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This article is taken from PN Review 258, Volume 47 Number 4, March - April 2021.

Vienna Marius Kociejowski
A green Tyrolean hat with a feather tucked in its side was the reason I swore never to go back to Vienna. Also there had been the man at the cash till in the shop of the Kunsthistorisches Museum who, when I bought some postcards, took each one and slowly bent it, not so much that it would cause a crease but enough to indicate his opinion of me while at the same time putting himself just beyond the reach of accusation. Pettiness is the functionary’s most finely honed weapon and against it there is very little by way of defence except, perhaps, pretending not to notice. I rack my brain for a likeness of him, a single detail, a broken button or an unruly eyelash, anything to give him a voice, a presence, but it was all such a long time ago and, if my calculations are correct, the silly fool is in his grave. Why, though, this ridiculous exercise of power? Did he not, as I do, have to bow down to tie his shoelaces? Are we not, by this act alone, made humble?

Another reason for my intense dislike of Vienna was that not a single B&B would give us a bed for the night, every enquiry we made met with a sharp nein even when rooms were advertised as available. It was almost as if there were some network of spies, warning people in advance of a suspicious, roving couple. It would be the same story, a day later, in Salzburg where finally we got a room in a small hotel owned by an ...

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