Matthias doesn’t like walking. When I arrived at the station to pick him up he was sweating profusely. Lanying had been setting too fast a pace and he was worried that he would get an asthma attack.
“Such a big city!” he said in his slow Bern style, as if he’d never been seen a city before.
Even the other Swiss say people from Bern are kind of slow, like country bumpkins.
We had to drive over lots of humps in the road, which he found strange. “They are called sleeping policeman,” I explained. “They have them everywhere in London, which is why Lanying thinks my driving is jerky.” Lanying is always telling me that Matthias is the smoothest driver she has ever known.
Matthias himself was complimentary. “I was thinking your driving is very smooth,” he said. “Last time when you were driving that Renault I did think your driving was kind of jerking but now it is much better. It must be the car, I’m thinking.”
“You approve of the Volkswagen?”
“Yes, yes, much better.”
The Volkswagen flushed with pride. Feeling bold, it passed over the big parking space at the end of my road and squared off to the challenge of the tiny one outside my house.
“Oh, the other parking space was better I think,” said Matthias, who is an expert parker. Matthias’s car is his legs. He never walks anywhere.
But the Volkswagen was up to the challenge, motivated, no doubt by the patriotic German passengers – both Lanying and Matthias have German passports. “Perfect parking!” declared Matthias. “Just how they teach you to do it in the driving school.”
Inside the house, it was Matthias’s turn to face a challenge – the stairs. “Ay, ay, ay!” he said. “Just a moment. I will wait here a moment. Ay! Such steep climbing!”
Matthias took his time, thought about it, prepared himself, then heaved his great bulk up the stairs. Into the bedroom. Down on the bed with a crash. Ay! Perfect parking.