We made a record with Stig a couple of years ago. At the time I was pretty confused by the whole concept. Erik had said to me about the idea of recording with Stig. “Stig? Which Stig?” I asked.
The conversation bounced back and forth awhile, “E: From Rosa Drömmar. G: The old piss head guy? E: Yeah, he’s gonna do some reading and we’ll play music to it. G: What do you mean read? What’s he gonna read? E: Some of his poetry. G: Aha, I had no idea. E: He’s pretty well known. G: Aha, I thought he was just an old boy from the bar who likes the sauce. E: Well, he is. But he’s a pretty well known poet too.”
The record was recorded live with Stig reading and the guys playing some instrumental pieces written specifically for the record. The only person who was missing was myself since I was on tour with Victims at the time and the whole idea had been conceived, written and recorded within the space of a week. I went into the studio when I got home and put some guitar bits down on it. The record came out about eighteen months later on our friend’s label, Svedjebruk…
We’d performed the thing with Stig a couple of times at Rönnels antique book store in Stockholm since. The first time went well, the second had a lot of people in attendance but Stig was pretty pissed and gave a somewhat shaky performance. I wasn’t really expecting any other offers to come in but Stig is somewhat of a “cult figure” in this part of the world and sure enough, a few months after the second Rönnels gig we received an offer from this poetry festival in Stavanger. Flights, hotel for two nights and five grand Norwegian. Why the fuck not?
And then about a week before the trip someone from the festival’s production office rang Erik and asked if we’d be interested in playing some music with four other foreign poets that would be reading before our thing with Stig. At first Erik tried to explain that we really didn’t play together that much and that we’d have a hard time getting things together in time. They said that was too bad, and that just so we knew they’d double the pay. Erik immediately changes tune, tells them he’ll ring them back in five. All of a sudden we’ve got four songs to write.
Erik had some rough ideas anyway and it didn’t take too long to get it together. The hardest thing as usual was getting everyone to the rehearsal space at the same time. Olle, the bassist runs his own restaurant and works an ungodly amount of hours, I play in three bands, run a bar and have a baby at home, Erik plays in another band that rehearses an insane amount, Tompa has a quite astonishing social life and Paddan plays with a bunch of other people and has a dog. It’s not easy. I managed to make it to three practices, the final one being with Stig the night before we left. Everything was sounding good. I liked the four new songs. Amazing how Erik just seems to pluck them from thin air.
So we set off for Stavanger late afternoon on the Friday. We’d met up at the practice room, which is the same place where we used to practice with Victims, coincidentally. As I walked up the hill from Rådmansgatan station I’d found Stig sitting on the wooden bench outside, under the statue of Stringberg looking out over Tegnerlunden park, looking a little lost. He told me he’d been sat there awhile, waiting for the other guys. I noted the fact that the gate was unlocked and the door downstairs was open suggested to me the guys were already here. Stig tells me he’s heading down to the Queen’s Head for a drink and he’d meet us back here in a half hour in time for the taxi that was booked.
He came back with a fair whiff of booze about him. We got in the cab and headed to Arlanda where Stig battered us with stories of travels, booze and drugs co-starring an assortment of famous people. I sat and listened to the most of what he had to say but I seemed to be the only one to do so. I guess the other guys see the fucker a lot more often and have probably heard it all before. I wonder if they view me in the same light? I’m always banging on about stories from the past after all…
We fly west to Stavanger on one of those little Indiana Jones propeller planes that cruise at something like five hundred feet. I’d never been on one before and the sight of the thing had made me a little nervous to be honest, fuck knows what Erik and Paddan must have been going through since they’re both terrified as it is, but in actual fact the whole experience was a pleasant one. The flight was smooth and the scenery in to Stavanger as we descended, seemingly skimming the mountain tops, was breathtaking. In the midst of this mild elation I broke my gaze away to the seat across the aisle that Stig had previously been occupying and noticed he was gone, this long after the fasten seatbelt signs had been lit. I gave an inquisitive glance to Olle and Paddan but they were as scoobied as me. “What the fuck? We can’t lose him now!” decried Paddan. It turns out the old sod had wandered off down the aisle looking for his bag and had been sat in another seat by one of the stewardesses.
