After an exceptionally difficult night and a day of doing difficult work, I said: I need to go out. Let’s go someplace we can have a glass of red and a plate of food. I had in mind Italian but the restaurant was closed for some sawing and hammering, we ended up at a Swiss place run by a Swiss man who aired his Swiss accent to amuse us.
The wine was nice, the food was ok and the atmosphere thriving and red-checked. People came in from the cold in little gouts. We had a basket of bread and the waitress brought a little marble slab like something chipped out of a wall with a scrape of herbed butter splayed onto it. In the flickering candlelight we talked about his work and mine. I kept picking up the white enamelled wooden pepper mill and holding it in my hand, for the consolation.
Is it true the Swiss eat apple tart with lavender-scented soft cream? These Swiss do. I remembered the word I had made up to describe the natty fellows in late middle age circling the lake in Zurich in their roll-top cars, who had pink and lemon coloured cashmere jumpers knotted round their shoulders and some of whom were wearing mint green pants: immaculate contraception. We whined a little, pleasurably, about the music, which was one of those wan girls who spoons the stuffing out of twelve or fourteen formerly robust intricacies (The Cure, baby, the Rolling Stones) so that you feel faintly perturbed by the recollection: hey, didn’t I once used to know this song? More than the Queen, she was the opposite of punk. Feeling warmed inside and far more unwound we paid our bill and walked home across the hardening snow, and it had grown so terribly cold during the evening I started to tremble inside my duvet jacket and we both became nauseous with chill.