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Holiday in Austria (1)


Initial thoughts
Entries in The Cooper Diaries
Holiday photos
The “Hängebrücke”

Initial thoughts
The holiday itself, from Monday 13 September 1971 for perhaps 10 or 11 days, was not reported contemporaneously in The Cooper Diaries, although in October 1980 I did start to write it up and got as far as doing 13–15 September 1971. We stayed in two places: the first was Untermieming in the Tyrol, where we were based for most of the time; and the second, for only one night, or perhaps two, was in a village near Interlaken. In Untermieming, Chris and I shared a room, and his fiancée Pamela and her mother shared another. (The original plan was for Gillian to accompany me, but she and I finished going out with each other, and in the absence of a suitable replacement, Pamela took her mother along.) Coincidentally, Chris’s colleague Maureen Hume and her friend, also called, I think, Maureen, went on holiday to Austria at about the same time, to a nearby location, and Chris and I met up with them one day. I remember, we were walking along the path which led from the village of Untermieming, down the steep, wooded side of the valley of the River Inn. We were all in fairly high spirits. Maureen and I had just separated ourselves from the other two, but when I leaned forward to kiss her, suddenly a gust of wind blew a lock of her abundant hair between our mouths. This made us giggle, and for some reason the kissing wasn’t resumed.

Maureen Hume
Entries in The Cooper Diaries

All I wrote in my diary (D71) between the entries for Sunday 12th September and Monday 27th September was:
Holiday in Austria
is reported separately.
—but writing that was over-optimistic, for I did not get around to the task of reporting it. In October 1980 I did start to write it up and got as far as doing 13–15 September 1971.

[D71, page 144A:]
Monday 13th September
I got a bus from the Coliseum, but fog and an accident ahead of us on the motorway necessitated delay and detour

Link[D71, page 144B:] and the bus arrived at Victoria Coach Station very late. So when I finally arrived, there was no one to meet me as arranged. I didn’t know what to do: I had no tickets and all I knew was that the holiday organisers were Blue Cars, and that it was in Untermeiming [sic] in Austria where I was supposed to be headed. I didn’t even know where I had to fly from.* However, across the road from the coach station was the BOAC office, so I went there, rather timidly, feeling a bit of a fool. There, it was suggested that it would be Luton Airport that I wanted; and they gave me instructions how to get there; so, feeling slightly less lost, and with a glimmer of hope, I took a taxi [D71, page 144C:] to St. Pancras station, and bought a packet of 20 Players for comfort; I bought a ticket and caught the next train, sank back into my seat, lit up, and had an interim “relax”: “interim”, for I soon began to tense up again — would I, could I, be in time for the flight? — and got on guard again as the train approached Luton — how would I get to the airport? Could I get there quickly enough? (Should I have got a taxi to Luton? Would I have enough money; how much would it have cost?) I got to Luton Airport somehow (taxi, perhaps?); located the Blue Cars desk, and learned that my flight had just left. I was relieved, however, to

* Chris had made all the booking arrangements, he had my tickets, and I had agreed with him that he would meet me at Victoria coach station.

[D71, page 144D:] be told that it would almost certainly be possible to get me on a plane tomorrow. Chris had left my tickets at the desk. Phone calls were made, a hotel booked, and I was off again (in a taxi?) to Luton town. By now it was dark.
(Written 2 Oct. 1980)

Tuesday 14th September
A bed in a clean, fairly modern hotel, a bite of breakfast, and a considerable bite out of my holiday spending money later, I was walking in Luton with a whole day to kill. I sat in a garden of bright blooms at the end of a busy street, walked around, saw some books by Enoch Powell in a bookshop window, and in the afternoon decided to go to the cinema I had passed earlier. “The Owl and the Pussycat” with Barbra Streisand and “A Severed Head” by Iris Murdoch, with [D71, page 144E:] Claire Bloom and others. I wasn’t particularly interested in the films, I only wanted to pass the afternoon[; but I suppose they did further my education somewhat: for example, Ms Streisand’s words at one point informed me that Americans, too, say, “Fuck off!” and I also discovered what Claire Bloom’s breasts look like. (Actually, this latter contains an element of anachronism: I only learned that it was Claire Bloom when the film was shown years later on TV, and I only now recall the nude sitting-up-in-bed scene from then.)]
And so, eventually, to the airport. A couple of rums did nothing to quell the butterflies heralding my first flight. I was kept

[D71, page 144F:] back, then allowed in last to occupy a remaining seat. This was next to the aisle* [near the rear]† in the smallish, ageing aircraft, and I sat next to a woman in her late twenties, quite pretty with short, dark hair, wearing a cotton dress which accentuated her attractively well-formed figure[. My loins stirred with lust]; but I didn’t manage to get into conversation with her.
Eventually the plane started to accelerate down the runway, and with what force the aircraft accelerated! Once airborne I started to relax and even half-enjoy the experience of flight. Enjoy or fear, it was certainly exciting.
In little over an hour, the [D71, page 144G:] plane landed at Basel-Mulhouse airport, where I lost my silent travelling companion. It was dark. Once again, I was a bit nervous as I followed the crowd through customs and out of the airport building, where they started lining up for coaches. Fortunately, I saw a tour official, that is I spotted a man with a clipboard who appeared to be directing people; so I made myself known to him. He didn’t seem to be expecting me as I thought he would; but this didn’t matter as he quickly found me a coach to board.
“Where are you going?” he asked.