We arrive at the small airport and are met by a big friendly looking guy who will take us to the venue we’re playing tonight. We’ll soundcheck first and then leave our bags at the boat hostel where the Santiago boys will be staying, Stig has another, presumably costlier hotel, and then we’ll be taken to get some food. All this is explained in Norwegian and I’m inwardly pleased with myself that I can understand about eighty percent of it.
It’s a short trip into town and I’m very pleasantly surprised to find that the venue is a cool little bar with the floor for a stage and a small balcony facing it. I’d had no idea what to expect but I’m glad we’re here and not in some stiff theatre or wooden hall. The first thing that strikes me about this place is that it would be a great venue for Victims or Diagnosis to play. It certainly feels more punk than poetry. The soundcheck goes by without a hitch and as far as I’m concerned, the sound is perfect. Not over-the-top-loud, but enough, and you can hear everyone clearly, something not always easily achieved with a band that has three guitarists playing different things.
Stig has already disappeared to his hotel and we won’t see him again until later on in the evening.
If the venue looked more like the place for a punk gig than poetry reading then we were left in no doubt where we were having walked into the dining room to grab some dinner. Erik points out immediately that the other people in this place are not of the same ilk as we. This puts him on edge. Not that he’s intimidated by the upper echelons of the Scandinavian arts scene, more that he’s annoyed by them. The food is pretty fucking exquisite though and we wolf it down with a glass of wine, although we enjoy it sat on a sofa in adjoining room, “Fucked if I’m sitting in there with those snobby wankers!” Erik protests.
This isn’t your average gig, not by any means. The town festival is run out of the Kulturhuset and is obviously state funded. They’re probably not used to dealing with bands, and certainly not bands like us. Everyone is friendly enough though and upon realising that we’re around all day tomorrow too, the Production Manager is kind enough to give us food vouchers for both lunch and dinner to see us through our whole trip. It’s a most welcome gesture being that we’re in Stavanger and a day’s worth of eating tomorrow would either be extremely expensive or extremely minimal. This must be how Kev feels when he’s in Stockholm…
Before we’d eaten dinner we’d dropped our bags off at the boat hostel. The bedrooms are absolutely tiny, no cat swinging there, even so, they’re pretty cosy. The boat itself though is really beautiful, all wooden floors and gold trimmings. It looks like a mini version of the Titanic. There is a large dining room as well as several smaller salons with signs like “Ladies Lounge” and “Smoking Room” on the doors. The place actually looks more like a museum than a hostel.
Everything sorted we head back to the venue which has a cosy front bar that is full of Stavanger’s trendiest. We find a table large enough for the five of us and enjoy a beer that has been traded in for one of the coupons we were given earlier. Stig has rejoined us by this point although he’s supping on a glass of wine. There is a buzz about the place and we’re feeling good. There is sufficient confusion about how the night will play out, what with these four other poets we’re supposed to be playing with, and of course, each of us has a different interpretation of the Production Manager’s instructions. Just as we seem to have collectively figured it out, the PM approaches our table and asks us if one of us can perform an improv piece of music with one of the four poets, a chap from Zimbabwe. This isn’t in the script. What do you mean improv? We all kind of turn our gaze to the window and shuffle slightly away leaving Erik who is sat closest to her to deal with the question. What can he say? He reluctantly agrees. “Why is it always me?”
He goes off to meet the guy and returns a few minutes later looking a nervous wreck. “This dude wants me to play guitar along with him as he speaks and he’s gonna steer how intense or calm I’m supposed to play by motioning to me with his hand. Fuck sakes!” I crack up laughing. It’s a coward’s laugh. I would be absolutely shit in this situation and the result would be pitiful at best. But Erik I know will be able to pull this off. My confidence in his talent is of no comfort to him though.
