Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Ingeborg Bachmann's The Radio Family

VILMA: (irritably) That's neither here nor there. Your Dad will be coming home from work any moment now and I've still got lots to do. Helli, you could show a bit of sense and give way. Let him revise his grammar. His marks in Latin are bad enough as it is.

WOLFERL: Kamarik's are worse. He got a warning after the last test.

VILMA: That's not much comfort, Wolferl dear.

HELLI: I don't see why I should always be the one to give way.

WOLFERL: Because all that shouting's not real work.

HELLI: I'm not standing for that, Mum…

WOLFERL: She just wants to shine at the end-of-year concert. That beanpole Freddy from the dancing class will be there too and…

HELLI: (screams) Stop it… Wolferl… otherwise:

VILMA: Children, children, this is getting just too much for me. Shouting abuse at each other! I feel ashamed of you.

WOLFERL: (maliciously) Beanpole Freddy, old Gawkeye! He creeps along Taubengasse in the evening, on the warpath of love, his myopic eagle eye searching for a glimpse of the face of his chalk-white, fat-footed dove…

HELLI: Mum! Wolferl's being mean.

VILMA: (furious) I've just about had enough. Wolferl, that's not just naughty, it's ungentlemanly. And when Dad comes…

HANS: (has entered quietly) What will happen then, my dear?

(sudden silence)

VILMA: Hello, Hans… we didn't hear you coming.

HANS: That's hardly surprising, given the racket in here.

HELLI: Hi, Dad.


HANS: Good evening to you both… So what's been going on here? Why has your mother become so angry she had to use my return home as a threat? Well…? Perhaps the rising generation will briefly explain what's actually been happening here.