Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?

Train Departure Solothurn Main Station

I was once in this situation. Waiting for the train to take me to Zürich Airport where I was flying to see my father in London. There was a crush at the doors when the train arrived: everyone pushing. I had my wheelie case with me which I had to lift to board the train. Eventually I pushed my way through, sat down and began to organise my handbag with the tickets. Unfortunately, in the pressure,  a thief had stolen my purse. I had no credit cards, no train ticket and no money. The only thing left was the plane ticket but what was the point when you have nothing else, so I called the whole thing off. If I had taken my time would this had happened? Who knows but probably not.

This was a physical confrontation, but a psychological confrontation can be just as bothersome. It depends on how you feel, who the others are, and whether it is worth it I suppose. I tend to “head for the hills”, in the way of not saying very much. Just let the other party talk themselves into a void, keep your mouth shut and let them get on with it. That is the best way I know, but is that the way I do it? Not always.

I notice that as I approach the platinum oldie stage, from the golden oldie stage, I now ask what is the point of arguing. I am not very good at arguing in any case. If I lose my temper I also lose the thread of the argument. It is really some sort of competition we humans have with each other, “I will have the last word” and then we have won. With the years I realise it is just not worth it.

One of my favourite confrontations is in the local supermarket. This might be a Swiss sort of thing, but sometimes I have to be careful not to laugh out loud, but please bear in mind I have to do all this in the local lingo, Swiss German. Of course I speak it more or less fluently but an accent always remains. Here is the situation:

I am buying meat at the butchers and there is another lady standing next to me. Now I have not made a psychological analysis of who was there first, I do not really care. However the lady next to me has done this. Perhaps she is older than me, perhaps she had an argument with the neighbour before she left her house, or perhaps she had killed her husband because she found out he was cheating on her.

All of these things are hypothetical of course and me? I am just standing and waiting my turn under the impression that I was there first; just an automatic human reaction. The butcher looks at me (I may even know him) and he asks

“Whose turn is it?” not wanting to annoy anyone.

I probably am under the mistaken impression that I was there first, so I open my mouth to tell the butcher what I would like.

Suddenly, as if coming from a machine gun, the lady next to me says “I was here first”, emphasises her point with a firm nod of the head and looks at me with a sort of dagger-in-her-eyes stare.

What do I do? Do I speak even louder and say “I was here first, wait your turn”, do I throw my bag at her or do I say nothing. In the meanwhile the butcher is confused. “What shall I do” he is thinking. “Shall I ignore them and let them get on with it or shall I go ahead and serve the lady I was sure was here first” (knowing it was me in any case). Of course he says nothing more and hopes, even prays, that the lady that spoke first will give way to the lady who now has decided to take over and get served first.

In the meanwhile I have to do the right thing, which in my eyes is not right, and tell this arrogant b***h standing next to me “Sorry, that is ok, go ahead”. She then stands even taller than before and places her order with the butcher, a righteous undertone in her voice. The butcher makes a sigh of relief, I keep my mouth shut, but glare at the same time towards the self-righteous lady standing next to me, and let her have her way. The whole process cost me a few minutes of my time, no nerves (I remain cool) and she is now convinced she was right and the butcher is thinking “women!”.

So that is how I do it. There is no point in charging like a bull in a china (butcher’s) shop. Everyone is happy and carries on as if the world is ok. Perhaps the lady who won now goes home and tells her husband how she won the battle of the butchers, if he is still alive. She might still be working out how to convince the police that she did not kill him after all.

Summing all this up, it is something like a parliamentary debate on a smaller scale. A lot of blah, blah, no-one really believes what you say and the survivor is the one that talks the most and loudest. For me it is just no so important to wish I had done it otherwise. I am just quietly amused at the stupidity of some people. After all – I am always right (aren’t I?????)

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the another, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part. If I may add, that was not easy

Photographers, show us SHARING.

Schanz, Solothurn

The Schanz, Solothurn, Switzerland

Part 1
The tower loomed above everything else. It was there that Mary lost her shoe. She slipped as she walked carefully and the heel caught in a crevice between the stony parapets: balanced on the edge at the top of a sheer wall looking down to a place covered in sparsely growing grass. It was early spring and the chill of winter was still present in the earth. This chill was now in her heart, in her bones, in her body. She plucked the engagement ring from her finger: no wedding, no more need for the ring. This item was no longer necessary, it meant nothing more; a partner that did not bother to arrive for the wedding. The engagement ring was no longer necessary.

