Lakeside languages and lone ladies who lunch

Their gnocchi was the best I’d ever eaten. I’d have told them that if I could have, because it truly was gorgeous gnocchi. The Italian restaurant nestling in the corner of the Mont Blanc bridge and the shore of Lake Geneva looked lovely back in June when I first saw it. But I wanted company to eat there, so Daughter and I went at the weekend, when the weather was still warm and sunny, and a lakeside meal seemed like a good idea.

The – presumably Italian – maître d’ joked about our lack of French and demanded more languages. We gave him Swedish, and he shut up because he couldn’t match it. For a restaurant that has menus printed in English (separate menus, not just English added) you expect a bit of linguistic skill, and they certainly had that. A professional looking waiter soon took our order in impeccable English, and the food came promptly.

And as I said, the gnocchi was fantastic, as was the pasta with salmon. We swapped halfway, so sampled both. The half litre bottle of water soon came to an end, and while it’s positive that they don’t want to fleece their customers by opening two bottles, it’s what we are used to and expected. But you can always order another.

We tried. Oh, how we tried. After half an hour I decided we would go thirsty, because I was just too well mannered to get out either of the two bottles we had in our bags. After another half hour when we’d had our fill of sitting by the lakeside we decided to ask for the bill.

We tried. Oh, how we tried. But we were in that corner, window and all, and nice view, but where they maybe put the undesirables. Was it our unattractiveness? Or simply the fact we had no male with us?

I rather regret not walking out without paying. I wonder if they would have noticed. As it was, I walked up to the maître d’ where he was standing, mid-restaurant, but was prevented from speaking by our now irritated looking waiter. Perhaps they punish waiters whose remiss attention disturbs the king? The bill arrived extremely fast. Great.

Except, you know what didn’t happen next, don’t you? That’s right. No one came for our money, and there is only so long you can wait for non-existent service. Luckily I had the correct money, so I put it on the table and we left.

It’s a shame. The food was great. When they wanted to, they had the right restaurant skills too. I recognise it was a busy Sunday lunchtime. But still. And they could easily have sold us another water, possibly some dessert, maybe even tea. There would have been some hope of a tip, which they clearly wanted, judging by the layout of the bill, despite this not being a Geneva thing. Or so I’m told.

But I can recommend the gnocchi. And the view.

NCIS – Stop the Bleeding

NCIS - Stop the Bleeding

A bit of an anticlimax, no? Even this old cynic who did not expect Gibbs to be completely dead, felt that perhaps it was all too fast and easy. OK, they made use of the four months missed, but still. His hair had time to grow, making him look most un-Gibbsy.

But we could see Mike Franks again, and we were treated to our third or fourth Kelly. And was that Mark Harmon’s Airstream?

I did like Dr Taft, despite his chatty behaviour being a little to daft to be real.

NCIS - Stop the Bleeding

Some lose threads left hanging. The question is whether they will be dealt with, or simply forgotten about.

It’s nice that they are back. All that remains to be seen now is whether they can change gear and make season 13 something really special.

Two birthdays

Happy 7th birthday to mee!! I mean, to CultureWitch. I know my readers are whispering in the ranks and saying she’s been even lazier this past year. It just looks like that. Other things have got done, just not so much culture.


And as for the 64-year-old Mark Harmon, we hope he is alive and well as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I don’t think it should be time for him to leave just yet. In fact, the retirement age has gone up in many countries, and if Mark is to take a leaf out of David McCallum’s book, he can’t leave now. Happy Birthday to Mark as well!

Is Gibbs late late?

On the Late Late Show with James Corden on the eve of the NCIS season 12 finale, Mark Harmon claims he’s as replaceable as anyone else. In one way, obviously yes. In another, probably not.

Mark Harmon on the Late Late Show

I only watched the Late Late Show after the episode of NCIS they talked about, and James Corden is clearly not a fan or he’d know what he was saying. But they mention that a popular character is killed. Mark Harmon wouldn’t say who. In which case they weren’t referring to Dorneget, who had already died. The only much loved character in any danger in episode 24 was Gibbs.

Ergo, they might have meant Gibbs died. But you don’t expect the lead actor to go, and Mark was talking much like he has in the past.

But re-watching the end of the episode, you can’t see how it can be anyone else, or that he’ll survive.

On the other hand, CBS appetisers for the new season start in September tells us Gibbs is being operated on as the others do what they have to do. This suggests he’ll live, more likely than not. And that is what you have come to expect from popular fiction on television.

So who were they referring to in the James Corden interview? Someone is wrong. If you’re having an operation, you are not already dead. Gibbs might be destined to be ‘late’ but not in season 12.

(Screen cap © CBS)

We met by Picasso

It felt like something straight out of a Gyllene Tider song. I did wait by Picasso, and we were indeed in the same small town Per Gessle sings about in Småstad. That’s because singer Lena Andersson and I grew up in the same small town as Per, and my suggestion that Lena and I should meet by Picasso was more a matter of practicality, than me being clever. It’s a big statue, there are seats to sit on (I am old) and it’s across the street from the church café that I felt might be a good place for some ‘fika.’

