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Or enjoy an excerpt from the book being read by journalist Thomas Stephens.

13 Comments on "Interviews"

  1. Gerhard Messerli June 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm · Reply

    Sehr geehrter Herr Bewes

    Eben habe ich Ihr Buch “Der Schweizerversteher” gelesen. Ich habe mich amüsiert und bin begeistert über Ihre Kenntnisse der Schweiz, die das Normalmass des Durchschnittsschweizers übersteigen. Zum Beispiel habe ich den “Weg der Schweiz” noch nie beschritten (und gedenke es auch nicht zu tun). Zwei Nebensächlichkeiten:

    – Zu Weihnacht brachte bei uns immer der Samichlaus (St. Nikolaus) die Geschenke. Er kam aus dem Wald und durch die Tür (NIE durch den Kamin!). Das Christkind spielt bei uns (Kanton Bern) keine Rolle.
    – Gar keine Identifikationsfigur ist für mich Heidi. Das ist eher eine Ostschweizer Angelegenheit.

    Vielleicht interessiert es Sie, wie andere Beobachter die Schweiz sehen? Die aktuelle Ausgabe DER ZEIT enthält eine Beilage, die Sie sicher gerne lesen werden (21. Juni 2012, DIE ZEIT Nr. 26).

    Besten Dank für Ihr hervorragendes Buch! Ich hoffe, Sie halten uns noch oft den Spiegel vor.

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen

    Gerhard Messerli

  2. Rolf Kieselbach June 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm · Reply

    Dear Mr. Bewes,

    I am readin with much pleasure your book Swiss Waching.
    One fact you seem to have got wrong, the origin of the name of lake constance: Bodensee.
    It has nothing to do with Boden=bottom but was derived from the name of a place as is explained in Wikipedia:
    Die Bezeichnung „Bodensee“ leitet sich vom Ortsnamen Bodman ab. Dieser am Westende des Überlinger Sees gelegene Ort war im frühen Mittelalter für eine gewisse Zeit als fränkische Königspfalz, alemannischer Herzogssitz und Münzstätte von überregionaler Bedeutung, weshalb der Name auf den See übertragen worden sein dürfte („See, an dem Bodman liegt“ = Bodman-See). Der Name lacus potmanicus ist seit 833 n. Chr. bezeugt und hat sich im deutschen Sprachraum zu „Bodamer See“ und schließlich zu „Bodensee“ weiterentwickelt.


    R. K.

  3. Jasmine Veser September 3, 2012 at 1:31 am · Reply

    Dear Diccon Bewes,
    I enjoyed your book (Swiss watching) immensely and laughed a lot…not only because of us (Swiss) but also because of your style: you have such a (British) way of putting things, of observing, of reflecting… it’s just hilarious and such a pleasure!
    However…I DO have something to criticise! Where IS the “Romandie”? You talk about Switzerland as if the Swiss German part WAS Switzerland…it is 60 %, I grant you that, but expats living in the canton of Vaud, or in Geneva or even in Valais or Fribourg will NOT recognise the people you describe, and the Vaudois, Genevois or Valaisans will not recognise themselves! You ARE lucky that not many people around here are reading your book, otherwise there would be uproar, because, as you probably know, the Romands are sooooo sensitive to being underestimated, overlooked and patronised and taken for “quantité négligeable”! Take it from one who knows! A Swiss German having lived on the other side of the Röstigraben for almost 30 years!
    What about coming to live on this side of the Graben for a while and write another book?
    But congratulations for your work anyway…I’ve just bought the Swisscellany!
    Kind regards from “ennet dem Röstigraben”.

  4. Frederic Schenk September 22, 2013 at 6:08 am · Reply

    Dear Diccon,
    I must say your ‘Swiss Watching’ is phenomenally amusing. Being a coconut exported to the Great White North recently, I reckon it nearly cracked my shell. Anyways…being Swiss and all, I think it is my duty to let you know that my late grandmother would have scoffed at your description of the elegant way of eating one’s salad. Under no circumstance should you use your knife to fold the leaf of lettuce. That is to be done with a carefully sized piece of bread. I still remember the back of the head slaps…and being a Wäälsch, she (and I) would say that the last place I would learn my table manners from is in the Tüütschwiiz…ha!
    Also, I believe you might find the true history of the fondue quite an interesting one, and one exemplifying again this mix of of materialistic pragmatism and irresistible thirst for mythical grandeur which characterizes us. It is not, unlike the real raclette ( from my mother’s Canton, le Vieux Pays…), a traditional dish (not to be confused with the Milchsuppe famously eaten at Kappel), but as far as I remember a marketing invention from the Swiss cheese union before WWII as their cellars were overflowing with unsold cheese…I am sure a talented investigator will get to the bottom of the caquelon…
    Yours truly,

  5. Jean-Luc Renaud November 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm · Reply

    Just finished your highly readable Swiss Watching. You have done a great service to us Swiss by holding a mirror through which to see, or even discover, our strengths and failings. You do that in a remarkably informed, witty and, most of all, refreshingly clear of stereotypes.

    As a Swiss who lives in the UK for nearly 30 years, I am flabbergasted by the crass ignorance about Switzerland, be it from highbrow BBC Newsnight viewers or lowbrow Daily Mail readers. Hopefully, thanks to your book, the Brits will have fewer excuses to keep a blind spot on Switzerland.

