Now, where was I? Oh, yes, I was in Austria (by the way, there are no kangaroos in Austria. Not a lot of people know this. I know because I saw it written on a tee-shirt on sale in Innsbruck the other day.) I had promised
you a story or two, had I not, starting with the Tale of Mrs Turn-Up, also known as Mrs Push-In among other somewhat less than complimentary titles.
party can boast at least one “character”, maybe more. In our party, there was one particular gentleman who blew his nose so hard that it honestly sounded like an elephant trumpeting. We always knew exactly where he was. There was also
an amazing 93 year old woman who went by the name of Bubbles. We all decided we would want to be just like Bubbles, were we ever lucky enough to reach the age of 93. But the person who entertained us most over the course of the week, for all the wrong reasons,
was the redoubtable Mrs Push-In / Turn-Up.
There was no way that anything – or anyone – would prevent her from being first on the coach, first
off the coach, first through every turnstile, first up every hill, first – well I think you probably have the idea by now. She carried a single crutch which she used to great effect for carving her way through any crowd, pushing her way inexorably
towards her destination, moving (it has to be said) extremely smartly for one who constantly demanded “special assistance” on account of her professed mobility problems. The most patient and forbearing among us found it difficult to forgive
her for her pushiness and even our laid-back tour manager finally asked her to vacate the front seat which she had seized as her right on each and every trip, so that others might enjoy the delights of travelling “up front”.
On the plane on the way home I was amused to note that her constant demands for special treatment caught up with her. “Will those passengers requiring assistance please remain
in their seats until all the other passengers have disembarked,” came the official announcement just after we landed. You can imagine the consternation which this request would have caused her. While wishing to maintain her special position as
one entitled to favoured treatment, it was absolutely against her nature to sit and wait while everyone else got off the plane ahead of her. How could this be? Mrs Push-In did what came naturally to her and pushed her way to the head of the queue...
I loved Austria. I loved the blue, blue lakes, the silvery rivers and the majestic mountains, the stately fir trees in the forests, growing taller and taller as
they sought out the sun. I loved the green and the blue, the silver and the gold. Moreover, as we kept remarking to each other in wonder, the whole country was so, so clean. No graffiti, no litter, no unkempt verges, no scruffy houses with overgrown gardens.
Even in the grave-yards I visited (yes, sorry, I am that sad person who visits graveyards) every grave was carefully tended, planted with bright flowers, the headstones kept clean so that the inscriptions could be easily read and the people buried there remembered.
It all spoke volumes for a country which has pride in itself and its environment, with residents possessed of an in-born self-discipline to keep their beautiful land a fair and pleasant one.
There were just two things that troubled me. The first was the national obsession with taxidermy. In both guest houses where we stayed we kept coming across stuffed animals, large, small and sort of intermediate. In the second
guest house, near Innsbruck, there were two stuffed foxes tucked behind the staircase which you had to pass on your way to the loo. Being blessed with the Usher Gene, frequent trips to the loo are mandatory so I had to walk past poor Brer Fox and his Brother
many times in the course of our visit. Then there was the stuffed bison head, the many deer heads, and (the final straw) a whole stuffed deer “gracing” the scene at the venue of Friday night’s Tyrolean Evening.
Ah, the Tyrolean evening! I texted the Middle of the Darling Daughters, who knows about these things, to ask her what I could expect. She answered that I would have a lot of fun and could expect
“much smacking of bottoms.” So I was prepared, to some extent, when the three male dancers, clad in their lederhosen, began their performance of traditional dances, including the wood-choppers routine and the story of mining – both of which
went right over my head as I was too busy contemplating why three grown men would wear something so unbecoming as lederhosen. That was before they started with all the shoe-slapping and bottom spanking. “Dear me!” commented my friend Bonnie, who
is 80+ years young and as sharp as a needle, “Friday evenings will never be the same again...”
On the whole I will forgive them the lederhosen
and the bottom smacking. I will even (but only just) turn my eyes away from the poor stuffed animals.
In short, I will forgive them everything just for the sight of those mighty, majestic, magnificent