Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Napoleon did not have this much trouble!
We have managed to get the temperature in the apartment up to 20 degrees. We have achieved this by running our two little electric heaters non-stop and lighting the fire early. We ran out of wood last night so are tearing up the parquetry floor.
(News Flash - this morning it it back down to 18.5 - we are rubbing the cats together to keep warm).
We are actually getting used to it now and tonight we plan to sleep with the Inuit in their Igloo.
Rozalin is hot on the trail and has harangued the building managers. We expect a repairman today (which does not of course mean that he will arrive). It won’t be the same one we had for the water heater as he suffered from frostbite and lost a couple of fingers.
Rozalin tells me that the water heater and the air conditioning are related – and perhaps this was what frostbite man was trying to tell me - but his teeth were chattering too much and he couldn’t get them around the German separable verbs. It doesn’t make any sense to me – but very little does these days.
I am in month 6 of planning our trip to St Petersburg and it is taking us longer to get into Russian than it did Napoleon.
These people have some serious problems and really don’t want tourists – at least not those who are not prepared to scale great obstacles to get there. I guess it means that only the really serious ones actually make the trip.
Without Rozalin it would simply have been impossible to get a visa (and I still don’t actually have one as it is due to arrive on 22 December - which will probably coincide with something like the anniversary of Peter the Great’s Bar Mitzvah and the Russian Embassy will close for a week to celebrate with Horseradish Vodka – which Cate tells me is fantastic).
Apparently after the 1oth slug of Horseradish Vodka you take your clothes off and roll naked in the snow (at least this is what her work colleagues did in Red Square but I am not sure if is the same for everyone).
When we get there we have to register immediately with the authorities or we could be executed. We have to give them our passports and relevant documents which they keep for three days.
In the interim we may be stopped in the street and if we don’t have our passports and documents we will be executed.
We may also be stopped by good police or bad police (described by the travel agent as ‘Rotten Police Officers’ in the three pages of instructions she sent us which include ‘must’ a number of time) who may also execute us if we don’t have our registration papers which we won’t have because we will have given everything to someone somewhere else.
It seems to me that the first three days will be fraught with danger and we should probably stay huddled in our rat infested apartment waiting for the knock on the door which will herald our doom.
I hasten to add that I have not deliberately chosen a rat infested apartment – and on the website it looks fantastic and modern – and is in the best part of town. But you know what my track record is on these things so I have no confidence that we will throw open the door and say ‘Wow – this is great!’
But Gwenyth will be with us and she is a very practical person and a sailor so takes these things in her stride and is used to watery catastrophes – like the Mizzen mast walloping or some such thing while she is tacking.
(And now a sailor will write and tell me that there is no such thing as a Mizzen mast and if there was it wouldn’t wallop when you tack).
So Gwen will go in first – brush the stray rats from her loose clothing – and say – ‘Oh this is OK– we can get by here – I’ll sleep on the straw and you two can have the horse blanket – now let’s get into that bottle of Horseradish Vodka - is it snowing?'
She is also good at dealing with the authorities so we will leave her in charge of preventing us from being executed in the certain knowledge that she is such a treasure that – if all else fails – she will sacrifice herself to save us. (Sailors do this type of stuff - the salt rots their brains).
I am not sure if Gwenyth is reading my Blog - but we need Bees Wax. I will explain later.
I have received one of my Turkish Cookbooks and have made a Spicy Lentil Soup – not bad at all. But I need to find where to buy Turkish spices – probably Naschmarkt - or wherever the Turkish Quarter is in Wien - and there will be a large one.
Posted by Badger at 9:24 PM