Wednesday, 3 October 2007


I've just got back from Vienna, February 1867. Went to the first public airing of Johann Strauss the Younger's "On The Beautiful Blue Danube" at the Vienna Men's Choral Association.

Young Strauss's musical career was going nowhere fast at the time, so The Dog sent me over there to give him a nudge in the right direction.

The great composer was none too pleased with the evening's performance; his grief weighed heavy upon his shoulders. He was in an inconsolable mood with friends and family; so I escorted him to a nearby tavern, where he could drown his sorrows with a few beers.
He was still in morose mode after putting a couple of steins of the amber nectar down his throat.
'Look,' says I, 'all this brooding is doing you no good. You should be looking at the positives of the performance.'
'There were no positives,' says he.
'O.K., so the coda was a bit duff,' says I, 'and the choral stuff didn't really work, but the waltz you've got in there has mega-hit written all over it.'
'The Devil take the waltz!' says he.
I got another round in, and set about steering him away from such negative thinking.
'Look,' says I. 'Your real problem is that you want to be known as a better composer than your old man, and at the moment you're not making too good a fist of it, right?'
'You have a very blunt manner about you sir!' says he.
'Blunt or not,' says I. 'What I'm trying to tell you is that if you want to be top dog on the music scene, you are going to have to change your attitude towards the waltz.'
'Pah!' says he.
'You can poo-pah all you like, but the fact is that the choral stuff is well past its sell-by date, the punters aren't buying it anymore.'
'So, I should give it up - and pursue a career in merchant banking?' says he.
'There you go, grabbing the wrong end of the stick again,' says I. 'What I'm trying to get into that thick head of yours is that your claim to immortal fame will not be brought about by the number of bums your music puts on seats, it'll be determined by the number of feet that it gets on the dancefloors.'
'Pray continue,' says he.
'Believe me, you've got the basis of a classic dance number in that "Blue Danube" piece of yours. If you were to drop the choral stuff and fine-tune the waltz aspect, I'll guarantee that it'll get more bods up on the floor than "Dancing Queen" on a Saturday night. It'll be a sure fire dancefloor filler - and that's what will keep your name to the forefront of the punters' minds.'
'Well, I must admit,' says he, 'what you say does have a ring of sense to it.'
'And it's good commercial sense too!' says I. 'It'll put plenty coinage in your pocket, as well as putting your name up in lights throughout the civilised world for years to come.'
'I'm getting rather peckish now,' says he. 'Perhaps we could continue our conversation over a little supper?'

We dined on oysters and lobster, with cheese pancakes for dessert. By the time our meal was over, I had successfully talked him into having a good think about my suggestion.
Mission accomplished! But as you are no doubt aware, time-travelling on a full stomach is a big no-no, it plays havoc with the digestive system; so I had to stay in Vienna overnight.

When I got back, The Dog was fair starving. To make it up to him, I promised to take him back to Crufts 1971, where there's a lady cocker spaniel on show, on whom he wants to work his magic again. I'll fit it in sometime over the weekend.
I've got a very heavy schedule this week: Sydney Street, London 1911; The Dog wants me to get his old comrade Peter the Painter out of a spot of bother. Then I've a bit of business to do on the Marie Celeste, mid-Atlantic 1872. Plus The Dog wants me to re-visit Roswell 1947; he reckons he's devised a way of getting me into Area 51 this time.
I've had a lot of mail on the last one. Latest update for you: I spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the local bars, ear-wigging the gossip. The local wiseheads reckon it's just another cock-up on the part of the military. But The Dog thinks otherwise.

Catch you cats later
Caio for now