The Emancipation of Dolores McCrumble

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nausea and Austria

We're back from our travels...and what a week it's been.

Having scanned numerous last-minute holiday websites one finally came up trumps with a cheapo deal to Upper Austria. When I told Joseph he was so engrossed in some legal document I think he barely registered. Eventually, I managed to get a response out of him, and even a 'send me a postcard c/o the jail'. I told him not to be so melodramatic, at which point he waved me away. So, last Saturday morning, despite feeling decidedly jaded I packed our suitcases, booked us a taxi and headed off to the station. Joseph, somewhat predictably, was missing in action when we left. I left a note on the fridge which read:

"Joseph, have taken the kids on holiday.
Back next Saturday. Don't worry.

After a relatively uneventful train journey to the airport we then faced the additional security measures which had been put in place due to recent terrorist threats. Curiously, the twins found this rather exciting - both of them actually wanted to be frisked (they're Joseph's sons alright).

Flight too was fairly non eventful. I'd taken with me two paper bags (budget airways no longer provide sick bags) as I'd been feeling so queasy before we left and feared I might disgrace myself on the plane.

Having arrived at Linz Blue Danube Airport (had to look on the map before we left as I had no idea where Linz was) we negotiated our way to the car hire booths. I thought it was incredibly plucky of me to even attempt to drive a lefthanded car - normally, I would leave that kind of thing to Joseph. Having secured ourselves a handsome-looking Peugeot 206 (though I'm sure Joseph would scoff as he prefers something larger and more powerful)I tentatively pulled out of the airport carpark. Despite having only a very basic map, and being navigated by a pair of geographically-challenged twelve year olds, we somehow, miraculously even, found our 'gasthof.' Our accomodation was situated in the picturesque village of Losenstein, within a national park. Mountains and a castle overlooked our dwelling, the scenery only blighted by a rather large and unsightly dam across the river Enns. However, the dam became an object of fascination for the twins who insisted on going down to look at it every morning before breakfast. What they were expecting to see I've no idea.

Day one and day two passed by fairly quietly. We went on a couple of short trips - their duration due to my ever increasing nausea and fatigue. We wandered around Steyr (nearest large town) in the rain, wandered up to a hostelry/eatery up in the mountains, in the rain, we petted the guesthouses' sheep, goats, rabbit and guinea pig, also in the rain. You're getting the picture? Austria was wet, very wet. By the third morning my nausea was taking over my whole being - even my day moisturiser brought about a series of dry retches. I needed to do something about it. So, on day 3, whilst the twins were sitting on the bridge overlooking the dam, I grabbed my umbrella and walked down to the village 'Apotheke' (chemists). Fortuitously, Frau Apotheke spoke very good English (my German is practically non existent). I explained that I'd been feeling very sick - at which point she scuttled off towards a small drawer on the far side of the room and came back with a little bottle of 'Nausyn Tropfen' (Nausea Drops) to you and me. She explained that these were homeopathic and people in Austria swore by them. I paid up and was just saying auf wiedersehen when she said "wait". I turned around and she said "in the day, when do you feel sick?" Having thought about it, I realised that my symptoms eased off around lunchtime. She ferreted around under her desk and threw me a small cardboard box. "You have this, I've got many" she said. I thanked her and stepped out into the street. It wasn't until I'd almost levelled with the twins who were standing on the bridge that I realised that she'd given me a pregnancy test. My first thought was 'these are bloody expensive, I should go and pay her'. My second thought was 'better hide this from the twins' so I stuffed it into my handbag and feined a cheery 'hello boys' as I reached them. They said that they wanted to stay and watch the dam (which, was still doing nothing except letting out a relatively small stream of water), so I went back to the guesthouse. I took the pregnancy testing kit out of my handbag and placed on the bed. I sat looking at it for a couple of minutes and then decided that I had nothing to lose as it had not cost me anything. Off to the en suite I went and did what I had to do. I replaced the cap on the stick and placed the assemblage onto the edge of the sink. Just as I was doing this, there was a sharp knock at the door. This sound was immediately followed by Frau Cleaning Lady No. 1 marching into the centre of the room accompanied by Frau Cleaning Lady No. 2. They came armed with a towel- and chocolate-laden cart, suggesting in no uncertain terms that they wished to clean the room. I apologised in my best non-existent Gernan, grabbed my handbag and went downstairs to the bar/restaurant.

Having slowly drunk some Wasser mit gas (sparkling mineral water) I hoped that the cleaning ladies would've finished so I could head back to the room for a lie down. As I came to the top of the stairs, Frau Cleaning Lady No. 1 called out to Frau Cleaning Lady No. 2, and the both of them started rattling away to me in very animated German (more accurately an Upper Austrian dialect). One of them then held my hand and smiled. I smiled back through my bemusement, extricated myself from the cleaning lady's grip and went back to my room. Everything appeared as normal, except on the table was a whole box of the little individually wrapped chocolates that they leave on the pillow. Beside this box was....the pregnancy testing my intense disbelief/horror appeared to be.....


The stick, unquestionably, had two, verydistinct lines.

I staggered back onto the bed and just sat staring at the test strip for several minutes. I then went for the box (which thankfully Frau Cleaning Ladies 1 and 2 and not thrown away). Despite my virtually non-existent understanding of German I eventually managed to confirm that 2 lines did mean pregnant in Austria- as in the UK.

By this time I was in tears, largely through panic, but also because I felt very alone. I sifted through the rubbish in my bag, found my mobile and shakily began to dial Joseph's work number.

Denise (the Institute receptionist) answered the phone. I was in no frame of mind for pleasantries and just said "get Joseph." Joseph came to the phone uncharacteristically quickly, normally I'd have to wait for him to 'finish an important conversation' or 'write the crucial line in this seminal research paper' or some such.

J: "Dolores??" "Where the fuck are you?" (very unusual for Joseph to swear, so I knew he was incredibly agitated.
D: "Yeah, hi it's me. We're in Austria"
J: "What the bloody hell are you doing there? Why did you go?"
D: "I needed a holiday. I told you. I left a note.....Joe, I've got something to tell you."


D: "I'm really sorry Joseph"
J: "What for? Why? What have you done?"
D: "I'm (sniff) pregnant, Joseph"
J: "You're what??"
D: "I'm pregnant"
J: "How the hell did that happen?"
D: "I surely don't have to explain that to you do I?"
J: "No, no, er sorry. Right, ok. Uhm. Don't panic. Shit. Um. Ok. I'm coming to Austria. Where are you?
D: "Losenstein"
J: "Where the fuck is that?"
D: "Upper Austria 40 km south of Linz"
J: "Linz...Linz....I've heard of it before. Rings a bell somewhere."
D: "(sniff) Never mind about bell ringing. When will you be here?"
J: "Hang on a sec"

J: "Right, I thought so. It says here that Linz was the preferred home of Adolf Hitler. He apparently wanted...
D: "Shut the fuck up Joseph. Get on the plane you pillock. I'm pregnant and I need you here now"


J: "Right. Yes, OK. I'll ring you when I get there. Just checking flight availability. Right. Shit. Er. Ok. Yes, I'll ring later. Right. Don't worry. Bye."