We start the evening off with the first of the four new songs we’ve written especially for this night. The first one I’ve christened Earth, as it reminds me a little of that’s band’s later records. It is by far the kindest piece we will play tonight and when we perform it we do so to around twenty people. When we bring it to a close there is but a smattering of applause. Some guy who is obviously tonight’s host then takes to the stage/floor and in English introduces the band, Battle of Santiago who will be performing songs that will accompany the readings we have for you this evening. It hits me then what a strange gig this really is.
The floor space we have to perform in is pretty tight and it’s a bit of job finding a space to lean out of the way in, avoiding pedals and cables and Paddan behind me. The first reader is a guy from Israel who reads the first chapter from his new book, which is some sort of violent comedic drama taken from the perspective of an immigrant. He reads for a good twenty minutes. I manage to catch most of it between tuning my guitar and looking about the audience and profiling them. It seemed like a pretty good book anyway. When he’s done we go into our second song which is a more driving up-tempo piece, very much in the vain of later Sonic Youth. A few more people have filtered into the room by now but the response is equally refrained.
Up next is a woman from Iraq who reads a series of very short poems in her native language, that are translated on a projection screen behind Tompa’s kit. We then go into the third piece which starts with a racketing, stabbing riff that then breaks into a mellower driven section with mildly chaotic guitars and bass. For the first time tonight I feel myself starting to play a little more aggressively and I sense that by now the audience must really be wondering what the fuck is going on. I’m surprised then that the response to this piece is a little more enthusiastic.
Up next is a woman from South Africa also reading a chapter from a book of hers. I don’t really take much of it in. When she’s done she looks to me and Paddan stood to the left of her and says quietly, “Take away the noise.” And we do. The fourth piece is by far my favourite of the new songs. It starts with Paddan playing a driving riff at the bottom end of his baritone guitar and then we all blast in. It’s just the one riff the whole way through, which just escalates to the point we’re all going off on different tangents until it breaks down into a myre of drums and Paddan making feedbacked noise from his delay pedal. It’s a fucking whirlwind of sound and I’m loving every second of this. Then like AD/DC’s Problem Child we start the whole thing over again, albeit just a few bars until it suddenly stops. I’m really happy we pulled this one off, although again it seems we’re way more chuffed with it than the confused audience seems to be.
It’s now time for the fourth and final reader before we begin the whole thing with Stig. It’s time for Erik and the Zimbabwean to do their stuff. We shuffle off to the side where the bar is and leave them to it. First off he reads a charming poem about his uncle Thomas, called Uncle Thomas. I really like it. Really simple and without a trace of pretension. When he’s finished this poem he starts into another and it’s time for Erik to perform. And perform he does. He just jams around on some other stuff I’ve heard him playing before, lifting and descending when ushered by the poet. I’m overwhelmed by a huge feeling of pride at how well he does in such circumstances. I’m also just the slightest bit tipsy from the two beers I’ve drunk. Erik does brilliantly and the whole thing goes by smoothly until right at the end when the power from his guitar goes out, must be a dodgy cable, but it’s right at the end and no one cares.
The plan was we’d have a break before Stig starts but as time is getting on we fuck that idea off. We’re stood at the bar beside the stage space and Stig tells us he wants to say a few things before starting his reading. As if it’s expected of him, he starts to talk about sex. He stays relatively mild with it, I’ve heard him say far worse things in the pub, but all the same, the feeling I get is that he’s talking about this shit because it’s what the audience expect to hear from the controversial Stig Larsson. When he’s done he then reads his poem Nyponsoppa, which is quite a lengthy poem. During the reading Erik, stood beside me, lowers himself to the floor and starts fiddling about with something. I assume he’s checking his dodgy cable. When he returns he has a bottle of Jager in his hand and he pours himself a whole highball glasses worth, right in front of the bartender. The only sound to be heard in the room, besides Stig’s Nyponsoppa, is my hysterical laughing just about smothered in the palm of my hand. I don’t know why I find it so funny but I have a fit of laughter that lasts for the rest of the poem. I feel like a kid sat at the back of the class trying his best to avoid the teacher’s glare.
