Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time to put the chocolate in the fridge

From our Hotel Room in Berlin over the Tiergarten

When we saw our apartment in Vienna for the first time it took our breath away both because of how beautiful it was and also because of how hot it was.

It was in July and it was a hot day in Vienna – but not ferociously hot. When we entered the apartment we thought it might be on fire and started looking for buckets - but were greeted by the existing tenant and invited – together with the relocation agent with whom we were on our voyage of discovery – to sweat our way around.

The guy was working at home – in the lounge room downstairs - not in his study upstairs. We remarked at how steamily hot it was and he said that they had turned the building air conditioning off to make some repairs. He pointed at the truck in the courtyard below.  We looked at what indeed appeared to be a truck that could be making repairs to a building air conditioning system. Ho bloody ho!

This of course turned out to be a lie. The system in our apartment is  not connected to any system in the apartment building.  It is self-contained, big, noisy and does not work very well at all. You will find a description here.

The man worked for IBM and was going to live in Dubai on one of those Palm Leaf thingies with his wife and child. I suppose he lied because he had some liability for the apartment and needed to get a tenant for it. It is not something I would have done but still.

So then we moved in. Reality moved in with us. We commenced our intimate relationship with the air conditioning people. Our current man – some have moved on – retired – that sort of stuff – is very nice. He comes for Christmas dinner.

We then understood that the reason the man was working downstairs instead of in his study is that the studies – which have large skylights – were uninhabitable in summer – except as Saunas – and then only if you get then Finns to stop throwing water onto the hot rocks and go out on to the Terrace to barbecue Reindeer steaks.

Mind you we barely survived the first month as I had to rush out and buy fans and the cats lay about the house panting and sleeping was nigh on impossible until we got used to the sound of our sweat dripping onto the floor – and having to remember to put the saline drips in and not touch any metal parts in the apartment without wearing Kevlar gloves.

The only times I have been hotter than this was visiting Cate’s parents in their retirement home in Bundaberg in Queensland - which they kept closed tighter than a drum.

We would go at Christmas and the outside temperature would be maybe 35°. Inside the house it could be – and I am being generous – 40° and you could cook a Turkey in the kitchen sink. 

The blinds would be drawn and there not be the slightest chink through which a breath of air could pass. Cate’s father would probably be wearing a cardigan lest he catch a chill. 

My knees would buckle as I lurched into the oven of lounge room and Cate would catch me and stop me from falling into a dead faint onto the lounge room floor. Cate would prop me up in front of a fan - with a wet towel over my head - with a pitcher of iced water - and tie me to the chair to prevent me from toppling over. When dinner was ready she would mash it for me and feed it to me with the spoon and pusher set from her childhood.

The air conditioning people and the apartment owner had of course trudged this road many times before and did much tinkering and fiddling with screwdrivers – for show purposes only.

They knew immediately that they could do nothing. They have – to their credit – tried many things – including putting pieces of cardboard into the units – but all to no avail. As I have said before – if cardboard could fix it – it should have been fitted at the factory.

We realized shortly after the first visit that we had been gulled by the tenant and would have to do the best we could.

So we hounded them and hounded them – or rather Rozalin hounded them – so that we got them up to there current level of efficiency – which is probably about 60%.

For the upstairs studies we bought separate air conditioning units and the owner of the apartment graciously provided holes in the windows so that we could run the hot air outside.

We manage quite well now – all things considered. Except for the chocolate. At about this time of the year when it starts to get really hot the chocolate has to move from the kitchen cupboards into the fridge – otherwise ghastly things start to happen.

As for the IBM man? I have put a spell on him. Each night he dreams that rats are eating his testicles. He wakes many times each night screaming and tearing at his underpants.

I have always had this power but I use it wisely.

I am currently using it only on the IBM man and to make Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann sound like a gibbering idiots whenever they speak.

Spell Power should be used for good and it should be used modestly.


  1. I feel your has been hovering around 100 degrees here for the last 2 weeks and there is no end in sight. This is normally reserved for August, not June. If the saying "sweat my ass off" was indeed true, I would be bottomless from sitting outside watching little league baseball games. Last night I actually wore a tube top and short shorts to the ball park...classy I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This whole thing will get even better when the electric bill comes...yikes! At least my chocolate isn't melting...only me. ;)

  2. Rozalin appears in many of your stories,
    and looks after you very well, but who IS she?

    Do you go for a swim?
    I've seen a beautiful pool on Merisi's blog in the past.

  3. When my children were young I worked quite heavily with them with spells, only ours were the spelling bee variety.

    I have been working very closely with my air conditioner man today on one of our commercial buildings and I think we finally have the solution, but the reason it has taken so long to figure out was because a particular tiny valve was malfunctioning leading to misreadings on his pressure gauges causing previous repairmen to put TOO much refrigerant in the system. But I think it is part of the activity of the tenants, they use far more hairspray on their clients than my wife did on hers, so that is most likely dirtying things up as well. Did it appear that the previous tenant used a lot of hair spray? (ha ha) So tomorrow we clean the inside coils. I think refrigeration is a tricky business sometimes, and maaaaybe my next career.

  4. Spells, eh? Want to send one my direction to ward off middle-aged Barbie dolls?

  5. The world is a better place thanks to chocolate
    I'd like to have this spell power. It seems it's really useful. By the way, when is ths IBM man supossed to stop having nightmares?

  6. Cheers: Thanks goodness the cats don't play baseball.

    freefalling: Ah Rozalin.....I will reveal some more about her soon. No we don't do swimming here. There is no surf.

    esbboston: Well next time your are in Vienna......

    SK Waller: I will need their names for the spells to be effective. Send me an SMS.

    Laura: When the Air Con works or we leave the apartment - whichever comes first.

  7. Feel your pain, Badger. It has been 35°C+ and will only get worse. I cannot stand the heat, but it's the humidity that is really starting to wear on me. And it's only the beginning of June...

    A plague upon the IBM man's House!

  8. Thank you for your wonderful, informative, and clever blog! We are coming to Vienna in July for 6 months and I have decided we need to review our lease again, lol.

    Your spells are potent things.