probably not heard of the Emmaboda festival. You probably don't
even know where Emmaboda is. Or that there is an annual festival
there. If I was to tell you that it's in Sweden, it probably wouldn't
help, would it? Emmaboda is in Sweden.
festival has been running for several years but the urge to go there
has never been strong. In fact, the urge has been non-existent,
like the profile of the event outside Sweden. But a low profile
is no bad thing in my book. Sure, bigger festivals like their huge
Scandinavian rivals can pull enormous bands and enormous crowds
but the thrill of watching a band you don't particularly enjoy play
a set of greatest (read lowest-common-denominator) hits through
a huge, windy PA a mile away quickly palls. Much better, and cheaper,
to trust to lady luck's good ears and trawl through two stages'
worth of unknown bands from up close and personal. Better still
if you happen to know that a band like By Coastal Café are
going to be playing their third-ever gig on the second day just
fans of By Coastal Café's prodigious demo output and their
recent singles for Pickled Egg and Lissy's, a trip to Sweden to
witness them play and perhaps also catch the neo-Sparks madness
of Doktor Kosmos or the heads-down psychobilly of 69-Hard live was
too much to pass up. And when Martin and Marilyn offered to put
us up, drive us around, hold our hands and wipe our noses when they
ran, how could we refuse?
follows are notes from my diary. Some of them, I like to think,
are funny, some of them are straight reviews of bands that played
at the festival, some of them are thoughts about life in general
or comparisons between Sweden and other places and some of them
are just crap. Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with me were
Donna Donnelly, sometime DJ, occasional contributor to Robots..
and Ant & Dec's biggest fan, and Skate McLeavey, spending a
year or so in the UK and Europe away from her New Zealand home and
also a DJ and occasional Robots.. contributor. Martin and Marilyn
are By Coastal Café. They have never written for Robots..
but have occupied many of its column inches. Martin plays guitar,
sings and indulges himself in deep philosophical thinking when off-stage.
Marilyn plays the drums, sings and indulges herself in artistic
creativity when off-stage.
we didn't drive cars, spiders would have taken over the world and
humans would be extinct but for the poor specimens hanging around
in giant webs waiting to be eaten and the pockets of lucky natives
in isolated regions where spiders' natural predators kept the population
down. Most of us would have gone the way of the dodo, though. Genocide
at the hands (or legs) of the arachnid army...
journey from Malmö to Växjö via historic Lund is
not particularly boring but the sheer number of insect carcasses
spread like the pebbledash of some tasteless 6-legged exterior designer
across the windscreen of our rented Volvo estate does bear some
consideration we pass through the same-but-different road system,
countryside and forests of Southern Sweden.
* * *
from the ungodly hour of departure and the confusing (at that ungodly
hour) car parking system at Stansted airport, getting from Cambridge
to Sweden had been largely uneventful. Only the cost of three cups
of tea (£4.50) on the plane disturbing the calmness that comes from
still being half asleep whilst interacting with the world. One-fifty
for a cuppa, though, it's no wonder Ryanair can charge so little
for tickets, they make it all back in overpriced beverages.
being delayed for about 20 minutes as an increasingly oily assortment
of men in overalls clambered on and off the plane sucking their
teeth in the manner approved by the World Mechanics' Code and drinking
free-free!-cups of tea provided by the simpering and flirting air
hostesses, we set off. Somehow the pilot still contrived to arrive
in Malmö early which left us, awake now, with little to moan
about apart from the cost of the drinks and the in-flight "magazine"
which was nothing more than a catalogue for designer crapola being
sold at knock-down prices. No-one bought any. We were all bankrupt
after getting a breakfast sandwich.
disembarking and taking the two steps into the airport (which actually
looked more like a large shed than an international destination)
we found, for the first time in the history of powered flight, that
our luggage had made it to the baggage claim before we had. Astonishing.
