I have a handy red knife with a corkscrew and a blade which over 30 years or so has been honed down to half its original width and which has of all things, a toothpick and miniature tweezers.

In the days when this newspaper was printed by the hot metal process which involved steaming cauldrons of molten alloy and skilled men with thick spectacles tending boiling and rattling linotype machines the name appearing at the top of this column was set in metal type.

Many years ago and as a way of asserting possession and at the same time formalisaing my affection for my Swiss army knife I reheated the metal and burned my name into its handle.

This battered and much-travelled tool, the corkscrew of which has opened bottles which if placed end to end would reach Bordeaux is very dear to me you see.

I always vowed the next army I join will be the Swiss one.

Any army that puts a corkscrew on its officers' knives whilst diligently avoiding anything that smacks of combat has its priorities right, or so I thought for a long time.

Then I started to ponder.

The Swiss put corkscrews on their officers' knives whilst the other ranks have to do without which seems to me - if you'll excuse the pun - rank discrimination.

Switzerland has the highest standard of living in Europe and so far as I can see has done very little to earn it and the thought dawned that Graham Greene in the Third Man was right when he wrote "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the renaissance.

"In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundreds years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock."

The last sentence was added by Orson Welles for the film version but to use one of Switzerland's four official languages (they can't even be straightforward about that) it is le mot juste.

To cover the post-renaissance years we could add the Swiss Army knife and dodgy banking.

My conclusion now is the more you think about Switzerland the less you think about Switzerland. In fact it hasn't even managed to get the democracy thing right.

You may have read that in a legally-bonding referendum the Swiss have voted to ban minarets from their country, a fact which shows the smug, cheese-paring and beggar-thy-neighbour nature of the Swiss and has not unnaturally upset their Muslim population which, pro rata, is about the same as ours.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a country saying that it does not want more Muslims within its borders.

If Switzerland were to close its borders to those of that religion and repatriate every Muslim not legally dwelling there we would have to say that it was a matter for the Swiss and the Swiss alone.

I suppose there must have been something a bit daft about the Muslims otherwise they wouldn't have wanted to get into Switzerland in the first place.

It sounds to me the sort of nitpicking country where after checking your passport they look whether to see if you've flossed but it's their business.

But to deny people legally resident in the country the outward symbols of their religious belief is mean-spirited and priggish and in a word, Swiss.

Switzerland is a dreary little country which an 19th century British politician once described as 'an inferior sort of Scotland'.

The cities are architecturally boring and if deprived of their pretty dusting of snow would be no more attractive than Lodz, Lepizig or one of the other central European places with a 'z' in it.

Its not as they couldn't do with a couple of minarets and a mosque dome or two to brighten the place up.

I do not buy South African products if I can help it because the post-Apartheid regime is every bit as wicked as that which preceded it.

I buy petrol at Texaco station when I possibly can since that company supported Franco in the Spanish civil war.

But what sanctions can I take against Switzerland that doesn't seem to do or make anything?

Refusing to buy Toblerone doesn't quite have the authentic ring of outraged sensibilities, somehow.