Part 2
One of the best places in town for a lunch break in Summer. It was cool sitting on the walls of the entrenchment surrounded her town. The town founded by the Romans, guarded by a moat. Now years later the moat no longer existed, but it had become a place to rest, to savour the fresh air and enjoy the peace and quiet, until the tourists arrived. It was there that she met Cyril. He sat next to her and asked if it was OK.

“No problem” she answered.

“It’s a nice place for a lunch break” he added as he began to eat a hamburger, bought in the nearby kiosk.

The conversation continued, when she looked at her watch.

“I have to return to the office” but as she stood up she caught the heel of her shoe in the space between the cobbled ground. She felt a bit silly, just having met a very nice young good looking man and standing there with one bare foot. He was her prince Charming probably, as he carefully removed the shoe from its capture and placed it on her foot. She felt a little silly, but in a way flattered. She like this man, whose name was apparently Cyril, although she noticed that he was wearing a wedding ring.

“Silly me” she thought. “How can you already think about a marriage when you have only just met him.”

She went on her way, but not without having planned a further rendez-vous with Cyril on that same evening.

Part 3
Cyril was getting nervous. His wife accused him of having another girlfriend, of being untrue. He was drinking too much, and she had found the ring he had bought for his girlfriend. This was enough.

Cyril tried to talk his way out of it. It was all a mistake, the ring was for her, his wife of course.

“I have no other. You are my one and only.”

It was then that she became hysterical, shouting and screaming. One thing lead to another, he picked up the first object that came to his hand, one of her high heeled shoes, and threw it at her.

His aim was good, too good, and the heel pierced her eye. She fell blinded with a searing pain in her head. The point of the heel had pierced her brain and now Cyril had a problem. He tried to resuscitate her, but she was not breathing, she was as cold as the stones in the town walls.

It was then that he had an idea. It was late in the evening; the town was quiet, abandoned by the daily crowds. She was lightweight, and he carried her to his car parked outside in the drive. Cyril laid her on the back seat of the car and drove off to the town walls. It was an easy climb up the slope and she was not heavy.

“Of course not” he thought, she was constantly being careful what she ate, keeping her figure slim and lightweight.

“She always was a nagger and only thinking about herself. I will wait some time and propose to Mary.”

He climbed the steps to the top of the tower where he released her. Her body fell and hit the stone parapits on the way down. Cyril rushed to the bottom. Her body was unrecognisable. The head injury was no longer visible, he face and head now being a bloody mess.

Cyril went home, thinking of Mary on his way.

Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

Blogger Creative Challenge 253: Instruments

Being married to Dr. Jazz, I could not resist this one. The photo is from the local High School big band accompanied by one of our local jazz musicians and the words are from titles of Jazz songs.


The musicians decided to Take Five. They went on a trip to Green Dolphin Street because they were In a Sentimental Mood. On the way they met Stella By Starlight, but she was meeting The Girl from Ipanema as she Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

It was a Blue Moon and then Mac The Knife appeared. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” they cried, but there was no escaping fate, so they all took a jump in the Moon River. We Ain’t Misbehaving they thought, and soon they were Back At The Chicken Shack.

In the meanwhile Mac The Knife took a trip down Baker Street. He saw a Skylark that was saying Bye Bye Blackbird and decided to cross over to the Sunny Side of the Street because it was Summertime.

He went down to the St. James Infirmary to sing a Song for My Father. Afterwards he decided to Take the A Train when he saw a Satin DollHello Dolly he said I Get a Kick out of You, it just Had to Be you. At last I have found Someone to Watch over Me and it started to rain Pennies from Heaven.

Just Fly Me to the Moon, I am Feeling Good and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. I Got Rhythm and I Left My Heart in San Francisco so Round Midnight he Hit The Road Jack and spent the night with his Honeysuckle Rose.

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Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook

Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content its users post, or should users have complete freedom? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?

I generally only use photos I take myself, but this time I “borrowed” it from our local newspaper “AZ Zeitung” as it was so appropriate.

Attack on facebook

It is not often that our little Switzerland decides to declare war. We are a neutral country, never take sides, and put up with everything (unless it is connected with money). At the moment we do have a little war with the States, to be exact the States have a war with us. We are convinced we have done nothing wrong. Just helped a few American citizens to let their money escape to Switzerland, and avoid US taxes. However that is not the topic here, perhaps that will crop up with another prompt like “Have you ever cheated your government?”.

