Zug is a quietly booming city. Only the sound of the occasional helicopters used here to transport building materials to the upper floors of construction sites suggest dynamism.
From April until October the smell of cow dung wafts through Zug’s modestly affluent streets. The City has crisp borders with its farm neighbours. Where office blocks end, pasture begins. It is a precisely constructed city, the parts fitting together like Lego.
Although living in Zug city, I can buy milk from a farmhouse 500 metres away.
When I first arrived, nostalgic for the atmosphere of London City bars, I discovered the Almodobar. During the early Summer evenings it fills with financial traders in their shirtsleeves drinking beer from the bottle, and I am comforted.
The Siemens Building where the Almodobar was situated, is a brilliant white modern, climate controlled block, where blinds and shutters whirr intermittently adjusting the sunlight falling on the two large trees growing in the heart of the complex, and keeping the sun out of eyes of the many screen traders located there.
And, at about 800 metres, it is about as far as you can get anywhere in the city, from a cow pat.
Welcome to the City, Zug style.
Switzerland is a society which trusts its citizens not to dangerously spill fuel all over the filling station floor, and why wouldn’t it?
When filling up, we place the pump nozzle in the tank, click on the gun, let go of the trigger and wait for the meter to click off automatically when the tank is full. Sometimes, while waiting, I clean the windscreen, or maybe change the DVD on the player, for my two young passengers in the rear seats, but mainly I just gaze at the inevitable mountains around me and enjoy feeling grown-up.
Warning! Do not attempt this in the UK, it is forbidden. Just think what would happen if it were allowed. The whole country would be ashes in a week. Wouldn’t it?
07.45 the streets are busy with children as young as five walking or cycling unaccompanied to school. In winter it is dark at that time, and the school provides a light reflecting strap for the under sevens. Motorists drive at 30kph and stop at pedestrian crossings even if children look as though they might possibly be thinking about crossing the road at that point. Often drivers instinctively stop whenever a child is less than five or six meters from a crossing.
In the summer, families have barbeques in the forests. There are mounds of cut logs everywhere for this purpose – but no signs, or prohibitions, or warnings about the dangers of fire, or smoke inhalation, or that the authorities accept no responsibility for injuries etc. It is commonplace for children younger than seven to be seen holding sticks with dough curled around Schlangenbröt (“snake bread”) into the flames.
Welcome to the land of individual responsibility.