Looking Back

Ski Salons

January 13, 2018

The lunches were literary, but no one touched upon what I wanted to hear and learn about: things like rhythm and idioms, and pauses and innuendos. Bill wrote a novel each winter based on a CIA operative who had a one-night stand with the Queen of England, Queen Caroline. His novels were based on plot and action, and there was not much dialogue and suspensions of real speech to learn from. Never mind, they were the best lunches ever because Buckley was always in a hurry, so we’d down a couple of bottles of wine and then hit a flumley or two, the Swiss grappa that supposedly makes hair grow on one’s chest.

Back then one skied better and faster after drinking. Niven would stay behind reminiscing, as articulate as ever while under the influence, looking ever the English gent in his tweeds in a simple wooden hut high up in the Alps. Straight out of Conan Doyle, actually. Natasha would fret about iotas, and Dmitri would head back down to places unknown to us. Alistair Horne was the last to die last year. Bill went eight years ago, and Dmitry about six. Natasha died fifteen years ago after losing a son. Niven left us in 1984. Gstaad has changed and there are no bookstores or writers around. Those charming huts that served simple food and chilled white wine have gone upmarket; one needs to show a bank balance to get in. I now lunch at home and occasionally up at the club. Things ain’t what they used to be.

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