Vienna, a city of enormous beauty, efficient transport, delightful tucker (provided you’re taking statins for the cholesterol), of art, history, music and architecture to stun and amaze you.
And yet, we see on the other hand a history of the rise and fall of empire, deep intolerance and religious conflict.
The Empress Elisabeth took a shine to the Greeks, but maintained a traditional fear and loathing of the Turks – as I’m sure Atomou and Astyages are well aware. OK, Waz et al too.
Well, let’s face it she and her old man Franz Joseph owned Greece for starters and there are monuments galore to the princes and other aristo-dudes who beat the Turks off in numerous sieges. Interestingly, Siege I was a classic flop – oops started a bit too close to winter – and the climate beat the invader (come on classicists – Napoleon anyone, anyone ? Hitler, anyone, anyone ? But Siege II saw a lot of support from neighbours who objected to the threat of the veil (veiled threat joke mercifully over early in the piece). The mayor died in the conflict and scored a statue. Fair enough – second prize to being left alive. First prize was the Belvedere Palace (now the home of the major Klimts), but it went to a family member (call for a swab, Hung).
So Elisabeth built a palazzo at Corfu (or perhaps the Greek equivalent of a palazzo), learnt the lingo and threw up a bit of a monument to our mate. I hope you appreciate the dosh the Viennese are spending on giving it a facelift, chaps. So – top marks for religious tolerance.
But I witnessed a rather nasty piece of contemporary inter-species conflict – clearly sanctioned by the Catholic church – or moreover the parish of St Stephens. There was a huge protest about the exploitation of a species quite close to the hearts of the patrons of an eponymous watering hole in the Inner West of cyberspace.
Now, I know that it’s tempting to see this as a bit of digital mischief, but the truth is far more interesting – and a lot truer than digital mischief.
Your humble correspondent is clearly showing his displeasure in the forecourt of St Stephens here in the fair city of Vienna.
This was shortly before (I think the Polizei record says something about) an international incident and the simultaneous destruction of a van and a T-shirt.
Anyway, our correspondent is due out on bail soon and Merv’s brother Terry has added an international string to his legal defence bow – effectively doubling his criminal law expertise from only defending sheep duffers.