I lost my grandmother’s opera glasses … an empire in thrall to innovations offered electric shocks in the Prater for a small charge. In wedding dresses, fräuleins dove from moving trains. Scions, following the Great Somnambulator,   walked out of windows (into Blush Noisette!) or stepped off bridges in uniform. Thunderclouds amassed as if looking to discharge public debt under cover of a lightning storm. It was a day like any other that Albert Last   as played, maybe, by a ringer for Strauss, drowned. Baroness Vetsera (Louise Brooks) descended from her carriage with a twirl in front of the incandescent opera house. No smelly tallow! She trained her binocs on the Prince. … typical fan girl.   Yes, mine were the glasses that saw coaches turn into pumpkins. Fiacre — barouche — swagged and crowned. Droshky — diligence — curricle — landau. Phaetons that for all their sins never ran heaven into the ground.

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