Lost Empires – a collection (part 2)


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More empires, then…

Vienna is, on many levels, a lovely city – but after reading Joseph Roth I was never able to see it in the same way again. Roth’s Empire, the one of the Hapsburgs, of the many ethnic groups, of my Dreiländer grandmother who gave her son an Emperor’s name, that elephantine, multilingual Empire, orderly in it chaos, austere, slow and immutable – that Empire died with Franz Josef, and decomposed with World War One. Most surely it is not to be found in the quaint patisseries in the form of the Sachertorten fed to endless tourists, nor in the ubiquitous Mozartkügeln, the girls dressed up as Sisi, the maudlin songs played in garden restaurants… Vienna has chosen a sugary image of the Empire, flattering for the national character and good for tourism – betraying the ancient, supranational and hallowed idea. Because while kingdoms are places, empires are ideas… Now a shadow of that idea only remains, perhaps, in the Kapuzinergruft in the Neue Markt. Continue reading

A Christmas Carol – News from the front


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And so the second run of our CC is nearing its end: four more nights now, and we’ll be done for the season.

And you know what? I’m going to miss it terribly. It’s been an intense and very successful affair, sold out from the beginning, with the box office besieged with calls well after all the seats were gone (why, one particular lady called last Saturday, during the show – begging for eight seats, no less…), ticket-less people turning up every night, queuing in hope of a last-minute seat, and a number of very good reviews… Continue reading

Gratuitous Whining on the First Day of Winter


I have the flu – the damn flu… again!

For the second time in less than a month. And I rather suspect it can’t have been the flu both times – at least not the same kind of flu – but that’s definitely cold comfort, when you are nursing a wildly see-sawing temperature, enjoying a sore throat, and feeling in general as if your head were stuffed with corned beef, glass marbles and cotton-wool. Continue reading

Saint Lucia and the Three Notebooks!


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It’s Santa Lucia, over here – the gift bringer. One of these days I’ll tell you about the various forms the legend and the tradition take, but not today. Today – as you may have gathered by the post’s title – it’s about the notebooks.

Because, you see, this year, together with the usual candy, a couple of books, and the first December snowfall* in ages, Saint Lucia gave me three notebooks – and they couldn’t be more different. Continue reading

Things done, not done, to do… the yearly reckoning


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Oh, look – the end of November!

The end of November, when I usually wrap up my writing year, and take stock of it. This year… well, this year things might be a wee bit different – but I’ll get there.

First, the writing year – the good and the bad of it… Continue reading

Tableaux Vivants


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I’ve always loved the idea of tableaux vivants. Enacting a painting, or a scene from a story – in one long frozen moment complete with props and costumes… Half theatre, half illustration. It appeals very much.

I remember reading Behind a Mask, one of Louisa May Alcott’s gothic stories, during a mostly sleepless overnight train ride… Continue reading