Wednesday, 11 July 2007

RIP - Count Gottfried von Bismarck

I absolutely love this obituary. I can't believe it took him 44 years to achieve all this, especially when most Sydney meth-queens experience it every weekend.

Anyway, I see a movie being made, Count Gottfried von Bismarck would be played by Peewee Herman - LOL!

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Von Bismarck's university career ended in catastrophe in June 1986, when his friend Olivia Channon was found dead on his bed, the victim of a drink and drugs overdose. Von Bismarck admitted that his role in the affair had brought disgrace on the family name; five years later he told friends that there were still people who would not speak to his parents on account of it, and who told his mother that she had "a rotten son".

In the reunified Germany, von Bismarck managed several telecoms businesses and, armed with a doctoral thesis on the East German telephone system, oversaw the sale of companies formerly owned by Communist East Germany to the private sector.

By the late 1990s von Bismarck was working for Telemonde, Kevin Maxwell's troubled telecoms firm based in America, with responsibility for developing the business in Germany; the company collapsed in 2002 with debts of £105 million. Von Bismarck eventually returned to London, where he became chairman of the investment company AIM Partners, dabbled in film production and promoted holidays to Uzbekistan.

Never concealing his homosexuality, von Bismarck continued to appear in public in various eccentric items of attire, including tall hats atop his bald Mekon-like head. At parties he would appear in exotic designer frock coats with matching trousers and emblazoned with enormous logos. Flitting from table to table at fashionable London nightclubs, he was said to be as comfortable among wealthy Eurotrash as he was on formal occasions calling for black tie.

Although described personally as quiet and impeccably mannered, von Bismarck continued to live high on the hog, hosting riotous all-night parties for his (chiefly gay) friends at his £5 million flat off Sloane Square. It was at one such event, in August last year, that von Bismarck encountered tragedy for a second time when one of his male guests fell 60 ft to his death from the roof garden. While von Bismarck was not arrested, he was questioned as a witness and there were those who wondered - not, perhaps, without cause - whether he might be the victim of a family curse.

Gottfried Alexander Leopold Graf von Bismarck-Schonhausen was born on September 19 1962 in Brussels, the second son of Ferdinand, the 4th Prince Bismarck, whose own father had served in the German embassy in pre-war London until a feud with the ambassador, von Ribbentrop, ended his career.

As a talented young scholar, Gottfried had studied at what he described as "an aristocratic Borstal" in Switzerland and worked at the New York stock exchange before going up to Christ Church, Oxford.

Von Bismarck never fully recovered from the death in June 1986 of Olivia Channon, the striking 22-year-old daughter of Paul Channon (later Lord Kelvedon), then one of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet ministers.

To celebrate the end of their finals, von Bismarck and Olivia Channon had taken part in a drinking bout involving excessive amounts of champagne, Black Velvet and sherry before she overdosed on heroin. At the inquest her cousin, Sebastian Guinness, described how he and other revellers had repaired to von Bismarck's bottle-strewn rooms, where Olivia was found dead the following morning.

Von Bismarck himself was charged with possessing cocaine and amphetamine sulphate and was later treated at a £770-a-week addiction clinic in Surrey. Following Olivia Channon's funeral, at which he was said to have "wept like a child", von Bismarck was ordered home to the family castle near Hamburg by his father.

His removal from Oxford was so abrupt that he was not given time to settle his bills; Prince Ferdinand sent a servant who did the rounds of von Bismarck's favoured watering-holes, restaurants and his tailor bearing a chequebook.

The tabloids quoted words of repentance from von Bismarck himself - "My days of living it up are all over. This past week has just been too much" - but although he was reported to be leaving to finish his studies at a German university and eventually to enter German politics, in the event he was treated again for alcoholism at a German clinic.

He returned briefly to Oxford, where local magistrates fined him £80 for drug possession; he wiped away tears as his lawyer offered mitigation, pointing out that since the Channon affair von Bismarck had received a bad press in Germany.

Doubting whether he would be able to find work in his own country, von Bismarck was said to be planning to study at a university in Los Angeles while continuing to receive treatment for his drink problem. Olivia Channon's death, his barrister said, would prove to be a shadow over von Bismarck's head "probably for the rest of his life". So it proved.

He never married.

48 Hours to go!

I'm so excited I can't contain myself.... or my body fluids!