* With the aisle on my right, if I remember correctly [2002].
† I still have the impression of being near the back, and of seeing most of the seats in the cabin ahead of me; evidently, though, when I was writing this story, there was a nag of doubt which made me delete what I’d written [2002].

[D71, page 144H:] “Untermei'-ming,” I replied.
“Oh, Un'-termieming,” he corrected me.
So I boarded this coach, sat near the back beyond the people on board who “belonged”, and the coach set off.
I remember that we headed for and went through Basel — street lights and traffic lights, [which seemed to go on & on] and more lights in the dark night.
There was a man sitting nearby, a relief driver perhaps, and he indicated to me how I might pull out the two aisle seats so they would be close together, then I could lie right across the aisle and get some sleep. I nodded my thanks, and did this.
(Written 2 Oct. 1980)

[D71, page 144I:]
Wednesday 15 September 1971
When I looked up again after sleeping the sky was still dark, but it was blue-black as opposed to everything else which was black.
Then, when I fully awoke there was a grey dawn — and the sight that greeted my eyes! Huge, towering mountains! The tallest I had ever seen! I had seen pictures of such, but never the reality.
What a surprise! I had gone to sleep with dimly-visible and unimpressive scenery outside, and had awoken to this splendid view.
It did not seem long before we stopped at a hotel, a

[D71, page 144J:] “proper” chalet-style place — which after all you would only expect to see — where we had continental breakfast, rolls and strong coffee.
“In Austria, vee don’t like SOFT coffee!” announced a middle-aged man, in a heavy accent, by way of explanation. It was sevenish o’clock.
Soon a man came, seeking “the one for Untermieming”; I went with him to his car, and after a few minutes’ drive we arrived at a village with a tall, spired church, a hotel, and a shop, which was, I was surprised to note, a “Spar[D71, page 144K:] shop. This was Untermieming. On the way I had been a bit worried, wondering, “Does one tip?” But on arrival it didn’t seem to matter; so I took up my suitcase, thanked the man, and entered the hotel door.
So it was that Chris, in his pyjamas, opened the bedroom door and, to his pleased surprise, saw me.
(Written 2 Oct. 1980)
Holiday photos
Chris and Pamela had a camera and took pictures, but the only surviving photo is a theatrical pose of me and Pamela at the base of the cliff on the bank of the Inn. (This survived because Janet, whom I had not yet met, saw me in it and requested a copy.)

(I wore that T-shirt with the red star when we went one day to Innsbruck. A man started jabbering to me in German, only one word of which I could understand, spoken in a questioning tone: Kommunist? Two young ladies stood at a street corner spraying passers by with perfume: “Chanel,” they said — “for MEN!”)

(I also wore on that holiday a green T-shirt with the number “13” emblazoned on it.)

Photo taken on the Isle of Man, 1973

The “Hängebrücke”
Near where the photo of Pamela and me was taken, spanning the Inn and leading to the village of Stams, is the “Hängebrücke”.

Photos by ©JKr

I’d forgotten about the Hängebrücke, but Chris wrote on 13 September 2011: “Do you remember that group of rather loud Germans on the Hängebrücke who, on noticing that we were Brits, started saying things in English, like, ‘Oka-a-ay, let’s go-o-o-o!!’?”

This was in reply to an email I sent him, which included some random recollections of the holiday:Link
…“One of those dreadful Berni Inn places!” Wasn’t that some guy on our Austria trip?
That trip would be worth piecing together in writing. I only have fragmentary memories.
There was an attractive black girl in the other party. And there was an Iranian, whom I later saw in Blackpool.
Feldkirch: “That must mean the church in the field.”
And a restaurant with an entrance-hall full of clocks. No prizes for guessing what Connie said!
And “Pole”: “Now you know what it was like to be in the Lencarsters!”
How much did he want for the loan of his shaver-cord that would fit Austrian power-sockets? Or was it Swiss? “Ten Frencs!” Fixed vacuous smile with hand extended palm-up.
We passed through a village called Braz where there was a monkey or monkeys in an enclosure, the “Braz monkey”, quipped Philip. Was that his name? “Philip, love!”
Chris wrote, actually on the 40th anniversary of the start of the Austria trip:
Yes, those “dreadful Berni Inn places”. That was a strange comment to make, because I thought they were pretty good, actually! Anyway, like you say, that was certainly a holiday with its fair share of characters: I can still picture “Pole” with his mum. “Oooh, look at all the clocks!” said Connie, as the guy standing next to her started to cringe, just waiting for her to say it! Do you remember that group of rather loud Germans on the Hängebrücke who, on noticing that we were Brits, started saying things in English, like, “Oka-a-ay, let’s go-o-o-o!!”?
Holiday in Austria (2): Souvenirs

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