A quick piss-take from the immigration official as she stared at
the younger me that lives in the back of my passport and we were
out. Martin and Marilyn were sitting outside and I suddenly understood
why Martin hadn't been too bothered about arranging somewhere to
meet us. There are more people at the North Pole on Christmas Day
than were the waiting area as we left the airport and piled into
the car, heading North and East at the speed prescribed by law and
with due respect for other road users.
* * *
of the first things that you notice about Sweden's roads is that
they're mostly empty. With a population of only 9 million in a country
roughly twice the size of the UK (pop. 60 million) even the fact
that most people are squashed down into the warmest Southern areas
means that there's plenty of space to go around. There's never enough
people wanting to go to the same place that jams become a problem,
even in the cities. When you do encounter traffic and it's obvious
that you're in a hurry, or even just in a faster car, other road
users (including, astonishingly, truck drivers and caravans) will
obligingly move out of the way onto a kind of half-lane for just
that purpose. Disappointingly, we saw no fjords on the journey.
Mind you, we didn't see any hard-core pornography or pickled herrings
* * *
was the first stop for a cup of (reasonably-priced) coffee and some
breakfast. There was no-one in. Founded in 1666, Lund is one of
Sweden's oldest cities and has the longest-established university.
It is Sweden's Oxford or Cambridge. But without the excitement.
stepped into the Cathedral, waiting for some shops to open, and
found an enthralling astrological clock just inside the main doorway.
All concentric faces for the date, day, year, zodiac and, erm, other
stuff in Latin it's hypnotic even when static. Not quite on a par
with the Heath Robinson mechanisms of Prague's famous clock but
pretty impressive nonetheless.
Outside now and, at last! Some vandalism! Perhaps not all Swedes
are quite so willing to please. Oh. More evidence of the Swedish
people's willingness to please... The signs on a zebra crossing
in Lund had been defaced. The usual picture is a stick man caught
mid stride. The vandalised version had added not a huge pair of
bollocks and a spurting prick, but a top hat and a cane. Not just
that, but they'd been added so carefully that at a casual glance
it looked authentic.
* * *
Lund behind we sped onwards towards Växjö, stopping once
more at a roadside shop which sold glass and ice-cream (in Swedish
glas and, ironically, glass, respectively.) My ice-lol
got us talking about the days when, as kids, we'd force the used
sticks to rap against the spokes of our bikes so they'd sound like
motorbikes. A universal thrill, it appears and one that made me
nostalgic for the summers of the 70s when the sun seemed to be out
every day, Bob Willis seemed to be bowling all the time on scorched-dry
cricket grounds, Palmolive bottles filled with cold water were the
weapons of choice and the two drains almost opposite each other
at the top end of the street were our goalposts. I never thought
as a boy that I'd be visiting foreign countries (I turned down the
chance to do French at school because I thought I'd never go there...),
less still that I'd have spent the best part of a year in the U.S.
and Canada, travelled around Europe by train, worked in France and
travelled to Sweden just to watch one band play a 15-minute set.
Mom and Dad have never even been to Scotland, let alone gone abroad.
Wales they've managed but given how close the border is to Birmingham,
that's no great achievement. This isn't any kind of xenophobia on
the part of Mom and Dad. They've just got no interest in actually
travelling to the places that they can see on the telly without
having to eat Foreign Food (that's one all-encompassing variety
of food, you understand) or struggle to make themselves understood
in another language. Which is where my thoughts come back to Sweden.
In common with much of the rest of the world. Swedes speak English
as a second language with consummate skill. The kind of skill that
makes me feel inadequate. This is not a clever or new observation,
of course. But it is a true one. It is compounded by the fact that
Donna has spent the last 5 or 6 years learning French at various
night school classes. In France, she can make herself well-understood
and follow and participate in general conversation without difficulty.
