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Archive for May, 2009

Page45I discovered Lush when at the age of 18 I spent a summer in Brighton to learn English. Like the local accent, these extravagant cosmetics seemed to be a perfect way to adopt a new lifestyle as an initiated traveler, and as soon as I discovered a shop recently opened in Berne I was completely hooked. Then, a few months ago, I came across Dr.Hauschka. This was serious business: no more paraben compromise, no discontinued products, no superfluous playfulness. To me, Dr.Hauschka is a symbol of social promotion as well as the epitome of the green ideal. Soon, however, I had to come back to my own reality; the aha moment happened in Fenwick’s the other day, when a shop clerk tried to sell me a similar brand and told me the item I was looking at cost 38£. This, I thought, is going too far. I’m sorry Sophie Uliano, but the middle-class ideology you promote is out of my reach. From now on, I’ll Lush with a vengeance.

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Page44I had no idea I would suddenly be very busy, going from one thing to the next without much time for reflection; and I’m generally know to be the reflexive, rather than active type. Ignoring this tendency, last Friday I went to Germany, came back to Switzerland on Sunday, left for Paris on Tuesday, and arrived in England on Wednesday. That very same day, I learned a) that the School of English at Kent had recommended me to the Admissions office for a PhD, b) that the University of Geneva had rejected my application for an assistant position, and c) that the Admissions office had made an offer. Meanwhile, I’ve received a lower mark than usual for my unfortunate attempt at creative writing, which means that my 1st has become a 2.1 (non-English people: please don’t ask me what this means) and I’m trying to revise for the exam I have on Tuesday while worrying about getting a scholarship.

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Page43This week-end I was in Lüneburg, a charming town between Hamburg and Hannover where a symposium in Native American / First Nations studies took place. The funny thing about Germans is that for unclear reasons they love American Indians. They have popular novels with a character named Winitou and powwows across the country. Well, if I must be honest, the Swiss are not that different, what with Derib’s Yakari and, as it turns out, a few annual powwows too. But this was not the aim of my trip to this small-scale, sympathetic conference. I met several Americans, Canadians, lots of Germans and a couple of Austrians with whom I had a good time. I interviewed Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway playwright who mostly writes comedies (including “The Berlin Blues”), and on Sunday visited an exhibition on Native Americans in Hamburg which also raised interesting questions, though of a nature that the guide wasn’t quite expecting.

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Page42Having been in Switzerland for a month, it was time for me to find some interest again in local stories. You may know that Suchard used to be made in Neuchâtel, and for a town this size it’s an important historical element. Which is why the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and the university organized an exhibition which is very agreeable to visit, and I’m tempted to brag about the famous Neuchâtelois family business. Only, to be honest, I’ve never really been a Suchard person. I don’t like Milka, and apart from Suchard Express (and Sugus) I’m not very familiar with the products; I prefer Camille Bloch, Villars, Lindt, Caillers. But now I’ve fallen in love with some of Suchard’s retro ads, and that alone is interesting enough.

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page41I’ve been swallowing these pills daily for nine months now, and in spite of their pretty pink colour, they’re not very agreeable to take. While I can’t say that my iron defficiency comes directly from the overall small amount of meat I eat, it certainly plays a role in my current reflections on meat and the animal market. Red meat, and liver in particular have a very high iron content which can be difficult to reach with other foods. I’ve learned to cook liver in butter with some shallot, then add some white wine, a tiny bit of chicken stock, cream and chives and have it on bread. You can add bacon as well, it’s delicious. This alone is a good reason to give offal a try, plus it will cost you very little.

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Books for spring

page40At last, I can read books I’ve chosen myself! I know I should be revising for my exam but I’ve decided to pretend I mistook Eugenide’s Middlesex for George Elliot’s Middlemarch and my honour will be safe (sort of). I ordered some of these on Amazon and they’ve been sitting on my shelf for a while. Others were bought in a nice bookshop in Bath called Topping & Company, and the rest comes from the Salon du livre in Geneva. At the moment, all I want to do is read: on the couch, on the train, on the balcony, by the lakeside, at my desk, in a café, or in bed, just read, and life will take care of itself.

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