The muffled sound of falling snow is ever present. It beautifies the dreary and turns the bleak into magic. Happiness is waking up and seeing a winter wonderland. From where I am I cannot hear the shrieks of children sledding nearby, but I can see the odd off-piste skier leaving traces behind. I no longer can handle deep snow, just powder, but can still shoot down any piste once I’ve had a drink or two.
For amusement I listen to the news: flights grounded, trains canceled, cars backed up on motorways, people stocking up on food and drink as if an atom bomb had been detonated above the Midlands. In Norway it snows every day of the winter and during half the days of autumn and spring. The last time a train was canceled was during the German invasion in 1940. Switzerland was neutral during the war, hence the trains ran and still run on time, yet 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 blanket that covers us with white makes one want to get out and exercise. Throw snowballs, run up a steep hill, schuss down a mountain, get drunk on a sleepy inn’s terrace 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 track, and the track is more often than not blocked by the obese. About five years ago a ghastly man had stopped on the track and was telephoning. I yelled as I was getting near for him to clear the path. He seemed shocked and continued to speak on his telephone. 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 at first it beautifies any city, including Belfast on a Sunday evening. Nothing, however, gets close to Dagenham, where the bores who rule our lives nowadays told children not to touch the snow. That was as ludicrous as the Frogs forcing a man who wolf-whistles a babe to pay a 500-euro 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 it costs for a medium-priced hooker nowadays. These are the same punk bores who demand a second referendum, or heap abuse on The Donald because he’s crude but is getting the job done. This week I’m going down to Zurich to hear a speech organized by the Swiss version of The Spectator, Weltwoche, by Steve Bannon. He asked to meet with me afterward, and you will be the first to know what he and your correspondent had to say to each other. Zurich at night can be fun because it’s the German-speaking part of Switzerland and not the E.U. arse-licking part like French-speaking Geneva. I’m looking forward to getting drunk after he and I break bread.