Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whistling Willie

Here's the thing. Try really really hard not to look at the picture okay?

So a few years ago Frank went for a really long trip back to the homeland. He hung out with our relatives, played cards, did a bit of travelling...I believe he even bought a nice coat from a man on a bridge in Paris...but that's another story.

He was gone for ages, and when he came back we had a family dinner. Frank, me, the boy who schmooshed my heart, my brother and his wife. Before the dinner I spoke to Frank and he was super excited. 'I've bought you and your brother something back that I hope you like..I mean I love it so I'm pretty sure you'll love it too. All the relatives loved it....' He went on to tell me how he got to claim tax back as he left the airport, (which made the gift sound expensive) and that he bought my brother and I the exact same thing.

Now that totally made the alarm bells ring. Firstly, Frank has bad taste in nearly everything. And Austrians - they aren't renowned for their good taste, especially the ones from tiny villages...this was risky business.

So I talked to my brother, just to give him a heads up, and let him know Frank had purchased us something special.

And we waited.

So the dinner date arrived and my brother got there first and Frank insisted he open his gift before I arrived. I remember walking into the house and seeig my brothers face, drained of colour and then he whispered 'be afraid, be very afraid'.

So I tentatively opened the big box...and what was inside?

It was Whistling Willie! Frank was super keen to explain how Willie worked. You see, Willie was a clown statue holding up a lampshade which doubled as a clock. What a great idea!

On the hour, every hour, Willie sang a song while moving his head back and forth. It was the most horrible thing on the earth, its horribleness magnified by the tune he sung. Da daa, da da da da daaaa daaaa, dada dada dadaaaa. Over and over and over, until it stopped just short of the end of the verse. Short enough to make it noticeable. Short enough to make you want to punch something in the head.

My brother still has his Willie. I was generous and sensitive enough to notice just how much Frank loved that clock, so offered to leave it with him.

It was hard, but sometimes you just need to do what's right.


  1. Oh my word! Franks wonders never cease.

  2. The horror, the horror...

    I just didn't have the heart to turn the gift down. Nor the devious subtlety to offer it to Frank. BTW, I think Willie isn't a clown. It's even more tasteful: a statue of an alco.

    Actually, our whistling willie did come in useful at our old place. The neighbour was complaining about the dogs barking "all the time" so we thought we'd put it to the test. We got a voice-activated recorder that would record whenever the dogs barked. That was fine, but what times were the dogs barking? Well, if we had something that made a noise once an hour we could hear how the barking was distributed throughout the day. Enter whistling willie.

    And no, the dogs weren't backing that much while we out after all.

  3. I'm with Blurk, poor willie looks more like an alcoholic hobo than a clown.

    I'm glad to finally see a picture of the infamous whistling willie...does not disappoint, bless Frank!

  4. All those years and I had assumed it to be a clown. You are both right, and I'm glad you got some use out of it...though I suspect you like him because that photo was taken last christmas at your house...and there he is for the world to see (hidden on the top shelf of your spare room)

  5. I thought that wood-panelling looked familiar! Anyway, he's up there for when Frank visits. Like you say, up on the top of that bookcase out of the line of sight (I don't even notice him from where I sit), facing away from everyone.

    (Look who's defensive now.)

  6. My dad has a whistlin willy,he actually had 2,but one shattered,sow we only have 1.