Tag Archives: Stockholm

Comic Lynn Ruth Miller in Stockholm on why her father disappeared for a year

Incorrigible globe-trotting 85-year-old London-based American comic Lynn Ruth Miller has just returned from a performance in Stockholm… This is her story…


I flew Scandinavian Airlines to Stockholm and those people REALLY respect the elderly. I was assigned a middle seat and when I got on the plane I asked the senior flight attendant if there was an aisle or a window seat available. She actually kicked a middle-aged woman out of a seat so I could sit on an aisle. That is a real first. Usually the elderly are relegated to the toilet to sit it out until the flight finishes.

When I got to Stockholm, I could not believe how clean the city was – and everyone spoke AMERICAN English, which meant I could understand them – a change from Britain where they all talk like they are trying out for a Noël Coward play.  

Fredag nights are kvinnor nights

Magdalena Bibik-Westerlund, the woman who booked me for the Stockholm show, warned me to dress really warm because it was going to be bitter cold. However, I hail from Ohio where cold means that your breath forms a cloud so dense you cannot see your hand in front of your face and your nose is in danger of falling off if you do not protect it. This cold was comparatively mild, with no wind to intensify it.

My hotel room was very Scandinavian: it was about the size of a disabled toilet but it had everything you could possibly need in it, including a microwave, a refrigerator and a giant bed made for people who are at least 6 feet tall, which they all are in Sweden. I had to stand on a chair to get into it.

Small as the room was, the shower was huge. It was so big I could do a wild erotic dance between the drops of water. Not that I did. But it was comforting to know I COULD if I really wanted to.

The night manager Abraham had lived in Cardiff but, from what I could gather, his wife and two children decided they needed to get away from him and from Cardiff, so they emigrated to Sweden. Abraham refused to be parted from his children and followed them to Stockholm.  

This attitude is totally unlike my own father’s, who could not wait to get the hell out of the house the minute I arrived.

He disappeared within seconds after inhaling the pungent odor of a new baby in the place. 

According to my mother, he wrinkled his nose when he was introduced to me and said: “This kid stinks.” We didn’t see him again for over a year.  

When he did return, he asked: ”Is she toilet trained?” 

My mother, who had put a plug up my you-know-what, said: ”Of course she is. What would you like for dinner?”

Back to Stockholm.

The morning after I arrived, I went down to meet Magdalena, the woman who made it all happen.  

She and her husband, comedian Janne Westerlund, founded the Stockholm Comedy Club. They do several shows a week, but Fridays are their all female shows and they are always a sell out: Female Fridays at the Gröna Lund-teatern where the Beatles, Abba and all the Swedish greats performed.

Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock (sic) – no relation – in Mel Brooks’ film The Producers

Magdalena and I had lots to talk about because she had lived in Bialystok, Poland, until she was seven years old.

My grandparents were from that very city and were such prominent citizens at the time that my grandfather’s name was Joseph Bialystotsky. However, when he arrived at Ellis Island in New York, the immigration officer asked my grandfather to spell his name and, as a result, he walked out of that office as Joseph Miller.

Civil servants cannot spell worth a damn.

That evening in Stockholm was the Big Show and it was very big indeed. There were five of us booked plus the most amazing MC ever.  It was all in Swedish so I have no idea what anyone said, but every woman on that stage brought down the house.

I had been terrified. What if they didn’t understand me? What if they didn’t like me? And this is the worst: What if they did not laugh? 

I walked on that stage feeling like it was the guillotine. But it was not. It was heaven. Everyone clustered around me after I finished and told me I was wonderful (in English of course). All I could think of was: Why didn’t I record this and send it to my first husband so he could see what he missed?

While all of us had been making the ladies (and about five men) in the audience laugh, the elements had been at work swirling around the buildings and trees like whirling dervishes.

When we emerged, it was a winter wonderland. Everything was covered with snow and the wind felt like it was 100 miles an hour. But this is Sweden where men are men and 30 below is balmy.

Magdalena and I had about 75 miles to drive to get to her home in Skebobruk, nestled in the Swedish countryside.  When we got there, I met Janne, her husband and Zumo their magnificent Border Collie/Labrador mix baby.  

It wasn’t until the next day however that I got a glimpse of how beautiful winter can be in the Swedish countryside. All the houses in the little cluster of homes the Westerlunds live in are bright red and they stood out like jewels against the white of the landscape and the tall evergreens  that surround them.

