Nothing draws me into a post like an opening scene with dialogue. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, memoir, or even journalism
It was after the evening meal, my body digesting a cucumber salad, ham and cheese and I had just plugged in my computer to see how blog life was progressing Then it happened, just out of the blue, a cannon ball hit me from nowhere.
“Sign here, at the bottom“
My attention was actually drawn to a cup of tea and some chocolate. My dessert after tea and he is sorting papers at the corner of the table..
“What am I supposed to sign.”
“Next Sunday is voting Sunday.*
I thought he was going to add the word “again”, but he did not; one of the advantages disadvantages of being married to a Swiss. They vote every month about something, how am I supposed to keep up?
“What is it about this time?”
“Don’t you ever read the newspapers or look at the news in television?”
“Of course I do, but I do not study the political pages or watch the programmes where it is one large argument, everyone trying to shout loudest and eventually nothing is decided because the time runs out.”
“Sign and I will tell you about it afterwards.”
“But I am not signing for free cigarettes for everyone, or raising the retirement age for women?”
You never know what this Swiss Federal State is thinking about. It has all been there before. OK, it was not for free cigarettes, but for banning smoking almost everywhere, except for your own four walls and there I gladly gave my signature. Imagine the disappointment when it was considered a little too radical by the Swiss folk and was turned down.
The retirement age was increased for women a few years ago, just in time to allow me to work until I reached the age of 64 instead of 62. Oh, how I love these voting Sundays. At least we can now do it all by post. Just sign it, fill out Yes or No on the various slips, according to your wishes and put it in a special envelope containing your personal identification: all nicely organised by the Swiss State.
The problem being this time, that I had not seen the various slips. Of course, they had already been completed by Mr. Swiss, being sure that his opinion was my idea of a well organised country and all I have to do is sign.
As I was in the middle of my chocolate, Swiss of course, I had no chance. I wanted to eat my chocolate in peace with no further interruption. I signed. It could have been a cheque, a permission to sign all my important documents, but I signed, with one eye on the remainder of my favourite chocolate.
“I will explain it afterwards” he answered.
Afterwards the news programme arrived on the television and he is concentrating on the events of the day. It seems raising a ship in an Italian port, that had been lying on its side for more than a year, was more important than extending my knowledge of the details of the Swiss government decisions.
I dared to interrupt.
“What about those details of the voting.?”
“I have already filled it all out.”
“I know, but what is it all about.”
Without taking his eyes from the television, we had now progressed to the latest news on the national German elections.
“It is all in the booklet on the table”.
I interrupted my chocolate again and cast a glance on the table, which was empty except for some silver paper remaining from the chocolate and half a cup of tea.
“On the corner, red book, ah no, it is brown. Have a look”
Eureka, I found it, the fourth from the top in the pile. Oh, it has sixty pages, each in small print, explaining what my future in Switzerland will be. In short we have a people’s initiative for abolishing compulsory military service, national law about fighting contagious illnesses (epidemic law) and changing the working law. I think the working law has to do with the opening hours of the shops, some garage shops wanting to remain open until late in the evening and on Sunday. You see I do watch the television if I cannot avoid it.
In between I did discover that Mr. Swiss does not want to abolish the army (he found it a joke). And me, I decided he was probably right. My son has already finished his duty to the Swiss State in uniform, so let the others get on with it.
Mr. Swiss is now watching the weather report, you never know we might have an avalanche or might be snowed in, although we live in the low lands. Anyhow it is a no go thing when the weather report is on TV.
In the meanwhile I have decided to let him get on with it. I signed and I am sure him being a Swiss citizen he has made the right decisions.
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