Those of you who have visited my wife's blog will no doubt now be aware that she is carrying our third child. She revealed this magnificent piece of news to me whilst she was holidaying with our two existing children in a place called Austria. This small country of just over 8 million inhabitants is famous for a number of things, not all of which are particularly sweet. It is also an incredibly wealthy country.
As soon as I heard Dolores was pregnant, I offered to fly out to Austria. The journey to that landlocked country took me almost a day, and I had to hire a car upon arrival at Linz in order to get to Losenstein. It was the first time I had ever driven a left hand car on the right hand side of the road. It was a tricky journey down the increasingly windy (as in going round the bend, rather than buffeted by air currents) roads, but I managed to reach Losenstein within a couple of hours and with only the passenger side wing mirror missing.
Dolores practically fell into my arms, owing to the fact that the owner of the hotel had not laid some flags properly in front of the main entrance. I caught her in my own arms with a mild admonishment that falling when pregnant may harm the baby. She failed to see the ironic humour in this statement.
The twins were already in bed, so we retired to the bar. I ordered a large beer for myself, and an orange juice for Dolores. We talked for at least an hour on good terms, using the time to make friends and try to explain our recent, somewhat irrational actions. Then the local darts team arrived, and somewhat spoilt the atmosphere by smoking, drinking and throwing darts at the electronic dart board positioned not one metre (Austria is metric) from our table. We left after one badly aimed dart landed on my pregnant wife's belly, causing a small puncture wound.
The next day we were awoken by the sounds of the twins fighting. Nothing new in that, except this time they were fighting one of the local children. They were outside our bedroom window, making all sorts of sounds not usually heard in this quiet Austrian village. Dolores shouted at them from the bedroom to shut up, but either they didn't hear or else they were ignoring her, for the noise did not cease. Eventually, I was forced to raise myself from the bed and walk to the balcony.
It was a slightly cloudy day, and I was presented with the following, south facing, picturesque view of the local hills.
Looking down, though, my view was spoilt by the sight of two english boys beating up a slightly overweight Austrian child. I shouted at them to cease and desist. Twin X did as he was told, whereas Twin Y continued pushing and shoving at the, now bawling, local boy. Once the local boy collapsed to the floor and started pleading with them in the local dialect to stop, Twin Y obeyed my command.
I was downstairs just a few moments later. The twins had retreated to a distance of 2 metres from the prone form of their victim. Behind me was the boy's mother. She went immediately to his aid, whilst I approached the twins, finger wagging and stern faced.
'What was happening here boys?' I asked, sternly.
A cacophanous reply ensued, with both twins trying to tell me the story the fastest. Eventually, and after much interruption, I managed to make sense of what they were telling me. Essentially, it was thus: In the garden was a rabbit hutch containing not only a rabbit, but also a companion guinea pig. The twins had been introduced to the guinea pig by the hotel owner, who said they could pet the small hairy mammal whenever they wanted. That morning, the twins had gone to the hutch and found it open. The rabbit was still sat there, contentedly munching on a carrot, but of the rodent there was no sign.
The twins had searched all around the garden but could not find the animal. About five minutes later, the young Austrian boy (nephew of the hotel owner), had also come into the garden to pet the guinea pig. On seeing the cage empty, and the boys prodding around with a large stick, the child had come to the erroneous conclusion that they had lost the animal. The boy approached the twins and started haranguing them in a language they did not understand (Austrians speak a dialect of German). At first they kept their cool, but the Austrian boy wouldn't stop and Twin Y had eventually tried to push him away. Perhaps the Austrian boy had taken this as a sign of guilt, or a pre-emptive strike. He pushed back, somewhat harder, causing Twin Y to fall to the ground.
Now the twins are no weaklings. They might be a little short for their age, but what they lacked in stature they easily made up in numbers. It was an unfair fight from the start, and soon the Austrian boy was on the ground, bruised and crying.
I conferred with the mother of the Austrian boy. She spoke excellent English, and basically corroborated the twins story. I was proud of them for telling the truth, and could only admonish them gently for using their numeric advantage unfairly. I promised I would treat them to some apple strudel in the afternoon for not starting the fight.
Unfortunately, I was forced to renege on my promise soon after. Not something I like to do, generally speaking, but circumstances prevailed that meant the twins would not only forgo their late afternoon treat of spicy apples and raisins in a delicate filou pastry, but would also be sent to bed with the threat of immediate repatriation!