Mountain mentality. Swiss farmers are tough, independent, hard-working, resilient, well-prepared for every kind of natural disaster, and above all staunchly conservative. These characteristics have been passed on to Swiss town-dwellers, who go about their day as if they too were farming a lonely mountain cliff. We can do better. The Swiss stubbornly refuse to believe they are doing well and will even dispute the figures that prove it. So, like the poor donkey chasing the carrot, they pull their collective cart along ever faster, chasing the goal they passed years ago. Peak performers. The perceptions of the Swiss being dull, staid, and boring while at the same time displaying a talent for ruthless efficiency and a limitless capacity for hard work are uncomfortably close to the truth. Likewise the cliched impressions of high mountains, watches, cheese, chocolate bars, and gold bars are genuine. Degrees of unease. The diversity of the Swiss is apparent in the degree to which they worry. The German-speakers do little else. The French-speaking Swiss are great visionaries and philosophers with noble thoughts and global dreams.
They worry that their Swiss-German compatriots do not share these dreams. The Italian-speaking Swiss are less interested in the solid values of work and have a terrible tendency not to worry nearly enough.
Buy Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss book by Paul N. Bilton from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(178mm x 110mm x 6mm)
Publisher: Oval Books
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Author Biography - Paul N. Bilton
Born in Southport, Lancashire, Paul Bilton recently became what is known somewhat unaffectionately as a 'paper Swiss'. (First marry a Swiss, then live in the country for five years, fill in forms, wait another 18 months, and finally hand over several hundred Swiss francs in cash for the paper which grants you Swiss nationality to the local postman when he delivers your mail.) A short career in magazine publishing was preceded by an even shorter career in advertising ('Ferguson's Fertilizers Fertilize Faster'). In the 1980s he launched a business to manufacture plastic products under his own patent, and later left both the business and Britain to become an Auslander in Switzerland. His book The Perpetual Tourist - in search of a Swiss role is published by Bergli Books of Basel, and between writing, broadcasting and giving talks about Swiss life, he gives odd English lessons. He tries hard to worry more, but still cannot understand why it is frowned upon to redecorate his nuclear shelter himself. He and his Swiss wife live an idyllic life by the Zurich lake-shore where he collects coffee creamer tops while she embroiders car cushions. They enjoy a near perfect diet of muesli and Rosti, but never on the same plate.