Tuesday, 9 February 2010
the kids are all right
A street scene to restore my faith in the Swiss as a nation. Walking past a school in the Paquis (a slightly scruffy part of Geneva -- which means the sidewalks are very clean but not actually polished) at 15:45 or so local time I was pleased to hear children giggling. Rounding the corner I came upon a knot of them -- boys and girls maybe ten years old, wearing uniforms which had been artfully untucked and unbuttoned, in the manner of schoolkids the world over. They were spelling a word aloud to each other, boys and then girls, letter by letter, gasping and snickering after each letter. They finished the word as I reached them, and burst into an explosion of giggles.
The word was -- well, you can guess the kind of word it was. In every country (except Ireland for some reason -- I nearly choked on my beer once, hearing a proper looking woman bellow it out) , a word teachers would disapprove of.
The kids shut up when they saw me, but as soon as I was past them the giggles returned, louder than ever, and they began another word. The ghosts of Calvin and Zwingli were turning in their graves, but I smiled all the way back to the hotel.