deal. I was not paid for it. I do not even do copyright on my photos. If someone uses them without asking me, then that is their problem, not mine.

I pay a visit to London once a year, to visit my now 97 year old father. He has his own house, but I usually stay at my schoolfriend’s house to save him the trouble of catering for me. It works quite well. They both live just on the Eastern outskirts of London, one of those places that sort of expanded and grew after the Second World War. Some industry, a lot of so-called council houses as well as privately owned houses: each street resembles the one next to it, now and again an industrial building and all near a shopping center or town.

Every morning I would leave my friend’s house and walk along the street to the bus stop. Of course I had my camera with me, you never know. At the end of the street there was something that looked like a small industry. A long path leading to an office with various cars parked left and right: nothing special, but if you peeped through the gap at the top you had a very good view of the YMCA centre (the Young Man’s Christian Association), which is a hostel for young men looking for accommodation. No big deal, but cheap and comfortable if you do not have anywhere to stay, for younger people a good place for a cheap tourist visit to London.

So I stood with my camera and took this very photo, thinking an unusual capture, but a souvenir of my stay in this area in London. Engrossed as I was in my photography, I did not see the young man until he was standing in front of me.

“May I ask you what you are doing here madam?”

“I am taking a photo of the view of the YMCA in the background.”

I do not think he was very happy with this explanation. I was actually glad he understood and spoke English. He had a rather mixed foreign appearance, but this area of London is very cosmopolitan to say the least.

“I do not live in England and am on holiday, so I like to take some photos as souvenirs.”

“Where do you live?”

“Switzerland”

“That is interesting. The problem is that we are running a business here and we do not like people taking photos. It may be that you are working for an organisation that would use them against us.”

I was perplexed.

“If you wish, I can delete the photo from my camera.”

The foreign looking young gentlemen seemed to soften his tough appearance. He probably thought he had some sort of crazy foreigner in front of him. My suggestion to delete the photo seemed to appease him.

“No, that is no problem. Keep the photo on your camera. We just have to be careful.”

With this last remark he turned to return to his office, where he had a full view of the entrance to his yard, and I walked on to the bus stop.

In the evening I returned to my friend’s house and her boyfriend was also there. I told them of my experience. It seemed to be a source of amusement and they both started laughing, so I asked what the joke was.

“I bet he was a bit annoyed. It is a place where they sell second hand cars and also deal with repairs. They probably have a few devious deals they prefer to keep quiet about. If someone appears with a camera and takes photos, they are convinced that the insurance company has suspicions and the photos are to be used as proof. You were lucky that you got away with it. They have some shady characters moving around in that yard.”

I never saw the foreign young man again, although I was staying for a further week and saw the yard every morning. I just kept my camera in my bag until I passed the yard. He was probably observing me from behind his office window.

I will be back again end of this year. I wonder if his car repair and sales business still exists, or whether he has disappeared from the area. I do hope I did not cause him any sleepless nights, he seemed to be a nice person.=”

Daily Prompt: Stranger