Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

Gstaad

The muffled sound of falling snow is ever-present. It makes the dreary beautiful and turns the bleak into magic. Happiness is waking up to a winter wonderland. From where I am, I can't hear the shrieks of children sledding nearby but I can see the odd off-piste skier and the traces they leave. I can no longer handle deep snow, just powder. But I can still shoot down any piste once I've had a drink or two.

For amusement I listen to the news: flights grounded, trains cancelled, cars backed up on motorways, people stocking up on food and drink as if an atom bomb had been detonated over the Midlands. In Norway it snows every day of the winter and half of the days of autumn and spring. The last time a train was cancelled there was during the German invasion in 1940. Switzerland was neutral during the war, hence the trains have always run on time and still do, even though it snows almost as much here as it does in Norway. Go figure, as they don't say on Virgin's inefficient, slow, extremely crowded train services.

The white blanket that covers us makes you want to get out and exercise. Throw snowballs, run up a steep hill, schuss down a mountain, get drunk on the terrace of

a sleepy inn and then ski down bleary-eyed. What I haven't done enough this year is cross-country skiing. The reason is easy to guess. The sport has caught on around these parts as fat rich people try to lose weight. The young and the fast skate cross-country.

I am a traditionalist, which means I ski the old-fashioned way, with skis on a trace. The trace is more often than not blocked by the obese. About five years ago, a ghastly man had stopped on the trace and was on the phone. As I was getting near, I yelled at him to clear the path. He seemed shocked and continued with his conversation. So I pushed him out of the way and you can guess the rest.

Mind you, snow in the city is less fun. It turns to grime quicker than you can say Harvey Weinstein. But when it first falls it beautifies any city, including Belfast on

a Sunday evening. Nothing, however, gets close to Dagenham, where the bores that rule our lives nowadays told children not to touch the snow. That was as ludicrous as the French forcing a man who wolf-whistles at a babe to pay a [euro]350 fine.

Just think of it, dear readers. The bores who rule us advise our kids not to touch snow, and fine those who like to whistle at girls more than the cost of a medium-priced hooker. …

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