Sunday, 29 March 2009


Today marks one year since my 'lickle' pet Ambrose crossed over the rainbow bridge. I can't find the words to express how it hurts - only that my heart feels as if it has been filled with sand.
I still wait for him to come to me like Sooty, Badger, Tess, Lucy and Simon often do. I know he will come - I just have to wait. I think I feel guilty for not being there for him at the end so I try to focus on all the times I was there for him and he for me.

sleep well my sweetheart

Joanna xoxo

ps - I have a litte residence for him at The Rainbow bridge ( if you would like to visit him.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Beware the naked French boy

One of the side effects of being an ESL teacher ( and yes I do mean the word 'side effects') is that you get invited to student's houses for dinner.
Yesterday I spent from three in the afternoon until one the following morning in France listening to the delights of Frank Zappa (a 4 hour DVD special) followed by Zappa does Zappa (Dweevil Zappa's tribute to Papa Zappa) while my student's wife shouted from the kitchen that perhaps he should be talking English instead of watching Frank Zappa. This then led to an excursion in the garden where I had to explain that while the word 'tit' in English does mean both a bird and a woman's breast it is probably not the first word of choice when referring to the latter.

After clearing this issue up I went to find the bathroom which led me to a rather tricky game of guess which door is the bathroom( in an endless corridor of closed doors ) only to finally locate the desired room complete with my student's nineteen year old son very much in flagrant delecti showering with no shower curtain. So surprised was I that I immediately mumbled 'sorry' (I think he said hello) and pulled the door shut so fast it bounced open just enough for me to see it all again. As luck would have it I was then placed next to recently exposed son of student for dinner. Fortunately said son did not seem to be the slightest bit embarassed ( those boho Europeans) indeed at a guess I suspect he might have even revelled in it and I found him to be a most chatty and attentive neighbour for the whole duration of dinner.

Following dinner my student offered to demonstrate his guitar skills by playing along to a cd (but always three chords behind.) He actually played very well but I think the 4 hours of Frank Zappa had undermined his confidence a little.
I have been invited back for the spring. Stay tuned!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Ah the silence

Well, Fasnacht has ended for another year and I must confess that I am typing this with a certain amount of relief. By the third day I really felt that I was done and would have been quite happy if the town had decided that it was done too. Alas t'was not to be. Although in a way I can't really blame them - after all it is the only three days a year when any noise is tolerated beyond the tick-tock of perfectly timed clocks and the grate-grate of cheese fondue preparation.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

And the music goes on

Well it is the second morning of Fasnacht now and the drums are in house-shaking form this morning. Yesterday I went with my friend to the street parade and we were showered with wattle, roses, sweets, oranges and cans of drink ( which fall less pleasantly on the head than a bunch of flowers I can tell you.) We then went to some of the cellars which the Cliques open up during Fasnacht and drank wine under beautifully painted lanterns. My neighbour also invited us in for some floursoup and cheese tarts so by the time we went to bed we were very round and fuelled by an awful lot of cheese.

Today is children's day so there will lots of cute looking hobbits dressed up like ladybirds, tigers and other wild animals terrorising the adults with confetti.

My short story ' Courtship, Cutlets and a Barrow Full of Dung' has come out in the March edition of Semaphore Magazine which can be found here :-) Have a read and don't forget to vote ( if you like it of course :-)
J xo

Sunday, 1 March 2009

die drey scheenschte Dääg (Translation: The three most beautiful days)

Tomorrow at 4 am exactly Fasnacht returns to Basel once again.
This carnival takes place on the Monday after Lent each year and can only be described as a 72 hour binge of piccolos , drums and Gugge music, cheese tarts, flour soup, beer, wurst, more beer, knee-deep confetti, crazy costumes and endless parades through the streets. It is actually hard to do the carnival justice with words you really have to come to Basel to experience it properly but here is a link on the carnival anyway

I shall be getting up tomorrow at 4 am for Morgestraich which is when the Carnival offically begins. It's a very electricifying experience when all the town lights are switched off and the Fasnachters light up their beautifully painted lanterns and begin marching through the streets, banging their drums and playing their piccolos. It's very important not to get in the way of the marching cliques, I might add, as you will end up as roadkill. I've witnessed this before and they make no distinction between children or the infirmed.

I suppose the downside of Fasnacht ( apart from being potential roadkill) is that it is relentless. For three days there is non-stop noise which if you have ever been to Switzerland is not exactly the norm! Something I actually quite enjoy about the whole thing. Where I live makes it nearly impossible to sleep for the three days but I do find lots of wine and cheese-related meals do make for interesting dreams of the cat nap variety. I also live in a house of Fasnacht fanatics. For them this is like Christmas ( they are adults I'd like to add.) I see them scurrying about finishing their costumes, preparing food, behaving like six year olds before Father Christmas comes. Tonight I shall take my friend who is coming from London just for the event ( and to see me of course) for a walk through the old town where you can see the lanterns resting against fountains and shops waiting for their big entrance tomorrow morning. Many will be covered up so as to not ruin the surprise but it's a nice feeling wandering around the town in the few hours before it all begins.

Have a day or a night ( as the case may be)

J xox

Ps Here is a youtube link of Morgestraich

Pps - a special message to my Sis - feel better soon and don't forget our discussion about the 'potential benefits' of steroids :-)