Jack Serle

On the subject of plugs, ‘Allo Geneve, Le Lac c’est belle

In Suisse on August 29, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Plug adapters really ought to be entirely obsolete objects in this day and age. They take the stout, robust, Christian prongs of a good British plug and translate them into the effete, mealy mouthed, Pagan, protrusions of foreign pretenders. The revisionist, counter revolutionary electrical conduits the rest of the world insists on using really are the limit.

Were everyone else to use one kind of plug, leaving the UK alone in its staunch use of its angular apparatus it would be fine. The rest of the world drives on the right (I know pedants, with some exceptions), and that’s fine. Were it the case. Those otherwise delightful contraryians the Swiss will persist in using a completely different kind of plug to the continental EU countries.

My ire can be explained by the simple fact that I didn’t realise this and discovered at rather a late hour on Friday that my French adapter was completely useless.

“Oh blast.” I murmured.

Mercifully there was no-one present to hear such a profane yelp. I recovered my composure as best I could.

The following day it was with great haste I made my way to the electrical supplies shop. I arrive at Cornavin station, the beating heart of Geneva’s heroin addict scene. The previous evening I had dodged the addled junkies to get a bus home, watching them spar in the traditional fashion – one man armed with a shopping bag and tin of super strength lager, the other with a bit of metal pipe.

In the light of the day I saw the government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva at some point tried to brighten up the tram depot on the station steps by mixing sparkly glitter in with the tarmac. It manages only to make one wary not to tread in the broken glass that looks as if it has spread everywhere.

Between dodging illusionary shards of bottle and ducking the leering homeless it is a wonder anyone has time to catch a bus.

The electrical store that was my target, alas, did not have a plug adapter of any race or creed. It was with some glum resignation that I boarded the bus to the airport. I was sure there would live a clever little widget that would facilitate the mating of my Protestant laptop powerpack with the Calvinist socket. As I rode the omnibus past the tower blocks and car parks to the aerodrome I wondered what the folks at home were doing*.

The airport shop had but one adapter fit to my purpose. A universal, trans-global adapter. It claimed it would allow my little laptop to become an intercontinental bigamist and shack up with any power supply it liked.

Or so I thought. The plug adapter in question would only enable Swiss appliances, or at a push European, get stuck into some Thai wall point. So it was left to me to form an un-holey menage a trois between my computer, my French adapter and the newly purchased inter-continental electron pimp in order to get some action.


My arrival in Geneva on Friday was met with a solid fall of incessant rain. A fair sign I thought. It was raining when I left that paragon of form and function, Lulsgate now Bristol Airport, so at least I have some consistency in my life.

However it was an annoyance to discover the rain coat I had packed was designed perfectly but for one small flaw. It could by some be seen as a fatal flaw; it absorbs water. So it was I arrive at the bar to meet friend Paws in a state of quite the dampness.

It is no matter however as the city of Geneva does carry a certain degree of classy charm. Like a dignified lady of a certain age in her diamonds and Chanel: aged but still alluring. It is with some glee that the sun comes out on Sunday and I sit on the lake enjoying the warming rays with N., an amiable friend who tolerates my company for two hole hours. Some people are born to bear suffering with resilience. The sun plays on the water. The sails scud and the boats bound about the blue expanse. Genevans swim and sunbathe in the dying hours of their weekend. The coming months could prove to be most pleasant indeed.

* They weren’t doing anything actually, I checked.


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