Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The blind people are trying to trick us

Two Cobbers in Wien in September. John is not really that tall and is standing on a bag of Krapfens.

Cate has arrived safely in Korea but her Blackberry is flat and her charger does not work. She has enormous problems with electronics and really should have a maintenance person travel with her. Fortunately she has an internet connection so can do almost everything she needs to.

News here is that the new Austrian SPÖ-ÖVP grand-coalition government, the 24th in the history of the post-WWII Second Republic, has just taken office. Since the election the various parties have apparently been locked in a room beating each other with clubs trying to form a government - and the survivors are now able to do this. I am trying to pay attention to what this means (I suspect it means very little) and will report to you if I can ever get to understand it.

Much more exciting is the fact that Hermann Maier has won the first super-G of the World Cup Season. The Herminator is Austria’s most famous skier and of course I am a fan of winter sports and the Herminator. (In fact I have always been a fan of the Herminator).

I would even watch some skiing except that we have lost nearly all of our TV channels and can now only watch BBC and CNN news and some music channels. However Herr Stumpfchen arrived today with his mallet and spanner to attend to this problem – which unfortunately turned out to be my fault.

The credit card I gave them for the monthly subscription only had a small limit and I filled it up fairly quickly. The card was issued by our bank on the premise that we should not use it except to buy milk and Krapfens so of course we blew it to pieces by lashing out on meals in restaurants.

The system here is that your bank account is debited at the end of the month for the balance payable on your credit card. We had in our account at least 10 times the balance of the credit card but this does not amount to a hill of beans in Austria. Limits are made to be adhered to.

The TV people were unable to collect the amount due so cancelled my account. The option of contacting me had apparently not occurred to them but I suppose I should be grateful that I escaped arrest and incarceration.

I did not help matters when Herr Stumpfchen was here by giving him my Austrian Airlines Miles and More card instead of my Austrian Airlines Visa Card. This caused much more confusion than was necessary as his English is much worse than my German.

I can’t say that I improved his day much and will try to do better in future. He is a very patient man but I tested him today.

At the same time as he was here some electricians from his company arrived to fix a broken down light. The problem proved to be intractable and they took the light away for forensic examination. I hope it does not turn out to be my fault.

On a brighter note – the people from Velux rang to say that someone will be along on 15 December to fit new blinds in the studies upstairs. We think this is a trick because it has only been three months since they came to see what blinds needed to be replaced. I am not sure what their game is and will have to think about it carefully.


  1. Finally! I've been wanting to add comments and I think this is the 3rd time I have had to re-set my account as I keep forgetting the password.

    Thanks for continuing to keep up your hilarious blog which is one of my favorite things to log into first thing in the morning! Here at the organization I work for, where you have other followers, would like to reward you. How about a supply of marmite? We'd be happy to oblige - we have sources!

    Never had it myself but I guess it's the same as root beer and peanut butter - you have to be brought up with it.

  2. Oh Please! - it's vegemite. The English eat marmite and the Australians eat vegemite. Which is why we grow up to be big and strong and beat the English at cricket, and football - and just about everything else. And you do have to be brought up with it. As I said in an earlier blog - there is no recorded instance of an American tasting vegemite and asking for more.

  3. Oooops! My apologies! What is vegemite, anyhow? Does it contain vegetables? In fact,I don't have a clue what marmite is, either.

    I'm proud to note that Merkur carries Skippy PB and it's actually gaining popularity in Austria, although a PBJ sandwich is unknown here. So far, though, my Austro-American son thinks PB is "yuckky", although I hope to convert him.

    And one has to say, a PB cookie or Reese's PB cup is hard to refuse. Not sure if one could say the same for a vegemite cookie...but I could be wrong...

  4. Vegemite is a yeast extract. Details at
    It tastes like very salty sump oil - and is not for the faint hearted.