Wednesday, October 15, 2008

They sigh with their eyes

I have a lot of loose money which I collect and find very difficult to spend. This is because of the pressure that I am under when I get to the checkout and have to come up with the right amount of money in a very short time frame. We have 1c, 2c and 5c Euro coins as well as 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2. So there is a lot of digging to do and I usually crack under the gaze of the person at the checkout.

These people look at me like a crocodile looks at chicken trussed up in front of it. And they sigh with their eyes – I think this is something they learn in shop assistant school in Austria.

Inevitably after a while digging futilely through a mountain of change I thrust a note at the attendant who smirks knowingly – and gives me a bundle more change. I would be better with more practice and want Cate to pretend to be a shop assistant and ask me for money so that I can count it out. She also gives me the crocodile-chicken look when I do this and tells me not to be so stupid.

The only way I can get rid of change is to buy things one at a time - it takes hours to do the shopping this way - or add up the stuff that I have bought and get to the checkout with the right money. So if you see a funny little man counting coins in the corner of the local Spar – that will be me.

I put a full length mirror behind the bedroom door today. Cate has been at me for a while to do this. She says there are many clothes she cannot wear because she cannot see what she looks like. I lay awake at night and thought about this but still don’t get it – it must be a girl thing.
I bought the mirror from Lutz in a remarkably simple transaction. It was the only full length mirror they had that weighed less than a tonne. It has frilly bits around the side but it’s for Cate and I suppose that’s OK – she didn’t complain.

As we can’t put nails or screws into the door I have to fix the mirror to the door using sticky hooks and double-sided tape. This I have done and there and there it hangs. I have warned that cats – who sleep on the bed in that room – that the mirror will let go at a moment of its own choosing and that it will cause an immense racket that will scare the daylights out of them. Bill now watches the mirror closely but Muffin is unconcerned and has adopted a very laissez faire attitude about life in Wien.

I went to OAMTC to join and to insure our bicycles. Having planned carefully I took the receipts for the bicycles – someone had rung them for me and found out what was required. I joined, but to insure the bicycles – the lovely young lady told me – I have to see them. Well – I said – there are some bikes outside just like mine – you know, two wheels, two pedals – perhaps you could look at those.

This elicited a crocodile-chicken look and ended this part of the transaction. I did join and did manage to buy a road atlas for Austria and one for Europe. I will go back tomorrow with the bikes. I have to take them both together so it should be a fun trip.

While I was hanging the mirrors I was wearing my jeans (what else) and no shoes. The jeans were flapping around my feet so I rolled them up to just under my knees. I got almost to OAMTC before I looked down and discovered that my jeans were still rolled up. I am counting the ways I have undertaken ritual self-humiliation in Wien and that is about number 26. (Don’t ask how I put my shoes on and did not notice). Perhaps I should look in the full length mirror before I go out.

There is a bright, shiny new top on Stephansdom. A helicopter dropped it on yesterday while I watched enthralled as I ate my semmel and drank my coke. I thought it might be a Christmas thing but Cate’s assistant – who is the source of almost everything we know – says it’s the original top to the spire which they removed some time ago to be cleaned. I hope they didn’t use my dry cleaner in Salesianergasse or the citizens of Wien will be paying for it for a long time indeed.

Jura started flashing at me so I had to work out what it wanted. The manual runs to 83 pages so it took a while. It turns out it wants to clean itself – but that this is something it wants to share with you. It’s a bit like a child not wanting to bathe on its own. The process takes 15 minutes. It does something and then I do something. e.g. it will whirr and hiss and then I put a jug under the spout to catch water. It will whirr and hiss again and then I put a cleaning tablet into the hopper. After this is all over it stretches, has a cigarette and then goes to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. I love your stories...I am adding your blog to my daily reading list. Welcome to Vienna and keep on writing! KP