Monday, August 01, 2005

Naive Is Evian Spelt Backwards...



Bonjour,

I’m back in London after two weeks in France and Switzerland. It was quite the adventure where I ably assisted Phil Leishman (the golf one… not the dog one) and our ever-hungry cameraman, Malcolm Clement. Switzerland is a mind-boggling country in that sharing its borders with France, Italy, and Germany (and some other nation called Liechtenstein) the people speak a fair few languages. Apparently 60% of the Swiss speak German, 30% French, and 10% Italian… but the vast majority of the people we came across spoke all three, plus English – putting my ability to count to ten in Maori to shame. Therefore travelling through Switzerland is like travelling through four countries; so instead of bombarding you with the entire multi-lingual escapade in one story I’ll, instead, drip-feed you the saga over the coming weeks.

I should preface the story by mentioning my French is really bad. This is due my Form Two French teacher walking through the class and clipping anyone ‘round the head if they couldn’t pronounce the most basic of sentences. This wasn’t my idea of fun so I stopped taking French after two weeks and instead joined the Extra English class (whatever that is). So when I say my French is really bad what I meant to say is that I know two French words: “merci” and “boeuf”. Meaning I spent the entire week eating beef meals and enthusiastically thanking the waiter for them.

The week began in sunny Evian, France… yes, I too did not realise that such a place existed. But it stands to reason they name the water after the very town from whence it came. In fact one of the back roads of Evian has a small pipe coming out of the hillside where you can freely fill your bottle up with the actual water that makes it way to the Evian bottling plant. We discovered this water source on a Sunday and it appeared to be a weekend tradition for the locals to bring along dozens of 1 litre “empties” and fill them up. My guess is that they were local restaurateurs and the bottles of Evian would make their way onto the tables of their restaurant over the coming week.

The town of Evian itself is at the foot of the French Alps and on the edge of Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman as the French call it. It’s an hour’s drive along the lake to Geneva and a 30 minute ferry ride to Lausanne. Meaning if you were that way inclined you could hold down a job in Lausanne, Switzerland and live in Evian, France. The border control is the stuff that the Corby family must dream of – as you come and go between the two countries there’s no one to check passports let alone your 4kg body-board bag.

We were in Evian to cover the Evian Masters – the richest women’s golf tournament in Europe. A lot is said in jest about the women’s golf tour being full of lesbians. That is probably an overplayed cliché but on first impressions I could’ve sworn I was at a European Tomboy Convention. When I said earlier that it was “sunny” Evian that was for the entire week except 30 minutes on Monday afternoon when I bore witness the second greatest storm of my life (the greatest being at Glastonbury 4 weeks earlier). Some local town elders claimed it to be the worst storm they’d ever seen in Evian: 150km per hour winds and hailstones the size of golf balls. Now “hailstones the size of golf balls” is also an overplayed cliché but when the greenskeeper suggests that the hailstones are the size of golf balls it’s fair to say he knows what he’s on about. Alas, the hail destroyed all the flowers that were blossoming just in time for the golf tournament; so organisers had to truck in 40,000 replacement pots of flowers from all over Europe.

Now I may not be able to speak French but what I was able to do quite well on the French-Swiss border was indulge in their desserts. And when you combine Switzerland’s world famous chocolates and Movenpick ice cream with France’s profiteroles, crème brulee, and meringues I ended up eating enough dessert to feed all of Liechtenstein.

So aside from eating, golfing, fireworks, and ferry rides to Lausanne there wasn’t time for much else; which is why I shouldn’t dedicate a paragraph to French television but I, like a few others, have a strange fascination in watching American and English shows dubbed into foreign languages. Particular favourites were The Simpsons, Sex And The City and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation which the French call Les Expertes. Of their local programmes my curiosity was aroused by an early morning aerobics show (think Aerobics Oz Style but French Style). I really struggled with the questions on France’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. And from what I could tell their take on The Weakest Link seemed really nasty (“Jean-Paul tu are tres faible. Au revoir!”)

That’s probably more than enough for this edition. Log in next time when I’ll regal you with stories about the Von Trapp’s long lost boxer shorts; a traditional German sausage-roll that wasn’t the wurst; and find out which Swiss rockstar I was mistaken for.

14 Comments:

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

Love your work Randy...

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anita said...

WOW
You're so hip Randall. What's with the blog huh? Really moving with the times now :) Most impressed.
Of course your blog is again the highlight of my day.
Always so interesting and funny to read.
You've got a real talent for story telling - even when it's factual!
Really looking forward to the next installment.

Take care and keep well
Love Anita
(for those that don't know, or getting excited over the "love" I'm sister no. 2.)

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anita said...

WOW
You're so hip Randall. What's with the blog huh? Really moving with the times now :) Most impressed.
Of course your blog is again the highlight of my day.
Always so interesting and funny to read.
You've got a real talent for story telling - even when it's factual!
Really looking forward to the next installment.

Take care and keep well
Love Anita
(for those that don't know, or getting excited over the "love" I'm sister no. 2.)

 
At 9:39 PM, Anonymous SLM1 said...

Fabulous tales - honestly this should be published in mainstream media. In fact I may know someone in newspapers that may be interested in publishing if you are keen.

How did you fit all this in and find time to appear in Armand Van Helden music videos? My my my you are clever.

Just over 3 weeks till your Auckland Mum and Dad come to check on their boy - can't wait. SLM1 xx

 
At 3:21 AM, Anonymous KELDAWG said...

Run run, as fast as you can. You can't catch Randall he's the ginger beard man.

 
At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Phantom48 said...

Great update Randall. As Anita said you have a real talent. Wonder where that comes from (well guess I can take some of the credit, huh?)
I too think you should get published. Reminds me of your first effort for the Christchurch Press. Still remember that great story you wrote as a Junior Reporter. Take up the offer of slm1. There are lots of places publishing stories of Expats living overseas and yours would be amongst the best, if not the best. Anyway, looking forward to the next chapter.
As Anita says - take care and keep well. Luv - Mum

 
At 5:19 AM, Anonymous Nickie said...

Your time on the Golf Show has certainly taught you how to write a good end of spiel promo! Will eagerly await the next installment.. Cher Bro

 
At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Scotty Lewis said...

Wow! It took me a few minutes of double checking but you're right! Naive is Evian spelt backwards - freaky!

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger Bee said...

Pleased to hear from you. Your adventures are great especially for someone who wasn't going for the OE.
Keep safe.
Love sister 3

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Bee said...

Pleased to hear from you. Your adventures are great especially for someone who wasn't going for the OE.
Keep safe.
Love sister 3

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Bee said...

Isn't it good to see both your sisters like to repeat themselves. Must be to get themselves heard.

 
At 12:30 PM, Anonymous mark said...

I don't remember you ever saying you had sisters Randy? All that time you were paying out on my mum, and I could have been letting rip on your siblings...

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous cool_bananas said...

sounds like a mad trip and a half! call us saturday and we'll have a drink in London brother... peace. - Josh

 
At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Yo-Yo said...

att: Keldawg... is that youe Miss Kel??!!! it's josh! how are ya missy?! i'm in London doing Hairdressing... it's madness... throw us an email man! djosh_uk@yahoo.co.uk

Safe.

 

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