To Bern and back


It’s been a rather hectic couple of days. Hectic but chilled.  We drove to Bern on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised that I was really feeling the city. There was a big market, selling alongside the typically Swiss cheese, sausage and brot, an eclectic cross section of world food.  Big South American community.  It’s a much less uptight place than Zurich.  All the money’s made the Zurchers a little bit pretentious…
It was really nice to be on a crowded street with noise noise noise and people jamming in every direction.  that’s how a city should be.  It reminded me of Spitalfields, one of my favourite London Sunday markets.  I think if there’s anything I’ll miss about London, it would be the markets.  I had a short stint working at Spitalfields with a sistren of mine earlier this year and it was really wicked.  market people are the best and they come from all walks of life.
But I digress…Street performers, buskers, there was one band playing what I can only describe as gypsy jazz, a kind of unholy but uber cool communion of traditional Euro-Yiddish style – accordion, violin and I think a clarinet and then added to that  a djembe drum a saxophone and a bass guitar.  I think the dreads in the band were expecting me to come and buss some moves but I was ravenous and not feeling to oblige.
We also found this amazing record store, and when I say records, I mean vinyl..they had some beautiful rare Miles records.  I had a headache for a while but decided against splashing out with my pennies and after the power book surprise declined any offers from the bf to bolster my jazz collection.
We didn’t stick around Bern for too long sadly…headed back on the autobahn for home sweet home then down to the Langstrasse for dinner at Switzerland’s first Indian restaurant.  Food was okay, although I was pissed off that they didn’t have any peshwari naan and the sag aloo had less than no spinach.
My patience wore thin with the company…call me a snob if you must, but I can’t bear people who talk about fuck all for too long.  I think there’s something slightly unnatural about a complete lack of interest in what’s going on in the wider world.  But they were pleasant enough and I do like them as people.  But the next time I go out with them, maybe I can pass out some cards with suggested topics of discussion…


One of the tief headingest things about living in Europe for me is how you can live next door to people and never be quite sure if they’re alive or not.
You come out of the door and close it behind you and any sound of a life you were living behind that door is lost.  I can barely hear the Trane getting on bad two steps out of the door.  This really disturbs me.  Yeah yeah, I know all the shite about noise pollution and everyone having a right to peace in their homes, but I’ve always felt that it’s not what you keep out that’s going to do you harm.
In London I lived in Chelsea and Brixton, two absolute polar opposites in terms of people and noise levels. I’d take Brixton any day. The yardies blasting rockers till 6 in the morning.  The mad prostitute accosting me on the way back from a run in Brockwell Park.  At least I knew my neighbours were alive.  On the other hand, I got up one morning in Chelsea to a trail of blood on the steps and not a clue where it had come from.
When I first came to the bf’s new flat, I constantly asked him if the neighbours were away. Their lights were frequently off, no sound of life at all coming from their flats. No, they were there. On rare occasions I spotted them on the stairways. Or coming home.  Sometimes they would peep furtively at me sunning myself on the balcony during summer and I’d always have a big wave at the ready.
I mean, I have no idea what kind of music the bf’s neighbours like, with the exception of the guy with the funny beard downstairs who stays home all day practicing mournful tunes on a horn instrument that I pray for the sake of John Coltrane’s ghost, is not a saxophone.
I mean some neighbours in Trini take it a little far.  Like the ones living opposite my mother who set up shop (I mean they take off the lights and have drinks out) in their verandah every time my mother’s having one of her arty farty parties.
The other thing that struck me is that none of the three other ‘families’ here have children.  They all seem to be in their forties, so at least they should have teenagers lurking sulkily around somewhere.  Not a one.  I guess that’s a real indication of how little population growth there is here.  I hear the German government is even thinking about paying older women to have children.  I guess that’s also what comes with affluence. Who needs children when you can have a plush  new BMW and matching motorbikes to take off on for the weekend without having to worry about babysitters and children trashing your nice lake view flat.
I’d take noisy children any day.  In fact I’ve been plotting endless outings with my niece and nephews in my head since last week.  If anything I’m looking forward to going back to a noisy house with children, dogs, music blaring, the works.
And as soon as I’ve figured stop spinning like a fowl who have egg to lay, I’ll settle down and have some of my own  babies so I can stop borrowing my sisters’.
I’d love to hear the occasional cussout here.  A slamming door or a plate being smashed against a wall. A bedpost rhythmically hitting the wall.  Something! Not that I like bacchanal or anything.  But it freaks me out that the people next door can be killing each other, taking part in cult rituals or simply being living empty meaningless silent lives and I didn’t reach out to help.