And had it not been for my plumber who phoned me on my mobile to ask where to send his invoice, then the local radio station would have lost its star turn for the day. Lena is back in Sweden this summer to stage a come-back, and she has been interviewed by everyone, everywere. During two months she will have covered great parts of the country and she will have sung in lots of places and been interviewed in many more.

So while I was spelling my address out to the plumber, Lena got her phone out and looked at text messages – as you do – and discovered that she needed to get her skates on to get to an almost forgotten about live radio interview on time. In fact, she couldn’t make it to the original venue (her parents’ balcony), so quickly switched to a nearby park, as she’d cycled into town.

Luckily we had drunk our tea and coffee, and eaten.., well, never mind what we’d eaten, and chatted about being foreigners where we live and about coming ‘home’ and whether our husbands are tidy men when left on their own. (No comment.)

I had forgotten to ask Lena if she could bring a copy of her new CD Open Your Heart when we met, but luckily she did anyway, and I’m listening to it as I write this. (I’ll tell you more about that later.) Her voice hasn’t changed much from the days of gospel singing over the skipping rope in the late 1960s. Neither has she, which is nice.

Halmstad Library, Lena Andersson on the radio

From the Earth to the Moon, across The Bridge to Olympus

Earlier this summer our holiday viewing consisted of rewatching From the Earth to the Moon. After we accidentally caught a bit of Apollo 13, it felt like the obvious choice, and it was high time we revisited Tom Hanks and his astronauts, training to go to the moon.

I’ve said this before and it can be said again; this is one of the best DVD boxes. Ever. I’ll want to watch this many more times. And it’s funny for someone who was around when it happened for real, because you find you get to know these astronauts and all the rest of them from scratch.

I used to subscribe to the idea that Apollo 11 was a lovely trio of men doing something great and special. After watching this though, you feel disappointed that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were such idiots. Seemingly, anyway. It takes a bit away from that night in July 1969. On the other hand, there are many astronauts I knew little about and whom you come to love. Especially Alan Bean, I reckon. Lovely man.

Is it the actors? Or is it the research, where it is now safe to admit to things no one would have mentioned in the 1960s? And speaking of actors, it’s interesting to see the parade of NCIS guest actors donning astronaut gear and looking so much younger. The episode on geology is one I could watch more often than most, even though that sounds like a pretty boring statement. Geology rocks.

This part of our summer Daughter and I are catching up on my chronological watching of Rejseholdet/Unit One, which suffered a long delay some time ago. The resident IT Consultant gave up, again, after half an episode, not being able to cope with the Danish soundtrack and Swedish subtitles.

As with the astronauts, hindsight now shows us Rejseholdet was first to introduce us to all the actors we have subsequently seen in The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. The younger Brix was particularly chilling as a sweeter looking but fairly disgusting character.

Towards the end, we came upon the episode that was our first. I had no intention of watching anything Danish back then, but we switched on and came in when Gaby enters Fischer’s hotel room after he has been concussed, and then hides in the bathroom while Johnny speaks to Fischer. We had no idea who any of these people were or what was happening, but it took only minutes for us to be hooked.

It’s a little harder to find the time to watch, when one of us can’t join in, so we tend to eat to the accompaniment of selected episodes of NCIS season 11. (What do you mean, conversations with dinner?) Last night we watched Olympus Has Fallen, which was more one-sided and bloody than even I had expected. Fine if you don’t mind a film that is nearly all about Gerard Butler. Personally I want more variety than that.

The girls from primary school

We all looked the same, if slightly more adult. Usually people have school reunions from the last year at school, whereas on Saturday night I attended a small, select meeting of eight primary school girls. Actually, no I didn’t. One of us had not been part of that school, but with people coming and going, it seemed as if everyone belonged. We all claimed to have been in the same class as each other, except we couldn’t have, and I was right. Obviously.

So, 47 years on, we are still very young. It was especially nice for us to see Lena Andersson, who is over from Phoenix to launch her new CD, and who’s appeared in every newspaper and magazine imaginable, as well as on television. I was intrigued when my stats shot up a week ago, but presumably all who saw her interview then googled her and found the CultureWitch interview (and in English) from a few years ago.

Our reunion happened at Heagård, which is a large farm owned by another ‘girl’ in the group. There was a Rock & Blues Festival on last night, so we retired indoors for our dinner, or we wouldn’t have been able to hear ourselves speak. But it was nice with all that music. Two nights earlier Lena had performed on the same stage, which I’d had to miss. Wish I hadn’t now.


But as I said, we haven’t changed a bit. We gossiped. Laughed at the same ridiculous boy, and that was even without my story of the drinks lorry. We remembered those who have died. The grandchildren were discussed (as the youngest I don’t have any). And just as people felt some boys should have been invited (why?), one turned up out of the blue.

As Mikael Rickfors, pop star from back when, started singing, we decided it was time to leave. We had enjoyed Andrea Dawson’s music earlier, but for primary school girls the time comes when they need their beds.