Monday, May 10, 2010

There was a loud ploomfp

Last Friday I nailed my first pedestrian while I was cycling. I don’t mean nailed in the sense of Bill Clinton nailing interns in the White House. I mean nailed as in collided with. And with some degree of force.

I was beetling along Karlsplatz minding my own business and thinking about something innocuous - maybe life under President Palin or tying Glenn Beck to a Saturn Five rocket and sending him into space - when a plump plonker stepped from behind a bush - onto the cycle path - and into my trajectory.

My urgent evasive action was inadequate and there was a loud ‘ploomfp’ as I thudded into his ample proportions and bounced back onto the pavement upside down where I lay flailing on my back like a distressed turtle.

I hit my head but not too hard and as I was wearing a helmet there was no lasting damage. Blubber Guts was unharmed but leant over me and I knew that if he over balanced and sat on me it would be curtains so I recovered my composure quickly and went on my way.

Most Viennese cyclists do not wear helmets. They are fools. Something like this can happen at any time and and if I had not been wearing a helmet I would have give myself a nasty whack. Possibly concussion and lasting brain damage. I could have ended up as a Republican senator or an anchor on Fox.

On the weekend we had the ‘Genuss’ festival in Stadtpark. ‘Genuss’ is a bit hard for me to translate so that it means what it should in German - but let’s call it ‘enjoyment’ - in the context of food and wine. Merisi can expand on this for me.

It is a collection of food and wine from all over Austria. There are hordes of little booths selling cheeses, meats, mustards, jams, oils and every other thing from every part of this fine country.

The most popular places are the ones selling wine. Hordes of people drink fabulous wine and blow smoke over each other and the passers by. It is a bit hazardous for us in these types of places because there are more smokers than non-smokers so we have difficulty escaping the clouds of toxic gasses being exhaled as we pass through.

I must say that the smoking thing is becoming a bit wearing for us. As the weather is warmer every outdoor cafe and restaurant is infested with smokers blowing their vile muck over each other and us. It really does make it difficult so we only go to places that we know are entirely smoke free.


  1. Mini-tale from the Vienna Woods

    For the last few months, since his sight started to diminish, Grandpa has no longer been able to read or watch TV. So, these days, his only enjoyable pastime consists of going out for strolls in the nearby park, on the edge of the Wienerwald. Since he knows the park like the palm of his hand, ever since his childhood in Vienna, he seems to find his way around by smell rather than vision. The blossoms of such-and-such a tree or shrub inform his archaic memory of his exact whereabouts. And, when he happens to get too close to the roadway that runs along the edge of the park, Grandpa can't actually hear the traffic (because his hearing gave out long ago), but he can smell the fumes of the vehicles.

    Now, this sense of smell is all the more remarkable in that Grandpa, during these park excursions, spends his time lighting up one cigarette after another. That's his innate respect for Viennese traditions. God only knows how he manages to distinguish between the aromas of the vegetation, the fumes of vehicles, and the interior pollution caused by his constant smoking. In any case, when Grandpa returns home, he always takes pleasure in providing us with a detailed description of his itinerary, and the varieties of spring fragrance that he encountered.

    Yesterday afternoon, the kids were upset. When they got home from Sunday School, they found Grandpa lying flat out on the sofa in a most distressed state. The visible parts of his body were covered in bruises and blood stains, and he had weird tire marks—indeed, rubber skid marks—stretching from his head down to his toes. He was incapable of telling us exactly what had happened. Instead, he kept getting back to the aspect of the mysterious accident that seemed to annoy him the most. The vehicle that had hit Grandpa (no doubt, judging from the traces of the impact, a powerful motor cycle traveling at high speed) had run over his shirt pocket, crushing a new packet of cigarettes that Grandpa had just purchased, before setting out on his stroll. He was furious.

    "The guy stopped for a moment. He could have seen the damage he had caused, and given me his own cigarettes, to replace those he had just destroyed. But no, he just buggered off, as if the destruction of twenty brand-new cigarettes is neither here nor there."

  2. I never thought I'd be one of those reformed smokers who seconded your feelings on other people's smoke... but I seem to have become one.

    Glad your head's still attached to your neck.

  3. Once upon a time I hired one of those yellow city bikes sponsored by one of the banks and cycled around the ring. I had some near misses, but not so near as I have had as a pedestrian. It took me a while to understand that a cycle path is not for walkers.

    That market sounds a bit like the Christmas markets but I suppose the wine is not heated.

  4. Maybe from now on you should try to only run over smokers. You shouldn't lack for targets.

  5. Wow. I can tell you are not in America. There was absolutely no talk of a lawsuit in that post. You and he just dusted off and went about your business. If you were here, both of you would be suing each other for millions.