Thursday, November 5, 2009

Looks like an empty baked bean box to me

Melissa and I went to MAK – which is the design museum in Vienna – and just across from Stadtpark which is good for Melissa who turns blue after 2 minutes outside. She is definitely the wrong sort of person for Europe and should live in somewhere like Morocco.

Anyway MAK is quite wonderful – and has the most stunning collection of chairs I have ever seen. It also has lots of my favourite things – like lace and crockery. (Ugh!).

The best part of the exhibitions is the descriptions that the artists give of their work.

What to me is a empty baked bean box turns out to be a post-modern representation of life in a modern Gulag in which workers are imprisoned in cubicles with fluorescent lighting and where they are verbally beaten by neo-imperialist guards. The open flaps of the box represent the only escape but cannot be reached by the workers unless they band together to build the way out - but their essential intellectual shallowness makes this impossible because of the crushing emptiness of their lives and the worry about what is out there. The empty tin in the bottom of the box may be the shrugged off shell of a single escapee who now runs a deck chair rental shop on the beach on the Costa del Sol – or it may be an empty tin.

The dishwasher started leaking so I attempted to fix it by removing, cleaning and replacing the seal. After an hour or so with the mop and bucket I had another go which was much more successful. I have told Herr Dorfelmutzer downstairs that I am sure that his insurance will cover most of the damage but not to put his Dachshund on the balcony while it is wet because it is too cold out there and Fritzi will ice up.

News day and back to one of my old favourites (groan) smoking. The Austrian Times reports that, according to a Vienna Doctor - Austria has the highest percentage of 15-year-old smokers in Europe - a staggering 25%.

It is an interesting article so I will quote it in full (mainly because I don’t have anything else to write about).

“Manfred Neuberger, the head of the preventive-medicine division at Vienna Medical University, added today (Weds) that the number of Austrian youth who smoked had been steadily increasing since 1997 and that 145,891 Austrians aged 11 to 17 smoked.

Noting the average age at which young people began smoking had fallen to 11, he said: "The younger one begins, the worse the consequences will be."

Neuberger claimed the government had been doing too little to get young people not to smoke. "It is easier to buy cigarettes than groceries," he said, adding the government should use the 60 million Euros in cigarette taxes that young smokers paid annually to pay for a campaign of prevention of smoking.

He called protection of non-smokers in Austria "a health and political time bomb" and said the country was on the level of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Albania and Serbia in that regard.

The doctor cited polls in Styria and Upper Austria that had shown 91 per cent of people who visited nightspots felt harmed by secondary smoke and 60 per cent of them wanted the law on smoking toughened.

Tamas Fazekas from Vienna’s St. Anna Children’s Hospital called for "an absolute ban on smoking in public areas. We are already finding illnesses in children that previously occurred only in adults." She warned that pregnant women’s exposure to secondary smoke could lead to premature births and development of asthma in young children.

She also claimed exposure of children to secondary smoke made it more likely they would start smoking and noted 80 per cent of children of smokers became smokers themselves.

"We need to make it clear to adults that nicotine is not only a poison that harms children but that they also need to set a good example by not smoking," she added.

The doctors’ announcements came on the occasion of an event promoting the EU campaign "HELP – For a Smoke-Free Life" in Vienna. The campaign featured more than 300 events in all 27 EU member states today”.

I laughed out loud at the last sentence. This place is poisonous – it is impossible to escape the smoke.

Melissa and I had lunch in Pizzeria Grado. Six tables were occupied and there were smokers at four of them. In our favourite Fish Restaurant - Dalmatia – last Friday night there were smokers all around us and a cigar smoking woman behind us. Given half a chance in restaurants Austrians would probably light their own farts.


  1. Another outstanding blog post! Don't forget to post a recent photo of Moni so we can monitor her fat levels.

    Even Morocco is too cold for me in winter. I need to fly further south.

  2. "Neuberger claimed the government had been doing too little to get young people not to smoke."

    Not only that, they fail to protect not smoking young people from their peers' smoke!

    The government is too busy protecting the "rights" of smokers to light a cigarette wherever they see fit to.

    I was trying to find a smoke-free cafe at Marc-Aurel-Strasse today. Pickwick offered three tables in one end of their large smoke-filled room reserved for non-smokers. Same scene at the cafe at the other side of the street, the no smoking area was relegated to a few tables in a drab corner of the smoke-filled room. Thank haven, there is a very nice bakery near the Herzl Steps, no smoking allowed there!

    Have you been at the Shakespeare Bookstore lately?
    Since the former (incredibly kind) owner retired, it's become a smokers' haven: The shopkeepers smoke right in the small store, the books you buy are smelly. I stopped buying books there.

  3. Melissa: Will provide pics of Tubby soon.

    Merisi: Haven't been there lately - and now won't go.We tend to go only to cafes that are completely smoke free - or have separate nosmo areas.

  4. I do the same, vote with my money.

    The bakery up the hill, at the corner of Marc Aurel and Sterngasse, something like "Waldviertel" or so in the name, is a very nice refuge:
    Excellent coffee, a wide selection of sweets, not only run of the mill bakery ones, and even a small well-priced lunch menu. I shall remember it next time I want a quiet, smoke-free place (I met with a friend who is trying to teach me to handle my archive better - my new Mac is like a foreign county in that department).