OK, I know it’s more like the end of October than New Year. A witch has to take what she can find, and seven years ago, that was balls:
It’s New Year’s Eve. Time for balls, for some. Especially in Vienna, but I’m beginning to suspect I’ll never make that Strauss waltz in a snowy Austria. Oh, well.
Edinburgh is big on New Year. Although I’m not there either. But it’s the origin of these crystal balls. Thirty years ago Mother-of-witch brought home the one on the right. She’d gone to Edinburgh for some kind of conference. She only went because it was in Edinburgh, giving her an excuse to go. And maybe the ball at the castle, I suppose.
The Grandmother remembers seeing Swedes at the ball she attended at Edinburgh castle. Thirty years ago. That’s when the Grandfather received the ball on the right. The inscriptions on both balls say SIEC conference. (I think that might be this kind of thing.)
The bookwitch met the Resident IT Consultant the following year. It took us a bit longer to match up the crystal balls, but it’s clear the two balls at the castle were one and the same .
Are you keeping up with the balls so far?
Setting aside youthful dreams of Vienna waltzes, the only New Year’s ball we see these days is the one on Wolfgang’s nose in Sesame Street. It will fall at midnight. Until it does, the Count counts the seconds. Ahahah. Is it childish of us to watch the same episode of Sesame Street every year?
We return to a film from a few years ago:
What surprised me the most about Woman in Gold was how much it was about the war. That might sound stupid, but I’d mainly thought about the process of getting a stolen work of art back now, long after the war. And the trailer had been mostly lighthearted, with clever and amusing lines.
Don’t misunderstand me; I believe the film was better for all its background, reminding us – and in the case of Daughter, showing for the first time – of what went on in Austria not only during the war, but before it as well. Without it, Maria Altmann could have seemed to be simply greedy and grabbing. In a way this was one of those occasions when you feel that both sides are both right and wrong. Were it not for the fact that Austria took away Maria’s right to the life she was living, when they pulled the rug out from under her feet. As I think she said, it wasn’t so much getting the painting of her aunt back, as getting some recompense for what they did to her family, breaking it up, and killing most of them.
I had looked forward to seeing more of Vienna, but in the end it was almost painful. I appreciated seeing the old Vienna, as Maria knew it when she grew up. I’m not Austrian, nor quite that old, but I could recognise some of the life she lived.
Had not realised that Daughter didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, but then it had been some years since we read about Maria and her Klimt painting in the news.
I enjoyed Woman in Gold, and more so for it being so European, and not just Hollywood gloss. Helen Mirren can do anything she puts her mind to, and Ryan Reynolds was a lovely Randol Schoenberg. Good to see so many actors employed who are not necessarily English language household names, but who were able to portray Austrians in a believable way.
I’m going to take you on a journey. Today we revisit January 2014. And there is method in the madness this week will bring:
Another birthday. More old style politics. Aunt Motta would have been 100 today. Like her older sister she was a fervent Social Democrat, and also worked hard in the ranks for a better life for all. (It wasn’t just that she sewed all my wonderful early clothes, or stuck polythene bags on my feet when the grass was wet.)
The family always used to refer to when Motta and Uncle E had lunch with German Chancellor Willy Brandt, as though it was a bit of a joke. He obviously wasn’t Chancellor then. He was a refugee in Sweden during WWII. And I imagine the lunch was for more than the three of them. Much of the same age, it will have been the natural thing for political activists to meet.
I suppose it was because Willy Brandt had a more prominent profile than his Austrian colleague Bruno Kreisky, that we didn’t talk about him as much. But they, too, met, as the future chancellor of Austria also took refuge in Sweden during the war. (Think of our reactions to refugee seekers today…)
Neither Uncle E nor Aunt Motta spoke any foreign languages. But luckily the two Chancellors-to-be did. I always think of Willy Brandt as a Norwegian speaker, which is what he was when interviewed on (Swedish) television.
This leaves me wondering if we have young people, who are quite as interested in changing the world for the better, today? To me, Motta and E were always old, and so were Brandt and Kreisky. I can’t help wondering what it was like back then. But it’s too late to ask.