It’s finally time for the performance of our collaboration. This must be the longest gig I’ve ever had. The room is now packed. Stig really does pull a crowd in these circles it seems. I have to say, Stig is fully on his game and the whole thing goes off seamlessly. We finish off with three of our own “real” songs to which Stig maintains his position on the stage and dances along to whilst Erik stands beside him and screams into the mic. I decide I can’t stand being hemmed in any more and make my way out on to the space in front of the stage and really go for it. As we bang out the last chords of In the Presence of Colossus which stops with a sudden, violent end, the audience lets out a thunderous applause. Wasn’t expecting that. I was in fact expecting the vast majority of them to leave upon the realisation that Stig’s reading was over.
We’re all pretty chuffed with how the gig turned out and it’s now the drinking begins in earnest. We won’t stop, bar for a few hours of sleep, until late into the following night…
Since Polly came along there hasn’t been a whole lot of drinking, or there hasn’t been any piss up at least, and it’s probably a good thing that Santiago play so seldomly because when I’m with these boys the booze just seems to flow. We’re all in good spirits as we hang out by the merch table that Erik has set up, containing the sole item of the record we made with Stig. Erik is more concerned with passing around the Jagermeister than selling the album though and soon packs the records away. It’s not really a record buying public I guess. We have drink tickets and the beer is slipping down my neck like liquid silk. We’re all around except Olle who has fastened somewhere else with Stig. Just as I’m wondering what he’s up to he returns looking a little flustered, “Ah fuck sakes, I need to lose Stig! I got stuck in a fucking useless conversation with him about AIDS.” I guess it was Stig doing most of the talking. Olle zips off to the bar and is soon back in better spirits. Stig joins us briefly, looking slightly sozzled, wearing a schoolboy grin, before disappearing into the night.
After an hour or so of hanging and drinking, chatting with some of the elder Stavanger poetry crowd, a few of which seem very interested in our music, or at least very eager to try and understand it, Erik doing his best to get me drunk on Jager, lambasting me over the shameful quantity I intake when he shoves the bottle in my coupon (fuck that, I’ve had more than my share of Jager over the years since Speedhorn used to be fucking sponsored by the clatty shite), Paddan performs his usual disappearing act. This is something he is well known for. He’ll shuffle out the door with his phone to his ear, or with an unlit fag in his mouth, and then without so much as a glance continue all the way home, or wherever the evening’s bed is, in this case the boat across the road. The fucker does it all the time.
Olle soon clocks that he’s gone and sends him a text demanding to know of his whereabouts. “WANKER” is the simple reply. The rest of us stand about cursing the cunt for about five minutes, although really we all think it’s hilarious, and then Tompa drops the bomb on us. He tells us Karin is pregnant and he’s going to be a dad. Cue arms aloft and a mighty group cheer. It’s weird being in the situation where it’s me handing out advice and philosophies, all gained from the last seven months… I text Paddan and tell him that he has to come back, no arguing, and celebrate Tompa’s news. He replies immediately, “Fucking hell! That news is of course worth going from naked to dressed again for. Be back in five!” And he was. And as if he’d never been gone the booze is flowing freely once again.
It’s gone three by the time we leave the place and stoat over the road back to the boat, although none of us have sleep on our minds. We head to the lounge at the back of the boat that had the sign Smoke Room on the door. As we stumble down the corridor, past our huts and many others, a large pissed off looking lady appears in her nightgown and shouts, “People sleeping!” at us. She is ignored. We are on a mission.