In Sweden this counts for nothing. She comes across, like me and
like Skate, as your typical monolingual Brit, even though we made
the effort to try and learn words like please and thank
you, numbers from one to ten and, most importantly do you
speak English, please? (phonetically: tarlah nee eng-elska)
This happens in every country we travel to unless we happen to hit
one in which we have learned the language (I speak a little German
as well.) Of course, it is the case that language education in Britain
is half-hearted at best but we can never win in a situation where
to be understood across Europe and the world other countries learn
just English and are accepted for that by virtue of it not being
their mother tongue, but we have to either learn every language
or look like morons. Having said all that, when our football fans
advertise us as morons without speaking, what chance do we stand
* * *
all that 6th-form angst, the rest of the jouney sped by and we were
at Martin's place before we knew it. We spread our stuff around
the floor in the name of unpacking and headed out to the local shop
for some food. It was felt that Swedish stereotypes required investigation
so, porno and fjords being unavailable, we settled for pickled herrings,
new potatoes with butter and dill and crispbread. Unlike soused
herring, pickled herrings are raw when put into the vinegar and
pickling spices. Also unlike soused herring, pickled herring is
eaten cold-more like Swedish sushi than anything else, I suppose.
The flavour is mainly salt with a hint of rotting meat but the unexpectedly
sweet after-taste is compensation.
* * *
castle stands, or rather what's left of it stands, just north of
Växjö on the edge of a huge lake. In the early 1600s it
was a defence against Danish invaders which Sweden can't have taken
too seriously as the place could only hold a few hundred people
stuffed to the gills. It's in ruins now and little more than a children's
playground, a small restaurant and a minor tourist attraction. On
that score, there's an interesting peep into the regard in which
Germans are held in Sweden (and this is just one example of several).
All the signs around the castle are trilingual. most of the text
is in Swedish, there's a smaller amount in English and a tiny portion
outside the restaurant, we watched a steamboat pull into a small
jetty after an hour-long trip around the lake. We'd been told about
the boat and were expecting something straight off the Mississippi,
not the tiny (albeit, yes, steam-powered) effort that appeared.
Ironically, the puny vessel was named Thor which, amusingly,
is pronounced tour in Swedish.
* * *
night was rounded off with more irony as Donna bought me a Plopp
bar only to discover that the bar was squashed flat and really
did look like a turd.
* * *
far from being just the shy and sensitive type that the By Coastal
Café reticence to front might suggest turned out to be something
of a philosopher over our crispbread supper. His theory, one of
many carefully crafted trains of thought about the future of humankind
based on the evidence of the past and his Swedish rationality, is
that in a couple of hundred years Americans will evolve so as to
be unable to drink from proper cups. Their mouths will, he reasons,
through excessive use of straws and those on-the-go coffee cup lids
shrink down into tiny holes incapable of anything other than suction.
Of course, in nature it is the strong that survive and here it will
be those whose oral downsizing is least serious that will be able
to consume most food and hence be most powerful. This natural urge
to win has generated a subconscious strategy in each individual
to keep their mouths large. Unable to alter their eating and drinking
habits (fingers will also soon atrophy as the need for dexterity
at mealtimes is negated by the polystyrene troughs that all fast
food is packaged in), Americans have to exercise their jaws in the
only other way they know how: talking. The evidence is compelling,
there are also far-sighted individuals who see the first-mover advantage
of having a petite pout (the marketing potential, darling) and are
attempting to engineer their children down that path. Witness the
explosion in mouth braces and wired jaws.
morning and as the festival didn't begin until after midday we had
time to nip into Växjö. On the way, a quick stop at the
town's library for free email access left me wondering just how
civilised it is possible for a country to be. Cake, coffee, comfortable
couches and a cornucopia of world newspapers (with back-issues.)
Not like any library I've ever seen back home. While Martin and
Skate did their email thing (I'm on holiday, email can wait) I scratted
around for a book in English. The only one I could find-and you
may not believe this-was called Porn, A Study in Urban Ethnography.
It's hard not to reinforce the Swedish stereotype when confronted
with this evidence. Still, in the interests of academic research
I dipped into (ahem) the book, a series of interviews with people
active in the adult entertainment industry in some U.S. city. To
avoid looking like a pervert, I kept the front cover of the book
pointed at the floor. Nothing much useful came from the experience,
though, but I did learn that some people lie when talking to psychologists.
