It is Monday morning. Not early. My butler didn’t come with the 9am coffee (He’s turned into an invisible man), so I stayed in bed. Because it’s been quite a weekend.
PART ONE: Sing me a drear song
Cold, drizzly Saturday, into the office. Biography of James Sauvage, Welsh baritone to complete. Done. 5pm, Paulie arrives and we head off to the Volkstheater and its charming Grüner Salon. It’s Eurovision night, and the manager has had the fun idea of staging a live ‘international’ concert prior to the start of the Main Event. One of the singers was to be good friend Riccardo Vino, and it sounded like it might be a fun event, so… well, I hadn’t watched Eurovision since ‘Il y a toujours un banc, un arbre, une rue’ days …
I still haven’t. Riccardo and his suave delivery of some lively, winning, charming period Italian songs were the highpoint of what was supposed to be a jolly night. Before him, we had a Dutch lady who talked too much and gurgled dreary songs on dreary subjects into the middle of a microphone (excuse me, Paulie has to sing into that next!), and afterwards we had a sort of Juliette Greco lady of indeterminate nationality with a strong baritone who ended her act on that classic of misery, ‘Malade’. Whee, it’s a party!
The room, which had been but half-filled for the concert, began to fill largely as Eurovision time approached. I looked at Paul, he looked at Katja, and the three of us sidled out, leaving the good folk to enjoy (?) the amateurishness of Eurovision and its predictable and over-publicised drag queen winner, while we ..
PART TWO: Spargel and Strawberries … it’s the season
We sidled as far as Kopps. Since our first visit, we’d been wanting to bring Katja here: she is a real Vegan! It didn’t let us down. It was peak time on Saturday night (not a time I would ordinarily choose), the place was thronged, the waiters run off their feet … well, gin and basil qualify as Vegan, so I started with that, then an asparagus quiche, which was more like a pattie. I thought it a bit bland at first, but gradually you get used to the more subtle flavours of veggie cooking and enjoy. Next, a cucumber soup laced with dill. Yow! I never knew dill was so forceful! Really tasty. Finally, we had asparagus ravioli … Katja had a amazing egg-salad thing (made of course, without eggs) and a non-cheese cheese-plate (excellent), and Paulie – who had, after all, been working – had a pretty wee dessert. Like Spargel, strawberries are in season, so they invest many a dish … Finally we were served a little chocolate truffle trifle-y thing. How they made it so delightful with no dairy, I do not know!
The meal cost 140e for three. About the same as the Katz Orange’s gold-star pork. Perhaps a tad expensive, but Vegan is trendy. And jolly nice.
PART THREE: Curled up in my bed
I awoke at 3.20am. Eugh. Oh heck! It’s 1.20pm in New Zealand and Agnes is running in 15 minutes. Grab computer, onto Trackside and .. groan! She is favourite! I hate that! My horses never win when they are favourite… on the other hand, they do well when I’m a million miles away.
Well, Agnes didn’t do her best beginning, and alas she ended up three deep on the fence. Damn. She is a free-striding, biiiig girl, and is really better in the open. She couldn’t get out to go past the dawdly leader, so she just sat the whole tactical (huh!) race in the same place as others came and went outside her. Into the straight, the dawdly leader was done with and the trailing horse went down the passing lane. Agnes was stuck behind it. No room on the outside, not enough space to get through on the inside. But she tried. She upped a gear and finally whisked through a tiny gap … too late. The post arrived and she was a fast-closing third, beaten a head for second.
Third is fine by me. It’s grand to win, but I’m really happy with podium finishes. I sat up till the video came through, and of course couldn’t sleep thereafter ... dear Agnes, splendid Wendy and Chris .. that’s three placings in four starts …
PART FOUR: The pace quickens
I had finally to crawl from my snatched-snooze bed. Paul and I had an appointment with Nik, the physical trainer. Episode two in my attempt at a return to something resembling fitness. Episode Umpteen in Paul's!
We started pleasantly. No walking machine. Instead I walked up and down a studio. Stomach in! Butt in! (Nik is American). It’s all very well to SAY that, but how to do it? The tummy and the buttocks are at opposite sides of the body, if I pull one in, by the laws of nature, the other goes out. But I tried, and apparently I did it. Shoulder and abdominal exercises and then the squats. Yayy. I can do squats. Don’t know why or how, but I can. Even holding a dumbbell weight.
Into the main gym, and out with the baby weights. 3k. Even the bad arm can lift that.
The good one has to wait for more kilos: we mustn’t get lopsided! We strike out to the rowing machine: look! See how I am walking. Backside in, striding (?) along, arm almost swinging. And compare with the photo in Vienna last year, or Bernau a few weeks back. With the stick. I didn’t even bring the stick today.
The rowing machine is tougher this week. Nik increased the resistance twice, we did more repetitions
And then I was commanded to sit up straight while pulling. At the same time! Paul says I did it.
Then, finally, on to the mat. I got down much less inelegantly this week (I’ve been practising) and prepared to have my legs pulled. Oh no, not yet. And now came the anguish. Streeee-tch … arms, back, and finally, oh dammit … When I taught this stuff, I used to rejoice in doing leg-lifting exercises, easily, repeatedly, while my seriously butch rugby-player class groaned, trembled and whined. Now it was I whose legs quivered … oh hell, it’s easier if you don’t point the foot, but it’s a habit …
I scrambled to my feet with the aid of an arm from Paul … head turning a bit … class two had definitely been an advance on class one!
I wobbled downstairs for some healing tea, my underwater arabesque exercises, and rest by the pool…
The Spa is a bit different on Sundays. More populated. Not so peaceful. Wraith-thin orientals with electronic stuff -- the boy next to me was chatting on one machine and playing a game on another simultaneously; the office-secretary type over the way was deep in her ipad; others had earphones. Books. Papers. I was the only person just ‘resting’. I’ve got a mind. I don’t need all that. ‘Ducks don’t need satellites’.
When a worked-over Paulie turned up, we gave the sauna, the pool, the birdsong showers and the tea a few more whirls and .. and, good grief, it was nearly 7pm.
Home, for a brilliant, healthy Maultaschen, Spargel and proscuitto dinner, with lime water … accompanied by Weber’s Oberon and da Falla …
Oh yes, I didn’t mention. Yesterday was my first day without alcohol for fifteen months. You see, I am taking this thing seriously …
And yes, we’re booked in for another visit tomorrow. Oh, heck, I mean today!
So wish me luck …
And a quietish week!