A funny thing happened on the way to the newsagent. There I was wondering what collection of neural passages it was that led to a sense of feeling like I was where I am when I began telling myself that I could perhaps find ways of bringing a sense of the wonder I felt in the Swiss Alps to my South London proximity which might include enjoying the foliage in the local area, for example the vines growing on my neighbours boundary wall, when a leaf loomed in my field of vision and I found myself plucking a dense grape (perhaps a pinot noire) from the interwoven recesses and savouring the taste. The Lavaux vineyards are known for their pinot noire grapes and yet the Swiss, I am told, choose to find it uneconomical to export their wines.
You are probably thinking I think I’m being annoying on purpose to write in such a clumsily tangled fashion and whilst I admit there is a feint echo of my previous self that sought to prod the fleshy hard drives of liberal clever clogs’ I prefer to think of myself as the dog that actually did one day rip its own tail off after a heated pursuit.
What is it that allows us to feel we are where we are? This I asked my self, the Audi Quattro hugging the mountain corners as we climbed higher into the pre-Alps, and consulted my smart phones in built sat-nav, periodically enlarging then reducing in order to bring back the flashing blue arrow that represented where I was. After chewing the surprisingly sweet grape from my neighbours vine today, I realised that the window of a moving car was most probably a major obstruction to my grasping the sense that I really was in the heart of a landscape illustrating a certain archetypal vision of Switzerland, the like of which I had gazed at in awe as it glowed on my computer screen during my intense research sessions prior to the trip. It was effectively still glowing on a screen albeit in lower resolution and moving.
But now I want to share with you my sense of pride as I stood atop the very mountain that had been listed on the My Switzerland web site preparing to undertake my first descent in the tin toboggan. This was actually the same place that had once seemed like a distant halcyon realm accessible only too the most sagacious of mountain folk and here we were breathing the same air we had previously tried to suck through the flat screen monitor. I was close to feeling like I really was there as I gazed down the valley that I can only describe as a geography teacher’s dream. The light and space the air the rocks they all added up to me being somewhere real. Rocks are hard and real and words are thin like air but the air here was really real. Then my eldest son threw a snowball in my ear and my area of reality became more focussed. Being a hearing aid wearer I am not a fan of things that are really cold flying at high velocity into my lughole. Still. Be still.
And now I am home and I long for the air the light the rocks the height. The adding up to something realness. The all at onceness. Here is a film of my second toboggan run just prior to the above-mentioned snowball incident.