An Austrian Christmas
Good friend of Starfarer and all-round excellent chap Alfred Koessl took these photos shortly after his
recent trip to the UK to see Hawkwind's Christmas gig at the London Astoria on 21/12/03.  A couple of
days into the New Year he sent them to me...many thanks Alfred!  So here is an extract from Alfred's diary
which he didn't send along with the photos.  I made it all up :-)
21/12/03:  Up early, collected my friends Andi and
Nicky for the flight to London.  Excited at the
thought of seeing Hawkwind tonight, but we have a
long day of travelling before that happens.  It's a 2
hour flight from Linz to London, plus all the
messing about at either end, checking into the hotel
etc..  We get through it all, find the hotel, check in,
and...to the Angel pub we go to meet other
Hawkwind fans...

In the pub there are plenty of familiar faces from
previous gigs.  We hang out and chat with various
other fans before heading to the Astoria.  I work as a
Andi and Nicky in the Angel, just before the gig
male nurse and so have to deal with my fair share of mentally unwell people during the course of a normal
working day.  Going to a Hawkwind gig is not that different, many Hawkwind fans look just like my
patients.  Even the haircuts are the same.  In English I think you call this a "busman's holiday"... Fortunately
I am not called upon to restrain anyone or clean up
nasty messes.

The gig itself is fantastic, well worth the time and
expense.  I load up on merchandise, buying several
T-shirts and the new "Spaced Out In London" CD, a
live recording from last year's Christmas party gig at
Walthamstow.  The Astoria is much easier to get to
and more convenient for hotel accommodation etc.!

22/01/03: Fly back to Austria.  I am glad we are going
home today because my sleep was disturbed last
night. Andi and I had a twin room, and all night he
was rolling about and thrashing in the other bed,
moaning "Kylie...Oh, Kylie". He says he feels very
rested today. I don't.
Right: Alfred in the hotel room, looking
understandably disgruntled after a nearly sleepless night
24/01/03:  Well, here in Osterreich, Christmas Eve is the important day of Christmas, all our traditions are
centred around that rather than Christmas Day itself.  Some people are still doing their Christmas shopping
on December 24th - not me.  This year I have bought all the gifts I am going to give, so we sit down to
enjoy our Gebackener Karpfen (fried carp) with a dessert of Sachertorte (chocolate and apricot cake).  My
mother has made some special Christmas cookies called Weihnachtsbaeckerei.  Finally my parents let me
see the Christmas tree.  They still make me wait even though I'm now in my 30's.

My father opens the Bible and reads of the Kristkindl, i.e. the Christ Child. Then we sing traditional
Christmas carols such as "Silent Night" and "O Tannenbaum", although I actually sing the words to
Motorway City during O Tannenbaum, and my mother glares at me.  My grandmother thinks it's funny
and she starts singing the lyrics to the Jethro Tull number "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die".
This makes me laugh so much that I double up.  "Too much Weihnachtsbaeckerei, Alfred!" my mother
exclaims, and hides the rest of the cookies.  Damn!

After this, we see what the Kristkindl has brought for each of us - that is, we open our Christmas gifts to
each other.  My father is the first to unwrap one of
the gifts I have given him: it's a Hawkwind T-shirt!  
He smiles and says "Thanks, Alfred.  I was actually
hoping for for that Black Sabbath Ozzy-era CD and
DVD boxed set, but this will do nicely."  Dad is a
huge Sabbath fan, and I explain that the boxed set is
now not coming out till March, so maybe I'll get it
for him for his birthday instead.
The Christmas gifts are opened.  Right: Herr and
Frau Koessl proudly display their new t-shirts

Below: Alfred's 90-year old Grandmother, bless her
!
I have also given my mother a Hawkwind t-shirt,
she says "Thank you darling, I love it!" and
immediately puts it on.  This gives me a nice warm
glow inside.  So then I urge my grandmother to
open her gift.  Hers is special.  The t-shirts I gave
to my parents were normal length, but my
grandmother gets the extra-long version, because I
thought it would also double as a nice mini-dress if
belted.  Her faces falls when she opens the package,
and I ask her what's wrong.  "Oh, nothing, it's all
right", she says.  "For a moment I thought you'd
got me one of those Harley Davidson shirts, you
know I prefer old British bikes!  But Hawkwind is
fine by me."  She too pulls the t-shirt on and
everyone is happy.

We get the camera out and take some photos of the
happy occasion.  And then I open my gifts.  My
parents have each bought me a bottle of my
favourite beer, Ottakringer, plus some other things
that I'd rather not mention, seeing as I'm well into
my 30's now.  And my dear Grandmother has
something special for me, I open up the package
and it's...a skull!  It looks somehow familiar and she
explains "it belonged to my old friend Dietrich
Diefenderfer, you remember him, don't you?"  Yes,
I remember.  He was one of my patients, and I'd
had to restrain him just a week or so before
Christmas.  Quite forcefully.  Very forcefully, in
fact.  Still, he was a nice man when he wasn't
having to be
restrained, and it's good to have this
memory of him that I can keep on my desk and
Lastly I open my Christmas gift to myself, which is
of course the 'Spaced Out in London' CD that I
mentioned before.  Well, it wasn't really a surprise,
but it was very nicely wrapped, I thought.  And then
I put some of my gifts together to make a little
shrine, and took a photo of it.

It's been a good Christmas...now, where did Mother
hide those cookies?
Right: Alfred's shrine
This extract from "The Diary of Alfred Koessl, aged
32½" is entirely fictitious.  Many thanks to Alfred
for the photos, and apologies to him and his family
for the liberties I took with them...
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maybe use as an ashtray.  I make a joke to my grandmother about how I might end up looking after her,
just like I had looked after dear old Diefenderfer...  She shouts "No thank you!", crosses herself and then
gives me a crack around the back of the head.  Ouch.