Saturday, 21 December 2019

Weather forecasters are cautiously forecasting. . . .

A White Christmas 

Below 500 - 1,000 meters above sea level where most people live  I doubt it. 

We've been having record breaking December temperatures. A few days ago the new all time December record temperature of 20.2 was announced. I'm glad Austria doesn't have temperatures as high as  those in Australia - 
47 C yesterday down under. 

Update: Australian all time temperature record broken in Nullabor (on south coast) 49.9 C 
Fasten your seat belts folks. No major rainfall expected for two months. 

White Christmas Day Weather Update: 
Definitely not white! 9 C, sunshine and showers, westerly breeze.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Train Chaos 'Super Gau'

When they said they were going to build a new station - a so-called Hauptbahnhof - and reduce the number of trains arriving at other stations in particular the Westbahnhof  I said to Mrs G they shouldn't put all their eggs in one basket.

But they did,  and now it's the busiest time of the year for tourists and Christmas shoppers!

Due to a fire at the weekend on the main underground line the U1 the train travel situation has turned into chaos.

It will remain so for at least a week.

One comedian wrote a letter to the newspaper: This makes hardly any difference to the usual service.

The situation is that no trains can proceed from the Hauptbahnhof to the city centre U-hub at Karlsplatz or to Schwedenplatz a route used  by office workers and tourists. Another Hauptbahnhof drama to add to several scandals involving millions of euros that came to light during the construction of the Hauptbahnhof. The first drama was a winter of shivering in the open air on snow covered platforms due to the lack of waiting rooms for travelers.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Hauptbahnhof  is jinxed, despite the employment of an esoteric to cast a spell to keep away any evil spirits at a cost of somewhere in the region of €90,000.

Ironically in one corner of the double page spread about the latest chaos there is an advert from the association of Vienna's business and 'shopping street traders' featuring Herr Ludwig the  socialist mayor going about his Christmas shopping with a smile on his face and three happy companions aside a golden heart.

At the same time as the main artery of the railway infrastructure to the heart of the city has ground to a halt police have arrested men suspected of planning to carry out an attack on a Christmas market near one of the affected stations of Stephansplatz next to the city's cathedral.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Scotland the Brave

Guardian headline - Sturgeon has Voted                         

Click text for Sturgeon.

I must keep well in with the Scots.  I have outlaws in Wick.

*here is Austria we had a general election in September 2019 and the country is still bring run by a caretaker government appointed by the president following a political scandal - the news today is possibly a coalition government by the middle of January 2020 but don't bank on it :-) . . . these delays for wheeling and dealing behind closed doors are inevitable under a PR voting system.

Britain Goes to the Polls

It's a serious business and the country is deeply divided.

Here's the leading candidate on his way to the polling station.

A bit of humour on what is an important day for Britain (albeit from a defranchised Welshman with no dog in the fight).

Hope it goes well today in Blighty during this the season of goodwill. 

              I shall now make a pot of tea and take a look at  Rachel's view of the situation.
              Yesterday I watched a sky news video in which Farage hoped for enough BP
               seats to make a deal with the Tories.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Coca Cola Cathedral

It's yet another Christmas Card!

Things go better with coke! And that includes Vienna's  Cathedral of St Stephen.

That's the moon up there in the sky.

Once upon a time someone at Coca Cola Inc. thought it would be a good idea to have the Coca Cola logo beamed onto the Lunar surface so that it would be visible from the Earth.

But that was beyond the pale.

Giant coke bottles illuminated by lights beamed onto the house of God at Christmas is small compensation.

Or is it?

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Creeping censorship

I experienced it again today.'

The blank screen.

It all started because I was reading a newspaper article about 34 women being killed by knives* in Austria so far this year.

In order to get more information I went to a news source which I use from time to time.  The story I found there was headlined German knife deaths rival London's (or words to that effect). I think I glimpsed that 5 people had died in 5 different German cities in knife attacks at the weekend. But I couldn't swear to it for suddenly -

as I was reading the article the computer screen started doing strange things and then a notice appeared on screen telling me I was 'forbidden to use this resource'.

Obviously a mistake I thought.

This is a news website in the public domain.

I've been using it for years.

But no, try as I might I cannot return to it.

A technical hitch or Big Brother censorship?

How can we know? We cannot know because today

as in 1984

too many people self censor - which does not bode well for our future.

When will we ever learn?

*now had an opportunity to reread the original newspaper article and it turns out they weren't all killed by knives  - other means included shooting, suffocating and strangulation.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Christmas Books

At this time of year my mind turns to my poetry books. 

The latest addition to my collection is Tagore's Gitanjali
His verse somehow reminds me of the work of a favourite Welsh poet - R S Thomas. 

I feel the following from Gitanjali 30  could well have been written by Thomas: 

I came out alone on my way to my tryst. But who is this that follows me in the silent dark?
I move aside to avoid his presence but I escape him not. 
He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger; he adds his loud voice to every word that I utter.
He is my own little self . . .

I can imagine that Retired, here from Thomas's Collected Later Poems, might have been written by a modern day Tagore. 

Not to worry myself any more
if I am out of step, fallen behind.
Let the space probes continue;
I have a different distance to travel. 
Here I can watch the night sky,
listen to how one grass blade
grates on another as member 
of a disdained orchestra.

Another book of verse I will return to is William Carlos Williams's Paterson. 

It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way way into a thousand minds . . . 


Thursday, 5 December 2019

Zen's 2019 Christmas Card

Please feel free to recycle this Christmas card. It comes from me to you with my best wishes.

May you all enjoy a happy and peaceful festive season.

Artist's note: any resemblance of Rudloph to Ms Thunberg is purely coincidental. 

Monday, 2 December 2019

Brexit Wine Gums

"Produced in the EU outside Great Britain":

That's what's written in German on this Union Jack emblazoned  packet of Suntjens Wine Gums distributed by Suntjens Import + Export GmbH of Bruggen.

Despite all our tantrums and procrastinations someone in the EU still loves us!

It's not a Banksy

. . . but it's good isn't it? Only the walking sticks and the windows are real.