FOWC with Fandango: Nebulous

Weissenstein 23.08 (47)

It feels good to be back home again. I suppose it was my own fault really. I did not have to leave my valleys and hills and live in a town where the first breath of fresh air in the morning through the window was the exhaust fumes from a passing lorry. Jack said marry me and I will take you places. He did, but we only got as far as London. London sounded so good. I thought if the Queen lives in London then it must be something special.

Jack did not come from the same part of London as the Queen. We have a river in my home town in Switzerland, and so does London. London’s river did not look quite as clean and clear as the river fed by the mountain streams in my home village, but Jack loved the River Thames. He grew up in that part of London so knew really nothing different. He had a good job and we could live in one of those newly built houses in the area the Londoners called the Docklands, the River Thames just passing at the bottom of the road. Jack’s problem was that he thought he, well, sort of owned me. I felt so homesick in London, longing for my mountains and the damp air full of scents from the meadows and the forests.

Waking up in my old room here in Switzerland is what I yearned for. Time to get some breakfast, my mother called. Fresh croissants with butter and a nice cup of coffee will be waiting on the table, no more cups of tea. Jack always had to have his tea for breakfast, after dinner and in the evening.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I had to get out and breathe again so took a walk up our local mountain. We have a chair lift, but I wanted to feel the old familiar path under my feet and see the wild flowers growing at the sides of the paths. I could smell the scent of the wild garlic in the forest. It was Spring and would soon be time to gather the leaves for cooking with our meals. You can only eat it when it is fresh. Later on when the leaves begin to age and get tough they become poison for the body.

My stepfather’s death was caused by a tragic accident. He went to the woods early in the morning to pick some fresh wild garlic leaves for my mother to make a soup in the evening. He brought the fresh green young leaves and put them in the kitchen. Mother and my stepfather decided to visit my grandparents on that day and I was left on my own at home. At the age of 12 I was old enough to look after myself. The wild garlic leaves smelt so fine that I decided to mix them into my food for my lunch. I then remembered that they were for a soup in the evening and in the afternoon I gathered some more leaves to replace them.

It seemed I had picked some older leaves and my mother’s wild garlic leaf soup was not so good for my stepfather. He had a stomach ulcer and unfortunately did not survive after eating the soup. My mother was also ill, but soon recovered. Luckily I was visiting my friend that evening, otherwise I might have eaten from the soup as well. Of course there was a court examination, but how was my mother to know that the leaves were no longer fit for cooking. After my stepfather’s death my mother inherited his wealth and property and we both lived in his chalet.

And then Jack came into my life, one of the English tourists that come to Switzerland to see the mountains.  I would often take a walk on the path at the end of the road leading to the mountain and show him all the flora and fauna we had. His problem was vertigo and when we eventually climbed out of the mist he would look back on the sea of fog and had to sit on a bench for a few moments to regain his balance. Poor Jack, he just was not cut out for life in the mountains and so we went to his homeland to live after the marriage. I soon found out that I was not suited to life in town, but now I have that behind me.

My mother said I would probably be lucky and see the sea of fog from the top of our local mountain if I wanted to take a walk. It was Spring and the damp air rose from the ground and formed the mist.  The “Nebelmeer” as we know it (the Londoners only have fog) is usually caused by low lying clouds. Beneath the clouds the towns and villages are dark and dreary and may even have rain, but taking a walk up a mountain can be compared with an aeroplane flight. At a certain point on the way the air clears and there is sunshine. If you look back you are confronted with a sea of fog which looks almost compact and solid. In the evenings when the sun is descending it reflects on the mist which resembles the glimmer of a fire.

Of course I had problems explaining to my mother why I suddenly arrived at her doorstep two days ago with my suitcase and no Jack. I said I was spending some time at home as I was feeling so homesick for my country and Jack realised that it would do me good to return for a few days. Well that was what I told my mother and she believed me. I have now been home for three days and she was wondering why Jack did not call, but I told them that our telephone connection was being repaired at home, If anything would happen he would be sure to contact me.

I decided to go again to the mountain yesterday evening, but this time took the chair lift, riding through the Nebelmeer up to the heights to clear my head a bit. When I got back home it was time for dinner. My mother was just serving the meal and there was a ring at the door. The local police asked for me. I had to sit down when they brought the bad news. There had been an accident. We cooked with gas in London, as most London homes, and there must have been a gas leak somewhere. It was difficult to find out why, but there was an explosion and the house existed no longer, and neither did Jack. Examinations showed that the gas had been leaking slowly and probably Jack had decided to light a cigarette causing the explosion.

