Gary Littman


Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

Cakes, cheese and the New World Order

Melbourne, Australia, where I grew up in the 60s and 70s, is about as far away as you can get from Switzerland; exactly 16,543 kilometres my computer tells me.

Information was then more sensory and emotional. I couldn’t google Swiss, instead I ate it.

My first experience was sweet and spongy. My mother would, on special occasions, buy a Swiss Roll, a cheap supermarket sponge cake marbled with spiral veins of indefinable jam. Sweet, soft and unsubstantial, it disappeared without a trace. (I have since discovered that this cake does not come from Switzerland)

My second Swiss experience was Swiss cheese. It was a revelation. It was actually tasty, unlike Kraft processed cheese which I, like most Australians, believed was the planet’s only cheese.  It was also an engineering and aesthetic feat; how did they get those holes in the cheese?

My next Swiss experience was the Swiss army knife. How cool was that? I was mightily jealous of anyone who could carry a pocket knife, let alone one that could cut, saw, screw, slice and gouge, and even included such urbane and delicate tools as a tooth pick and tweezers.

Switzerland, the country, was obscure, but Geneva was taking shape in my worldly thoughts.

It was not a city, but a series of large round tables where infinitely serious and wise adults came together and solved the world’s problems. Decisions of great importance were taken and warring factions were wooed. All world affairs took place ‘overnight’ in time zone-unfriendly Australia, but Geneva was one place I could trust to be working in my interests while I was sleeping.

When I did meet someone who had been to a human rights conference in Geneva, I was both in awe and extremely jealous. Whatsmore, he didn’t seem to be that intelligent.

Switzerland, the country, only came into being when I started hanging out with marijuana smokers. My cooler and hairier elders, spoke of a country which, as its army knife clearly proved, was at the cutting edge of military preparedness.

Mountains could split open and jets and missiles could be fired at a second’s notice. Highways could be transformed into fighter jet runways with a flick of a switch. Everyone in Switzerland was a soldier and every family had a nuclear bunker stocked like a supermarket. The Swiss would survive, no matter what.

Around this time in the late 70s, the Swiss bombshell was dropped.  One smoky paranoid night I heard about the Orwellian nightmare that really was Switzerland.

They were experimenting on their population. Identification micro-chips were being implanted in the palms of Swiss citizens. They did their banking and bought their groceries with a wave of the hand. Clearly, little Switzerland was the agent of Big Brother. This was the New World Order at work and evidently Switzerland was the official laboratory.

Fast forward to today, and well, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but I was right.

I know because I live here in this futuristic nightmare.  I know because I rode my bicycle past a Coop supermarket last week. I chuckled knowingly to myself as I watched the naïve citizens of the  Helvetic Confederation buying their Swiss cakes and their Swiss cheese by scanning barcodes on the supermarket windows with their telephones.

Melbourne might be 16,543 kilometres away, but I knew all about this more than 30 years ago…


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