Enrique arrives back in Australia in exactly 48 hours!

Friday, 22 June 2007

Life, fate and STA!

I've become accustomed to how unpredictable life can be. Perhaps its in my stars but my life seems to have more unexpected diversions than most. One week I can be content in Australia the next backpacking around India. I embrace change and surprise in my life whilst friends question how I cope with the uncertainty. I've never understood the need for corporations to pour money into change management.

Thats launches me into my current situation..... I'm back in Australia! Enrique and I arrived back to the UK from the Czech Republic the evening before we exchanged vows, my sister arrived from Australia that evening too. The morning of our civil ceremony I was busy organising my suit, finalising the catering and drinking champagne (calm the nerves)! Anyway, get ready for this, in all the excitement I forgot to change the dates for my flight back to Australia! Damn! Basically my flight was scheduled to leave for Australia in two days time..... no problemo I hear you say! Well it shouldn't have been a problem except STA travel were apart of the equation.

Never, never, NEVER book a flight through STA travel! Yes, it was my fault that I forgot to change the dates on my ticket and I accept responsibility but in this modern world we live in, shit happens and business needs to adjust accordingly.

Firstly, STA advised me that I needed to contact British Airways UK to change my ticket. WRONG! British Airways didn't have access to my particular fare rules and regulations issued by STA.

I called STA again, this time I was told to contact British Airways in Australia! WRONG AGAIN! British Airways in Australia advised me that my ticket was a Qantas issued ticket but regardless all changes had to be made via STA.

I decided to go straight to my nearest STA office to sort the mess out pronto! BIG MISTAKE! I was informed by the 'friendly' STA staff that I would need to make changes to my ticket via their 'new customer service email service'! Shouldn't that be an oxymoron? Customer Service email service?! My flight was due to leave in approximately 24 hours, STA's estimated response time using the 'customer service email'.... about 24 hours! I sent the email requesting a change in my ticket but after 10 valuable hours and no response I had lost faith in STA.

I then called STA Australia (British Telecoms share price spiked thanks to my consumption). I 'luckily' spoke to the woman who I booked my ticket through. She suggested that I now call Qantas Australia to change my ticket! UNBELIEVABLE!

I eventually changed my ticket...... I phoned an independent travel agent on the sunshine coast, who managed to change my ticket! Unfortunately it was only by one day but it gave Enrique and I more time together.

Can you believe the shit customer service STA provide?! Can you believe, a small independent travel agent that a friend recommended managed to change my ticket in less than 1 hour!

STA can waste their squillions on marketing but consumers don't trust or believe their spin..... nor should they. What consumers do trust is the experience of other consumers, STA can't buy that. My blog has had about 76,000 hits and counting, I'm a university student who operates within STA's target market. Word of mouth is the most powerful weapon in the marketing stratagem.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Ahoj Slovakia!

It's our final day in Slovakia and I feel kinda sad. It's positively true that people make a place. Yesterday we had a farewell dinner with all the neighbours who I've grown to love. Alena, the matriarch of her apartment. Rotund with pendulous tits and a foul-mouth, she had us in stitches with her drunken anecdotes and cutting remarks about the whores of the habitation (her daughter included). Her ability to shift from tears of self pity to a hilarious yarn about the antics on the habitation is astounding. She is solely responsible for teaching me the more colurful and crude Slovak expressions.

Her Grandson Robert, a promising and sweet 18 year old who seems lost at the moment. Given his grandmother, Alena, refers to him as a peabrain, good for nothing useless waste of space its fair to postulate that he needs to spread his wings in order to grow, I sincerely hope he grows to be something great and stop operating withing the boundaries his family have put up for him.

Alena Jnr, she is the sweetest girl. Always appears overly-happy to see you and launches into a full Slovak converastion at 100mph regardless of whether I understand or not. But the huge smile on her face indicates that she is trying to communicate with warmth. Alena and Lubos are the original kids on the Habitation so they are the quasi-veterans or top dogs!

Mary, a married administrator with an appreciation of red wine (she likes to get hammered on it). She is fancy-free, having an affair on her husband... much to the disgust of Alena snr. She is also the glamourous member of the social set. Complete with manicured nails, hair and make-up who indulges in an annual holiday to Bulgaria (via a 24 hour coach trip mind you).

