Tag Archives: Scotland

Scottish independence, not today

Published in this week’s issue of The Voice

The Simmons Voice

By Amanda Bibbins
Staff Writer

Scotland –— Last week, on Sept. 18, Scotland held a referendum to see whether or not Scottish nationals wanted independence from Great Britain, and the votes came back with a resounding “no.” So far, the only short-term consequence of this decision is the resignation of Scotland’s pro-independence leader, Alex Salmond, who has since resigned his position as Minister.

Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron fought to convince Scottish nationals why it was in their best interests to remain a part of Great Britain, and why it was best to maintain the 300-year union with the United Kingdom. By the time the polls closed on Thursday, the Scottish population had been officially convinced.

Why did Scotland choose to remain in the politically complex union? The Scottish economy is aided by Great Britain quite significantly. In addition to being on the British form of currency, the pound…

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Montreux Jazz Festival: Day 4

Neither the sun nor the sound of boat hornson the lake were welcomed this morning. We stumbled down to breakfast, nearly begging for coffee. We planned our day, but the effort proved futile as our day unfolded.

We went for a walk down the waterfront, a walk we’ve become all too comfortable with. Continuing to enjoy the weather, Dad and Ray went to the pool, and I read my book on the balcony of our hotel room. By that time, it was early afternoon, and we dressed to the 9’s to go salsa dancing on a yacht that would take us on a 3 hour trip around the harbor. When we walked down to the pier though, we looked around at the mob of people waiting to get on the boat. It was a collection of 30+ year olds who were lively. And by lively, I mean tipsily drunk. It sunk in for the three of us then that there was a reason the boat only wanted 18 year olds and up: open bar. We gave each other a familial look that said our Bibbins intuition was sending up red flags, and we decided to bail on the salsa dancing among the men who would undoubtedly be too touchy and too drunk. Dad scalped our tickets, then we ran with fear at the idea of him spending our last day here in a Swiss prison.

Dad settled into a grassy spot in the park, listening to a big band, while Rachel and I decided to do some last minute shopping among the tents and stores of the waterfront. An hour later, we found Dad, and walked along the main road of the city to a pizzeria, where we waited for it to open. When the opening seemed farther away than our stomachs could handle, we walked the full distance to the well-reviewed restaurant in our hotel. To put this in perspective for you, today alone I spent three and a half hours walking around Montreux. I am exhausted.

We enjoyed a relaxing meal under an awning by the water. We stared down the overly confident sparrows that beg like untrained dogs at our feet. We all exchanged thoughts on the trip, favorite and least favorite moments, and compared this trip to our family vacation four years ago. The meal was delicious, and paired with a sea breeze and European songstress who serenaded the diners, the evening was beautiful.

On our walk to the Stravinski Auditorium, we had the opportunity to listen to a great guitarist from Northern England. I wish he had had more confidence in his voice, because the two skills paired would have sounded great. Instead, he played a quick walking blues and sang in a sultry Elvis-like manner that didn’t quite fit. Regardless we wanted to stay, rather than go to Stravinski. We were exhausted still from the Wyclef Jean concert the night before, but felt obligated to go see Green Day perform tonight; It was Green Day after all, and bailing on two musical events at a music festival seemed sacrilegious. We told ourselves we would leave around 10:30 though, to increase the amount of time we got to sleep before our flight. That did not happen.

We sat ourselves in our front row, VIP, balcony seats, for tonight, we were those VIP jerks. We were too tired to pretend that standing on the floor for hours on end was even remotely okay. The auditorium was packed from wall to wall, and clearly more crowded than the night before. The opening act came out, a band photo (1)called Twin Atlantic, and almost immediately the ear plugs went in. The band was from Scotland, and young. It showed in their stage presence (that being the youth, not the country of origin.) When the high decibel level was deferred by the ear plugs, it was easy to tell that the lead singer of the group was truly terrible at what he did. Using the deafening affects of amplifiers and stereos, the young man tried to distract the audience from the fact he was pitchy and untrained. Not to mention his jumpy addiction to his printed set list made me uneasy. The punk rock group as a whole had quite an irritating stage presence. When they were finished, I was clapping more for the house lights to come up than for their performance.

