11 May 1921

11 May 1921

Hotel Beau Site, Clarens-Montreux, Switzerland

I left my dear little Isola Bella last week. The South of France is fever to the feverish. Thats my experience. Adorable pays — Ill go back there one day but sans un thermomêtre. Switzerland, which I have always managed to avoid is the very devil. I knew it would be. I mean the people are so UGLY; they are simply hideous. They have no shape. All the women have pear shaped derrières, ugly heads, awful feet. All the men wear ready made check flannelette suits, six sizes too small and felt hats another six sizes too small with a little pre-war feather sticking up behind. Curse them. And the FOOD. Its got no nerves. You know what I mean? It seems to lie down and wait for you; the very steaks are meek. Theres no contact between you and it. You’re not attracted. You don’t feel that keeness to meet it and know more of it and get on very intimate terms. The asparagus is always stone dead. As to the puree de pommes de terre you feel inclined to call it ‘uncle’. Now I had food in the South that made me feel - should there be a Paradis you and I shall have one lunch cooked by my old Marie which will atone for years of not meeting. And then Anne, Switzerland is revoltingly clean. My bed! Its enough to unmake any man - the sight of it. Dead white - tucked in so tight that you have to insert yourself like a knife into an oyster. I got up the first night and almost whimpering like Stepan in The Possessed! I put my old wild jackal skin over the counterpane.

[To Anne Drey in Collected Letters, 12 May.]