We drove into the village for another one of those Swedish buffets with sufficient food to nourish a refugee camp overlooking a shimmering frozen lake. And then we came home to watch the Swedish Eurovision finals.  

John Lundvik sings Sweden’s 2019 Eurovision song entry

Evidently every single person in all of Sweden watched that show and called in their votes. There were two telephone numbers on the screen: one where you voted for free and one where you added a contribution for charity. That program alone raised thousands for charity and John Lundvik, a former sprinter, won hands down. He will represent his country in Tel Aviv singing the winning number Too Late for Love.

I listened to this young man’s lyrics about the danger of waiting too long for romance and I thought: You do not know what procrastination is, darling. Try waiting 85 years before you start shopping for a bit of nookie. I would have better luck snagging a hippopotamus than I would getting a date on Tinder. And at least a hippo wouldn’t be able to out-run me. 

And there is always the problem of which body part to put on Tinder.

Now I am back in London.

My next stops are Barcelona and Amsterdam.

I do not let the grass grow under my feet, but then I personally have not seen my feet in 20 years.

… CONTINUED HERE

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Filed under Comedy, Sweden

Odd news of enemas, buckets & Bitcoins from Germany, Sweden and Canada

BERLIN, GERMANY

Cabaret performer Matt Roper in Berlin - the home of Cabaret

Cabaret performer Matt Roper in Berlin – the home of Cabaret

Comedian Matt Roper has been forced to sleep in a doorway holding music legend Morrissey in his hands.

Matt is currently staying in a flat in Berlin which belongs to a musician friend of his who is on tour.

As there was a spare room, Matt had asked me if I wanted to stay there too.

It sounds like I was lucky I did not go. I got an e-mail:

“When I arrived here,” Matt told me, “I collected the keys from the neighbours, threw my bags into the hallway, then went out for the night to explore. I was kidnapped by two journalists from the Bild newspaper (the German equivalent of the Sun) who took me to various bars, ending up in a place where an exotic dancer performing onstage finished her act by sitting on a large bottle of Becks beer and opened it by bending over.

“When I got back to the flat at 2.40am, I realised I had been given the wrong set of keys. Well, the keys to the flat were fine, but I had not got one to the main door from the street. I had to spend the night in the doorway until somebody from the building left for work in the morning at 6.45am. I had trouble convincing him I was legitimately staying there. I do not speak much German and, in the intervening four hours, I had been sipping beer from a bottle and reading Morrissey’s autobiography so, by this point, was looking quite dishevelled.

“The next day,” Matt told me, “my card was cloned by some bastard in India who has plundered my current account of all its funds. And now I can smell gas coming from the flat below.”

“Well, gas and Germany tend to go together,” I told Matt when I Skyped him yesterday.

“The neighbours just said to ignore it and it has gone away,” he confirmed, then continued: “Listen. There’s an enema spa in Thailand I know very well. We should go one day next year. After the Edinburgh Fringe. Next September. You fast for ten days straight and take silium husk. I met Hermann Goering‘s niece there. You can have ten days of blogging with interesting characters talking about what they’ve passed that morning into a sieve. How can you resist?”

I told Matt I had put enemas behind me and was not interested.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Bob Slayer (right) met a man with drink in Sweden

When baldies collide: Bob Slayer (right) met a man on a bus

Shortly after talking to Matt Roper, I got an e-mail from comedian Bob Slayer.

“Yesterday,” it started, “I found an artificial leg in a park in Stockholm… There were signs of a struggle and half a broken step ladder. What can this all mean?”

I could not help Bob with any sensible explanation.

“This morning,” the e-mail coninued, “I was woken up in a closed shopping centre (also in Stockholm) by a security guard called Linus. Neither of us knew how I had got into the closed shopping centre and he complimented me on my sleeping place but – sadly – he told me that he had not seen my artificial leg… So that is now lost again.

“It would be lovely if you could blog about my new book Bob Slayer: The Happy Drunk. I have written it and Rich Rose has illustrated it. The pre-order via Kickstarter closes on Sunday.” (This means tomorrow to rapid readers of this blog.)

Bob’s Kickstarter target was £666 and, at the time of writing, he has raised £1,008, so I think it is likely the book may well appear.

Later, I got another message from Bob.

