Tuesday, 30 September 2008

No flies on me

When I returned to the flat in Germany I was surprised to find that Simon hadn't been as alone as I'd imagined. Indeed, there seemed to be an extended family of fruit flies keeping him company. In a jealous rage I declared war on the new residents. I armed myself with fly paper and suspended it from the freezer, by the sink. A week on and I was pleased to see that the fly paper was speckled with little black dots: one-time flies.

Last night Mother Nature got her own back. I was doing the washing up while simultaneously trying to supervise April and prevent her from opening the biscuit tin. As I flicked my head around to look in April's direction, my hair became completely entangled in the sticky fly paper. I swore (so much for my self-imposed ban on swearing in front of my daughter) and Simon came running to my rescue. Once freed, I touched my hair and I could tell that it was matted with sticky residue and possibly some flies. There was only one thing to do - wash it out immediately. 10 minutes later and I was sitting in a bath tub having scrupulously scrubbed my hair a couple of times. The flies that fell from my newly cleaned locks didn't seem to mind sharing the bath water. I minded a little more.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Doctor, doctor...

...doctor, doctor, doctor...

I've been back for a fortnight and it seems that those two weeks have flown by in a haze of medical appointments all over the city.

Yesterday I used my best German (ie very poor) to book into the local hospital for the birth of sproglet number 2. I've also been to see my 'Frauenarzt' (this is a special doctor who deals with the delicate business of lady health) to check on my antenatal well being. I've seen my 'Facharzt fuer Allgemeinmedizin' (equivalent to a GP in England) for a test on my iron levels. Next week I'll be seeing a physiotherapist for my arm. Oh - and then a midwife!

In Germany it's up to you to find a doctor for your particular ailment. This can be a fiddle if you are new in town and don't know which of the many practitioners in the phone book are:

a) good at what they do
b) have a nice bedside manner
c) and - most important of all - speak English

On the other hand, it's convenient in that you don't have to wait a long time to see a specialist - you just book an appointment in the same way you would a hair cut.

All this running around. It's enough to make one ill.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Culture dash

My left arm is more or less recovered, though I couldn't use it to participate in any strong man competition just yet (those Atlas Balls might be a challenge too far). Anyway, as a result, April and I are flying back to Cologne on Tuesday, to pick up where we left off seven weeks ago.

Intent on squeezing every morsel of goodness out of my unexpected summer vacation, I travelled down to London on Thursday to meet with some friends* who I worked with in my last job. I used to work in a 30-storey office building by the Thames. Its official title is Millbank Tower, but is known to some as 'The Tower of Doom' due to its grey demeanour. It does have one saving grace for me - it's next door to Tate Britain.

Before meeting with my old co-workers I took some time to look around the Tate's galleries, taking in a good dose of Stubbs, Turner, Degas and co. All very cultured. However, what stood out for me was a piece of performance art staged in the central neoclassical atrium. The piece is
Martin Creed's work No 850. In it, a runner dashes through the atrium as fast as his little legs can carry him. This happens again 30 seconds later. And again. And again...you get the idea. (Fortunately there is more than one runner to take on this burden.)

Creed's piece was inspired by a visit he made with friends to the catacombs in Palermo. They arrived just before closing and had to run to see everything. Creed decided that this speedy visiting style was the ideal way to appreciate culture.

I enjoyed this piece of art. Firstly, it is quite amusing to see a succession of people running through a major gallery in their gym vests and shorts. Secondly, Creed has captured how I feel about visiting galleries - that it is sometimes too daunting to think about seeing everything and that a short dash to lift the soul is a much more refreshing approach.

*(Hi Jenny, Lisa and Sophie! It was good to catch up!)