Picture - The Langdales from Elterwater
John Lancaster Wigan MP
Ah wur gerrin quaat excited ut prospect uv t'great adventure we wur abeht to embark upon, in fact it wur awe ah could do fert keep me blood pressure dehn below two 'undred. After fohty yers oh wedded bliss we wus to be allowed to sample t'delights uv't European Union, unsupervised, alone, beht even t'services of a translatur fer added assurance. Ah badly wanted one oh t'childer to come along fert guide us through th'intricacies uv immigration to a strange land, un t'regulations abeht eh much brehn ale ah could bring back through t'customs, but they sed it would tek away aw t'romance if they did. Two's company three's a creyd so to speyk. I did a fur bit oh frettin once aw t'flights ud been booked wunderin if t'fish an chips would be up to scratch and if they'd be able to understond sumbody frum Lommerah Green I' Vienna. Could ah cope?
Not wantin t'look a complete foo un show Wigginers up in a bad laaght abroad, ah decided to mek an effort foht lern a few German phrases an' invested in a course of "Deutsch Express" fer me Ipod. Ah wer soon tawkin t'language like a good un even though t'wife thowt ah wer makin t'words up, ah did drop th'od' aitch ney un then though. Ah towd 'er th'accent would improve when we got theer and ah'd had a bit oh practice. On't day oh departure t'wife wer a bit disappointed when ah cum dehn't sturs wi me Wiggin Athletic away strip on, her made me go an change into summat more in keeping wi't sophisticated designer label culture abroad. This trip wer goin't be a little bit diffrunt, she wur plannin t'visit th'opra, un t'see t'Vienna Boys Choir, then uv course ther would be t'Vienna Woods un t'Beautiful Blue Danube, un ah wouldn't pur it past 'er fert want to ride I' one oh them horse drawn carriages laake royalty.
Weather forecast weren't aw that clever as we left th'ouse fert th'airport, ther wer even rumours oh storms over t'continent but when you've waited fohty yers an yer in t'mood fer a bit oh romance yer not goin't be daunted wi a bit u rain. We took off a bit late, nowt much to worry abeht mind yer, an' wi wer soon leavin t'sceptred isle an' flyin oer t'North Sea beynd fer Frankfurt, me ears ringin wi t'strains of "Tales from t'Vienna Woods" from me Ipod, just audible above t'sehd ut th'engines. Landin' wer a bit bumpy at Frankfurt un t'rain wer lashin deyhn fit fert launch Noah's Ark, things wer beginnin t'take a turn fert worse, ar special little fairytale was abeht t'turn a little bit Grimm. T'next twelve 'ars wer spent I' queues an t'laake, tickets in hand boardin' buses an' planes an' leavin 'um agen like a bizarre game uv musical cheers, watchin t'biggest log jam in history build up as planes landed and none took off. Th'odd 'ighly strung passenger had t'be restrained and sedated as another attempt at boardin' eended i' repatriation tu t'departures lounge fer t'third time. Eeh ah've neh'r bin so fed up since me mam stopped me gooin t' t'lifeboys, it seemed laak this journey would last ferever. When ah wer a lad un wi took ar 'olidays in Southport 'r Blackpool yer could allus rely on't Ribble bus to get yer ther on taam. It wer gerrin rather late neh un 'avin virtually given up t'ghost, ah wer havin a little nod when things seemed t'start movin again, by eck ah thowt ah wer dreamin. By two o'clock Friday mornin' wid touched deyn in 't'City of Mi Dreams', things wer lookin up - except as it turned eht, in t'chaos they'd sent ar suitcases to Crakow or somewhere even more far flung. Too tired t'queue and too tired t'care, t'wife who's good in situations laak this said "we'll come back tomorrow and report um missin", "don't worry they'll find um an fotch um back". I could only mutter "Aye 'appen thi will, 'appen thi will" as she shoved mi in t'tback of a taxi.
Neet porter wer a luvly chap an' greeted us as if it wur two o'clock in th'afternoon, we towd im abeht bags bein' i Poland un 'e kindly fixed us up wi a few essentials, comb, tooth brushes, razor blade, tooth paste un shavin cream. Eeh, bless im, ah'm beginnin t' feel more at peace with the world, as we go to our room and look for'ard to a good naaghts sleep. Yer couldn't 'elp laakin this beautiful an' friendly city, it reminded mi of 'ome I' sum respects, anyway after reportin t'bags missin' wi start'd t'explore some of its delights. As tha can imagine t'weather bein warm an humid, by th'end o't first day t'smell of b.o. was becoming quaat noticeable un in a fit oh panic we realised we needed t'buy some underwear and shirts fer t'pur us on. All th'indications towd us it'd bi Chrismus befoor t'suitcases turned up. We looked high 'n low fer a Marks and Spencers but there's ne'er one theer when yer need one, we had t'ask a bobby. "Yer'll bi wantin Steffl I Kärntner Strasse, they'll 'ave everythin yer need thur" he towd us helpfully. T'shop wer laak Debenhams wi nobs on, very posh supplyin t'needs oh supermodels, Victoria Beckham an t'laake, but wi wer desperate un ther wer nowheer else. We wur soon rummagin rather self consciously among th'underwear fer summat suitable. Ah settled fer Hugo Boss underpants which 'd bi noan too comfortable bur as compensation ah realised it 'd bi possible fer t'swagger wi t'label showin over mi hipster jeans if ah tucked mi shirt in. Buyin t'shirts was easy but noan too cheap, and wi wer soon walkin eht ut shop wi designer label carrier bags laak Kate Moss in Hello magazine un a big 'ole i mi pocket. Back at th'hotel t'wife's new Sloggi nickers turned eht t'bi black not white and not th'innocent looking matronly style wi expected. The sort I allus associate wi wimmin oh jubious backgreynd, yer know war ah mean, yer've probably seen um I' catalogues, anyroad they're very much freynd on and taboo I certain parts of Ashton in Makerfield. Wi couldn't tek um back though neh wi'd opened em, wi'd have to manage, ut least wi'd summat to change into.