No, at the moment Switzerland has a bigger problem. We have a war with Facebook, although it is a one-sided war as according to the general Facebook policy, they hear no evil, think no evil and close down their screens when a problem crops up. So what is the problem? It seems that some Facebook members told everyone to have a demonstration in our capital town of Bern. Bern is generally a good place to go shopping (covered arcades on the main streets), see the bears (yes we have a bear park) and take photos of the Parliament building.

In the evening the town usually goes to sleep, but one evening this week it did not sleep, but thanks to our social friend Facebook it had a so called “Dance yourself Free” evening. It all started so peacefully, everyone dancing in the street, thousands dancing in the street. If someone on Facebook says we are having a party, then everyone joins in. Unfortunately things did get out of hand. The alcohol was flowing and soon the police were also flowing to the area around the parliament building. It just got a little hectic when the dancers decided to demolish the barriers, which had been erected to protect our wonderful parliament building. Then the water jets started flowing and eventually the police mixed it all with a little tear gas, just to emphasize the point. The result was a lot of expensive damage, a few injured dancers and the parliament square was not a wonderful example of Swiss cleanliness and nice and tidy.

The Bernese government  searched for the guilty party and decided it was Facebook. If someone in Facebook had not called everyone to dance in the streets, this would not have happened and there would not have been any destruction in the town of Bern. So now you see our politician deciding to fight against the windmills of Facebook in the cartoon, but they will keep turning as ever. After all what is Switzerland with its eight million population compared to Facebook with its worldwide population.

So to continue: as far as Facebook is concerned, you can always leave the site, you do not have to read it, and you can surf in better places, but we do not, do we? Of course not: somewhere someone finds that they love their mother, their sister, their dog or cat. They have a need to tell everyone that God is with you all the time (in facebook?) and they absolutely must spread the news about their boyfriend that is the best in the world, or perhaps the worst, according to what is written. It is all there in Facebook, just press the right button.

There will never be a happy medium, forget it. As far as people are concerned, they generally want to talk about themselves. If you want to be kind to someone, just press a “like” and we are all happy.

Internet is a basically a dangerous place. If you venture into the big wide world of Facebook then just have a read, but be careful with participation. I do not find that Facebook is doing anything wrong. It is the members that encourage the hate and violence. I generally just hide stuff I do not want to read, it is very easy; just a little hook on the right-hand side of a post and it disappears. You can also report postings that you do not agree with, although I do not know if anyone really reads the reports.

For me a storm in a tea cup: Facebook is a business, they make profits and earn money. They do not care what we do with it. It is completely up to you whether you make it a good thing or bad. It is a matter of common sense. When someone starts ranting that Facebook are storing you telephone numbers, it is only because you have given it to them in the first place. They do not have the time or people to check on the millions of members to see what their telephone number is. It is a matter of common sense. There are always trolls, or spammers that try to get you. You received an e-mail from Facebook? You open it and you have a virus. It is your own fault. Facebook do not send e-mails to their members, only reports of what your colleagues have written. There is no photo of the month, and you will not be contacted by the Facebook director or whatever. Just use your brain. If you are in Internet, then think and do not just nod your head to every stupidity.

It is my birthday in December. If I tell everyone in Facebook I am giving a party, bring your own drink, guaranteed I will have the complete population of my village, my local town knocking at the door; perhaps a few thousand from Zürich. So wake up people, and think whose fault it really is.

In the meanwhile the Swiss Government is still fighting its battle with the Facebook windmills and Mark Zuckerberg is counting his millions and wondering what to do next. Perhaps a new Timeline that no-one wants, but has to put up with. Who knows?

Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook

Creative Writing Challenge: Metamorphosis

The history of narratives about human-animal metamorphoses is a rich one, from folk tales and myths to schock horror films and Kafka stories. Steal freely, or mash up old ideas to give them a new lease of life

View of the Bernese Alps from Feldbrunnen

“Hello mum, hello dad, I’m here for the school holidays“ and Klonk arrived, glad to be able to spend the next couple of months with his parents. Klonk’s mother and father both worked away from their planet Ying doing observational research on planet Earth. Klonk loved to join them as it was fun on planet earth and he had made a few friends there on his visits. His parents were also glad to have their son again and they were both astonished how he had grown.

Father Bong put his arms around his son.

“How you have grown, at least a head and shoulders taller than the last time.”

“If he carries on growing so fast he will soon be ready for his metamorphosis” joined in mother Groga.

“No not yet” answered Klonk, “I want to spend this holiday with my friends and not start working. My teacher in the school said I am very good at chemistry and physics and all going well with the metamorphosis I can also go to one of our outposts for some research work. Perhaps on earth in the Arctic, but I have to pass my exams first of all.”

