Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year's Day - A new Start

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Now who do we have here. Well it's crowd of Swiss people, the citizens, the tax payers, the workers and senior citizens, in any case they are all supposed to be Swiss. And who are the people amongst them marked with a "X" or a "P". This is the annual picture of the Swiss Government, something like a school photo. The one we all had done once a year where the tallest person was sorted out to be put in the middle and the rest of the class was arranged around that person (in my case I was always the tallest person - that's why I know the rules). In the case of the Swiss Government every year a group photo is made in January as we then have a new Government. Well the government is not completely new, but in December it is decided who may stay and who not. Generally everyone stays unless voted out (an exception, but it happened this year) or they retire.

It was decided this year to do a different thing with the group photo and as our Swiss government wanted to show theselves as the "men on the street" and you can see them posing amongst the people. Whether this is a so-called "photo montage" or genuine, I do not know. All I knew was when I wanted to do a simple copy paste or download of the photo it didn't work. However, I have devious ways and means on my computer of getting what I want and thanks to "print key" I managed to get the photo. Now how does anyone looking at this blog (the few of you) know who I am talking about when I say the Swiss government. I then processed the photo in Fireworks and marked the government ministers with a "X" and our President for the year - Mr. Couchpin (pronounced Kooshpan - he is french speaking) is marked with a "P". I wonder how many governments could be photographed in such a small group, but there we have it small country (approximately 7,000,000 inhabitants) and small government, however we tend to think big now and again (especially when it is a question of whether we should pay more tax and whether the sickness insurances should be raised).

Otherwise 1st January is fairly normal in Switzerland. Very quiet in the morning, everyone recovering from the night before. Although it was just me and Mr. Swiss we were up and having our glass of champagne at midnight. We even had a treat and dug out one of the old DVD's - African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Kathleen Hepburn, they sure don't make films like that any more. Two evenings ago we watched North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eve Marie Saint, one of Hitchcock's best - why go to the pictures (movies) when you can see all the great films at home. Son No. 2 phoned at midnight from his party somewhere in Lichtenstein to wish a happy new year and son No. 1 was somewhere in town with his colleagues. I planned on a good meal today with very little cooking effort and everyone was happy.

I put away a plate full for son No. 2 who arrived home from Liechtenstein around 3 in the afternoon, tired but happy. After all Lichtenstein is only 2-3 hours away by train. That is the trains do not go any further than the Swiss border and you then have to get a bus to the capital city of Liechtenstein, Vaduz. Liechtenstein is a curious country. I was there once with Mr. Swiss. It is a sort of long road and on each side there are small villages. It stretches from South to North and they have a sort of royal family that have their say in the politics. At the moment Prince Hans Adam II is in charge over approx. 35,000 citizens (even smaller than Switzerland). He has a nice castle up on a hill.

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This is a photo of the castle with their Prince Hans Adam waving to everyone. Their currency is Swiss Francs, although they are members of the EU (which was ordered by Prince Hans Adam, otherwise he said he would move out). I think the most famous thing about Liechtenstein is the postage stamps. They do have a football team as well. They speak German, but also a dialect similar to the East Swiss German dialect. If you understand Swiss German (which I do - ha ha) then you understand the Liectensteiner as well. You don't need to show the passport when travelling from Switzerland to Lichtenstein. They do have industry, one of the biggest companies situated in Liechtenstein being the company Hilti, which is quite well-known in the engineering world.

Actually I just wanted to say a few words to 1st January. It is also an important day for me as treasurer of the local first aid society. I have to finalise last year's accounts and start this years accounts, although I have time until our next meeting some time at the end of January. Tomorrow is my last day of freedom - St. Bartholomew's day. On 3rd January it is back to work. I hope it doesn't rain (it will freeze) or snow or anything in that line of things, otherwise I will not go to work until nine in the morning. Generally I start at 07.15.

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