Jack Serle

Weekly interacting with walking overdrafts, Jardine Botanique, political thriller

In Suisse on September 19, 2011 at 10:28 PM

The working life of the interned hack continues much as it has for the past three weeks. The Acronym sucks in the wageless and churns out the bankrupt. As it undergoes reform it could well put more of burden of work on the insolvent and bonded labour that my generation must now be termed. “You don’t know what hard work is,” an elderly person might remark.

I beg to differ.


With the five days out of every seven well occupied with hackery, weekends become a prominent source of nourishment. It is a time for interacting with the brethren and sistren internen. More and more arrive each week as if there are nought but interns populating this world.

Bearing in mind a need to be out of my flat, it was with some glee that I found my office less than 20 Incorporated minutes from a botanical garden. Not only is said jardin close but it is free to enter too. The prospect of an afternoon’s indolence in the tranquil presence of trees and flowers at no extra cost seemed too good to refuse.

Unfortunately when I rang the metereological service they declared this weekend last to be “a bloody right-off mate”. Friday after work would have to do. The interns, my fellow barrel scrapers, were all more enthused with bibulous or cinematographic affairs With one exception.

Not wanting to miss out on a chance to meander out of doors, my colleague and I went forth to enjoy some arboreal stillness. We set out to stop and rest a while in the world where  horticulturist and botanist practice their arts.

The botanical garden of Geneva is without question one of the most underwhelming places I have ever had the misfortune to visit, and I have been to Derby.

It would, I fear, rival Stevenage though I have no knowledge of the town besides  reports from travelling gentlemen of trusty countenance.

The space had but one saving grace, a most fantastical carousel. Its designer could have been inspired by Hayao Miyazaki and Terry Gilliam. Unfortunately the rather glorious contraption was not working and no fun could be had sat in a pram pulled by a stork.

The fabulous carousel stood out as a visual treat. The rest of the gardens were markedly drab. They lie between two ugly, calloused and nicoteine stained fingers. To the north runs one digit, a high speed railway and to the south the other, a choked main road. The gardens are not ugly, not a disaster of design – just small, noisy and visually uninspiring. They are no escape from the city. Far from a botanical garden, it is a small, drab, urban park.

Dismal though the gardening is it cannot quite match up to the mangy menagerie stored somewhere near the back. A large herd of rather bored looking deer and a few sheep were penned up in what passed for a rather smelly zoo. It was an aromatic and depressing end to our walk.

Bambi wonders where it all went wrong


Despite the disappointment of the gardens my enthusiastic companion and I made our way through the streets of Geneva to the Old Town. Therein food was found and on top of that music. Performing besides the City Hall, a wind band (phnaar) were putting on a show for some diners of a rather well-to-do restaurant. My party had grown by two by now and we sat ourselves down to enjoy.

The band played some local tunes, modern numbers and jazz standards. Their leader, a well proportioned Genevois, sung his songs with aplomb. Pleasant we thought. It was with some surprise therefore that we witnessed his transformation from burgher of this town to the one and only Mr Michael ‘Chamone’ Jackson. Purely by donning a glove and hat our entertainer metamorphosed into the King of Pop to sing a medley of a Gallic accented MJ hits.

During the set I had noticed a chap in a hat sat with his daschund and wine. I was a little surprised when he stood up at the behest of our thrilling singer and sang a dolorous song.

The Hat

His number completed he returned to his seat. With the final song the gig was done and he stood up once more to make a speech. By this time a friend of mine had appeared. A Genevois, S. translated the oratory. It would seem my fellow interns and I had wandered into a publicity stunt. The hatted chap is proprietor of the fancy eatery. His restaurant is housed in a building belonging to City Hall. Something of a local institution, The Hat had been running his joint for decades. It was a regular haunt for city officials on their extended lunches.

The Hat of late, I know not when, had lost all his mirth. There had been a falling out and city dignitaries had taken an exception to our singing restauranteur. They are making shapes to evict him so the evening of music and victuals was a bid to rouse up popular support.

My last adventure into the land of Suisse music had consisted of cat strangling and heart failure. Mercifully this one ended only with a missed bus.

All images author’s own, all rights reserved.


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