Luba, Lubos' sister. She is a loud-mouthed, no bullshit kinda girl. Underneath the bravado is a little girl wanting acceptance and love. She has a great sense of humour and would often lower her voice to a monotone whisper to gossip about the latest goings-on in Teplicka (her local village).

Luba, Lubos's mum we have decided is a latent dyke. She is very fond of Mary becoming all giggly in her presence. Underneath the shyness is a pressure cooker of anger ready to explode... which it did on one occasion. Thankfully it wasn't directed at me.

Anyway, I will continue this entry when we get back to the UK, we need to leave for the 5 hour train ride to Prague and then the 2 hour flight to the Uk.

Tomorrow is the big day, I'm kinda nervous and excited. I cant wait!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007


After being told that Čičmany was a 50 minute bike ride away, Lubos and I set out on what ended up being a 80 kilometre round trip! My arse is still killing me.

Tucked neatly into the forested hills of Zilina is Cicmany, the first town in the world to be declared a Reserve of Folk Architecture. The alpine town is renown for its wooden houses adorned with unique hand-painted designs.

Ironically, the history of Čičmany is rooted in a need to be hidden. In the late 13th century, the Tartars were destroying and pillaging Slovakia, forcing local villagers - including the Cic family, hence the town's name - to seek sanctuary. They found refuge in this remote mountain valley and settled into a traditional Slovak lifestyle.

The fact that the village still stands today is a miracle. In 1921, fire completely destroyed the town and the villagers rebuilt - only to have occupying Nazi soldiers set the village ablaze again during World War II.

In Slovakia if a woman (or man) is wearing excessive make-up, the local saying is, 'She is done up like a Čičmany house"! I actually thought it meant your looks were smouldering, like a Čičmany house after the Nazi's have torched it - LOL!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Ahhhh Vienna....

Don't get me wrong, I'm loving Slovakia but god was it good to arrive in a city that has modern dentistry, deodorant and Helmut Lang.... ahh Vienna.

I knew from the start that I wanted to wade through the Freud Museum. Let me just clarify, you dont wade through anything. Apart from the waiting room which has been reconstructed using photographs, the place is a shell. It took years of acquiring Freuds original apartment back from private renters, ample amounts of cash and the collaboration of architects and artists to create a dull space that resembles nothing of Freuds apartment or office. In a cruel gesture to the museums visitors, photographs of the original space are displayed in corresponding rooms so you can observe the disparity. The patrons, however seemed more interested buying Freud tea-towels, fridge magnets and t-shirts in the gift shop. The designers at least understood the psychology of shopping, a ikea-esque space that you have to wander through in order to get out it also happens to be the only airconditioned space in the whole museum - ching ching!

Take my advice, buy a book on Freud and/or visit the Freud Museum in London. Freuds London home is overflowing with information and artifacts. It has also been kept identical to when Freud was administered that lethal dose of morphine... minus the vomit in the carpet.

After the Freud Museum, Lubos and I then went to the Palmenhause Restaurant in the Wiener Burggarten for a bite. It was such a beautiful day, perfect for people watching so we sat outside. The Viennese are so glamorous and well mannered. In comparison, the Bratislavians look like filthy gypsies. Its easy to see how Vienna ranks third in the world in terms of quality of life as opposed to third world.

When comparing Austria to Slovakia its plain to see Austria is far more prosperous. Both countries were pillaged by the Third Reich, both countries were ravaged by war but fortunately for Austria, the country was spared from Communism.

After a long and full day we returned to Slovakia via Bratislava. With the risk of sounding bourgeois, never, I will repeat NEVER, travel second class on Slovak Rail. It was 30 degrees, there was no airconditioning, all the windows were closed and the stench from the toilet permeated the whole carriage! There were so many passengers, condensation was dripping from the ceiling and the occasional gypsy/beggar/drunk would accost you for money.

God I just read what I wrote. Apart from moving between tenses, I sound like I had the worst time which I absolutley didnt.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Yelle - je veux te voi

Check out the video of the month. It's an electro-pop song 'Je veux te voi'..... fuck knows what its about. If you can translate it for me I would be most appreciative. I know that pornography, t-shirts and hummers are mentioned. The artist is Yelle and she rocks. I hope you enjoy.

PS: Despite looking like she has a penis in her tights, I can confirm she is all woman.