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Blog: Stockholm

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Here's the short version: Stockholm was AMAZING. If you ever see Palma Majorca hanging around nearby let me know, as I would hate to upset it by having it know ANOTHER City was jostling for position as my ALL ROUND FAVOURITE.

Pretty much EVERYTHING about it was GRATE - indeed, the only way it could really be improved was if more places sold CHIPS. They don't seem to have much time for chips, yr Swedish. Perhaps it is because they are too busy being DECENT and LOVELY and EFFICIENT?

For LO! That is very much how it felt. Travelling there was PEASY - Scandinavian Airlines were all very nice, getting the Arlanda Express was SIMPLE and quick, and it took us into the middle of town where it was only a short walk to our hotel. And OH WHAT A HOTEL - The Towels In My Bathroom had booked the room online and noticed that while the hotel's website didn't have any spare rooms of our chosen type hotels.com DID. "I bet they'll have to upgrade us", she said, and she was RIGHT. We got an INCREDIBLE room with a CHANDELIER and a BALCONY and enough room to swing a PRIDE OF LIONS in. We say SHOUTING at each other from the distant edges of the bed saying "Somebody's going to come and tell us to leave any minute, it's TOO NICE!"

Thursday night was GIG NIGHT so we went off to Southside Tavern to meet Mattias Cosy Den, Siri who was in charge of organising, and a surprisingly large number of familiar faces who'd come direct (ish) from Indietracks. Rumous of Bands Being Treated Well Abroad proved well founded as we got DELICIOUSLY WELL FED and also provided with FREE BEER all night, and EVERYBODY was extremely friendly and, as all Swedes appear to be, highly proficient in English. This led to an Amusing (TO ME) Incident when Mr Johann Hedberg introduced himself. I said "Hello, I'm Mark." "You're One". "One what", I wondered, as he went round everybody else and said "You're One" to them too. "We're ALL one?" I goggled. It took me AGES to realise that's just how you pronounce Johann in Swedish.

The GIG itself was fab - Let's Whisper were on first, who The Jangle In My Indiepop had never seen before. "These are GRATE" she said, GRINNING, and indeed they were. Mr Hedberg was also rather brilliant - I couldn't really understand what he was SAYING but the way he was saying it, also dancing around and gesticulating, was MOST invigorating. Everyone (e.g. Mr R Newman, who was also in attendance) keeps telling me how brilliant Suburban Kids With Biblical Names are, and on this evidence I think I really ought to have a listen.

In the middle of all this was ME, and this is what I played:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Fucking Hippy
  • A Little Bit
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I DID have fun, tho it was a bit strange, especially bits where I'd usually WAGGLE THE EYEBROWS in recognition of a particularly NIFTY bit of lyrics... to find CULTURAL DIFFERENCES (hem hem) meant it didn't carry over quite so well. I'd been a bit worried about the fact that I was borrowing a Nylon Strung guitar with the frets far apart and a high strap (unadjustable), but apart from looking a bit like a midget with a ukelele standing too close OR a particularly sweaty Mariachi band member, it seemed to work all right. Fucking Hippy was included because a chap from Gothernberg had told me he always played it at his club nights, "Boom Shake The Room" seemed to go down as well as it does in UK, and all in all I was AMAZED by how many people SO far away seemed to be familiar with the songs. It was TREMENDOUSLY exciting.

    Next day we went and did some sightseeing, including a bus tour and a trip to the Vasa Museum (which BLEW MY MIND - it's a restored 17th Century SHIP and is, as discussed MIND BLOWING) before heading across town to watch The Smittens playing in a PARK. It was a beautiful evening, loads of people we knew were there, and The Smittens ROCKED. Every time I see them they appear to ROCK MORE and this time was no exception, with the whole VERANDA leaping up and down in excitement. We then went off and had a delicious curry - does life GET any better?

    Saturday found us doing MORE sightseeing, heavily featuring The Changing Of The Guard at the Royal Palace. This too was INCREDIBLE - when we saw The Changing Of The Guards at Buckingham Palace there was a lot of marching around and then performances of The Hits Of Disney. In Sweden they do the whole thing on HORSEBACK - honestly, a whole massive BRASS BAND doing FIGURES OF EIGHT whilst PLAYING, I've never seen ANYTHING like it. Then they stopped and did NIMROD in the middle and I wanted to CRY.

    Before going I'd made a copy of THE BOOK, the mighty TOME that we always take on holidays and/or tours featuring travel times, local sights, places to eat etc etc which features as many local vegetarian restaurants as possible, Just In Case. We finally got to EAT in one (they usually CLOSE too early for some reaosn) called Hermitage where we got a DELICOUS Traditional Veggie Cafe BUFFET before nipping across The Old Town to The Post Museum. I always say (and keep meaning to write a song about it), if you want a GRATE Museum make sure it's A Museum Of One Thing: they're the BEST. You get a COMPRESSED look at a single subject that the people in the museum LOVE and you also get an informative, if slightly postal/tram/sailing ship/bread (delete according to museum) biased, history of the area. The Post Museum: RECOMMENDED.

    A further bus trip, some more beer, a BOAT ride and we were heading home EXHAUSTED. Next day we went for a wander in the park nearby and were GLEEFUL to discover a statue of Linne, who according to The Post Museum was a great writer of LETTERS (and who also categorised most of the fauna of Sweden, but as this was less mail-based was less noted). We were really sad to be saying goodbye - yes, Sweden IS very expensive (although not THAT much more than London) but it's also LOVELY. It felt like a sort of idealised version of England where decisions had always been made for proper decent GOOD reasons rather than mean, cynical money-grabbing ones, where people really WERE polite. Everyone seemed EXTREMELY proud of the Gay Pride march which went through town on the Saturday, and every commentary in museum or bus or boat was always going on about how enlightened and NICE everything was.

    Waiting for the Arlanda Express back to the Airport the Cushions On My Sofa found a pair of CHAIRS you could sit on "to hear stories of The Arlanda Express". They all seemed to be about people who, in extreme and unusually demanding circumstances, forgot something vital on a journey but, thanks to the efficient public transport system and fundamental decency of the Swedish People, came to no real damage.

    It was a fitting end to our first - and pretty definitely NOT the last - visit to an absolutely briliant country. TACK, Sweden, TACK you very much!

    posted 3/8/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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    Comments:

    What is this "A Little Bit" of which you speak?
    posted 4/8/2009 by Dan H

    It's one of the songs from Dinosaur Planet - I've not done a page for it, or most of the DP songs, yet, because: SPOILERS!!
    posted 4/8/2009 by MJ Hibbett

    Thank goodness for that - I thought it was a Gina G cover.
    posted 4/8/2009 by Dan H

    Good read!
    Oh, and "A little bit" can be seen here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sPe2O0Ho68
    posted 23/8/2009 by Cosy

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