“I get a ferry to Aland for a gig,” it started. “Aland is an island between Sweden and Finland which is Finnish but they speak Swedish. The two countries argued over it for years and sorted things out with a treaty that made Swedish the main language and gave the island a high degree of autonomy. The first thing they did was get rid of all tax on booze. I love this place. It is a schizophrenic island full of piss heads…

“I have been to Aland several times before with bands. My gig is promoted by a man called Grulle. When I was managing the Japanese rock band Electric Eel Shock, we once took Grulle to the Hultsfred Festival. When we picked him up, all he was carrying was a bucket. It turned out to be his portable toilet complete with a seat. Grulle spent some very happy moments with his potty in the woods that weekend.”

Even later yesterday, I got a text message on my phone from Bob who, bizarrely, is a former racehorse jockey.

“I have met an old man called Björn on the bus to the ferry,” the text said. “He was a race horse trainer but, more importantly, he has wine and vodka. An important feature is that the booze is in bottles of vitamin water.”

I have heard nothing from Bob since.

VANCOUVER, CANADA

Anna Smith ignores the BBC in Canada

Anna Smith has some fishy yet true stories

When I told Anna Smith – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – that Bob Slayer was in Stockholm, she unexpectedly suggested I should immediately tell him that Sweden now allows public masturbation.

Sure enough, Time magazine and the UK’s Independent newspaper have both reported that a 65-year-old Swedish man was acquitted of sexual assault after “pleasuring himself” on a beach in Stockholm in June.

The district court of Södertörn tossed out the charge on the grounds that he did not look at anybody while fondling himself. Public prosecutor Olof Vrethammar told the Mitti newspaper that he had no plans to appeal and called the ruling “reasonable.” When asked if masturbating in public was now acceptable in Sweden, Vrethammar said public fondling was “okay” – as long as it was not directed towards a specific individual.”

Anna Smith lives in Vancouver, where the world’s first Bitcoin machine has now been installed in a branch of Waves coffee shop. Anna tells me:

“The coffee shop is opposite the British Columbia Supreme Court. I wonder if it will come in handy for criminals who are about to be sentenced to lengthy terms or ones who have just won their cases and need to convert currency or pay off people. I have noticed that men about to be incarcerated sometimes have absurd amounts of cash in their motel rooms.”

Anna has other things on her mind, too:

“I have started part time work in a used book store,” she tells me. “The place is always good for a laugh. The owners grumble about business, customers come in to rant and the elderly men are funny, trying to outdo one another with anecdotes. One elderly Indian man was crowing from the top of a ladder: I was there when Khrushchev stepped off the train in Bombay!  to which another geezer, who is blind and too unsteady to climb ladders but sings filthy doggerel, replied: My mother was an Irish nurse who marched with Mao across China!

Respected Italian politician La Cicciolina

The respected Italian politician La Cicciolina

“Directly opposite the bookstore is the Marble Arch Hotel, full of mentally-ill drug addicts, who used to fire projectiles at the store windows from their rooms. Fortunately, the City of Vancouver is renovating the hotel, so the whole building is enveloped in scaffolding and blue nets, making it temporarily impossible to shoot ball bearings. In better days, the hotel had a striptease club which featured such famous performers as La Cicciolina, the popular Hungarian-born Italian politician.

“I recently went to a Celebration of Life for Fijian princess and actress Freda Perry, which was held at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. A banquet including extremely delicious curried lamb was served, Fijians sang prayers and there was a Kava ceremony, though I missed that bit.

“When I saw the Kava bowl I thought it was holy water, so I steered clear and was a little surprised when I saw a man scoop a mug of liquid out and drink it. Fijians are obviously a superior culture as their holy water is drinkable, and mildly intoxicating, whereas our European holy water functions mainly as a transmitter of influenza.

“Big news at the moment, though, is that Vancouver Police are being run ragged in their hunt for rogue dentists who are operating with impunity in secretive subterranean clinics.”

Sure enough, a piece in yesterday’s Globe and Mail newspaper reports that “British Columbia’s College of Dental Surgeons says there’s still no sign of rogue dentist David Wu, though it is proceeding with legal action against two other unlicensed practitioners and investigating even more… Illegal dental clinics tend to be underground and secretive, which the college has said makes them difficult to shut down.”

Vancouver continues to be high on my list of interesting places to be, although Matt Roper continues in his (frankly doomed) attempts to persuade me of the attractions of enema spas in Thailand.

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Filed under Canada, Comedy, Germany, Humor, Humour, Sweden