We crack open some more beers, drink some more Jager and listen to some music through the tiny speakers on Paddan’s phone. And being the Smoke Room, the smokers in the band light up. We’re not being that rowdy in all honesty, the music is quiet and tinny and the voices are kept to conversation level. It’s only when Olle attempts to open a bottle of red wine by the method of banging a knife down on the cork with his shoe that we cause any alarm. The guy who I assume is the night porter, actually it’s the same guy who handed us our keys upon check- in, a mustachioed sap with a perm who looks Mediterranean in origin, appears, just his head poking around the door, with a wide eyed, gaping mouthed look of horror on his face. He doesn’t say anything, and either do we, we just stare at each other for about five seconds until he fucks off again. We all crack up laughing. One by one, we drop off into the night. Erik passes out on the bench seat behind the table before crawling off to bed, Tompa and then Olle give it up eventually too, leaving just Paddan and I and a final beer and a couple of punk records playing through the crackly speakers. It’s around four by the time I collapse into bed.
I’m awoke around eight with the usual dying for a piss, can’t be arsed getting out of bed routine, and lie there suffering until Olle texts about an hour later, asking if anyone is up and about yet and in the mood for breakfast. I respond immediately and jump into the shower and then meet Olle on the street, feeling pretty okay, considering. There isn’t a peep from anyone else so the two of us head off into town to explore and look for coffee. It’s a grey, drizzly morning in this beautiful harbour town with a nip in the air that I’m grateful to receive. We walk around for a while before settling on a cool little, book shop cafe with two friendly women working behind the counter. We take espressos and croissants. This place is also a venue for the festival. It seems like most places here are hosting something over the weekend.
After a bit of farting around, I’m concerned with finding a bar to watch the Liverpool game in later on, and some lunch at a cosy little Italian place we have a coupon for, we decide to embark on a boat trip to the fjords. We’re all hungover and the weather is miserable but we all agree it would be a crime to come to this part of the world and not see one of it’s greatest wonders. Paddan brings a bottle of Ballentine’s to accompany the trip. The boat ride takes around three hours…
Of course we weren’t the only tourists on board and one of them, somewhere, was smoking weed. Paddan’s nose was up in the air like a dog’s tail on heat. He casually walks up to a woman he for some reason believes is the source and asks her if she has any to share, albeit in a bumbled attempt at being subtle. He comes back empty handed muttering something about miscommunication.
When we get back to town we head straight for a pub with Liverpool flags hanging all over it and watch the game. They’re at home to Southampton, a game that considering the fine start to the season they’ve had should be expected to win. They lose one-nil and the game is absolute shite. The beer costs about seven quid a pint too, making the whole experience utterly miserable. If it wasn’t for the company of my four friends I would have been in no mood to continue with the day’s festivities.
We head back to Kulturhuset for some more of the fine grub on offer for dinner. The food isn’t quite as good as yesterday and the vegetarian options are slimmer but it’s still free scran and there is enough of it to fill myself with. Paddan seems to have gotten himself pretty drunk, although none of the rest of us can quite work out how this has happened. We surmise that he most likely had drank quite a bit more of the Ballantine's than the rest of us. He’s on to his second glass of red now and is in the main eating room talking loudly with strangers. Whilst this is going on we get talking to a friendly chap who runs the music library here. He offers show us about the place and we gratefully accept. After some effort, we manage to drag Paddan with us and we spend a half hour or so looking about this museum of recorded music. It’s quite something. The guy guides us about the place and we engage in a great conversation with him. A real bonus.
Before we leave we head back down to the production centre in search of our pay. We are introduced to a smug looking bastard called Espen. When he realises we want cash he almost chokes in disbelief. “This is a properly run organization and we don’t just hand out cash to the artists performing, we do all that via bank payment.” You can tell he’s thinking that we’re a bunch of jumped up punks. We agree to mail him our bank details. He then changes tack and asks, “You guys have fun last night?” whilst giving us two thumbs up. We stand there like a bunch of fucking chumps, despondent.
