Were you born in Basel?
I was born here in 1946, and immediately (at three months) bundled into a train to Rome. The story goes that my Dad was already in Rome, where he had a job as a Foreign Correspondent for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which is like The Times of Switzerland. That was the beginning of my “bi-lingualism”, as I was speaking two languages already, Swiss-German and Italian!
My Mum came from a family of very successful wine merchants and I am still the proud proprietor of a vineyard, in Muttenz, which is on the outskirts of Basel.
When I was four, my Dad was called back to the Head Office in Zürich and he was offered a job as Political Foreign Correspondent, in charge of reporting about the UK and the whole British Commonwealth. So we’re talking about the Fifties, and when Her Majesty (Queen Elizabeth II) was a young lady and got crowned, I was there – I still have the ‘coronation spoon’ each schoolchild received on that occasion. In England, my brother and I spoke fluent English within a few months, but at home my mother insisted it was immer Basel-Dütsch – always the Basel dialect of Swiss German.