My flight to London went on time and I booked in at a hotel.

Today was Jack’s funeral. His family were there and it was very sad. They shook my hand and offered their condolences, and I cried a few tears – almost genuine. The family did not like me and I never did feel very comfortable with them.

I arrived home yesterday too tired to write in my diary. There was nothing to keep me in London. Today I took another stroll through the mist to the top of the mountain, sat down on a bench and thought things over. It is really astonishing what a small twist on a gas pipe with a spanner can do. Just a small one, I mean no-one notices the gas leak and as we all know English gas does not smell.

I just love the Swiss mountains and the Nebelmeer. You can leave the dark and dreary towns behind you and climb into the fresh air where the sun is always shining and life is just perfect.

FOWC with Fandango: Nebulous

FOWC with Fandango: Clemancy

Jesuit Church 06.11 (2)

There are just some things in life that cannot be explained, but they happen. It was my turn to do the daily shopping. Brother Domenicus gave me a list and I made my way into town. It was then that it happened. “Oh Lord, please forgive me”. It was not that a ray of sunshine struck me and illuminated my person, or that I heard a choir of angel voices. No, nothing like that at all, it was a stormy day, grey skies thick with clouds and it had started to rain. I must admit when I saw it lying on the road, absorbing the first rain drops, there did seem to be a very loud clap of thunder, or perhaps I imagined it. To continue, it was a lottery ticket; some poor soul hoping for success in life, for a reward for his existence on the earth, had bought a lottery ticket and lost it. Why should I, Brother Innocence, find this ticket? What fate had brought me on this day to stumble upon this ticket.

Perhaps I should explain further. I am now writing this down, and will show everything to the abbot tomorrow morning, only then will I received perhaps understanding for my crime against our community and forgiveness, even absolution. It might be my last day in our community, my last day with my brothers who have looked after me for so many years.

When I reflect on the past, after my twenty years as a monk, I have never regretted my choice, although perhaps it was not my choice but guided by a power greater than any on earth. In my younger days I was not an example of purity. Oh yes, I sinned, but from my sins I learned, although it was not easy.

I remember the last words from Shifty, my boss of our street gang.

“Jeff” he said using my worldly name of the time, “it will only be for two years. Something went wrong at the bank robbery. I know you were only keeping a watch on things, while I was in the bank taking the money, but it was you the police caught. You cannot dream how upset I am, but you must take the sentence upon yourself on my behalf and that of the gang. When you leave prison your rewards will be given and a life as my second man will be waiting for you.”

Of course I was flattered. At the age of 30 years, two years later I would still be a young man and my life at Shifty’s side would be a guaranteed success. Unfortunately Shifty never took it so exact with the truth. I got fifteen years, which admittedly were reduced to ten through good behaviour, and I never saw Shifty again, although I did hear that he was shot by a rival gang wanting to take over his territory. I suppose the paths of the Lord do sometimes find the right way; back to the story.

My life in prison was not so bad. I think it was the first time in my wasted life that I had regular meals. It was then through a prison colleague I heard that if I attended the regular Sunday church service, conducted by the brothers at a near bye monastery, I would be exempted from kitchen duties on Sunday. Hey brothers, this was ideal. I did not dig religion really, the only time I saw the inside of a church was when I robbed the offering box for a few coins to buy some beer. Oh Lord was I a sinner.

So as time past, I really enjoyed the services. One day one of the monks, Brother Hubertus, took me on one side after the service.

“Jeff, I think inside you are a good man. I notice the way you are involved in our services with your heart and spirit; when will you be leaving the prison?”

“I have a year of my sentence and then I will be free.”

“Have you ever thought of joining us at the monastery? You would be welcome and my brothers also find that you life has been a combination of unfortunate circumstances. Please think it over.”

So I started to think things over and when I left the prison I visited Brother Hubertus at the monastery. He showed me around and I liked what I saw, perhaps still thinking about the square meal I would be getting every day. The praying did not bother me at all, and after being cooped up so long in prison, I decided that work in a monastery garden would be just the thing. Brother Hubertus informed that I would no longer possess any worldly goods and everything I owned would belong to the monastery. Well those few pennies I had, I decided I would not miss. Things just sort of happened and here I am today, Brother Innocence, twenty years service in our monastery.

