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April 2008


The day was balmy, the sea was like a sheet of softly tinted silk and the gentle ripples upon its surface did nothing more than create a soothing lapping sound on the deserted shore. And the view from my terrace is about as good as it gets on the French Riviera, with Menton’s old town gently sloping down to the shore, the lush greenery on the surrounding mountains vividly contrasting with the villas and the cool blue of the cloudless sky and, in the far distance, the rugged blued Alpes Maritimes (just look at the photo!).
Murmurings of starlings were returning to the coast after their skiing holidays or whatever it is they do when it gets a little nippy down south. They zoomed across the sky at regular intervals doing their close formation flying routines, twisting and turning as if controlled by some hand-held remote control but in fact had copied from the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force’s Aerobatic team.
Having just regaled myself with a salade niÇoise and some chunks of a fresh baguette I was feeling at ease with the world as I gently puffed on my pipe alongside a massive bunch of freshly picked mimosa. With the February sun soothingly warm my thoughts began to wander and you can imagine where they turned, that’s right you got it in one … BaselWorld and the SIHH in Geneva. I mean, other than spring’s annual ritual of the propagation of the species, what else could I poss-ibly be thinking about when everybody within the industry is preoccupied with their preparation for the year’s most important events?
This year I’ll be attending Basel as an independent journalist, although I’ll be writing for ‘The world’s most influential watch magazine’, but instead of enjoying the luxury of a hotel room paid for by them I’m going to have to rough it on one of those boats that tie-up along the Rhine where you have to shower whilst astride the toilet and where you vigorously curse for not having removed the toilet paper beforehand. Be that as it may, it’s a period of the year that I have learned to love after my twenty-eight previous visits and despite the luxury of my so-called retirement (and that’s a joke since I seem to have less time now than when I was working full time) I can’t imagine not being around to meet up with all the friends and business acquaintances that are as much a part of Basel and the SIHH as the thousands of new timepieces that we’ll discover over those hectic, tiring, instructive, inebriating twelve days in spring.
How, I hear you ask, can I possible be thinking of BaselWorld and the SIHH when I’m basking in the glorious surroundings of Menton? Well, I’ll tell you.
Opposite the house there’s a long narrow field that is owned by the town but is inhabited by a donkey that goes by the handle of Murathon. As donkeys go, he’s a handsome fella, too well fed perhaps since I, along with many others regularly offer him carrots and other equine delicacies, but he has a bray that would make a ghetto blaster on full volume sound as if the battery was dying. Well, just as I was about to slip into my little siesta that particular afternoon, I was jolted back to life as Murathon began a full minute of ear-splitting heehaws that not only had the flocks of starlings leaving for Africa, but also had the captain of a passing ferry take evasive action since he thought he was about to be rammed by another vessel.
What in fact was happening was that the donkey’s owner was walking into the field with a mare and the donkey was making an ass of himself in the hope that he would be rolling in the hay with her later that evening. And that dear reader is what made me think of BaselWorld and SIHH, where hundreds of young men’s mind’s turn to flights of fancy and the brand’s hostesses receive as much attention as the new models.
Having reached retirement age I can now stand back and watch the rampant males, like Murathon, make asses of themselves. Personally, the only major conquest I’ll be looking forward to is not getting indigestion after a week of schublig and chips.
See you all at the Fair …

Source: Europa Star April-May 2008 Magazine Issue