Jack Serle

Wise old Larry, the working life, Suisse Music

In Suisse on September 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM

“The sun, dear boy,” said my oldest and wisest friend on a summer afternoon. “The sun is such a joy. Just to behold it brings a smile to even the most sneer chapped and brittle lips.”

“Oh Larry,” I replied. “You do come out with the most bizarre rubbish. Sit you back down,” I continued, “and have a cup of tea.”

And he did as well; two sugars. It was priceless, you had to be there.


It is back to the words of that fine board-treader that I think when I look from my window at the shining sun. My Alp has come back. And then it goes again of course but in its comings and goings my Alp keeps me entertained.

My Alp, from my office window

When my concentration does not run away with a view to the snowy heights I still enjoy the work put to me. The Acronym being so well disposed, I have managed to obtain two article commissions. One more to the economic, the other slightly more towards the politic.

When not sat facing the screen of my computer I have enjoyed some exploring. To the Palais de Nations where the United Nations meet to throw buns at one another, behave badly and generally carry on in a fashion altogether rather odd.

Down on the lake, or lac as the inscruitable natives insist on calling it, you can find a most fantastic thing. The Jet d’Eau. A really rather enormous fountain spouting out of the middle of the lake. Many hundreds of litres of water are squirted up into the air to a giddy height of almost 150 metres. Utterly pointless of course but quite impressive none the less.


Among the bondsmen and women who are interned at The Acronym there is something of a social scene. This is despite Geneva having a somewhat unfair reputation for being the expensive pen in which old rich people wait to die.

Wednesday evening saw a gathering of interns from all kinds of united acronyms at a bar in the city’s red light district. District is not quite the right word. It consists of one street along which at odd intervals you will happen across some of the seediest of brothels and ropiest hookers this side of Blackpool. The bar however was bereft of any kind of bawdy action. Deep in its airless basement there was a rough assortment of intern types who drank, ate peanuts and sweated away the evening. I am happy to say I held my own in all three categories until the lure of bed took me away.

Friday came and a diminutive Dutch lady decided a jazz festival in the city’s Carrougge district would be the perfect way to spend an evening.

I will say now that if you were to ask me if I enjoyed myself I would say yes immensely with a but.

Jazz is an evocative word. What was on offer at Carouge-en-Fete was not jazz by any stretch of the imagination. It was a fascinating mixture of 60s rock standards sung flat, songs from the Godfather soundtrack sung flat, and a remarkable melange of truly awful Americana. As one companion, a Californian, pointed out: “I did not come all the way to Europe to hear shitty American music. At least play some shitty European music.” The strains of Achey Breaky Heart faded in the air and paramedics saw to the collapsed octagenarian’s faultering heart. We sought out more beer.

Carouge-en-Fete was a festival of food, theater and a rough approximation of music for the well heeled and polite middle aged denizens of Geneva. To sum up the entire event in one bout of second rate prose would be a disservice. Let it be left with this image however. As the tones of Rock Around The Clock bounced around the tree lined square, a gentleman stood up and made it clear that the assembled interns and I were not to dance as it meant he couldn’t see the stage.


From the polite appreciation of Friday night to an altogether more warm blooded affair for Saturday. Having spent the day sat inside working away while the sun beat down on BBQs and lake side antics I was more than ready to leave my flat. As luck would have it an old comrade from the north had obtained some tickets to a football match.

That morning I had chewed my nails down to stubs watching England falteringly overcome Argentina at rugby; I wasn’t sure my heart could take more on field drama. Stuff it, thought I. There will be beer, company and the chance to remonstrate with a referee in new and hither-to un-explored ways.

Servette has something of a chequered past. Having been a dominant force in Swiss football for decades they were bought by a French businessman. This interloper from across the boarder swiftly fired pools of cash into the team, bought some stars, bankrupted his company, failed to pay players who left. He presided over the ignominious relegation of his new club out of the top flight; they dropped two leagues down as the junior players at the club took over on-field duties from the vanished first team.

Since then the Servette side have been slowly pulling themselves back into the glittering lights of Swiss Super League football. This is their first season back in the big time and a positively balmy Saturday night brought the monstrous FC Basle, Switzerland’s top team, to town.

It did not end well for Servette. A game can sometimes be summed up by a single moment. In this match it was a short series of moments. Servette’s forward danced his way to the edge of the six yard box and made to shoot. He was hacked down to howls of anguish in front of the home stands. These turned to outrage when the offending Basle defender recieved only a yellow card for his sins. The howls and cat calls plumetted to stunned silence as Servette failed to convert the penalty. They mutated to groans of resignation when the corner that came from Basle’s keeper’s penalty save was a scuffed. It dribbled across the field and was easily cleared by the defense.

The enterprise of Servette was never converted, for all their efforts in midfield they looked like lost lambs in the final third. Basle were not quite so trigger shy. They ran out winners, four goals to none.

It is easy to blame players on occasions such as this and the young Portuguese fullback Roderick must take some on his shoulders. But his coach too should be criticised for replacing a striker after 22 minutes of the first half with a midfielder only to then remove this same midfielder for another striker at half time.

As conciliatory cheeseburgers and beers were sought post game more pain was piled on my Swiss companions. Roger Federer lost his US Open semi-final to Novak Djokavic and Servette’s ice hockey team lost too. Some days are days like these. At least it wasn’t raining.


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