I felt good, I did not even miss the women, I had my colleagues, my brothers. Then I found the lottery ticket. I put the ticket in the folds of my long brown monk’s frock and almost forgot it. It was then that I was on the way again for Brother Domenicus and I saw the poster announcing the winning number – Hallelujah, it was mine. Not quite hallelujah, how can a monk win money. Something of my past must have remained, and I decided to see if Lofty, Shifty’s brother, was still around. He owned a restaurant down town so I entered by the back door and asked to see him. I was a strange figure with my roman sandals and brown frock, but I think the kitchen personnel took pity on me and gave me a paper bag with fresh bread to take to the monastery for my brothers. There is always something good in mankind, if you search long enough.

I asked for Lofty and was he surprised to see me. He said he always respected my choice for going to prison for his brother. I then made a proposition and he accepted. For ten percent of the lottery win he organised everything for me. I was probably the only monk with a bank account. Lofty was happy, it was not a small sum, and he agreed to follow my instructions in dealing with the profit.

So Lord I have written it down, my sins are now in black and white, and heaven help me to explain the whole sinful work to the abbot.

The next morning after morning prayers we were all gathered together in the breakfast room and the abbot entered and took his place. He began to speak, looking at each one of us with concentration. I was sure he suspected something. These were his words,.

“Brothers it was my intention to call you together with some bad news today.”

My heart skipped a beat.

“As some of you may know, our small group has been threatened with reduced funds. Today no-one has a heart for each other, and donations are far and few between. I had started to make arrangements for the dispersal of our group and with heavy heart to send you all, my good friends and brothers, to other monasteries, perhaps even to retirement, no longer to spend our happy days together helping mankind and living in this place we have called home for so long.”

There was a murmur amongst my brothers, and some of the older colleagues had tears in their eyes.

“However, brothers, we have been saved. Somewhere in this world someone looked upon us with mercy. Yes, the Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways. Today I have been informed that we have received a donation, not small, enough to ensure that the monastery will exist for many years. It was anonymous, we do not know where it came from, but we are saved. We will now say a prayer for this person and will keep him in our thoughts for always. Amen”

So what did I do, well what would you have done in those circumstances? I said a big prayer for the donator and decided that I and the Lord would definitely see eye to eye with the solution.

FOWC with Fandango: Clemancy

FOWC with Fandango: Duplicate

The Finished Garden

“Looks like the new neighbours are moving in.”

My other half was inquisitive, so he was positioned at the window with the binoculars.

“Give me the binoculars, I want to see what they have. They look a bit strange, like something from that E.T. film, sort of stick people. One is the chief I think, he is giving the instructions. There is some sort of thing hovering in the air. No, wait a minute. That must be the furniture van. Now and again an armchair falls into the window of the empty apartment. Funny it looks exactly like our De Sede armchair, you know the exclusive leather chairs we have.”

“Are you sure? And look our dining room table, genuine teak, has appeared. But wait that painting, looks genuine. It is our Picasso.”

“Looks more genuine that ours. Do you think Mafia?”

“No, they seem to be harmless and Mafia speak Italian. The big stick guy seems to be giving instructions.”

“Glungo, choob, kogga wunna Klingon noH QapmeH wo’ Qaw’lu’chugh yay chavbe’lu’, ‘ej wo’ choqmeH may’ DoHlu’chugh lujbe’lu’

“Seem to be foreigners, didn’t understand a word, but it’s OK, it wasn’t Italian.”

“Do you think we can trust them. Wait a minute, look, those beds look exactly like ours. And they even have the same vaccum cleaner.”

“Must be from the Far East, the Chinese copy everything we have, although our vacuum cleaner is British, a Dyson. I think they have seen us, the guy with the wheels instead of feet is approaching us with the E.T. lookalike boss. I suppose we should be friendly. Good morning.”

The guy with the wheels turned to the E.T. lookalike.

“Earthling wogga Quapmeh chung boggle.” And he suddenly produced a sort of pointy thing in his hand.”

“Nei, nei, chumble chogga, Picasso weee” said the E.T. man. They turned and left to continue with their moving efforts.

“What do you think, can we trust them? I though he was going to shoot me with that gun thing he had in his hand.”

“Just ignore them. You cannot judge people by their appearances, they might look different to us, but they have a good taste in furniture.”