* * *
can tell a lot about a city from its street lamps. Paris, for example
has beautiful wrought iron examples that match the artistic splendour
of the Metro entrances; London has a selection of concrete and steel
clunkers covered in stickers, piss and who l/s who graffiti
and surrounded by a defensive moat of crusty dog turds. Växjö,
and most places we went in Sweden had clean and simple lamps strung
from cables between the buildings at either side of the road. Intelligent,
functional and stylish all in one. And nowhere for dogs to shit.
* * *
we could have bought some beer at the ICA the day before, Martin
counselled us against it on strength grounds. Y'see, in its enlightened
way, the Swedish government has set up a cartel to control off-sales
of all alcohol over 3.5% strength. This means that if you want a
bottle of wine you've got to get down to the local System Bolaget
which are government-run shops authorised to sell it. Not their
best idea, perhaps, but the motivation has some naïve appeal:
restrict access (although without prohibition) to drink and you
restrict the resultant drunken behaviour. Except that System Bolaget
shuts at 6pm. And doesn't open on weekends. And all the teenagers
know that in order to get pissed, they can just drink twice as much
of the weaker cheap stuff.
* * *
the System Bolaget in Växjö, initially things didn't look
too bad. A long counter with several tills stands in front of shelves
packed with bottles of wine and face more, glass-fronted, shelves
on the opposite wall. A second glance, however, showed the ticket
machine straight from the supermarket delicatessen and the glass
cases meant that no customers could handle the booze.
job centre at Cambridge has almost exactly the same atmosphere (mortuary)
and is almost as soul-destroying. There too the power resides behind
a long shiny barrier, a device for separating us from them,
designed as a desk or counter. There too the stern-faced guardians
of our society dispense their wares with disapproving sneers and
a self-perceived moral superiority. There too our guardians control
access to our desire by controlling the allocation of tickets, a
dehumanising tactic given validity in the name of fairness but in
fact just a way to make us feel inadequate, subordinate, on edge
in case we miss our turn and pitifully grateful when our turn comes
knows, alcohol abuse can be a terrible social problem but surely
this isn't the answer? Britain is nowhere near perfect as far as
sensible drinking goes but only lunatics are advocating this kind
of approach. In fact, there's probably more people campaigning for
the legalisation, and hence taxation, of crack cocaine than there
are to set up this kind of system.
this passed through my mind as I strode across the floor to the
section out the back that looked like a scruffy bit of Kwiksave.
Stacks of beers, ciders and even perries rose up from the floor
in their cardboard cases. The price per can or bottle printed on
a card suspended above each pile quickly made it apparent that there
was no discount for volume purchases and no special offers here.
And it's not cheap either. I reckon they don't need special shops
to keep the drink problem under control in Sweden. The price of
the stuff is probably enough to discourage most people. But not
a silent tribute to all the episodes of That's Life viewed after
a Sunday night bath and before bed as a child I picked a random
selection of cans with amusing cross-lingual names. Nothing as good
as Plopp but I did get Fat and Eurolager ("Value for money!")]
* * *
Ultra Bimboos were the first band on after we arrived at Emmaboda.
It's about an hour away from Växjö by car and more or
less in the middle of nowhere. The festival is situated in a forest
outside town, the main stage in a sizeable field which also contained
most of the tents and the smaller stage in a clearing that held
about 300 people at a squash. The Bimboos didn't take much notice
of the surroundings, they were there, as all good garage bands before
them, to rock. Punk rock. Japanese punk rock via Finland, in fact.
There's something about Japanese girls playing guitars. They all
sound much the same but they all manage to pull it off with style
and wit too. But what the hell? It's only rock'n'roll after all.
When they're the first band you see and first thing they shout is
"ha! ha! We stole your underwear!" then you know something is going
to be good. When the next thing is a riff discarded by the Cramps
after being bent out of shape through over-use, you can just sit
back for half an hour and enjoy.
