I wrote about memories previously and I think I said something along the lines of, The problem with memories is, that they are not always very well memorised… and I am now going to have to contradict myself immediately because there are some things one never forgets, although again, like the warranty of a cheap watch, the warrant on the accuracy of my brain has long since expired. Having said that, I do remember going on holidays with my family in Ascona, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Now, Ascona is located on the Lago Maggiore and frankly, the larger part of this magnificent lake is in Italy and of course, being Italians, they are of course also the ones with a better sense of humour. That doesn’t mean however that some Swiss can’t be funny, on the contrary, some can be hilarious. But I’ll have to keep you waiting for the moment and share that memory with you last.
Our stay in this idyllic part of Switzerland was also quite an eye-opener and very beneficial to my general education, at least for a forest dweller like me. Let’s see, what age was I? Hmm… nine, ten maybe? My brother and I, and he was - and probably still is – quite a bit older than me, went on frequent long walks in the mountains, and to reach these mountains one first had to walk a bit of the way along a public road that saw traffic with the amazing frequency of one car every ten, fifteen minutes. There again I give no guarantee about the exact numbers.
Whatever it was, every hundred meters or thereabout, there seemed to be some sort of shrine representing people kneeling, donkeys and even someone hanging around on a cross for no obvious reason. Naturally being inquisitive by nature, I asked my brother, ‘Tell me, why’s that guy hanging on that cross, and why is that roman soldier - I was very well informed about Romans - sticking a lance in that guy? Surely he’s not in a position to do any harm hanging around on that cross now, is he?
My brother, who as you will remember, was older than me and better informed about matters of the faith then began to explain about someone called Jesus, who apparently had an argument with the might of Rome and probably a few other participants as well, but he did not elaborate about who those others were.
This was probably the first time I ever got into direct contact with religion, the Catholic faith and some of their associates and rivals… in other words; I was a complete religious ignoramus. Of course being young and therefore incensed about the fate of an innocent man being nailed to a cross for no obvious reason, I immediately took party for the three guys on the cross and their families who all looked quite distressed about the whole thing. This shattered my innocent world because you see, at heart, I always quite fancied myself as a bit of a Roman, especially a Roman soldier… well in my case I would of course have been a Patrician and at least a Centurion by rank... well of course. I now however had a dilemma, for I wasn’t quite sure yet how I could solve this quandary and represent the might of Rome and yet deal with, what I perceived to be a serious case of dubious and misguided justice. I hadn’t learned the words “corruption or dirty politics” yet at that age but I could smell a rat and I had to watch out for this Ponce Pilatus guy.
Fortunately, by the time of our return to the hotel, there were more pressing matters than Romans nailing people to crosses for no obvious reason as lunch was being served in the dining room. Now it just so happens that that particular hotel, The “Schweitzerhof”, had a particularly clumsy waiter who had the wonderful habit of brightening up my days on various occasions and today he did not disappoint. Dressed in an immaculate white jacket and black trousers he passed our table with a tray stacked up with heavy hotel silver and then proceeded to hand out various dishes to the table in front of us. It must be said that he kept his heavily laden tray admirably still while he reached out for that last bowl of heavy hotel silver… and then it happened. I barely dare to narrate to you what followed; no please do not laugh, I would even ask you for a minute of silence. Oh, you want to hear the tragic event that followed anyway? Hmm, I thought so.
Well, it all happened the moment his hand was about to reach the table when that last precious bowl unexpectedly slipped his hand… The unfortunate man saw the heavy pot slowly falling towards the carpeted floor by a mysterious force called gravity. Now it is quite possible that in his spare time he may have been a bit of a football player and therefore quite naturally he caught the heavy bowl on his foot and kicked it back up into the air where it spun and liberated itself from its cargo of some green stuff. To everyone’s horror - but not necessarily mine - this particular bowl was filled to the rim with spinach; you know, the greenish boiled to mush variety, you know, real slop, green and yucky stuff that is more akin to a very bad case of diarrhoea than anything I would consider vaguely edible and the result was absolutely wonderful, at least from where I was sitting. All of the amazed - no let me rephrase that - the stunned and unfortunate guests on the adjacent table were simultaneously served a generous dose of spinach in their faces and anywhere else for that matter except on their plates as is usually the norm. To add insult to injury, the freewheeling bowl now came back to earth and terminated its spin through the air with a lovely plop in the middle of the table and an extra delivery for whoever had not yet been served properly.
This sort of thing probably happens only once in a lifetime… although in my case I have been fortunate enough to see something like this twice. The unfortunate guests, patiently sitting around the table in front of us, however, were probably far less amused by their sudden brand new, rather unhealthy looking green makeover.
I may have missed some of the commotions that followed as, if I remember well, I slipped under the table and probably died several times of laughter in spite of various threats from my mother who herself almost choked to death in her glass of red wine. Ooh, happy memories; the things one never forgets.