“Look one of them is looking through the window at our Tabby cat.”

“Chungle plonka  weee meow” and he pointed his gun thing at Tabby. There was a flash, Tabby was startled, but she survived. Now he was walking to their new apartment and pointed the gun through the window. There was a popping sound and there was our Tabby, at least a duplicate Tabby, sitting in their living room.

“Where are you going?”

“I have seen enough, I am not sure about those new neighbours. They might have a good taste in furniture, but what is going to happen when they point that thing at me or you, just to make their new place homely. I am not sure whether I want to live next to your duplicate, one of you is enough.”

Typical man, and I was thinking of inviting the new neighbours to Sunday dinner, just to make them feel at home.

“What did you say – No! We might be on the menu.”

FOWC with Fandango: Duplicate

FOWC with Fandango: Middle

Basel 05.09 (18)

It’s a strange feeling taking the bus to Basel airport from the station, you were in no man’s land for a stretch on the road until you reach the airport. On the road you noticed that right and left there was nothing, because it was almost no man’s land.

A town on the borders of Switzerland, and on the borders to France, not forgetting Germany. There were even two stations, one in France if you were travelling in that direction and the main Swiss station. My first journeys to Switzerland were by train as 50 years ago flying was not as affordable as it is today. I remember the train crossing into Switzerland at Basel after travelling through France during the night. I also remember seeing the Basel zoo which is on the French-Swiss border.

A few years ago I travelled by train to my son’s wedding in Germany. The train pulled out of the station and made a stop just a few minutes later along the tracks to another station. The border guards mounted the train and you saw them on the platform, some even with their dog.

Basel 05.09 (8)

Or were they police. Eventually you see so many uniforms you are not sure what they are. The customs officers might even mount the train with a few questions about goods to declare, although that does not often happen. The last time it happened to me was when I was on my way to Germany via Schaffhausen on the Swiss border, but that was many years ago.

Being in the middle of Europe as Switzerland is can have its confusion. Even locally we change languages after an hours train journey from Solothurn where they speak German, to Neuchâtel where French is the language and it is still Switzerland.

It might be a small country, but being in the middle can have its problems.

FOWC with Fandango: Middle

FOWC with Fandango: Anyone

Carnival Figure 23.02.2019

I don’t know why people don’t like me; after all I am a doll, a clown and was made to make people laugh. Just an example, there I was standing on a nice comfortable chair in a second hand shop, just waiting to be the chosen one. I was not really second hand, but no-one had ever wanted me, so this was my destiny at the time.  It was Christmas and there were parents with their children all over the place. Not that I don’t like children, but let’s face it they can get on your nerves sometimes. I have heard that if they don’t happen to like a toy, or they get bored with it, they just throw it in a corner. Under the worst circumstances it might even get thrown away. Anyhow I am a single piece really. They sort of made me in the factory and then decided that there was something wrong. The smile on my face wasn’t so friendly and the colour. They had the idea that clowns should wear big shoes, which is a bit ridiculous. Have you ever seen a real clown with feet size sixty? I don’t even try to smile, changing things is not possible for me, I am just the way they made me. So there was a little girl that came up to me in the shop.

“Look mummy, what a horrible face he has, and big feet.”

“But honey he is a clown, they are made like that. He is made to make people laugh.”

“Well mummy, I don’t want him. I don’t find him very funny. He couldn’t even make a hyena laugh.”

and that was the story of my life up to the day when Dr. Foster entered the store. Christmas was gone and all the unwanted toys and dolls left were put into cardboard boxes to be put into the cellar, and brought out next year. I know the routine, it happens to me every year. So the boxes were standing in the corner waiting to go, when he arrived. He put his hands into the boxes and started pulling us out one after the other to have a good look. Then he spoke the magic words.

“How much for the ugly looking clown?”

“Oh you can have him for a quarter of the price.”

I was insulted and annoyed. A quarter of the price, not even so much as half price.

“I’ll take him, don’t bother to wrap him up I can put him in the car as he is.”

And so that was my meeting with Dr. Foster. He took me home and a day later I was perched on a cupboard in his doctor’s practice. He was no normal doctor, but worked in the local prison, looking after the misfits and thrown outs of society, the ones that no-one wanted. He was supposed to be a psychiatrist, although I never saw a certificate hanging anywhere with his qualifications, but a change came into my life, I was loved.