“Did you arrive with the supply ship, son?” asked Bong “food is getting low and as you know earth has nothing that we can absorb.”

“No problem dad, the crew have already put the food into storage and said they will be back in a couple of earth weeks with more supplies. Mum they have also brought a new television with satellite to enable us to watch the new programmes that the earth people are watching. Can I go out and play now, I saw some of the village boys just on the lower slopes as we landed?”

“OK, Klonk, but be back in an icicle melt, for your evening meal.”

“Will do mum” and Klonk was gone.

First of all he had to climb the stairs to the entrance. Living inside an earth mountain was fun, but they had to remain hidden from most of the earthlings so the entrance to their home was well camouflaged. He opened the door and was confronted with the white world he was used to. Ice and snow everywhere, although this for Klonk was home territory. It resembled very much his original planet which was covered in ice and snow. For this reason he was covered from head to foot with white short fur, thick and impenetrable for the cold winds and ice. He only really felt uncomfortable when the sun poked through, although at the height of approximately five thousand meters above sea level he still felt comfortable. He did not like to go lower as it could get so warm that he would dry out, so he had to rely on the children from the village to come to see him. He made a welcome scream and soon heard the answer from the village children and made his way downwards on the path.

The village children came towards him and there was a big reunion. They came from the country of Nepal, although belonged to the outer villages somewhat higher in the Himalaya mountains. Although Klonk did not understand everything they said, they were friendly children and Klonk being so tall would carry them on his shoulders, running with them and jumping and everyone had fun. He showed the children how to dig holes in the ice layers making a house and would chase them over the ice fields, pretending they were too fast, although Klonk had such big feet, he never had a problem to catch up with them if he wanted to. Suddenly the father of one of the village children appeared and signalled to Klonk he must go. Klonk knew what this meant, the other earthlings were near, the ones who were not allowed to know that he and his family even existed. The children of the village hurriedly covered his footprints with snow to leave no trace and went back to their villages. Klonk made his way back to the mountain where he lived.

“Dad” he asked his father “why can I play with some of the earthlings, but not all. The Sherpa children are so friendly, but one of their fathers came and said I should disappear as the other earthlings were near bye.”

“Son, there are some earthlings that do not mean well with us. The people in the country of Nepal live high up on the mountains where it is cold and inhospitable, but these people, known as the Sherpa are something like us. They enjoy the cold and the heights. This is one of the few places on earth that resemble our homeland. However, there are earthlings that want to prove they can also live in these places, and they are the earthlings we must avoid. A few of our ancestors were careless. Those that also lived in this research station some years ago. They would take a walk outside without being careful and were seen by these other earthlings. They left their footprints in the snow and our feet compared to those of an earthling are at least four times as large. Our bodies are also covered in fur, darker than yours and in the fur change season, some of us left traces. The earthlings that found our footprints and fur decided that this mountain was inhabited by monsters and begun to hunt us. For this reason it is better when we stay in our home inside this mountain they call Everest and only venture out when it is safe.”

“But dad, why cannot all the earthlings be as nice as the Sherpas in Nepal?”

“I wish they were son, but Earth has become an uncomfortable colony. We used to have a research post near a country called Tibet, but this got very dangerous. Our people were wiped out by bombs that were thrown into this country. Although we lived on the upper slopes the vibrations were felt and our homes were covered in so much ice and snow our people could no longer free themselves.”

“Bong what are you telling our son” said his wife Groga. “It is just better if you stay with us inside the mountain and do not venture away. Now come and eat, the ship brought some ice bird from our home planet and I am looking forward to the meal. Our last supply came to an end last week and as you know that is a delicacy on Ying.”

Klonk decided to forget the subject of humans and was glad that the Sherpa kept the secret of their existence for themselves. He stayed away from the lower slopes of the Mount Everest for the time being. If only he had his metamorphosis. Then he would be big and strong like his mother and father and squash those evil earthlings that were destroying the living quarters of the friendly people in the mountains.

After the meal father Bong fitted up the satellite television the supply ship had bought and they could see what was happening all over the world. Klonk found it sad, he saw only war and destruction on this television and told his father to find another channel. He then switched to one of the other snowy countries in the world and Klonk was happy.

“Look dad, there are children like the Sherpa children. The same size although their faces are different and they are sailing over the ice on something flat. That really looks like fun.There are some big humans as well, the ones that have metamorphosed. They have things strapped to their feet and are also running on the ice. I want one of those things.”

“Klonk you don’t need things like that to help sail over the ice, you can use your feet.”

