Back in London.
Basel was indeed two days of lots of running around, but not as bad as I'd thought. The nice thing about Swiss bureaucracy is that you can almost always speak to someone who actually makes decisions, instead of passing notes back and forth through a stream of different office employees who hate their jobs (cf. Canada) and submitting far more paperwork than anyone will every have time to sift through. Shortly before leaving Basel, I had been mailed a list of a very large number of papers to submit to the government agency which subsidizes health insurance for non-millionaire Swiss residents like me. (Looking around for statistics, I see my flight to the Hebrides this September is no escape from overt wealth - a Swiss millionaire just bought up all the Kintyre islands). So on Monday afternoon I dropped the agency office without appointment and spoke to the soccer-jersey-sporting (UK: football-jersey-sporting) Person in Charge of My File, who helpfully went through the letter and narrowed down the list to the four most necessary and realistically obtainable papers, and then only for 2008 - they wouldn't catch up to the present for a while anyway. He shuddered as much as I did at the thought of going through copies of all the contracts or email confirmation of fees for every concert I played and every music lesson I taught: a list (which I'd prepared anyway for taxes) would be fine. Whew!
The rest of the time was spent with a lunchtime visit to the Egger Workshop to bring my slide-trumpet up 20 cents so that when I play it cold it will still be in tune, return library books (I need now to get hold of the Peter Walls Masques book here in London: I finally flipped though it on the weekend to discover plenty of sackbuttery in the antimasque after all!), and attend/play in some rehearsals for Claire and Nate's trombone recital tomorrow - toi toi toi you both! This left a short time for tea and making faces at my 1- and 3-year-old neighbours, and another enjoyable attack on whatever germs were in my throat, this time employing Springbank 10 year followed by Caol Ila 12 year, supplemented by commentary from Tobie's whisky guidebook. How do they come up with this stuff? "Nose of charred vanilla," "hints of beach embers," "crushed leaves," "a subtle hint of pappadum." Pappadum? We tried to come up with some of our own to describe the Caol Ila, but we obviously hadn't tried as much Whisky as the people writing up the book, as the best we could come up with was "fleur d'oranger with a hint of granite and fully-figured basslines." Ugh. Claire and I had a go when comparing 22 different whiskies one night thanks to the annual tasting at Paul Ullrich, and after about 14 tastes, designated the peatiness of a favourite Port Charlotte with the nose commentary "Smells like cats."