Wonder is not Stevie's brother but he does look like the bloke I
used to sit next to in Maths at Halesowen College (hello Beddy if
you're reading this) We went to see Public Enemy at the Birmingham
Hummingbird in his Mom's Maxi in 1988. They were fantastic. Roy
Wonder isn't. He likes matching bits of the Beatles, small bits
of psyche and some MOR rock into something your Dad would probably
* * *
nutter with a ghetto blaster came and sat down with us just after
Roy Wonder had left the stage to an (astonishingly) rapturous reception.
Forget food parcels to Africa. We should be sending decent records
to Sweden. The nutter was playing his tape (of Swedish pop music
and then Primal Scream) so loud that it was distorting. In lieu
of conversation, he just smiled broadly and supped from a can of
strong lager. After a while, he went away.
* * *
thinking that playing the first half bar of Purple Haze and shouting
"Soul Power!" and "Wopbopaloobop!" and "Rock and ROLL!" is a substitute
for really rocking out, Teenage Idols were a pleasant distraction
for ten minutes or so. They'd like to be Gold Blade, though, and
the real thing is so much better.
morning began for us with The Upskirts. Eyeliner, red jeans and
a Dead Kennedys sticker seemed a promising start but the Swedish
punk-by-numbers that followed were anything but promising. Credit
to them, though, for the shameless arse of a song called Spiderman
which they immediately trumped with Panda Stomp, a sing-and-clap-along
tribute to the band's cuddly panda. The panda didn't join in. A
victory from the jaws of defeat at the end of the set then, but
too late for most people who'd already left.
Coastal Café, the band we'd travelled all this way to see,
spent a long time discussing microphones with the sound engineer.
Whereas most bands equate the size and power of their amplifiers
and the PA with the success of a gig or recording session, Martin
and Marilyn are more concerned with getting the right sound. To
this end, they bemused the desk monkey by turning up with a couple
of practice amps and a tape recorder through which Martin was intending
to play his guitar. No problem, said sound guy, but then they said
they wanted to sing through dictaphones. It took a while to sort
that one out. But all the aggro was worth it as soon as they burst
shyly into life. Their tower of tiny amplifiers wobbled through
the 15-minute, 9-song set (including the encore) as the pair of
them replicated the charm of their demo tapes with only guitar and
drums. Sharing the singing, Marilyn drumming intensely and Martin
alternately fumbling and picking the fragile tunes, By Coastal Café
created a little magic in the forest at Emmaboda. You could probably
count their previous gigs on one hand and their stage presence belied
that fact. No eye contact with the audience, no words, no acknowledgement
bar a wave at the end but still they charmed and enchanted the crowd
with their beguiling skeletal pop songs.
Floor Power were a boy/girl proposition where the girl wanted to
be Bikini Kill and the boy wanted to be Elton John. Disarmingly,
they seemed to get on rather well. More disarmingly, she sounded
like Frank Black at the high points, but he dragged her down to
Corrs level at the low. My notes say "5 people in total." I can't
remember whether that was on the stage or watching...
Power rounded off the second day with a set of their fantasy-tinged
psychedelic pop. They're part of the Elephant 6 constituency, but
seem to lurk towards the edges, avoiding some of the bendier tendencies
and sticking to straighter ways. So there's less of the frenetic
multi-instrumentalism and performer chaos of Neutral Milk Hotel
gigs, and likewise, none of the outstandingly peculiar tunes that
Jeff Mangum seems to comb out of the tangles of his mind whenever
the mood takes him.
the other hand, given the ropey nature of many of the bands on the
bill, Elf Power were a revelation. Not only were they not a copy
of something from America (them being actually something
from America), they were up for a laugh, tight and good enough to
play bigger concerts. The simple song structures were a positive
advantage, powering the crowd through the cold night. They went
down a storm, particularly by covering I Wanna Be Your Dog which
got all the old Swedish punks up.