“No, mum, it is not the same. I want one of those things to sail over the ice.”

“Listen to you mother Klonk. Our people do not need such constructions. Our bodies are built for the ice.” but Klonk was not happy.

The next day he called to the boys in the village but they did not come. Instead he saw from the distance another sort of earthling, dressed in white clothes. The Sherpa were always dressed in colourful dresses. There were Sherpa with them but they were carrying large bundles on their shoulders and the white earthlings were walking ahead. He went back to his parents and told them what he had seen.

His father and mother were not happy and told Klonk he must now remain indoors. The humans were again planning to climb this Mountain Everest and if they saw their footprints there would again be people coming to the mountain to look for them.

“But mum they were walking on those things we saw on the television yesterday.”

“They are not for us” said Groga “and let that be an end to it.”

Klonk could be as disobedient as any other child at that age, so he waited until his mother and father slept and went out on the mountainside down to the camp of the earthlings. He saw they had parked these walking instruments outside their tents so he took two of them back home.

The next morning the mountain climbers saw that two of the skis they had brought with them had gone. They wanted to blame the theft on the Sherpa, but when they looked down onto the snow they saw enormous footprints.

“The Yeti, the Yeti” they screamed out and decided to follow the prints.

When Klonk’s mother awoke in the morning she went to Klonk’s room to wake him. Imagine her surprise when she saw the skis lying next to his bed.

“Klonk wake up and tell me what those wooden planks are doing next to your bed. Where did you get them: from the Earthlings?

“What is all the noise about” Klonk’s father said.

“Klonk have you stolen those objects from the earthlings. I hope you covered your footprints afterwards.”

“It was dark dad, and I heard the earthlings moving so I ran has fast as I could back home.”

“meaning your footprints are still to be seen” added Bong.

Bong then went to the entrance to their home and saw the large footprints from Klonk. He managed to brush over them with his long tail and hide them so that it looked like the footprints had stopped half way up the mountain. He then re-joined his family.

“I have covered the footprints as well as I could and I hope they do not suspect our presence.”

“Bonk come here”

“I can’t dad”

“Why not Bonk?”

“I think I am metamorphosing” was the answer and sure enough Bonk’s white stubby fur was falling out of his skin, being pushed out by a much thicker and longer dark fur. The skin on his feet was peeling and a pair of feet twice the size were growing onto his legs. He had also grown a long tail like his father.

His parents knew they would have to leave their son on his own to go through this phase in his life. A Yeti always braved their metamorphosis alone. After half an hour earth time Bonk appeared from his room, but now looked almost the same as his father. At least for an earthling, only a Yeti could tell the difference.

“Son I am proud of you, you are now a full grown Yeti.”

“Yes dad, and now I will go out and frighten these Earthlings away.”

Before Groga and Bong could stop him he took the skis in his hands and went out and walked towards the earthling’s camp. The earthlings saw him but were so frightened of his size and shape that they just could not move. He took the skis and slid down to their camp on his feet with no problem and put them back in the snow before the tents. He then turned and moved as fast as possible back to his home. The Earthlings were frozen to the spot (and not only from the cold temeperature) and Klonk found that his big(ger) feet could move faster than any pair of skis on the ice.

He used his tail to swish away the marks in the snow and returned home to his parents, telling them what had happened.

And so life went on in the cave under Mount Everest. Klonk was now a full grown Yeti. How the Sherpa children enjoyed riding down the slopes of their mountain on his shoulders. The big feet were better than any skis the Earthlings had, or even the sleigh that Klonk had seen on the television.

When the earthling mountaineers returned after climbing the Mount Everest and told people that they had seen the Yeti, or abominable snowman as it was also known, no-one really believed them and put it down to hallucinations due to the thin air on the summit of the mountain, but we know better.

Creative Writing Challenge: Metamorphosis

Daily Prompt: Say your Name

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

Photographers, show us  YOU. 

Me, mum and dad small

Things were complicated in 1946. Most of the infrastructure in the Dock area of London, where my parents lived, was destroyed and hospitals were either non-functioning or full up. Just imagine thousands of men returning from war service arriving home to their wives or girlfriends. They got married, which my dad did (on the right of the picture), and their wives became birth machines, to make up for lost time. I am the Yul Bryner lookalike in my mum’s arms.
Due to this situation my mum (in photo in the middle) was sent out of London to a very nice village called Hitchin, where the Mile End Maternity Hospital had requisitioned space in their hospital for the mothers-to-be. She had to wait two weeks until I arrived and lived in a home with other pregnant women and said it was quite fun. The women often met in town and had a chat together. Unfortunately they were the cause of a blockage on the pavement. Just imagine about 10 pregnant women, ready to drop any day, forming a group. Other pedestrians had to make a circle around them. They just took up too much space. In the meanwhile dad was all on his own living with his in-laws, and paid mum a visit at the week-end.

