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A new look for a new book

March 6, 2012

Swiss Watching is moving! After 199 posts, 818 days, 1119 comments and 192,400 visits I decided it’s time for a new look in a new home. As of next week this blog and my website will be re-designed and combined into one address – – so that everything will be under one roof. Easier for you, easier for me. And it’s happening next Monday 12 March to celebrate the launch of Der Schweizversteher, the German edition of Swiss Watching. Don’t worry, all the posts will still be in English (my written German isn’t perfect enough yet) but there will some pages auf Deutsch for those who want to know a bit more about the book, or even about me. Read more…

A year of festivals in Switzerland

February 27, 2012

Today at precisely 4am the Basler Fasnacht, or Carnival, began – the start of three days of parades, drinking, music and confetti. It’s one of the biggest festivals in the Swiss calendar, and it’s a pretty full calendar! Even if you exclude the religious ones such as Easter and the countless music or film festivals, there are still plenty of traditional get-togethers across the towns, villages and regions of Switzerland to choose from; probably enough to fill the whole year, though many concentrate on celebrating the start of spring and the end of summer. Read more…

Should the price of books be fixed?

February 16, 2012

Cartels, fixed prices, less competition, consumer loses out. It may sound like something from the Seventies but it’s actually what could be in store for Swiss book buyers after next month’s referendum. Voters have to decide whether or not to re-introduce fixed retail prices for books in Switzerland so that every shop would have to charge the same. It’s a difficult decision but that is one of the great things about the Swiss political system: ordinary people get to decide on matters that affect them directly. Assuming they’re Swiss, of course. As a foreigner, I can’t vote. But as a reader, author and former bookseller, I can at least make up my own mind on the issue, based on three factors: Read more…

Black and white humour in Switzerland

February 9, 2012
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It’s a funny, silent, black-and-white film that’s delighting audiences all over Switzerland. No, I’m not talking about The Artist but Salty Times, the short Swiss film that comes on just before the main feature in cinemas here. In case you’re not lucky enough to live in Switzerland, or shockingly have yet to go and see The Artist (definitely worth it), then you can watch Salty Times here instead of on the big screen. Read more…

Watch out Ostschweiz, here I come!

February 2, 2012

St Gallen, Winterthur, Wetzikon and Chur. What do they have in common, other than being on the far side of Switzerland from Bern? Easy. In March I’ll be the guest speaker at an event in each place. And about time too – after 50+ events all over Switzerland, it was high time I ventured into the Far East. Now, thanks to the English Department of Migros Klubschule, I’ll be going four times in two weeks. Best of all for you, the events are free so if you want to come along, all you have to do is register (details below). Best of all for me, I’ll have time to revisit my favourite religious building in Switzerland: St Gallen Abbey, shown left, a truly outstanding example of church architecture. No wonder it’s a Unesco heritage site. Read more…

The ten most popular posts of 2011

January 23, 2012

2011. It was quite a year. Arab Spring, London riots, Fukushima, euro crisis – and a general election in Switzerland. Not exactly the same razzamatazz as this year in America but enough to be the reason for this blog’s most popular day: October 23rd, election day. Last year I added 66 new posts, eight of them about the elections in various ways. Three of those made the Top Ten of the most read posts of 2011. Here is the list in full, just in case you missed one or want to read them again with hindsight: Read more…