* * *
got rather excited by the fact that the main bloke from Elf Power
looked just like her mate Paul from The Bats. She eventually plucked
up the courage to tell him this and was astonished to learn that
not only had he heard of The Bats, he was a fan.
at Martin's parent's house preceded the prodigious talents of Doktor
Kosmos. He is both a man and the leader of a band going by the same
name and featuring the also excellently named Twiggy Pop. Dressed
like extras from Porridge in regulation charcoal denim trousers
and jackets they make a spiky, bass-heavy noise, topped by Casiotone
synthesizer and Soul Revue backing. The Doktor throws all the shapes
of a lithe, young James Brown which, by virtue of his being short
and rather portly, end up looking more like the desperate thrashings
of a man wearing concrete boots who has just been dropped off Tower
Bridge. With that hair too, the closest comparison is really Fat
Freddy from the Furry Phreak Brothers. Every song is a little story.
Like the one about the girl at his school who slept with the teacher-or
was it just a rumour? Or the track on the Benno
compilation (An Unfinished Retrospective) which concerns "penises
and vaginas, but in other words" (thank you, Kristian.) These, of
course, are sung in Swedish, but that never mattered as the collision
of Stax and Sparks was more than enough.
* * *
of the hardships of being in a band is the fact that you have to
play stuff you don't like, or the bass player will take all his
equipment home, you bastards. There are several remedies for this:
you're really playing something else
what you're supposed to do but add some ironic delivery of your
Gringo's guitarist hasn't quite plucked up the courage for (3) but
he's hammering (1) and (2) to the best of his ability while the
rest of the band mosey along in a fairly gentle manner, saved from
mediocrity by a melodic violin. Guitar man thrashes, grimaces and
generally behaves like he's in the Ramones while sounding like a
dormouse in a vacuum tank. On the vocal side he's the bald chap
out of Aqua but it's hard to tell whether that's how he thinks he
should sound or not. He should leave and the rest of the band should
get better at being Velvets copyists.
Pop Tarts sounded like they'd missed the last few years' rehearsals,
but looked like they hadn't missed any sessions at the bar recently.
They've got the amateurish charm of Kenickie without the glamorous
pop aspirations. There was Enough variation in the punky set with
the occasional mini-Kraftwerk blast from a cheap keyboard to lift
things and keep the crowd happy. Although swearing at them in German
went down even better.
is not the kind of name you'd want to tell your Gran about (it means
Enema Smugglers) but is not exactly Anal Cunt. Neither are the band.
The Strollers, on the other hand, is possibly the most innocuous
name ever but they turned out to the garage punk rock of the '67
vintage. Featuring Rick Wakeman reborn as the undead playing Paul
McCartney's violin-shaped bass and a lunatic office worker on a
weekend bender dry humping the floor and acting like he'd just won
on We Are The Champions (i.e. much dashing around and double-arm
waving) they just played straightforward Hammond, guitar, bass and
drums. They were excellent.
* * *
finale (we'll ignore the Trembling Blue Stars who were awful) came
courtesy of 69-Hard. Psychobilly Swede-style, they wished they'd
come from Dullsville, AZ but instead only came from Dullsvagen,
SE. 69-Hard are the kind of dirty, tattooed greasers with Link Wray
fixations and a thirst for large quantities of cheap beer that you
find in all small towns. Like The Strollers before them, they're
nothing you haven't heard before, and better, but make up for originality
shortages with enthusiasm and shouting. They ripped through a set
of shredders, throwing all the expected moves and several cans of
lager, gobbed enough phlegm to fill a bucket and generally did all
the things their mothers probably told them not to. With tattoos.
as Andy Pandy might well have said, to go home. We stopped off in
Malmö for an afternoon on the way back to the airport and purchased,
wait for it, a little wooden butter knife with a picture of a car
on it. Genuine traditional Swedish implement, apparently. I showed
myself for the mean sod that I am by shouting "three quid for THAT?"
across the market when Donna gleefully waved it at me. She was so
crestfallen that she put the cheese scraping tool (just a tenner)
back on the stall.
* * *
eager for the real Sweden, we dined on mashed potato and
meatballs from a "road kitchen". Ranging from a kind of cultured
kebab van through to Little Chef faux-restaurant pretensions, they're
ubiquitous in the country and all serve the national dish of meatballs'n'mash.