So they were the circumstances I was born into. Dad away, mum staying in a home and no-one knitting awaiting my arrival.

Then one day I decided this state of affairs must end, so I gave a few kicks and there I was. Then the next problem arose. I had to have a name. I never had a problem with my kids, it was all thought out as soon as they started kicking around, but with mum it was a bit different. She was probably so preoccupied with not seeing dad, and living somewhere strange, that a name was something she never really thought much about.

One day the registrar arrived at her hospital bed and asked what the name of her daughter was to be. Mum and dad were sure they wanted a Maureen. However, in that crucial moment when the registrar was poised with his pen, mum said Patricia. She will be a Patricia. Ok, I had no say at the time, Maureen or Patricia was all the same to me, as long as the milk bottle was available.

It seems that my grandmother, mum’s mum, liked the name Patricia. So at the last minute I became a Patricia. Not enough with this complicated name, mum added an Ann to it (note without an “e” at the end). So there I was Patricia Ann Relf. Relf was a problem on its own. It has been spelt as Rolf. Rolph, or Relph, but the simplest spelling “Relf” seemed to be the most complicated for some. If you try to trace your ancestors in a genealogy site, you have problems, it being spelt in many different ways over the centuries.

Dad arrived for a visit after hearing that his long awaited heir had arrived. OK, I did not do him the favour of being a son, but I do not think he really cared eventually. The next problem was getting me home. Unfortunately I chose 6th December to make my debut. This was not a good time. We did not have a car and mum and dad, complete with a week old baby, had to take a long train journey to get home. We arrived at a central station in London and dad wanted to take a taxi: no deal. It was after the war, everything was upside down, and mum told me the taxi drivers were only interested in taking American GI’s as good payers in their taxis. I do not know whether this was a good story, or whether it was true. I do know that dad’s patience was gradually exhausted, mum was not too good and probably I was screaming my lungs out. Dad almost got into a fight with a taxi driver. No-one told me how it ended, but eventually they got me home.

Back to the name: Patricia very quickly became a Pat. I cannot remember anyone calling me Patricia, although my dad’s mum, grandmother Relf, always called me Patsy. I think there was something about “little Patsy” but when they all realised I was growing fast and was the tallest kid in the street, the little was dropped. Ann was a problem. I always had to tell people it was without an “e”. If mum had called my Anne I would probably have had to tell everyone “with an “e”” so one way or the other, it was complicated.

You think it was now settled? Not really; twenty years later I arrived in the German speaking part of Switzerland. The “c” became a “z” meaning that I was now a Patrizia as the Swiss Germans had problems pronouncing the “cia” bit. No-one seemed to shorten the name in the German language, Pat being something less known. So now everyone was calling me Patrizia.

I married a Swiss with a French name, which I have problems to pronounce correctly, so things just got more complicated eventually. I definitely made sure my two sons had names which could be pronounced in English as well as German with no difficulty.

And just to add, no, I would not rename myself. Official correspondence in Switzerland was often addressed to the wife using her maiden name as “Mrs. Gerber-Relf” in  my case, and that is ok with me. We Relfs are few and far between. Gerber is a name that forms the population of some villages, especially in the Emmental, where our Gerber branch originates. I am proud to be a Pat Gerber-Relf in Facebook and that is enough. After all, what is in a name?

Daily Prompt: Say your Name

Daily Prompt: Switcheroo

If you could switch blogs with any blogger for a week, with whom would you switch and why?

Fluffy, our blind Selkirk Rex

“No, Fluffy, forget it. Come away from my computer, no way are you going to switch blogs with me.”

“But, Mrs. Human, Nera and Tabby, my two feline groupies, said they would help me. It would be a combined effort: life from the point of view of a feline.”

Some time ago, through paw persuasion, I set up a blog for my cats, “The Cat Chronicles”, and as usual, they now want to take over; a sort of feline “Switcheroo”

“Felines, I am sure that the WordPress public are not interested in knowing where the best mice can be found, or the tastiest water is. They also do not want to know how to have a full body scratch, lick and wash.

Actually I was thinking about having a swop with Wiley, the most intelligent dog I know. He lives in Wisconsin and is a real philosopher. There are many humans that could take a page out of his blog.”

