Hitler comments on Australian Election result

Well, the Australian election was a complete and utter disaster with the real possibility that the psycopath, ultra right wing christian Tony Abbott being in charge of the country.

Even Hitler is upset about the result.

Looks like it has been removed from Youtube but is still available here:



Thanks Sara….another clip of Hallå Hela Pressen (Hello all the Press) at Victoria’s

A commenter (is that the right word?) called Sara pointed out this clip of my new favourite group “Hallå Hela Pressen (Hello all the Press).”  Swedish schlager band…who I would be stalking every Monday night at Victoria’s in Stockholm if I lived in Sweden!

I calculate it would cost me around $2,500 in airfares and associated costs to fly to Stockholm each week to see them. How depressing! If only they could come to Australia….hey Swedish community in Sydney – why don’t you bring them out here????

Awww shucks….Erica Saade is just so goddamn nice!

Eric Saade, the fabulous Swedish super-spunk who came to my attention via Melodifestivalen with “Manboy” is just a sweetie. Here he is doing a couple of tracks unplugged. Adorable.

In terms of him being “unplugged”, I wouldn’t mind fixing that. But, then again, he’s terminally straight and is going out with Sweden’s Hanna Montana, Molly Sanden. Who I keep calling Molly Sugden!

Bumming around Brum

A stalwart of the Birmingham Gay scene

I’ve  just spent the weekend in Birmingham and am on a train returning to London. This time there *is* a Coach B and my reserved seat actually exists!

The Ibis Hotel turned out to be a very good choice. It was clean, modern and reasonably priced. It was also centrally located near the main “Bullring” shopping area and just a few minutes walk from Birmingham’s Gay Village. It is always a bit of Russian roulette picking a hotel in the UK – you never know what you’re going to get. Small rooms definitely – but quite a few places are filthy and gruesome. And the price you pay isn’t always an indicator of what standard you can expect.

One of the innovations I liked about the Ibis was that they served breakfast until 12noon on weekends. I’m not a morning person and like to sleep in when I stay at a hotel. Especially as I am usually feeling a bit delicate after the night before! Swanning down to breakfast at 11am is perfect for me.

The hotel also has a bar as part of the reception area – selling booze as well as soft drinks and snacks. A very sensible idea. I bought more than a couple of Diet Cokes from them at all sorts of hours! Bottles of water too – the fact that there’s no light beer sold in the UK always means I get back to hotels completely smashed and a little unwell. I still haven’t worked out how, in Australia, I can have 10 2.5% strength beers and feel merry whilst here I only need to have 3 5% strength beers and I feel nauseous. The maths just doesn’t add up.

During the day times in Birmingham I walked around and did lots of shopping – mostly window shopping – and yesterday I caught a bus to Merry Hill – a humongous shopping centre about an hour away from Birmingham and owned by Australia’s Westfield corporation. I first went to Merry Hill in 1997 – it’s been a long time between visits. GBP1.70 for a one-hour bus ride – how’s that for good value?

I bought some more clothes – this time for work – from Primark (aka Primani). I so wish we had something like Primark in Australia. The price, the range and the fact that you can get jeans and pants in your exact leg length. I’m a short arse really – I need a 30 leg length which is virtually impossible to find in Australia. At Primark I can get pants in my exact waist and leg measurements without a problem.

I’ve stocked up on casual shirts, socks, underwear, work pants and jeans from Primark over the last week. GBP6 for a pair of jeans and GBP8 for good work pants – seriously, you can’t beat Primani (as they jokingly call it over here). And the crowds prove it – every cash register is staffed and there is always a minimum queue of about 30 people – in the London store it is often double that. You just have to be patient. People don’t buy one or two things on a visit to Primark – they buy 10 or 20 things.  They carry around these enormous bags stuffed with every kind of clothing item. It is kill or be killed when you are shopping there – at the Marble Arch store, I had to wait in a line of 20 people just to try on something for size.

But it hasn’t all been shopping whilst I’ve been here. I have been impressed with Birmingham’s Gay Village. They have more dedicated Gay venues than Sydney does. Sydney is supposed to be one of the world’s biggest Gay cities on a per capita basis. Sydney’s Gay scene has been in decline for a number of years. Birmingham’s village seems to be thriving. I also liked that a lot of the people on the Gay scene here look like real people – not plastic buffed up androids. There are all ages and body shapes in abundance here and that is really refreshing and a change from Sydney.

They had a clever idea on Saturday night – Birmingham’s Big Gay Night Out. They literally bus people in from smaller towns for the night. 10 bus loads descended on the village and the price of the coach ticket also included free entry to 3 of the clubs that have cover charges. It’s a really good concept – good for the punters and good for the venues.

I must say that the drag I saw in Birmingham was absolutely awful. Clearly that’s one area where Sydney is miles ahead. Badly dressed, badly mimed show tunes as spot numbers just doesn’t cut it anymore. It might have been acceptable 20 years ago but the scene has moved on. They call it “cabaret” over here. I call it a damn cheek. It’s just tacky drag done without any style, flair or choreography.

I’m now only 30 minutes from arriving in London again. I only just booked my hotel with my UK pre-paid mobile phone when I got on the train – don’t you just love modern technology? A netbook, a pre-paid wireless broadband modem and phone – why didn’t we have these when I first started travelling all those years ago?

And how did we ever do without them?

Hallå Hela Pressen (Hello all the Press) at Victoria’s

The word “Schlager” translates as “pop” according to Google. But that isn’t quite an accurate definition.

