Tuesday, January 15, 2008


After a slow start to the day and a couple of hours transcribing stuff I wrote longhand up at Bullet using Claudine's Mac, I took the RER shuttle train into the city for a few hours of sightseeing with my camera. A seven Franc (£3.20) ticket allows you to use buses, trams and train (and maybe also waterbus, I'm not sure) in the two central zones all day, which is a superb bargain, given the frequency of all means of transport and the ease of getting around that this provides.

I started with a visit to our old favourite department store Placette (now renamed Manor), to have a drink in the top floor restaurant, where records DVDs and hi tech equipment are also sold. There was nothing new there, no mouthwatering sale bargains. In fact the computers are much the same price as UK. What is amazing is that half of this large fifth floor of retail space is given over electronic goods and nicely prepared and presented edible fast food.

I settled for a beer, out on the balcony - now netted in, to prevent the birds from flying through the restaurant and perching on the food counters, as they have done for at least the past decade in my knowledge. Did the Health and Safety police suddenly get heavy I wondered? I still noticed one cheeky little sparrow hopping around picking up crumbs from the balcony floor, having slipped through the net in a corner I guess - coming up five floors of escalator space and getting through the automatic doors would have been a bit too unlikley a feat of adventure.

I took a bus over the the south side of the town, across the Rhone where it flows west out of Lac Leman, and then a tram along the rue de Marche, then retraced my steps, making for the quayside next to the Jardin des Anglais to take pictures of the famous fountain in full flow, making rainbow arcs in the midday sun. Then I walked over the Pont du Rhone and up past Holy Trinity, my old church, to the main station to take a tram along the north side, out to the Place des Nations to take some daylight photos of the 'broken chair' sculpture.

The re-installation ceremony of the chair was used as a propaganda exercise to highlight the international agreement being forged against the use of cluster bombs, which have a similar legacy to landmines. Getting my own photos of this in its new location was really the objective of going into town. Early last year I was telling a public art procurement specialist working for the city about the 'broken chair' and surprised he'd not heard of it. When I searched for a photo to send him I could only find old miniscule pictures on a Geneva news website, so I was keen to have some of my own, as I think it is a significant work of political art, as well as a popular one.

Mission accomplished, I returned to Meyrin and picked up a car to drive out to Divonne and spend the afternoon with Julia and Philippe. This was followed by supper with dear friends from Holy Trinity days whose daughter and son-in-law I had not seen together (I think) since I did their wedding ten years ago. As well as being medical doctors, both are recent recipients of PhDs for socio-medical research. It was a happy re-union, with stimulating conversation and much laughter. A lovely conclusion to my winter leave.

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