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Published: October 5th 2009
If you were to hide a camera in a building overnight, where would be the last place you’d choose? Astute trucker, Joe, chose the oven, then got drunk and slept in. You can see what’s coming.. By the time he emerges today, lunch is prepared, and those reckless caterers haven’t checked the cooking area for electronic devices. “Melted” would be an understatement..
My friend Norbert (German) introduced his considerably younger girlfriend last night: 'from a wery small willage.' He is overtly flouting an unwritten rule; Germans and Austrians do not, I'm told, see eye to eye. This relationship works, apparently, because Norbert is from Bavaria - once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Some years ago, he stayed in my house as a foreign student learning English. Substantially his junior, I was nevertheless referred to as 'my host daddy'. Like me, he is something of an international man of mystery, so I called him yesterday to check he was actually in Vienna. 'How are you?' I began simply and slowly. 'In the office,' he replied, showing a worrying regression since leaving my tutelage. 'HOW, not where!' I persisted conversationally. Actually, his English is
excellent, save for a few delightful mispronunciations. We chatted over Campari until 3am. I know, it's not a very “cool” drink for someone in their early thirties, but it's trendier than tea. I'm trying. And fine, if you're going to be pedantic, I'm mid-thirties, I suppose.
The complaints have started among the trucking fraternity: our rail-shunting parking area comes without toilets. The nearest are only at the station but it’s ten minutes walk which, quite rightly, upsets Namibian, needing to “go” at five o’clock in the morning. A simple matter like this, while the rest of the crew enjoy en-suite hotel bathrooms, breeds unrest. While I cycle contentedly around the city - I re-visit a 16th century trombone in the Antiquities Museum; the instrument, then known as a sackbut, has changed little in the last 500 years - others have time to brood. In fairness, most of my colleagues will have been to Vienna fifty times compared to my seven or eight visits over the last ten years or so. They have become jaded. 'Crouchers are better for you than Western toilets,' Captain Birdseye informs me cryptically, then bombards me with statistics regarding bowel cancer in Europe versus Asia.
I think, however, we can safely attribute the marked difference in figures to diet rather than squatting techniques.
After a brief foray into toothless ferrets again - 'they can give you a nasty suck' - matters inevitably turn to sex. Birdseye, hogging conversation on occasions says: 'cos of the tablets, I have to book an erection two weeks in advance.' I could, of couse, choose to omit these quotes, but I think you can better empathise if they are included. People are for ever telling me what a great job I have, but look what I have to put up with! Other colleagues start to arrive, glum-faced and bereft of cash, bitterly regretting late-night negotiations in the nearby brothel.
8th February: The right to be heard, or in this case read, does not include the right to be taken seriously. It has occurred to me, though, that, now I'm writing so prodigiously, my trucker pals might disown me. I must compensate, with virile displays of testosterone. Or perhaps a thuggish nameplate for the front windscreen, showering less and murdering the occasional prostitute would do the trick?
After a balmy eleven degrees yesterday, this morning is foul and
depressing. Even the house-wife prostitutes, not fifty yards away on Felberstrasse under umbrellas, do little to lift one’s spirits. The scene is marginally brightened by two luxurious carriages from The Orient Express but, among the squalor, I half expect them to be riddled with resident heroin-users.
We each have our own puddle to park in; my Vienna walking tour looks doomed.
Pedestrians waiting patiently for the “green man” in this country are beginning to annoy me. I feel such a lawless brute venturing across an empty street in Austria or Germany, or indeed German-speaking parts of Switzerland, watched disapprovingly by other bipeds. Today, they wait gormlessly for the light to change, in the rain. Yes, I know it's the law, but it's frustrating beyond belief when there is little traffic. I risk the astringent stares, darting demonically through the five-hundred-metre gap between vehicles.
With the weather inclement, there is little to do but read. So, in the absence of observations from the Austrian capital, I’ll relate a little dialogue that took place over the headphones during Tina's show last night. To pass the time, “on cans” before the show, we’ve been exploring the derivation of words. Yes,
rather an erudite idea, and right up my “strasse”. Last night, though, we were treated to a crew member's report from a hotel room, where access to the pornography channel was blocked. Ringing through to reception, he asked: 'is my porn disabled?' The voice at the other end, suitably taken aback, replied: 'Ugh, sicko, it’s just regular porn.' Hey, don't shoot the messenger; this is unadulterated gossip from backstage and ought to be turned into a BBC documentary. The other all-time favourite hotel room tale, of course, is telephoning the madam of a brothel and explaining the unspeakable acts you’d like to perform when the lithe young call-girl arrives, only to be met with the embarrassing response: 'you need 9 for an outside line sir.'
Backstage, tapping away at a ridiculously small laptop, my friend “Mystic” says nothing, yet everything. He is wearing earplugs permanently now, to tune out the oral twaddle: 'I don’t want to hear it Barnaby. They’re talking about peep shows and masturbation.' Oh, only another few months to go..
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