St Moritz: Preparing to host Bilderberg. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian
As Europe groans, and austerity bites, as defaulting looms, and once proud nations fall to their knees in debt, there's only one annual conference of bankers and industrialists that can step in and save us all…
Next week, in Switzerland, Henry Kissinger and his brave band of corporate CEOs, high-wealth individuals and heavyweight thinktankers will lock arms with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and David Rockefeller, and stand their ground against the economic contagion.
The last thing a bunch of bank bosses and multinational executives wants is for the nation-states of Europe to collapse, allowing their assets to be bought up on the cheap. Right?
Besides, if anyone can lay claim to fathering the EU, it's Bilderberg. Sixty years ago, Europe was a mere Bilderbaby, conceived in a solemn ceremony on Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands' mattress. It grew into a fine young Bilderboy, but the years have caught up with it, and now it seems its knees are creaking and its heart is weak.
Perhaps the clear mountain air of St Moritz will prove just the tonic. The Bilderberg Group is gathering there between 9-12 June, at the Hotel Suvretta House, described on its website thus: "Like a beautiful fairytale castle, our hotel is embedded in the fantastic alpine landscape of the Upper Engadine." No mention of the magical rooftop snipers or the fairytale ring of armed riot police, but maybe they'll be updating their website in time for the conference.
Josef Ackerman, CEO of Deutsche Bank, practises his backflips.
The hotel promises that the Privatsphäre of the guests will be utterlyrespektiert, which goes for the conference, as well: the press will be lucky to get a whiff of Kissinger's toast in the morning. It's a shame the attendees are still so phobic of attention, seeing as how this year there's shaping up to be more press interest than ever. People and the media have finally started noticing this quiet little conference at the centre of the storm. The last two countries to play host to the meeting were Greece and Spain, both of whom waved goodbye to Bilderberg and said hello to austerity and unrest. Happy Christmas, Switzerland.
This year, a bunch of less-than-happy Brits are heading out to St Moritz by minibus, to voice their concern at the policies being thrashed out at the conference. They've dubbed their fifteen-seater the Bilderbus, and it leaves Nottingham on Tuesday after work. There are still ten seats to fill: it's £95 return, and camping's cheap when you get there. And I can't stress this enough: it really is a sight to behold. (The conference, not the minibus).
There are two seats free on the bus, since Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Ken Clarke have both been forced to cancel. Which is good news for the chamber maids at the Suvretta House (because Ken is so very untidy – cigar stubs and Ornette Coleman CDs everywhere …)
The Bilderbus awaits you. Fully taxed and insured. Photograph: Charlie Skelton
If you'd like to book a place on the minibus, you can email the organisers at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're interested to see what crops up on the official Bilderberg agenda, then keep an eye on their website. Jockeying for position are the crisis in the eurozone, the Arab Spring, the Fukushima fallout (with Germany backing away from nuclear), and of course, what to do about the internet. That old chestnut.
Maybe this year they'll hold a press conference like, I don't know, grown-ups might. I won't be holding my breath. But I will be sniffing the air of St Moritz. If I find out one thing this year, it's going to be what Kissinger has for breakfast. Live eels snatched from a bucket? Or ducklings? Suddenly I'm imagining ducklings. And a mallet.