Monday, December 29th, 2008:
Aweigh with the ferries of Helsingborg
What I think:
After yet another successful gig at Trappa Upp in Höganäs (more on that later), we in the blues/rock cover band CSI: Helsingborg decided to have a Pissed Rehearsal tonight.
A Pissed Rehearsal is a rehearsal to which we bring loads of beer, and get drunk while playing. The logic behind this is that we will always have a good few beers before (and during) performing live, so we might as well get used to playing drunk.
Having said this, I always drink beer at rehearsals anyway. But the others don't usually drink much. Except for CSI: Nils; we usually meet at Charles Dickens before rehearsals and down a couple there.
We also usually invite friends to our Pissed Rehearsals, and end up having quite a little party. You'd like these things, I'm sure.
In any case (of beer), I needed to pick up a case (of beer) for the Pissed Rehearsal. Rather than go to the state-owned, over-priced, horrible alcohol monopoly Systembolaget, we in Helsingborg have a great little perk: the ferry.
I was hoping to go with a friend, but the Yank was busy, Badlands had already been out and was going to work today, another Yank had a "screaming child and a troublesome vagina" to contend with (I didn't ask for further details), and my new-ish Brit mate was in Gothenburg.
Scandlines operate a three-ferry service. A ferry leaves Helsingborg every twenty minutes, and arrives in Helsingör (in Denmark) twenty minutes later. Which ferry you catch depends on when you get to Knutpunkten (Helsingborg's central station for ferries, trains, and buses), and get your ticket.
Single (US/CAN: one-way) tickets are only 28 kronor (€2.52, £2.44, CAN $4.34,and about US$625.72). You only want to buy a single because you can buy beer on board, and Helsingör is crap this time of year. You just stay on the ferry and wait for it to return to Helsingborg.
You can only buy beer once you're in Danish waters, so buy it as you're either approaching or leaving Denmark. Smokers can buy cheap cigarettes in Swedish waters. You can only buy one pack from the shop (per ticket purchased), but you can usually buy more from the bar. But not always.
The names of the ferries are Hamlet (you can see "Hamlet's castle" as you approach Helsingör; Helsingör = Elsinore), Aurora, and Tycho Brahe. I got on Tycho Brahe.
Tycho Brahe was from this area of Sweden when it was part of Denmark. It's confusing, I know; read up on Skåne's (or "Scania's") history if you're interested, and/or on Tycho Brahe, if you give a hoot about this silver-snooted astronomer.
An interesting fact about the Tycho Brahe ferry: Did you know that this particular ferry has a Servicefart of 14,5 knob?I kid you not. I just learned that yesterday evening when I was on board. Here's proof:Remember that; it could turn out to be very important information on this journey called "Life".
Tycho Brahe is actually my favourite ferry of the three. This is because there's a nice little closed-off smoking room in the bar area.
And before any non-smoking militants start ranting, I'd like to share a quote from the late great Joe Strummer from The Clash: "Non-smokers should be banned from buying any product created by a smoker." There, that's you lot told.
Anyway, after boarding and climbing the stairs to the bar, to my utter dismay, I found it to be closed.
What!? OK, it was a Sunday, but it was early evening, for crying out excessively loudly.
I was not happy. I went back downstairs, bought a bottle of beer from whence they sell those red Danish hot dog things, went back up to the bar's smoking room, and sulked for a while.Then I had an idea: Why not do a "Top Toilet Tips"* about the ferry?
Here we go:
There are a few toilets on each ferry. It's only when it's very busy that you have to wait to relieve yourself. The gents' toilet on the bar/restaurant deck (Deck 5) looks like this:Because it was totally dead on this particular crossing, the toilet was nice and clean. It can get pretty nasty though, so be warned. The stalls are pretty basic.
But do you seen the little metal box in the top-right?
I like this. It's a special box for the junkies and self-harmers to dispose of their sharp objects, so as not to bring harm to others. I think it's a very nice and thoughtful touch. Bless.
The urinals also have a cool feature.
They're placed over a grill, which is (essentially) a large drain. So if someone "misses", you don't have to stand in their pee-puddle. Hell, you can even just open fire directly onto the grill, if you want to (but make sure you're alone. Trust me; it can be embarrassing otherwise).
So that's it. I can highly recommend the gents' toilet aboard Tycho Brahe, especially if you're a self-harming heroin addict who hasn't quite mastered the fine art of aiming your willy effectively.
So, that was fun. But I was still pissed off that the bar was closed.Then we finally got to Denmark, left Denmark, I went down and bought my beer from the shop (which, by the way, looks like a lot of duty-free shops you see in airports), bought another beer from the hot dog place. Found my way upstairs and had a smoke (see A Day In The Life by The Beatles), and felt much happier.
CSI: Helsingborg played at Trappa Upp in a town called Höganäs on December 19th. We weren't really sure whether many people would turn up, as it was the Friday before Christmas.
As it turns out, a British drummer friend of mine (from Mortice - check them out) turned up with his girlfriend. This is what it looked like just before we hit the stage:Two of the people in that photo are in the band.
We actually ended up having a surprise opening act. One of the barmen decided to hit the dance floor to show us his bottle-juggling skills.
Tom Cruise, he was not.
He kept dropping bottles, but persevered for what felt like an eternity, until one of the bottles finally smashed of the floor. Great, we thought, he's done. But no, he simply went and got another one, and his performance continued for a further eternity-and-a-half.
Eventually, we got on stage and did our first set for our audience of two.It went really well anyway. And we were getting paid a really good amount of money for doing it, so no complaints from us.
More people started turning up just before we started our second set, which was nice. By the end we had a decent-sized crowd. And they seemed to like us as well, which was a bonus.
We ended our set with Neil Young's Rocking In The Free World. Some rather large female took it upon herself to steal CSI: Per's microphone to help us out on vocals during the choruses. CSI: Per is not a big guy, and he'd skipped the self-defense classes that every CSI is expected to take, so he was not going to argue.
She was adorable anyway. It was very cute the way that she sang "Keep on rockin' on the free world" in her extreme Swedish accent.
When we finished, and left the stage, she kept asking us if we know any Melissa Etheridge.
And we're finished. And we're not allowed back on stage. We're done. Finito.
She was not a happy jumbo-bunny.
So I gave her an XL CSI:Helsingborg t-shirt, and made her an honourary member of CSI: Helsingborg. That seemed to prevent any unfortunate squishing episodes.
Another brilliant gig that ended peacefully.
In summary, I think that the bars on the ferries should be open at least until 23:00 (11:00 p.m.), and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.
* More Top Toilet Tips!