Half an hour later, we were in our seats again, and Green Day began to perform. They had big shoes to fill after Jean’s engaging performance last night. It began with the customary public denunciation of the VIP section. But with my legs able to finally rest, it all felt worth it. The band launched into their greatest hits, and pulled 2 teens up on stage. One to dance and dive, and one to actually play guitar with the group… and then stage dive. He was actually given the guitar at the end of his performance, a great gesture on the part of Billie Joe Armstrong. The audience was so alive and engaged with the band, and vice versa. I think everyone was entertained at the idea of a rock group being invited to a jazz festival, and this includes Armstrong, when he said, “I don’t know what the f*%@ we’re doing here. Maybe Green Day is just some jazzy s&!#.” They did find a way to incorporate some jazz, and brought out a tenor sax player to solo. Despite that, the mosh pits formed, rockers head banged, and everyone a bit more neutral just flat out enjoyed themselves.

At one point, Armstrong talked about the plane crash in San Francisco. He said how this was one of those moments to look at our feet, the sky, the people next to us, and feel the blood pumping through our arteries, hearts beating, and souls active. We are alive. And that’s a phenomenal gift. From that point on in the concert, I stopped feeling tired, and felt more excitement than I had the whole day. It was an amazing feeling, and still is! The concert went on to be one of the most amazing performances I’ve seen: energetic, musically creative, and talented was Green Day. All we had hoped them to be, and more!

But all good things must come to an end. Tomorrow we fly home to Boston, and our regular lives will resume. But they will be anything but the same.

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For now, bonne nuit!

Seven Years

April 23rd, 2012

This morning I woke up with a sore throat, and had to accept that the cold I’d tried so hard to suppress had finally won over. So instead of waking up at 6, I stayed in bed until 11, and woke up to a nice plate of apple slices and pretzels laying on my bedside table (courtesy of Lena’s mom!)

I dragged my sick self downstairs to find a warm broth waiting for me for lunch. Could my day home sick get any better? Yes, yes it could.

Lena’s mother brought out a few DVDs she told me she’d bought recently, and our collective efforts put the movies on English, and I relaxed on the couch. Also: over the weeks, Lena’s family picked up on my affinity for ice cream. They had noticed my face light up at the mention of “Eis” several times. Mrs. Kraiker walked into the living room with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon. I’ll repeat: a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon. Just for me!!! I happily and lazily watched movies for the rest of the afternoon, curled up with my blanket and ice cream.

I think this may have been when I discovered just how much Mrs.Kraiker reminded me of my own mom. Aside from the chauffeuring us around, she was the main care giver of the family (like my own: a broken one.) And Mrs.Kraiker worked a full time job as an EMT and ambulance driver! The amount she gave to her family, her home, her job, and now her guest just proved her willingness to go the extra mile. Do you want to meet someone with true integrity? I remained close to her for the rest of my stay, for the pure interest in her genuine character.

When Lena got home from school, I was elated to catch up with her. Shortly after, however, I learned I had to meet Lena’s step-grandparents prior to dinner. Despite my illness, I put on a happy face and some make-up to cover the Rudolph look I was sporting, and we drove further into the mountains to meet the extended family.

As it turned out, the meeting was short and sweet. Here’s why: Lena’s step-grandmother is half-Scottish. Whatever those fractions work out to be, both of Lena’s step-grandparents spoke English, and conveniently so did their Scottish guests! I was in Heaven.

When their guests asked me what I knew about Scotland, I may have mumbled something dumbly about “Braveheart…I saw the Highland Games a few times…” When they asked me what I knew of modern day Scotland, I said something to the affect of “There’s a modern day Scotland?” Hehe…

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After the visit and goodbyes, Lena, her parents, and I rode to an Italian restaurant called “Mossimo” or “Moggimo”, whichever you prefer. Dinner was lovely, as always, and table etiquette was followed as always.

Speaking of, I forgot to mention an important detail of the dinner proceedings. When I first came to Trier, Lena’s parents warned me that if I didn’t look everyone I *clinked* glasses with directly in the eyes, I would have “seven years bad sex.” The adults’ seriousness in the matter made me giggle, but every night since then I’d been SURE to stare wide-eyed at my hosts over “Cheers!”

Post dinner, we journeyed back home, and I caught up on more much-needed sleep to (hopefully!) kick my cold once and for all.