Nera the chief cat looked at me with sort of yellow daggers pouring from her eyes.

“Swop a blog with a dog, a canine? Mrs. Human, you are surfing in the wrong places. Life was better when you were playing your Facebook games, like Petville. At least the stupid pet did not exist and as they say little things please little minds. Since you stopped with those games you are reading in the wrong places. “

“Don’t worry Nera” I said “I do not think it will happen. Wiley has no time for felines. I think it might be because the felines think they on the same level as the gods.”

Tabby was annoyed. “That is not true Mrs. Human, it is a fact. We were Gods; worshipped by all. If it were not for such a superior race as the felines, your world would long have been taken over by mice and rats. You have you read that book where rats take over the world?”

“Yes, Tabby, but that was fiction and it had a happy ending. The rats died. Now we have a world taken over by humans and …….”

“You think” said Nera. “We lead you to believe such rubbish to make sure we get our daily rations of tuna and perhaps salmon.”

“You mean?”

“Yes Mrs. Human” said Fluffy. “It is all a matter of psychological training. Humans love us, you must admit. You worship us as in the olden days in Egypt in the corn chambers.”

“OK felines, so you are world power No. 1. What has this all got to do with swopping a blog. I am not swopping my blog with three puffed up felines who think they rule the world.”

“Excuse me Mrs. Human” Nera spoke. “I have often told you I am no puffed up, or even overweight, it is fluff. My wonderful silky long fur and our gift of literature is far beyond that of a simple human. Have you ever read the Garfield cartoons.”

“Of course Nera, but what has that got to do with …..”

“Garfield is the most intelligent, gifted feline that I have ever read. His blogs are perfect.”

I decided to end this conversation. I did not want to disappoint Nera by telling her that her idol was a cartoon figure and did not exist.

So the result is that I am not going to swop a blog with anyone. We all have our own style of writing and our own ideas. Of course there are blogs that I admire and like, but we all have our favourites, and not all have the same taste

Daily Prompt: Switcheroo

Daily Prompt: Journey

Tell us about a journey — whether a physical trip you took, or an emotional one.

Photographers, show us JOURNEY.

Cloud view over Switzerland

I have flown the route Zürich-London so often over the last 40 years, that I think I know almost every mark on the landscapes passing below. At the beginning when I was still a single woman, flying was expensive for my budget, so it was the train from Victoria Station in London, the ferry from Folkestone to Calais and the train departing in the late evening from Calais to Basel in Switzerland: the last part of the journey being Basel-Zürich where I was then living.

Over the years flying became less expensive, and out of convenience grounds the family Anglo Swiss travelled by air. I now travel on my own. The children do their own journeys today, live their own lives and Mr. Swiss stays in Switzerland whilst I visit my aging father (now 97 years old) in London.

The journey has not changed very much. Taking the train from Solothurn (my local town) to Zürich Airport, going through the customs formalities and eventually boarding the plane. Over the years boarding a plane has become a internet process. The document is now completed at home the day before you leave on your own computer. The boarding card is now replaced by a sheet of paper.

I used to look forward to the meals on the plane: nothing master-chef, but a nicely arranged plate with a Swiss meat/cheese selection and your choice of drink. A desert was also served, perhaps some cake with a creamy dressing and fruit. It was all part of the adventure. And today? a sandwich with a cheese spread and a small chocolate bar for a sweet touch. Drinks are also provided and you can still choose what you would like, although I would warn against Swiss Airline coffee. I just stick to plain water.

So let us have a look out of the window. Take off was some time ago, when you get that strange feeling that the distance between the soles of your feet and mother earth amounts to a few thousand kilometres. If you are lucky it is a clear day and you can actually see what is below: resembling a legoland. If you have clouds, then you are drifting through a sea of the unknown. If the weather is bad, then your body will resemble a floating container filled with unpleasant feelings. You cannot see the bumps and levels of the atmosphere; it is all an internal feeling. No problem, the paper bags are contained in the back pockets of the seat in front if you feel that your last meal wants to make a re-visit.

There are two flying routes to London; you cross over Luxembourg and then France and eventually below you can see water. That is when I wonder what happens if the plane decides to take a dip and I am glad that I watched the stewardess when she did her dance with the lifebelt demonstration. However, the English Channel is a matter of about 10-15 minutes and afterwards you can see land again. If you take the route direct South over the coast you see a few unknown seaside towns of England and lots of green fields boarded by hedges with roads in between. If you take the other route, which is my favourite, you cross the coast at Southend, seeing Canvey Island opposite, and follow the River Thames until it reaches London. I generally land at London City airport, it being only about half an hour from my destination.

