Vienna’s Drain


I buggered up my leg and so getting in and out of the drain’s been a problem for the last couple of weeks. Jambo’s hardly had any morning walks, and it’s only in the last few days that I’ve been able to scramble up and down the banking without lots of “Ooh!” and “Ach!”

When I got down there the other evening I found that not much had changed. The rain that I expected last week didn’t happen, though as I’m typing it’s falling gently and I reckon there’s enough to flush away the rubbish, such as this pile of DVD cases that appeared under the Chatham Road bridge, DVDs missing. Hmm.

I opened a bookshop once, a million years ago, and was fortunate enough to have a staff member who had (a) worked in retail before and (b) understood how retail worked. After the Melbourne Cup she said, “Well, we’d better get the Christmas decorations out”. I told her that (a) we didn’t have any Christmas decorations and (b) why on earth would be put them up in November? Surely they went up about a week before Christmas?

We were equally dumbfounded at the other’s stupidity. But I was one who didn’t get it: she was right. I bought decorations and she put them up and, every year thereafter, Melbourne Cup day was when I climbed into the attic and pulled out the dusty boxes with baubles and streamers and little Santas.

I was reminded those days when I came across this little lot. The tide had formed the leaves and litter into neat, arc-shaped sculptures and decorated it with scraps of packing tape, bottle lids and balloons. It’s quite festive and jolly, and appeared just after Melbourne Cup.

This little character is not Santa but added to the general feeling of the drain being sparkled up for the coming season. It seems to be a small baby clutching a bone, which is odd. Could it be Pebbles or Bam Bam from the Flintstones?

I’m not sure where I’d hang this Indian mynah. Perhaps he could sit at the top of the tree and glower down at us through the black sockets where his eyes once were. Yo ho ho!

At least today’s rain will get rid of the litter by the TAFE. I know that it’s only moving the problem somewhere else but it just gets too depressing seeing the same filth day after day.

My brother-in-law is in Europe for work and sent me some photos of the, ahem, “Danube canal” (his words). Is that what you call one of Europe’s mightiest and most majestic waterways? Why not the Danube drain? Gee, you can take the boy out of Newcastle …

I was struck by the ordinariness of the graffiti. Somehow I expected to Vienna to turn it on a bit more – European capital of culture and all that – but all they can manage is the same pretty uninspiring stuff as your bog-standard Mayfield drain. Sure there’s the odd decent piece but overall I thought it was rather ordinary. Which maybe says something about the kind of painting that appears on these kinds of surfaces.

I might do a thinky piece on that in a future post.



Ach! The stupid! It burns!

I’ve just finished beating my head against a filing cabinet after reading an article by Nick Thorpe, on the BBC web site, about a proposal to straighten the Danube.

Apparently that pesky river’s all meandery and windy. It simply will not listen to reason and be nice and compliant and straight. And so the engineers have got a plan to … ach! that stupid again! it’s hurting! Didn’t they read my blog post about the Los Angeles River? Is no-one listening?

It’s not all bad news. Thorpe’s got a longer article in The Hungarian Review (available at all good newsagents). Back in the Danube’s headwaters there’s been work on to reintroduce the oxbows, re-open the anabranches and remove the engineering that almost completely stuffed the river and its surrounding environment in the not-so-long-ago olden days. Up around Vienna way, national park authorities have:

… re-opened the meandering side-arms of the river which were blocked off in the 19th century. Rocks placed along the shores have been removed in many places, to allow gravel and sand banks to reform. Fish can now breed again in the side-arms of the river, and many species of birds, insects and animals have returned.

But now the Croatian Inland Waterway Agency wants to … agh! there it goes again! where’s that filing cabinet?