Happy Birthday!

In an earlier post, I complained about not having had an Uncle Vince to be my moral & intellectual guide through adolescense. While that may be true in a strict sense, it's not quite so correct figuratively speaking. With this post, I would like to pay homage to and congratulate a very dear old Aunt who is still resident in her own home at 11 Falkenstrasse, Zürich. She is celebrating her 225th birthday today, and she's as fit & sprightly as she was in her teens.
You will have gathered by now that I am not trying to collect brownie points from a rich aunt. I am talking about my No 1 preferred daily newspaper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the first issue of which was published on this day in the year 1780. What with her ripe old age, her quirky sense of humour & her principled openmindedness, she has certainly earned her nom de guerre of Alte Tante von der Falkenstrasse. If I didn't already speak German, the NZZ would be reason enough to learn it. But here is a regularly updated bit of what she has to say in English.

So, what's with this uncles & aunts stuff (dear nephews & nieces of mine, please stop reading now)? Why do they often play a unique rôle in a kid's adolescence? Well, I think the special rôle is due to an aunt's (uncles always included) special mix of closeness and distance. The closeness is given by the fact that an aunt is always family, hence trustworthy and - other than friends - in for the long run. The distance bit is usually given by a certain age difference, a physical remoteness as in not living in the same household, and generally, you don't have to cramp your style with an aunt. Which you very often have to with siblings, because of an inevitable degree of rivalry. Parents? They are usually out of the game, anyway.

So, could all this be applied to a newspaper as well? To the degree that a newspaper subscription is a pretty one way affair, you bet! The NZZ has a great deal to do with who I am & how I think today. But maybe, a bit of that adulation is related to the fact that the editors occasionally have the good grace of publishing some of my dribble. I still fondly remember the day when the publication of my article critical of the grossly indecent valuation of the shares of the Swiss National Bank coïncided with a 12% drop in the share price of that venerable institution. Boy, did I ever get hate mail - and I loved it!

So, happy birthday, my dear Aunt, and may you have many more generations of faithful nieces & nephews in spirit!

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