    However, reading you, they will be forgiven for forming the impression that all Swiss are a conservative, conformist bunch unwilling to stick their head out, having fun or getting jolly. Come to Lausanne! Suisses Romands like myself have trouble to identify with your description of Switzerland, in places. The Switzerland you describe is the way the Suisses Romands would describe the Suisses Allemands!

    We call mobile phones Natel (after the brand), not Handy! There are a few other discrepancies. But, it remains your book is a page-turner, a must-read, so much so that I am going to offer it to my relatives for Christmas … in the original English version, of course!

  6. Martin H. Scherrer June 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm · Reply

    Swiss watching
    Picture Legend of front page to be sorted

    Dear Mr. Bewes,

    I got your Swiss Watching Book from y daughter living „the other way round“ (being a Swiss lady in Oxford). It’s very entertaining, and lovely to read, agreeing facts about myself yet not known before. Very fascinating! Thank you very much!

    The legend of front page pics, however, is a bit in disorder. I like to give you a more accurate list by numbering the pics as they appear when scrolling a ruler down page. They’re counting like

    1. appearence pics 1, 2, 3, 4,
    2. appearence pics 5, 6, 7, 8,
    3. appearence pics 9, 10, 11, 12,
    4. appearence pics 13, 14,
    5. appearence pics 15, 16,
    6. appearence pics 17, 18,
    7. appearence pics 19, 20, 21,
    8. appearence pic 22,
    9. appearence pics 23, 24, 25,
    10. appearence pics 26, 27, 28, 29.

    The order in your actual book (2nd revised edition reprinted 2012, page 323) is then (I add for clearliness the 1st word of each text):

    1 Swiss AI, 9 Carnival, 2 The, 5 Heidi, 10 Paddlemaster, 6 Swiss BO, 4 Bernina, 7 Bundesplatz, 8 Flag, 11 A, 12 WAB, 15 Model, 16 Toblerone, 18 Outdoor, 21 Zytglogge, 24 Schloss, 25 Shoppers, 29 Swiss VS, 28 Grossmünster, 27 Farmhouse, 23 Traditional, 26 Landsgemeinde, 22 Schreckhorn, 20 Clock, 19 Bundeshaus, 17 Holländerturm, 14 Madonna, 13 Cable.

    (whereas BO stands for Bernise Oberland (famous) region, not a canton)

    Pic Number 3 legend missing.

    With kind regards
    Martin H. Scherrer

  7. Hanny Isenrich August 1, 2014 at 12:18 am · Reply

    Dear Mr. Bewes,

    Swiss Watching is hilariously funny and mirrors so much of what we do, who we are, how we think…
    Thank you for the insights. Obviously it needed someone like you to bring so much to our attention in a funny way.
    I am also reading “Slow train to Switzerland”. Great read as well! One thing I thought I’d mention: the ‘Martinsloch’ through which the sun shines twice a year, spring and fall, is in a mountain range between Glarus and Graubuenden. And the people of Elm (GL) positioned their church in a way, that, whenever the sun shines through the Martinsloch, it shines directly on the church’s tower.
    I am not aware of a Martinsloch in the Bernese mountains.
    Keep writing, Mr. Bewes,
    Hanny Isenrich

    • Diccon Bewes August 1, 2014 at 9:51 am · Reply

      Thanks for the kind words. And I guess there is more than one Martinsloch as there is definitely one above Grindelwald, not just in Glarus. Here’s an article about it:
      And of course I have seen the hole itself!

      • Hanny Isenrich August 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm · Reply

        thank you, Mr. Bewes, for filling me in on the other Swiss ‘Martinsloch’!
        Hanny Isenrich

  8. Jakob Schluep February 5, 2016 at 9:38 am · Reply

    Dear Mr. Bewes
    I have read with pleasure the new book “Mit 80 Karten durch die Schweiz”. The map “Berge der Kunst” found my particular interest. A friend of mine has been on almost all of the highest cantonal peaks mentioned in this map. The producer, Ursula Hitz, has, however, committed a little mistake: the Napf is not 1480, but only 1408 meters high.
    I congratulate you for the fine book and remain with kind regarfs J. Schluep, Münchenwiler

  9. Susan Johnston October 11, 2016 at 5:21 am · Reply

    Hello, Diccon:
    Have you noticed a little bump in sales of Swiss Watching recently in North America? It may be because my book group is reading the book. I am preparing to do a review of it later this week as we attend the Whistler, British Columbia, Writer’s Festival. I think it’s the perfect book: very fun to read and very informative. I’ve also made a trivia game for us to play. Players move around the edge of the white cross on the Swiss flag by answering such deep questions as: What won’t you find at the FKK section of a Swiss beach?
    I’m about half way through reading Slow Train to Switzerland. My, the Junior United Alpine Club ladies were intrepid!
    Congratulations on your upcoming reception at the Consulate General in New York. I wish I had realized earlier that you would be in North America this month. I would have tried to convince you to come to Whistler since you are already so close!
    All the best, and many thanks for the books,
    Sue Johnston

    • Diccon Bewes November 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm · Reply

      Hello Sue. That’s lovely news to get. Sorry about the delay in replying but as I was travelling around, I didn’t get a chance to reply to comments here. I would’ve loved to come to Whistler. Maybe we can make it happen one day! Best wishes, Diccon

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