September 09, 2023

Source: Bigstock

GSTAAD—Here’s a tip for you young whippersnappers: Don’t get old, but if you do, you can fool Father Time by training the smart way. By this I don’t mean you should follow all that bull that floats around online. I don’t use social media, but I’m told that a system exists that reaches millions across multiple platforms that spreads misinformation about health and then some. The wellness industry means big moola and is as phony as Hollywood morality.

Take it from Taki, all one needs in order to feel good and be able to enjoy him- or herself is a little exercise before breakfast and some semihard training in the afternoon. C’est tout, mes amis, as they say in gay Paree. And then you can drink all you want, eat within reason, and chase the opposite sex to your heart’s content. During lockdown, exercise became more important than ever, and I was lucky to be stuck in Gstaad because the place was empty, the mountain paths emptier, and the only living things one ran into while climbing the verdant hills were Vivien Duffield look-alikes, the cows.

“The wellness industry means big moola and is as phony as Hollywood morality.”

So, how should an oldie start the day? What the poor little Greek boy does, with or without a hangover, is stretch. After about a couple of minutes of stretching—all this is done outdoors no matter the weather—a two-minute stationary bike at full tilt is in order. This gets the heartbeat up, and then it’s time for forty pushups, twenty with the hands close together, and another twenty with the hands far apart. Isometrics follow, pushing against a wall while standing, and sitting on an imaginary stool against a wall for one minute. Then it’s front kicks and reverse punches for speed and accuracy using a bag and a makiwara. By now twenty minutes have gone by and it’s time for breakfast. In the afternoon a session of kickboxing or karate with an opponent and a brisk walk before dinner make one ready for anything the night might suddenly offer.

I’ve been following this routine since giving up tennis, which I coupled with karate throughout my youth and middle age. I still ski, mostly cross-country, but no longer ride, as I gave up polo long ago. Martial arts have kept me hungry and fit, and they help when some loudmouth bully starts throwing his weight around. Not that it happens very often, especially here in Gstaad where young men are not known to carry knives or guns to nightclubs.

Which brings me to a parenthesis on how to stay young and healthy. Gstaad is not a violent place, but neither is it what it used to be. When I first came here back in 1958, no one, but no one, locked their doors in the hotels or the few chalets that existed back then. There was only one policeman, and the joke was that he was the laziest man in town. There was absolutely no crime, no theft, and no violence of any sort except that of drunken farmers taking it out on their poor wives at times. Now things are different. Chalets built by newly rich are a dime a dozen, including those with swimming pools and auditoriums. Once the nouveaux riches arrived, crime was bound to follow. Jewelry stores have been held up at gunpoint and chalets have been broken into and robbed. The Alpina hotel’s concierge was recently tied up by an armed gang that took 20 minutes to break into a jewelry shop. The fuzz were asleep.

The reason I cannot state exactly how many robberies have taken place is because the commune refuses to acknowledge anything out of the ordinary happening. It’s the Swiss way: Don’t rock the boat, and deny everything. There are strong rumors that Slavica Ecclestone, the giant ex-wife of billionaire Bernie, got roughed up by bandits in her rather posh chalet. Apparently there have been around twenty robberies this season, although the fuzz deny everything.

Here’s the scoop: There was a vote some time ago for more cops, but the locals voted against it. This made sense. Thieves don’t steal from the locals but from rich foreigners, so why should the locals get stuck with a higher tax for more fuzz? My own security people explained it very well: “It comes from inside information, from disgruntled staff who pass vital info to professional crooks lurking around Switzerland.”

Saudis, Gulfers, and other such rich lowlifes are infamous for their way of treating servants, especially staff from the Philippines. They in turn know where the bullies keep their jewels and moola, as well as the hours they keep. It becomes elementary, my dear Watsons. Most of the bandits, I suspect, are Albanians and Yugoslavs, and very few have been caught. So be nice to staff, do not leave jewelry and gold watches lying around, and keep your cash in the bank, and you’re pretty safe. When I asked my security man whether one should fight or hand it over, he said that Gstaad crooks are not violent and do not look for confrontation. “Just like in America and the GB,” said I. My advice is do your exercises, take up martial arts, keep a low profile, be kind to your staff, and if the bandits come in and are not carrying guns or knives, what the hell, have a go.


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