I remember my first meeting with Fred. Now he was a hard nut, had killed a few people, just for the fun of it  and was serving a life sentence. He didn’t say much, but I could feel his thoughts prying into my mind. Dr. Foster would spend an hour with Fred once a day in therapy, although Fred was beyond therapy, he was beyond everything. Where I came into the treatment? Well Dr. Foster told Fred that he could keep me in his cell and treat me as if I was his son. That meant, be nice to me and look after me. I think the idea was to make Fred into a civilised person. Well Fred really did like me. Fred just had something against people that smiled and I never smiled of course. I noticed if someone tried to be friendly with him he would act quite hostile and start throwing things around and even try to kill them.

So Fred and I got on well. At last I felt wanted in my lonely life. I had someone that needed me and cared for me. I was quite happy, but then came the day when Dr. Foster decided his therapy was not working and told Fred that I would have to leave him for another patient. Fred was quite annoyed. Actually he got so annoyed that he strangled Dr. Forster and burst through the door of Dr. Foster’s consulting room. Of course there were guards outside, but Fred was so mad at losing me that he attacked the guards. Now you might think one man against two armed guards was a lost cause. Well not really. Fred was so powerful and the guards were not ready for such an attack that he managed to get the weapon from the first guard and shoot him and his colleague with it. He then found the nurse that was hiding behind the desk and used her as a hostage to get us out of the prison. The main thing was Fred took me with him. Now I am happy and satisfied, I have someone that loves me and who looks after me. I am even allowed to sleep in a little bed next to Fred’s bed. Fred a bad man – no not really. It seemed that Dr. Foster’s idea of having someone to look after worked, as since we have been on the run, Fred has not killed anyone else. We just live happily together on a small farm in the middle of nowhere. If you happen to find us, then just drive past. Fred just does not like having visitors.

FOWC with Fandango: Anyone

FOWC with Fandango: Assimilate

Hole in the ground 14.03.2017

“XX1, just what are you doing. It is absorption time and your food is ready.”

XX1’s mother was annoyed. Since they had been living on the surface of the planet, the children just had too many distractions. Assimilation was not proving easy. How she wished they had remained beneath, but their leader had ordered that they could now show themselves above. The earlier inhabitants, known as humans, had almost died out. Just a few remaining settlements here and there were left and the underground people had now moved up.

“I am trying some of that human stuff out mum; they certainly had some funny habits.” XX1 answered. “I still have not found out what the idea of that receptacle is. There are knobs on the wall that you can turn, but nothing happens.”

XX1’s mother decided to have a look. She climbed the stairs, which she did not like doing very much. She preferred descending and not ascending. Actually there was very little she liked doing since they had moved to the surface of the planet. Her partner and father of XX1 had studied during his youth and knew more about the planet. It seems that the underground population, their own people, had been developing over many years in their own way. They had lived so near to the core of the earth that they were never discovered.

“What is the problem XX1, and what are you sitting in? Those knobs, as you say, were for water. If you go close enough you can smell the water.”

One of the human problems was there there was no longer very much water, just a few puddles in the oceans that once existed. There was no actual weather, the planet now bearing temperatures similar to those under the surface. One of the reasons why the underground population could now survive above. They had eyes, but their usage had disappeared many years ago. They found their way without sight.

“Thought I would try it out, but it seems strange to me. You mean the humans sat in water, how disgusting. ”

“Other people, other customs XX1: they put their food in their mouth and swallowed it. We just absorb it through our skin.”

“I also found something to put on my feet. They must have been funny people covering themselves up like that. Yuck, putting food in their mouth and swallowing it. That is disgusting.”

XX1 removed the strange leg and foot covers and followed its mother down the stairs to start absorbing. Today was her favourite food, earth from the core, mined by the core workers. XX1 preferred it to the surface earth, it had much more flavour.

And so life continued on planet earth. Admittedly the new inhabitants looked just a little bit different to the old, but that was the process of evolution, developing on a parallel basis to those living on the surface. Neither people knew of the other until there was no food on the surface. Only those that could adapt survived and earth was everywhere.

XX1 enjoyed life at the top and was looking forward to the next day. It found the receptacle was uncomfortable, but it had also found something much softer. It did not know that it was a bed. The days of burying itself in a mound of earth to sleep were gone. A new era was dawning upon the planet earth.

FOWC with Fandango: Assimilate