Emmaboda wristbands

Emmaboda Diary

You've 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.

The 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 after dinner.

Being 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?

What 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.

9th August

If 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...

The 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.

* * * *

Apart 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.

Ryanair boarding passes

After 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.

After 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.

* * * *

One 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 either.

* * * *

Lund 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.

We 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.

Swedish vandalism 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.

* * * *

Leaving 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.

My 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 anyway?

* * * *

With 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.

* * * *

Kronoberg 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 in German.

Donna and Skate

Sitting 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.

* * * *

The 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.

* * * *

Martin, 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, no?

Scarily, 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.

10th August

Thursday 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. (Wow.)

* * * *

You 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.

* * * *

Although 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.

* * * *

Inside 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.

The 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 around.

Christ 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.

All 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 us...

In 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!")]

* * * *

Thee 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.

Donna and Jimmy

Roy 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 enjoy.

* * * *

A 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.

* * * *

Despite 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.

11th August

Friday 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.

 

By Coastal Cafe

By 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.

First 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...

Elf 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.

Elf Power

On 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.

* * * *

Skate 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.

 

Doktor Kosmos

12th August

Dinner 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.

* * * *

One 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:

  • Pretend you're really playing something else
  • Play what you're supposed to do but add some ironic delivery of your own
  • leave.
  • Moon 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.

    The 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.

    Lavemangsmugglarna 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.

    * * * *

    The 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.

    13th August

    Time, 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.

    * * * *

    Ever 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.

    Martin, Jimmy and Donna at the bridge to Denmark

    Only 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.

    * * * *

    Onwards 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.

    * * * *

    Did 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.

    We 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.

    * * * *

    Time, 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.

    The 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.

    By Coastal Cafe

    Thank 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..

     


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