On t'mornin oh th'anniversary we wer up early for mass at the chapel at th'Hofbrau - no not th'Hofbrau that's a brewery - th'Hofburg palace, the Vienna Boys Choir'd be performing Haydn's Theresienmesse wi' full orchestral accompaniment. We'd tickets fer t'front row ut balcony, raaght in t'middle un t'best seats in th'ouse, ah could tell it wer gooin t'be a rather emotional experience un ah wern't disappointed. When th'organ, th'orchestra un t'chorus lifted t'roof wi t'Sanctus th'hair stood up on t'back oh mi neck, by eck bah t'time they'd finished ther wern't a dry eye in th'ouse. Whora luvely way to spend yer anniversary, an' such a fantastic experience ah'd 've paid 'undred peynd fer t'privilege uv bein theer that day, ey much is thar in Euros? When it wur awe o'er, wi lingered till creyds ud gone un said a few prayers oh thanks fer fohty yers oh happiness together un another fer t'safe return uv t'wifes nickers - an t'suitcases uv course. Guess what! It worked, aye t'missin suitcases had turned up when wi geet back t' th'hotel at eleven o'clock, there'd obviously bin sum divine intervention on ar behalf. Ah'll bet St Anthony hisself ud bin beeverin away I Poland awe wickend, seechin them bags. Eeh it wer such a relief though, we'd be gooin whom tomorra un t' thowt uv t'luggage remainin unattended I foreign parts wer unbearable.
Eh much taam 'ad wi wasted though frettin' abeht things us don't matter when wi should've bin cruisin on t'Danube or wanderin' through t'Vienna woods. It wus tu late neh fert make up fer lost taam bur ah couldn't gu whom beht seein' beautiful blue Danube could ah? So wimme tattered city map I' mi 'ond wi set off in a final bid fert find th'upper reaches oh that famous river hopin' wi weren't choosin' t'bit us run through t'city scrap yard un t'gas works. Th'undergreynd line one took us to Alte Donau un wi walked through t'park adjacent t'United Nations buildin's crossin t'both channels ut Danube before joinin' th'undergreyd agen ut Handelskai. Wi could 'ear leyd pop music when wi gor off t'train, wi thowt wi wer ut Prater Park, but now, it couldn't be ah could see t'giant Ferris wheel I t'distance. It turned eht bi a two day festival in full flow wi theysands oh people visitin' th'attractions un behncy castles as far as th'eye could see in every direction. Eh disappointin' is thar when yer've come all that way ut great expense t'see t'great city of Haydn, Strauss, Mozart, Prinz Eugen, th'Habsburgs and t'legacy thi left fer us t'enjoy. Ah wer gerrin just a little depressed neh, ah'd such 'igh 'opes oh this trip un aw ah could feel wer us ah'd let t'wife dehn, me Midas touch had left mi some 'eh. Wi uh bit uh taam left fer t'retrieve t'situation wi made a quick dash back t' t'city centre an' th'hotel where wi showered an' changed into some decent cloase, to round off ar stay I Vienna in style wi dinner at Leupold's restaurant. It did the trick, some good Viennese cookin', a bottle o' wine an' some beer restored mi spirits and pur a smile back on mi face, an' ah've got t'admit ah wer a little tipsy an' unsteady o' mi feet as wi made ar way back t' th'hotel in t'cool evenin' ur. Aye it turned eht aw reet in th'eend bur ah'st a't go back an' see aw t'things ah missed, bur ah'll do it proper next taam un fly via Munich or London or anywheer except Frankfurt.
Despite the trials and tribulations caused by bad weather and bad judgement we can't speak highly enough of Vienna and its people who are very welcoming, hospitable and friendly. We enjoyed exceptional service from the following and are pleased to recommend them to others planning a visit: Austrian Airlines; Hotel Tigra, Tiefer Graben 14-20; Restaurant 'Zum Leupold' Schottengasse 7; Restaurant 'Ofenloch' Kurrentgasse 8.
Palfreyman June 2007