Monday, January 18, 2010

Wrestled from the mouth of a tiger

Ducks - Alberner Hafen - Wien

It is proving to be much more difficult than I had anticipated to de-wax Sissi. Most of her stomach is covered with wax and it has sort of gone hard and lumpy and is clinging to her fur. I can get little bits of it but she has a short focus for this type of stuff and starts biting me as soon as I get going. Brushing does not work as it just pulls at the fur and makes her unhappy.

She does smell quite nice because the wax was perfumed.

I spent a couple of hours cleaning the wax off the floor and walls. This was extraordinarily difficult because of the spray pattern. There were thousands of little spots of wax, punctuated by streaks and blobs. The walls will never been the same and will need repainting. I keep some white paint in the basement for just such emergencies.

We have found one person – Parsifal – who likes Topfenstrudel. In fact he is very fond of it indeed. Perhaps I am missing something? I might give it another try (joke!).

I have noticed recently a resurgence in young people’s clothing that looks like it has been subjected to close attention by Al Qaeda and then washed in a cement mixer with gravel. I guess it is a resurgence of the fashion thing – I remember years ago you could buy jeans without knees – and they cost more than jeans with knees. It doesn’t make sense to me but anyone who never wears anything but black T-Shirts and jeans with knees has lost all credibility in terms of fashion commentary.

Anyway – I saw this girl with the sweater which looked like it had been used for target practice and then to clean a car engine. It reminded me of my very favourite humorous writer David Sedaris. My daughter Melissa introduced me to his books a couple of years ago when I was staying with her in Paris and I have devoured everything he has written.

His most recent book (2008) is ‘WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES’ and following is a short excerpt – about distressed clothing:

“The only expensive thing I actually wear is a navy blue cashmere sweater. It cost four hundred dollars and looks like it was wrestled from the mouth of a tiger. “What a shame” the dry cleaner said the first time I brought it in. The sweater had been folded into a loaf-sized bundle, and she stroked it, the way you might a freshly dead rabbit. “it’s so soft” she whispered.

I didn’t dare tell her that the damage was intentional. The lengthy run across the left shoulder, the dozens of holes in the arms and torso; each was specifically placed by the design team. Ordinarily I avoid things that have been distressed, but this sweater had been taken a step further and ruined. Having destroyed it, it is now indestructible, meaning I can wear it without worry, For half this price I could have bought an intact sweater, thrown it to a tiger and wrenched it back myself, but after a certain age, who has that kind of time”

Interestingly, in the first print run of the book the dry cleaner uses French (Well she is French) and says “Ma Pauvre” instead of “What a Shame”. The copy I have now is one I bought from Amazon a short time ago and it has been dumbed-down – and in the process loses meaning. But that’s what happens.


  1. Badger, if you haven't already, you can try a warm bath with Sissi to loosen the wax. Or cut it off. I know cats hate baths, but I've heard it is harmful to their digestive system if they chew on it and swallow it. You are not the first to encounter this problem, apparently.

    I adore David Sedaris.

  2. I did the unthinkable and snooped your stats: 64 visitors daily!
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    Congratulations! :-)

  3. Nice photo. Alberner Hafen being if I'm not mistaken that strange area near the Friedhof der Namenlosen with the tall buildings that look interesting and abandoned. When I went there I almost had a look inside one of them, but then I chickened out.

  4. I first went to the Friedhof der Namenlosen after I saw the film Before Sunrise. That was a while ago, and it took me some time to go back as I went during the height of summer without midge protection and, with the cemetery being where it is, came away looking as if a posse of vampires had a orgy on my neck. The Viennese (or at least the ones I know) don't seem to care much about the place, which seems a shame to me. Saying that they don't generally like anything that's too far away. I saw a man today who got on the U2 at the Museumsquartier and got off at Volkstheater - this is laziness of the highest order! One-up to the Auslaenders I think for taking the effort to appreciate how haunting and beautiful the Namenlosen Friedhof is.
    And as for those abandoned tall buildings - they creeped me out in the same way that the Flaktuerme make me feel uncomfortable. So you're not the only one.

  5. Thanks M.

    I love Friedhof der Namenlosen because it is where it is and it is small and strange. I think very few people go there except on 1 November.

    I have driven past the buildings a few times and did not realise they were no occupied. I will have a closer look next time.

  6. Hay, they are TUFTED DUCKS!!!
    Not your ordinary Mallards!