We hit the town, cashless. Paddan walks straight out of the building still holding a full glass of red in his hand. Something that would be very frowned upon and probably illegal, but he’s past caring. I insist on seeing a bit more of the town before we hit a bar, something met with a sigh from Erik who is by now dying for a drink himself, and I’m given five minutes to go look at a park with a small lake in the middle of it. We take pictures of Paddan stuffing his head into a concrete alligator’s mouth.
We head back to the boat to regroup for the night. Paddan goes to sleep. He tells us he’s taking a power nap. It’s six pm.
We discover that the deck up top is open to guests and not only that, they have tables and chairs up there. Why the fuck didn’t we think of checking this out yesterday? It would have been a lot cosier and we wouldn’t have disturbed anyone on board.. The four of us minus Paddan park ourselves and tuck into another bottle of Ballantine’s, this time Tompa the provider. Erik’s phone provides the soundtrack which happens to be the first Obits record.
We sit up there and make our way through the bottle as we divulge into various topics of conversation. Tompa’s baby, Olle’s upcoming wedding, tour stories (such as the time Erik was on tour with Stomping Souls in Germany and two girls Indian girls bought him a drink because they thought it was really cool that a muslim was playing in a rock band, they’d made the mistake due to the fact that Erik had a silly scarf wrapped around his head, the fucker has always got some sort of accessory up there), and various nightmare experiences with drugs. As the bottle of Ballantine’s emptied, the conversation grew louder. By the time it was finished we decided it was time to wake Paddan and head to a bar. Erik suggests we just leave the bottle and plastic glasses on the table but Olle objects, “Nah come on don’t do that! We shouldn’t mess the place up, everyone has been really friendly and good to us on this trip.” I agree with him and suggest that after last night’s shenanigans we should tread a little lighter on this boat. We then joke again about the Mustache/Perm’s shocked face when he looked in on us the night before and his angry sign this morning. “The thing is, we always seem to piss people off, though never intentionally” we laugh. In good spirits we bound down the steel staircase that leads from the top deck to the main. At the bottom of the staircase I turn to look through an open door and find a room full of people staring with silent anger in our direction whilst some poet is giving a reading. We’d had no idea the boat was also a venue and we certainly had no idea there were a hundred or so people unwillingly listening to our drunken ramblings. Typical.
After some struggle we manage to entice Paddan from his bed, although not before we’ve taken a suitable amount of pictures of the fucker. We head to a punk gig we’ve been tipped off about at a club just near the venue we played yesterday. The band is called The Good, The Bad and The Sugly, a shite name if ever I’ve heard one. Erik knows all about them though since the singer in the band used to play bass in Mensen with Marianne, whose band Mary’s Kids Erik now plays with. Erik dislikes the guy. He tells us that apparently he’s this scientist dude who lives in the Bahamas or somewhere and earns loads of money, that he’s only a punk when it suits him. Fuck knows. We go to the club, we’d arranged a guestlist, and sit down to a few drinks. Pretty cool club, although a little on the large side. The band start and there are quite a few watching them although not as many as I would have thought considering Erik insisted they were really hyped. They sound kind of like Kvellertak with a greater emphasis on the Turbonegro bits and without the black metal parts altogether. The guitarist is wearing a Victims t-shirt funnily enough and is of course by far the coolest guy in the band. The bass player looks like Uncle Fester and keeps pulling ridiculous lurching faces when he plays. I find this amusing but it seems to annoy the rest. The singer does indeed look like a bit of a poser and I find him crowd surfing on top of about five people a bit much. When he shouts into the mic the opening lyrics of one of their songs, “You can call the police, I couldn’t give a fuck!” I can’t help myself but wonder if he really does live in the Bahamas and if he does what a cock that would make him for singing such lyrics. In fact, they’re pretty cock lyrics either way.
