High life

The joy of pumping iron at 83

18 April 2020

9:00 AM

18 April 2020

9:00 AM

Gstaad

So the days — and months — drift by. This once peaceful Alpine town is packed with rich refugees fleeing the you-know-what. They come from nearby cities crammed with real migrants. There isn’t an empty apartment left, and the locals are raking it in. Two good friends have died, the village is supposed to be locked down, but God awful bikers are everywhere. Yes, they are biking down the middle of narrow paths which makes it impossible to keep your distance from them. What boggles the mind is the mentality of the morons who refuse to practise social distancing. The hotels, clubs and restaurants are shut, so surely they must be aware that there’s a virus making the rounds. But they persist in brushing past one as if it’s touchy-feely season. Don’t these people listen to the news or read about what’s going on? Do they never avert their gaze from the sci-fi garbage on TV?

I am very lucky in being halfway up a mountain and having a large terrace surrounded by a lawn that borders on farmland. My only neighbour, just below, is Geoffrey Moore, son of James Bond, and only one road, marked ‘privat Strasse’, leads to our chalets. But during late afternoons I drive down that road, cross the river and walk along it to the neighbouring village — about three miles or so — and then return. I follow a route called Wanderweg, a tiny path, six foot-wide at most, and still horror bikers manage to invade it instead of using the asphalt road next to it.


The Wanderwegs are supposedly for walkers only, no horses or bikes permitted, but try and tell that to the halfwits who barrel by in their stupid helmets hunched over like hookers giving you-know-what jobs. Still, the weather has been perfect — cool and sunny. The mountain air is clean and fresh, and the isolation is good for the soul although the high life has taken a downturn to say the least. Patricia Rawlings, an old friend since the 1950s here in Gstaad — she’s now in the House of Lords — made it worse last week by sending me some pictures of myself when very young that made me feel rather old. Oh, the slimness, the thickness of the hair, the permanent smile at the unlimited possibilities. My advice to you young whippersnappers is: don’t get old.

As I don’t use social media I avoid online trolls, scam artists and Boris-Trump haters. Still, the haters get through somehow. I won’t soil the pages of this great magazine by naming some of them, but it was so typical of the left to take cheap shots at Boris while he was fighting for his life. They are as bad as those Trump haters over at the New York Times who are using the coronavirus crisis to heap insults and accusations on the Donald that would have been excessive against an enemy leader during world war two. How pathetic these people must be. What hatred and frustration they must feel to use the death of thousands in order to score political points. I finish the day by reading the Telegraphbefore switching to books. Now that’s a newspaper, not a rag to spew hate and division.

The day begins with breakfast and some reading, followed by an hour and a half of exercise on the terrace. Karate three times a week, pumping iron the other three, and always an hour’s brisk walk at sundown. Karate without an opponent is like simulated love-making; like going to bed with a woman and just lying there. Karate without contact is like masturbation, but these are unique times and it does come in handy, pardon the pun. Pumping iron makes one feel stronger than one is, but at my age it feels great. My son JT now looks like Charles Atlas, and he’s instructing me on how to lift for strength rather than muscle. Most of the work has to take place below the waist. Those are the muscles that count.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Children also come in handy for things like a haircut. As everything’s shut, I got J ‘Figaro’ T to give me a Burt, as in Burt Lancaster’s military crew cut when he played Sergeant Milton Warden in that wonderful film From Here to Eternity. As amazing as it sounds, the cut he gave me made me a perfect Burt, except Lancaster was 6ft 2 and I’m 5ft 9. It now transpires that JT has been cutting his own hair — and he’s got lots — throughout his life, finding barbers chatty and useless. The wife cut my fingernails, the son cut my hair, and my daughter is giving birth next month ensconced in her Austrian castle. Until now the family has lucked out. But there’s no joy in saying this given what is going on across the rest of the planet. So I play games with myself imagining a world where the bad guys caught it and the good guys were immune. This world of ours would be a far better place without certain people in it, but I must not think like that, folk might take me for an Observer or NY Times columnist.

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