Monday, 13 March 2017

Vienna - let's start at the end...

Back from my trip to Vienna and it's already distilling into those few moments that get stuck in memory and so embellished and polished until they become something that they weren't at the time. Vienna is a place I could happily get lost in. Obviously, all I saw was the surface but I managed to avoid most of the hype and drink beer and schnapps in bars that American tourists and hipsters - both young and old - would probably avoid. I know that I'm more than a little unhinged, but there were moments that I wished the whole place would turn to black and white and after the third beer and fourth blackberry schnapps it almost did.

Play the Harry Lime theme.

Vienna is one of those places that is as much movie than a real geographical location and I soon found that it can be any movie that I wanted it to be - not The Sound of Music though, never The Sound of Music. Mind you, my movies are of the 'Noire' genre and for me Vienna had more than a few movies that were just a glass or two away. I'm not a huge fan of reality. I've never really understood it's attraction. Most of the time it appears to be a series of repeated activities that we don't have the will to break away from. Sometimes though a few people do and these are the ones that lead great lives, but I best leave that for another day and another glass of beer.

But let's roll the cameras. I'm here to make a mind movie to keep me warm the rest of my days and not dwell on my own insignificance in the shadow of greatness.

I was in Vienna and walking the same streets as Chopin, Beethoven and the Strauss 'familie', Freud and Hitler (the would be art student and not the dictator), Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, Turks and Hungarians, Emperors and paupers, good men and bad men selling fake antibiotics and watching the world turn on a huge wheel high above the city walls with it's heartbreak and culture and drama and schnitzel and beer and frankfurters and white horses and goulash soup and music and art and madness and frustrated sexuality.

Keep the camera rolling. My movie is showing and the Harry Lime theme plays as I pray for fog, a single gunshot rings out in the deserted square and maybe a German femme fatale - who probably turns out to be a spy - steps from that shadowed alley where I'm sure I can see a gloomy bar.

Zoom in on the entrance to a bar with a red neon sign. It should say Leopold's, but the 'L' doesn't work. It's probably out of neon and the flashing sign is reflected in the rain on the pavement - eopold's, eopold's, eopold's flashing over and over again. A man with a large scar on his left cheek falls through the door of the bar and out onto the cobbles. He's clutching his left side and grimacing. He looks hurt, a stab wound? But then it could be indigestion the goulash can be very hot in some places.

Of course that was just the movie in my mind. It was a bar, not gloomy just smokey from the cigarettes of patrons who wouldn't accept a ban if the authorities insisted with raised machine guns, shouting and much stomping of jackbooted feet. The beer and the goulash were excellent and nobody tried to shoot me. This is Vienna. There's freedom here and the movie just plays on and on.

I came to Vienna in search of something, a few things really. Some I found, some I'm still searching the sewers for. But whilst I may not have become Harry Lime when I was there, I did become a venerably old sixty, not quite alone, not quite as mysterious as I'd like to be and I don't suit a hat. But goodness, how I loved pretending.

Maybe for my seventieth I'll go back and go down the sewers and find the rest of my film, or maybe I'll visit Casablanca instead.

Anyway, it meant something to me - oh, Vienna!

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