We decide to leave and head back to Cementen, the club we played last night, deciding we’d rather hang with our new crowd the poetry society than the punks. They weren’t really punks to be fair, more your average rock club fare. Paddan has disappeared and we figure we won’t see him for the rest of the night whilst Olle is by now pretty steaming. I only really realise this when some local youth stops Olle in the street and asks for a light for his fag, “Are you German?” inquires Olle with a tone of genuine curiosity. The youth, confused, “Er...no” still waiting on a light. “What are you?” Olle asks, even more confused than the youth.
“I’m Norwegian!” Olle then hugs him with a big “Ohhh, I’m sorry, I thought you were German!” We all piss ourselves laughing at the scene. Olle lights the guy’s cig and we continue. When we get to Cementen the place is packed, well the bar area anyway. We head to the room with the stage we tread yesterday and find a Sami woman reading a poem in her native tongue with some soft, electro music beating in the background. Olle, Tompa and I head up to the balcony, Erik has fastened somewhere down on the floor. Olle is amazed by the performance, going on about how it’s like something from Twin Peaks and that it’s “So fucking strong to hear someone talking in a foreign language you don’t understand! You hear the rhythm instead of getting caught up in the words..” He will later tell the Sami woman this.
After the Sami woman has finished, a large Welsh guy in a tight fitting paisley shirt and geeky glasses steps up and starts to recite in his own, beautiful, fucked up tongue. Of course, I can’t understand a word of the language of my heritage.. I spot Erik stood downstairs, obviously not wanting to be there but feeling it would be rude to leave in the middle of the guys performance. Olle, thinking this Welsh guy is also brilliant, texts Erik, “Trainspotting?” I don’t really know what he means by that but I guess he’s maybe referring to the fact that the whole thing is a bit surreal. Erik replies immediately, “This guy is so gay. But he doesn’t know it himself. I need a Jager.”
The performances come to a close and after some shots at the bar forced upon us by Olle, we head back into the bar. Olle is now boats. Tompa and Erik are looking pretty sauced too and soon head back to the hostel. Considering I’ve put a few away I don’t feel too bad, but that’s most likely because now I only have Olle as a reference point. We’re stood there in the packed bar area when Olle starts up with some middle aged guy shuffling past, “Hey! How are you?” The guy looks completely bemused, “Do I know you?” he asks.
“Yeah sure, we spoke last night! You’re from Stavanger, right?” Olle forges ahead.
“No, China,” the guy’s responds with more than a hint of distaste. I piss myself laughing although Olle is not to be stopped. I get pulled away from them a little by the current of people passing by but when I clamber my way back to them a couple of minutes later, Olle is still ear bashing the guy with far too much enthusiasm. When I pick up the conversation again the first thing I hear is the Chinese guy saying, “Dude, you’re being kind of aggressive now.” Olle, the mildest, sweetest guy you could ever meet, does tend to go wild when he gets a proper drink in him, which due to the enormous amount of hours he works is about once a year. I pull Olle away and we head back into the theatre room, which by now is a full on club and the area where we played yesterday and where just a half hour before Sami and Wales had been reading, is now a throbbing dancefloor. It’s gone from poetry festival to Bips Nightclub in Corby.
Olle is on the fucking rampage. First he introduces me to this older woman and her middle aged, suit wearing son. I’m not sure what the connection is but Olle keeps telling me she’s awesome. They seem nice enough and I chat to the son for a while. Then Olle starts talking to some other girl, in English, he’s talking English to everyone now, but this girl takes him up on it. Turns out she’s from Malmö and she tells Olle that it’s really weird he’s talking English to people, here in neighbouring Norway. Olle plods on, trying to explain himself whilst I look the other way, not bearing to watch.
Olle keeps going back and forth to the bar, buying beer after beer for us, and each time he does this he precedes with “One last one? Come on, one last beer!”