As these things go, it wasn't the tastiest meal ever created with
a microwave but it filled a gap and sent us on our way to the new
bridge. The bridge to Denmark, that is.
recently completed, the bridge is going to cement the friendly relationship
between the two neighbouring countries and open up all sorts of
economic opportunities by decreasing the travel time and costs blah
blah blah blah. What you really need to know is that it looks magnificent
curving lazily away into the distance but the visitor centre is
hidden away amidst a confusing network of seemingly unnecessary
roads that have obviously been built at the expense of some beautiful
natural land. When you eventually find the centre, it is built in
the shadow of the bridge on what seems to be the spoil heap from
a lunar excavation. Quite what all the white rock strewn around
the centre is supposed to be is anyone's guess. It looks like a
Zen garden fashioned by someone whose idea of Zen is based on the
misapprehension that Buddha is fond of Merzbow and closing time
fisticuffs. And the place was shut when we turned up.
* * *
and downwards, then. The idea of going home is never appealing but
even less so when you know that it's back to work the following
day. Martin dropped us off at the airport and we said our fond farewells,
he returning to Växjö and we settling down for an hour
or so in the waiting room.
* * *
I say an hour or so? Ryanair are bastards. Our plane didn't turn
up for what felt like weeks. Some kind of delay caused by a mis-firing
moped three days before at a Spanish freight airport, or something,
meant that our plane wasn't going to arrive until an unspecified
later time. "Oh yes, and the airport will be closing down around
you. And, no, we won't be offering any kind of compensation because
the small print in your ticket says that we take no responsibility
whatsoever for arrival or departure times. So it's bad luck if you're
going to miss your last train, but we'll still be trying to flog
returns to London at half price to uncomprehending foreign travellers."
Yes, Ryanair are bastards. But cheap.
spent a long time in the airport. Skate managed to find a coin-op
computer that was broken and so took a leisurely broswe through
her email. I read and re-read a dog-eared copy of Business Air Passenger
I'd managed to filch from an empty chair (it's dog-eat-dog in emergencies
like this) and Donna Donnelly placidly waited.
* * *
of course, plods on regardless. It does provide a chance to ruminate,
though, and I could have looked back over the last 3 or 4 days and
pick out a couple of unifying threads. I could have, but
frankly I was so knackered and fed up that all I could think of
was the fact that at Emmaboda there had been no crusties; no dogs
on hairy string; no dance music; not a lot of variation in the guitar
music; not much originality in the guitar music; too many ghetto-blasters;
young children with sharp sticks collecting tin cans and a bizarre
number of both boys and girls with an 80s Numan/Blondie look: skinny
ties, b&w clothes, dyed black or blonde slicked-over hair and
heroin wastrel chic.
thing that really sticks in my mind about the festival, though,
was the two blokes we saw sitting down on collapsible stools, chatting
over some food with their ruck-sacks carefully tucked away by their
feet. What a good idea, I thought, a real Boy Scout mentality is
required to be bothered enough in advance to sort out folding stools,
but look at those two fellows, comfortably enjoying each other's
company and look at me, uncomfortably perched on a pointy rock,
jealously coveting their seats. They finished their meal and stood
up, brushing crumbs from their laps and nodding amiably about something
or other ("did you see the Trembling Blue Stars?" "yes, rubbish
weren't they?"), before casually, and in one smooth movement, collecting
both chair and back-pack together so that the legs became supports
down the sides of the bags, slipping them on and walking off. I
know it sounds like lazy stereotyping (hey, why change the habit
of a diary?), but the notion that anyone can be so completely prepared,
so unselfconscious about their superior technology, designed with
functionality in mind but with a certain efficient beauty for it,
and so uncaring about the idea that fashion might not be compatible
with such devices seems typically Swedish.
you to Martin and Marilyn
for their hospitality, Skate
for the photos, Kristian for his fine company and piss-taking, and
Etnollet, Doolittle and Benno
for selling copies of Robots..