I have had a day pretending to be Swedish. I mean, I don’t look Swedish, and I don’t sound Swedish, and for the most part, I was probably a complete failure. But I had to pretend to be Swedish, just in case anyone thought I was American, Italian or German.
It all started at lunchtime with the most “touristy” thing I’ve done this trip: watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. It’s all a bit of a cliché designed for the tourists, and of course, the current Swedish royal family is French anyway, but failing to do it would be like going to London and not seeing Buckingham Palace.
Frankly, the ceremony goes on far too long and not enough happens to justify the time involved. I got a bit bored, to be honest. But to my left, there was an American woman who clearly thought it was very very important to see. “Get out of my way”, she said, to the johnny-come-lately’s who stood in front of her just as all the action began. “I’ve been waiting forty-five minutes”, she told them.
I was fairly sympathetic towards her, actually. Imagine if you would a situation where the guards are trying to make it safe for the public while about thirty horses come through, and you have stupid tourists who don’t pay any attention to them. And who then stand in front of people who have been waiting for ages and doing the right thing.
I also felt sorry for the guards (a bunch of kids on military service) who must have felt like they were herding cats. I lost track of the number of times they told people to stay behind the lines for their personal safety.
And then there was the stupid German man who kept whistling to attract the attention of his wife on the other side of the square, right next to the horses which were already fairly agitated.
In the midst of this group of Americans, Italians and Germans who thought their photographs or making contact with their family or friends were more important than public safety, I just kept quiet, smiled at the guards, and did my best to pretend to be Swedish. Or at least, anything except an American, an Italian or a German.
After that I headed into deep suburbia, Solna Central, to buy a t-shirt and some socks. I’ve already thrown out some things, including a shirt I never liked and a book about last year’s federal election which seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was in fairly desperate need of both a new t-shirt and some socks. So I decided to hit the train line and look for a suburban centre. As it turned out H and M at Solna was excellent value. I felt Swedish and suburban.
Coming back, I went along to Parkteatern on Djurgarden where the band, “A Beautiful Friend” were due to play at 6.30 pm. Even by the time I’d arrived at about 5.45, many people had already staked a claim on the grass, such is the way of Swedes with their summer concerts. Unlike Australians, though, who would happily sit on the grass, most of the Swedes I noticed had blankets or even pamphlets to sit on.
I understood most of the patter in between songs. Mostly it was nothing more than “this is a song about a lost love from my album”. There was an occasion, however, when the singer told an anecdote about being mistaken for someone else by a drunk in a bar in Jonkopping. I understood all of the story, except for the punchline which got a huge laugh, but which was obviously a very definite Swedish reference.
The concert was okay enough, though to be honest, I got a little bored. There were lots of very earnest singer-songwriter songs if you know what I mean. None of the lyrics (all in English) was particularly profound, nor was the music especially memorable, in my opinion. Still, the crowd seemed to enjoy the show.
On the way home I popped into a legendary bar, Patricia, located on a boat in the city. Unfortunately, almost everyone on the boat was an American aged about fifty and gay. Like “really gay”, like “professional gay”, if you get my meaning. They’d been on a “gay cruise”. Can you imagine anything worse? As I listened in to a few of the conversations, they mostly revolved around where people came from (in America) and what they did, and “being gay”.
I found a quiet spot, had a few drinks, and smiled and chatted with a couple of Swedes.
Best of all, though, I picked up a flyer which shows another of my favourite Swedish performers, Magnus Carlsson is performing there next week. The big music week just got bigger. So it’s now…
July 27 – Peter Joback and Eva Dahlgren at Skansen
July 28 – Magnus Carlsson at Patricia
July 29 – BWO at Allsang pa Skasen
July 30 – Arrival at Pride
July 31 – Schlager night at Pride
August 2 – Misc, including Alcazar at Pride
August 3 – Svenne & Lotta at Pride
August 5 – BAO at Allsang pa Skasen
Does life get any better?
In other news, I’ve cancelled this week’s accommodation in Uppsala, because I’m enjoying Stockholm so much.
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