We’re back on the dancefloor, well, Olle is, I’m stood to the side with a bottle watching Olle boogie aggressively, fretting slightly about the fact that it’s three am and our cab is coming in five hours but convincing myself it’s worth sacrificing sleep for the Olle Show. He approaches after a while, exalted. He’s spotted the singer from the punk band, the scientist. He tells me that he’s been hassling him, telling him that although he doesn’t know it, he’s a gay icon, whilst rubbing his back. When Olle is drunk he will always tell you that in his opinion the gays are the last of the true punks. Always. Olle used to work in the kitchen at a gay bar whence he formed this opinion. His eyes are starting to glaze over, a heady mixture of booze and mischief. He runs back into the crowd of the dancefloor and makes his way back to the singer guy, who is dancing with some girl whilst doing his best to ignore Olle’s advances. I’m stood texting Erik and Tompa frantically, imploring them to return to witness Olle in action. I happen to look up just in time to see Olle running at me full fucking force. He grabs me and plants a huge kiss on my cheek before dry humping my leg like a rabid hound, “Pretend we’re together! Pretend we’re together!” Jesus Christ man, get off me! Olle insists it will be hilarious but I manage to scrape him off my leg.
With that we finish the drinks and head out of there. It’s three thirty now and I realise that I must get some sleep before the cab comes to take us to the airport. I know I’m going to be wreck when I get home tomorrow afternoon and that Polly is going to want to play. I feel like a bad dad. But I couldn’t pass up seeing Olle in this form. As we head across the street to the boat Olle starts talking to some passing skinhead, “Why do you look so angry?” Olle asks. Fuck this, I’m out of here. Enough. Turns out the guy is a bit of a football hooligan. As I’m leaving I hear Olle shouting, referring to me, “This guy! This guy is from Corby! Fucking Division 6 in England. That’s fucking real football! His dad, his dad goes to every home and away match! I fucking respect that. I hate modern football! I fucking hate the Premier League. Liverpool are okay, but otherwise I fucking hate it!” The football hooligan could not have had the slightest idea what he was in for. I sneak off to bed, dreading the feeling that will be waiting for me in four hours time.
Erik knocks on my cabin door. I feel like fucking death warmed up. I stumble into the shower across the hall. Fuck. The shower does nothing for me. The only thing that helps is the sight of Olle, although it’s only minimal since he’s not hungover, he’s still drunk. He says he only went to bed at five. After the football hooligan he got talking to a couple, the girl being Norwegian, the guy from Italy, and he married them on the street, performed the whole fucking ceremony. The Italian was a bit freaked, the Norwegian moved to tears apparently.
It’s a quarter past eight and there is no cab. Our flight is at nine twenty. My hangover is suddenly pushed to the back of my thoughts. Where’s the fucking cab? Erik calls a very sleepy production manager who insists the cab is on its way. After another ten minutes Erik calls again, only to be told that the cab is waiting outside Stig’s hotel but there is no sign of the cunt. Fuck that old bastard, Erik tells them, if he’s slept in that’s his fucking problem. Tompa phones for another cab and Erik explains to the production team that they’ll be paying for it.
The cab arrives and we climb in. We sit there very nervously, watching the clock as the cab pounds along, hoping to fuck we’ll make our flight. To our amazement and disgust we find Stig at the fucking airport, hair all over the place, looking like he’s just woke up in a hedge and stinking of booze, “What are you guys doing here?” he asks jovially. Fucking unreal. Erik tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s going to kill the old bastard. It seems he’d stumbled out of his hotel, into the cab and instructed it direct to the airport, leaving us stranded. Fuck knows what the cab driver was playing at though, listening to him…
It’s stressful, but we manage to check in all the luggage and make it to the gate in time. It’s a small airport. Or course, Stig, who was supposed to check in one of our instruments has instead checked in his cabin bag, leaving us with a bill of five hundred kronors for extra baggage. He’s half way up the escalators when we realise this. We shout at him across the check-in hall to come back and witness him walking backwards down the escalators, all over the fucking place, which is a scene almost worth paying five hundred for to be fair.
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