My ex school friend usually meets me with her car and we drive off to her home, calling in on my dad on the way. Sometimes the half hour journey can take as long as the journey from Zürich to London if it is the so-called rush-hour.

My next trip will be around October everything going well. That will be the week when the Daily Prompt will be ignored.

River Thames, London

Daily Prompt: Journey

Daily Prompt: The Next Big Thing

What will the next must-have technological innovation be? Jetpacks? Hoverboards? Wind-powered calculators?

Photographers, show us INNOVATIVE. 

Nera drinking water from the toilet

If this is not innovative, then nothing is. It just takes a highly intelligent feline to realise that you do not need any special contraption for supplying fresh water. Just take it where you find it.

“Correct Mrs. Human, it is the best and most fresh water supply available. My feline groupies agree, and it is constantly renewed. I would just add that we felines are not in for sharing. Perhaps a similar contraption, built a little lower with a wider brim would be better, exclusively for us. You know inventions can always be improved.”

“Yes, Nera, I will have a word with our local sanitary installations experts. I am sure they will be able to design something to suit the superior feline race.”

But seriously, do we golden oldies, approaching their 7th decade like myself, really need more inventions to improve life. At the turn of the century we had a so-called industrial revolution. Machines were developed, railways were built and toilets were invented (yes Nera, I know, it still needs some improvements to suit the feline world). Nera go and hunt a mouse or play with your other feline colleagues. Nera walks off swishing her tail backwards and forwards and gave me one of those “if feline looks could kill” glances.

So now I am on my own and to continue. Over the years I came to grips with the computer. I had to, otherwise I would have lost my job. The computer today is again completely different to the first computer. We have touch screens, wifi, the air is full of signals. Where is this all leading to? I have discovered over time that there is no point in complaining, progress means profit. Some time ago Facebook developed something called a timeline. No-one wanted it, but they got it. After half a million people complained, timeline still stayed. It is still there and since the initial installation it has often been “improved” again and again. No-one wants the improvements, but what is the point in complaining. No-one really listens and you will not be asked. So no matter if you do not want a new technical innovation, you will get it; the main reason being that it makes profits. The world revolves on money.

I do not read books any more, I read my Kindle. To be quite exact, I read my iPad. The Kindle app (also a newfound inventive word) can be uploaded (or downloaded?) onto your iPad. Even on your iPhone. I do not know what the next step will be, but some bright spark in the dungeons of inventive progress will probably invent a chip to insert in your glasses. Just give it a click and you can read your book, the letters just flash across the lens If you are not short sighted, then just wear plain glass. If you are, all the better, the print will adapt according to your eyesight.

Mr. Swiss bought a navigation GPS thing for the car this week. I really do not know why. We only drive to the local supermarket, or to town, but according to public opinion it is much better for finding the way on the road. On the other hand, I am sure he will have a need for it: being a golden oldie jazz musician he now and again has a “gig” in a faraway place that no-one has ever heard of. One of his jazz colleagues lives on the borders to Switzerland in France, another in the Bernese Overland. I am sure this appliance will be of use for him. I also know that I will never touch it. We have been driving the car since we were allowed to and always found the way home, but today you need a sexy female voice telling you to turn right and then follow the street another 20 kilometers, where you turn right again: you have now arrived. Fantastic, although your colleagues or family are probably waiting in front of their house, or the town is full of signs to show where to go. We also have a thing on the car called a “tempomat”. Just switch it on, forget the gas pedal, the car just drives further at the same speed until you push the foot on the break. I have never used this, and probably never will.

Of course, plans are being made in a secret place in a car manufacturers (probably where they all speak Chinese – yes, beware, they are here) for a car that does not need a driver. Just press the correct button, or send the right signal, and the car leaves. Just tell it where to go and it will (it will probably be developed in all languages).

So let us take a moment to think things over. Do we need all of this? I do not, but many companies, interested in making big profits, will. It seems to be the world moves depending on the amount of money made. You want to be successful then invent something new. If you have already invented it, then do it again, but in a different colour or shape. This will keep you ahead and in the name of progress some nations and people will get rich.

You think nuclear bombs are the last cry in destruction. One day they will discover the bomb that does not even make noise. Just a release of a certain DNA substance in the atmosphere and every humanoid will disappear, not even die: just vanish. The vegetation will remain of course, for the people deemed to survive. You think this is rubbish – I wish it was.

Daily Prompt: The Next Big Thing