Gstaad
Talismans from the past are rare but still to be found, especially at the old Posthotel. Faded bleached photographs of horse-drawn sleds on Main Street, long-bearded peasants chopping wood on the Eggli, even skiers walking up mountains in knee-deep snow before ski lifts were invented. Is there anything more precious than old photographs?

Killjoy conversation topics such as the size of chalet indoor swimming pools, botulinum toxin fillers, even discussions about gender are now registered on those horrible modern contraptions called smart phones. It is the new reality and there’s nothing one can do about it....

Gstaad

Talismans from the past are rare but still to be found, especially at the old Posthotel. Faded bleached photographs of horse-drawn sleds on Main Street, long-bearded peasants chopping wood on the Eggli, even skiers walking up mountains in knee-deep snow before ski lifts were invented. Is there anything more precious than old photographs?

Killjoy conversation topics such as the size of chalet indoor swimming pools, botulinum toxin fillers, even discussions about gender are now registered on those horrible modern contraptions called smart phones. It is the new reality and there’s nothing one can do about it. Mind you, there are worse things in life than discussing fillers, facelifts and detransitioning, and I have recently experienced them by having spent three months in the Bagel.

Never mind. Solipsism-à-la-Meghan is now the American way, oscillating between narcissism and self-interest. Everyone’s on the make over there, and if one’s dumb enough to read the Bagel Times, Britain and her royals are responsible for all the horrors of the past. Brits are to blame for Africans killing each other non-stop a generation or two, or three, after independence, and Brits should pay reparations for having enslaved and later developed Caribbean isles. The one that made me laugh the most was a Bagel Times review of Meghan’s Netflix extravaganza, which describes the “heartbreaking” spectacle of a tearful Meghan confiding in her bodyguard about the failure of her best efforts to fit in.

Thank God no one reads such rubbish here in Gstaad, or if they do they won’t admit it. A valid New Year’s wish is for these mendacious Bagel Times hacks to be forced to recite the Barrack-Room Ballads by heart while genuflecting under Nelson’s column. Again, never mind. Good old Helvetia, a country least blessed with physical resources, has come to be among the wealthiest and most successful nations on earth.

Just think of it: a country with pervasive religious and linguistic divisions enjoys profound social tranquility. African leaders who blame the West for their tribal differences should pay special attention. The Swiss derive mainly from German, French and Italian stock, speak all three languages but converse with each other in Switzer-Deutsch. Unlike most western democracies, where an individual has a say every four years or so, the Swiss voter makes more decisions than any other voter on Earth. The Swiss developed a system of federalism long ago in which decisions that would be made by the federal government in most countries are made by cantons — communities, some as small as 3,000 people. Popular ballots, or referenda, are voted on directly by the people and as often as required. That’s what I call real democracy, not the special interest groups that actually rule and which know-nothing Americans call the will of the people. This here is the first direct democracy since that of Athens in 450 BC, the only difference being it gets colder up here than it does in my birthplace.

Whereas the locals in Gstaad always greet each other with gusto, the newly rich and vulgar never say hi, but look ill at ease and avoid eye contact. The rain has done a Dresden to the snow, so kick boxing it is for me until the white stuff arrives. Gratuitous wokery has made watching television or films impossible, so I’ve been hosting dinner parties and drinking far into the night. Both my son and daughter are here with my four grandchildren — two boys and two girls — as is my wife, who keeps asking for more details about my three-month stay in the Bagel. To that I am as silent as an Indian tomb.

New Year’s Eve at Mick Flick’s art-filled chalet was the party to be at, and it was preceded by a dinner chez moi for twelve. That is when I made a mistake I have made throughout my life, opening a few bottles of Margaux ’53 and drinking two of them all on my own.

Then it was on to Mick’s and disaster. I could not speak because I had lots of vodkas as a chaser, which made some of the merrymakers believe that I had had a stroke. No such luck. Language, after all, is seen as a tool of oppression, and as I tried to explain to some curious onlookers, offensive words are now verboten so I mumble on purpose. It seems that it worked.

What was the subject on everyone’s lips? Easy: the once upon a time canonized left-wing billionaire using other people’s money Sam Bankman-Fraud, as our own Douglas Murray was the first to call that little (alleged) crook. That fat creep is worse than Madoff because Bernie stole from the rich — one needed at least five million to enter — whereas the slob is said to have taken the last dollar some people had.

Here’s my Delphic prediction and I will stake my impeccable reputation as an oracle on it: he will get away with the minimum, his contrived naivete and huge cash infusions to fawning media and lefty candidates being enough to get him off the hook. Already the fix is in: if you think his parents, on academic salaries, could ever pay his bail bond of $250 million, you probably think Qatar didn’t pay any bribes to host the World Cup.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the World edition here.