Wikipedia describes it thusly: “Schlager (German Schlager, loosely translated as a “hit”) is a style of popular music that is prevalent in Central and Northern Europe, in particular Germany, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia, but also to a lesser extent in France, the Baltic States and Poland.

Typical schlager tracks are either sweet, highly sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or light pop tunes. Lyrics typically center on love, relationships and feelings. The northern variant of schlager, notably in Finland, has taken elements from Nordic and Slavic folk songs, with lyrics tending towards melancholic and elegiac themes. Musically the Schlager has some similarities to other styles like Easy Listening-Music.”

In a country like Australia, we would typically know “Schlager” through the annual telecast of the Eurovision Song Contest. In Sweden it is often referred to as the “Schlager Festival.”

Indeed, Wikipedia goes on to talk about “Schlager” in Sweden… “…schlager has been a popular form of music since at least the 1970s, even though it has had its up and downs. It still enjoys a large place in Swedish culture, although it is often considered to be too “popular and commercial” by many people.

The Swedish Melodifestival that selects the Swedish competitor at the Eurovision Song Contest is popularly called Schlagerfestivalen (The Schlager Festival) since it has traditionally been characterized by schlager songs. The amount of schlager has decreased drastically in recent years, but schlager songs are the most frequent single genre to win the competition…It is held annually, and in 2006 an estimated 47% of the Swedish population watched the final. In Sweden, “schlager” is often used to refer to Eurovision participating songs, especially those from Malta, known for its schlager offerings.

Two characterizing features of Swedish songs clearly identifiable as schlager are that they almost invariably contain a pronounced key change before the final chorus, and they usually last almost exactly three minutes – the maximum length permitted at the Eurovision Song Contest….”

To me, this type of music is something I have always liked even before I knew I was listening to “Schlager.” In the last few years, I have been very interested in Melodifestivalen – the Swedish national contest to choose their Eurovision entry. I’ve been watching the shows via download and buying the CDs and DVDs.

My good friend James O’Brien is also a big fan of Schlager and of  Melodifestivalen. When he was in Sweden earlier this year, he told me about a weekly “Schlasger Night” at a city restaurant/bar/club called “Victoria’s”. Every Monday night, a “Schlager Band” takes to the stage and does two sets that are full of hugely popular schlager songs. James loved it and I was determined to go.

The first Monday night I was in Stockholm, I was still very much feeling the effects of the 25-odd hours of flights from Sydney – Seoul – London – Stockholm. I was in no position or mood to go out.

However, last Monday night I did get my act together and head into Victoria’s to see Hallå Hela Pressen and boy, I was completely blown away. I felt like I’d died and gone to Swedish Schlager heaven. The band was amazing. The crowd was wild – they knew the words and sang along to ALL the songs and I mean ALL of the songs!

A champagne bucket was passed around amongst the crowd so that you could make song requests for the bandto perform. If they didn’t like your request, they would frown, screw up the piece of paper and throw it back at you. But they did do some of the requests and camped it up wildly. Victoria’s is not a Gay venue and the crowd was very mixed, but the Schlager night definitely had a camp sensibility.

The two lead singers – who were amazingly talented – would often run into the crowd and jump up the bench seating and continue singing. I had both of the singers, at various times, straddling me and singing to the crowd. One of the guys had his bum and his crotch right in my face. As a fellow patron commented to me later “You had your own show!” And indeed I did.

The band did so many songs I knew and loved and performed them with such gusto it was totally infectious. I just kept buying more beers and singing along. Between sets, schlager music was played over the P.A. (naturally!)

It is hard to describe a schlager night/schlager band to people from a country like Australia where we have no such cultural tradition. The concept would seem totally alien. But, as a confirmed Swedophile, it was totally sublime experience for me.

Hallå Hela Pressen

Hey, those are my legs you're almost stepping on!

Even the Security Guard got on stage to sing!

The crowd was in the mood for drinking, singing and dancing!

James uploaded a short video of the band which I’ve included below. In it they are joined by a couple of Swedish singers who happened to be there. The song they are doing is “Bara Hon Älskar Mig” (She Only Loves Me) which was a hit for the group “Blond” more than a decade ago. I have the single and also saw Blond  perform it in concert way back then. And I bought a Blond T-Shirt too!

And this little clip captures more of the craziness that is Schlager Night!

Stockholm by night

I’m catching up posting entries to my website because I’ve been really slack about it over the last few weeks. I’ve got some time as day turns into night in Birmingham, England. I thought it would be appropriate to post some shots I took of Stockholm, Sweden at dusk and at night.

I love this shot - taken in the centre of the city

NK clock (department store) - a Stockholm feature for many decades

Stockholm city theatre looking gorgeous at night

Slussen at night (during a light rain shower)

Gamla Stan seen from Slussen at dusk

Boat trip to Nacka Strand

On my last full day in Stockholm, Gustav took me on a boat trip from Gamla Stan (The Old Town) to Nacka Strand (where he lives and works). Prior to that I’d been catching the bus – 443 or 71 or even 404 – back to his place where I was staying during my time in Sweden.

The boat ride was a fantastic idea, the views were amazing. It was a cold(ish) and windy afternoon but it didn’t alter my enjoyment of seeing Stockholm from a different angle.

Although the steps from where the boat docked up to Gustav’s place almost put me in hospital!

Gustav and the Judge!

I feel a new (and expensive) block of flats is on the way!

The area I stayed in for 10 days!!!

The evil steps...few have survived them!