Tag Archives: mormor

August 22nd 1975

“Walked down the Strøget. Nanny’s party in the evening – Got Wallet stolen”

Boy, Nig & I seem to be spending a LOT of time on this holiday walking up and down the Strøget… I wonder why? *cough*

I remember this party and the saga of the stolen wallet. It’s difficult to forget.

For Mormor this evening was most definitely the highlight of our trip over to see her. Today was her birthday and I think this may have been a ‘big one’ – perhaps her 70th?

To celebrate she booked a room in this fancy building a few blocks down from her apartment. It may even have been a lodge for whatever the Danish equivalent of the Masons are. I do recall the room the actual feast – and this really was a feast – was held in was seriously impressive.

She invited everyone – and I mean everyone – she knew or was related to. There must have been 60 to 80 people all sat round this one huuuuuge table. (Needless to say it wasn’t one big table but loads of smaller ones pushed together). It was all ‘fancy white linens’, silverware, candles, flowers…basically very formal indeed. FAR posher than I – or my folks, or Nig – were really used to. We all had to dress up in suits and ties – which even then I HATED – so as to not undermine the fanciness of the evening.

Now, when I say “evening”, that’s not strictly true. As I have said before, Danish meals do tend to go on for hours and hours. This was no exception. It may just have been the longest time I have ever sat at a dinner table in my entire life. We got dressed up in the afternoon and festivities – light snacks and early drinkies – commenced at around 4pm. We didn’t leave the building until past 11 o’clock that night!

Waiters brought course after course of food, and when they weren’t bringing us food they were asking what we wanted to drink. To this 17-year-old teenager it felt like THE most surreal experience.

After about 5 or 6 courses of food – soups, open sandwiches, prawns and more – Mormor stood up and did a little speech, thanked everyone for coming and said something akin to “here’s the main course” at which point three waiters wheeled in a complete stuffed pig on a silver platter. In case you’re wondering, YES with the clichéd apple in its mouth!

Even my Dad gasped – and he’d been witness to this kind of event before. My Mum said “Bloody hell Mum” in Danish to her mother loud enough that most everyone around us heard it and laughed, whilst Nig & I wondered if the excesses were ever going to stop. This was like some kind of bacchanalian feast to end all bacchanalian feasts,

Still after all the effort that had been put in it seemed churlish not to join in and tuck into this delicious (and it was delicious, oh boy was it?!) latest offering from the kitchens.

I am not joking when I say there were still 2 or 3 courses after the pig.

A memorable evening. At the end of it, Nig thanked everyone for inviting him and he was saying it was the most amazing thing he’d ever been to.

For me it became memorable for the wrong reasons too, although it did teach me a lifetime’s lesson.  I hung my suit jacket out in the foyer, the same place as many other people had hung their jackets. Sadly, I left my wallet in the inside breast pocket. Even sadder was that someone nicked it, stealing quite a bit of my saved holiday cash in the process. (Thankfully I had left some in my bedroom back at Mormor’s apartment). We couldn’t point the finger at anyone in particular but I do remember I got first mad about the theft and then very upset. It’s a shame it took the shine off the night’s proceedings, but it did teach me to never, EVER have my wallet anywhere else apart from a front trouser pocket.

We never did find out how much Mormor shelled out for this soiree. She was asked over and over but never revealed the amount, nor where she got the money from to pay for it all. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the sum involved but I’ll bet it was a little more than just a “pretty penny”


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April 6th 1975

“Picked Mum up from London”

Just as I was amazed – in retrospect – that Mum was able to travel TO Copenhagen by herself, I am likewise astonished that she did the same journey in reverse.

It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on you. She MUST have been together and confident enough at one time to do all of this, but all I can really remember (and often wish I could forget) was how she deteriorated during that last decade or so she was alive.

I have no doubt that she came home from her Danish holiday and spent a week or more complaining about she and Mormor argued all the time she was staying with her.

They could REALLY argue. Some of it you couldn’t make up.

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January 5th 1975

“Took Mormor back to London – usual mass confusion” / “Nig came round”

This entry made me smile a little.

My Danish grandmother (Mormor) was not blessed with high levels of intelligence. Added to which she suffered long spells of abject eccentricity during which she would make my Mum – all of us – very exasperated indeed.

I suspect today in 1975 was such a time.

I can’t remember the details of this particular journey but I know in all the times we ever collected or returned Mormor to London for the train to Harwich (for her onward boat-train-boat-train journey back to Copenhagen) there was rarely a dull moment.

Whenever she arrived to stay with us she hardly ever brought money with her, always expecting my Dad to pay her way. (Conversely, whenever we stayed with her she would expect my Dad to pay for meals out etc., because she was putting us all up). When I say no money I mean NO money. Not even Danish money – which meant that when she went back Dad would often have to find a bank and change Pounds into Danish money to give to her, just so she’d have some for food and drinks on the overnight ferry and the trains through Europe. Maybe today in 1975 was one such day?

She also refused to use the underground train in London meaning Dad always had to fork out for an expensive taxi from Waterloo station to Liverpool St.

I think her finest moment of crazy eccentricity came much later in her life though, the final time she ever made it over the Channel to – as was invariably the case – spend a few weeks arguing with my Mum. She had found someone who flew his private little 4-seater plane to England once or twice a year and had persuaded him to take her as a passenger to Bournemouth airport. This was around 1993, only a few years before she died and when she was in her late eighties.

So, she had told us she was coming. However, what she hadn’t told us was any details about the plane, or the date, or the expected arrival time. Nothing. All we had to go on was a rough ‘window’, spread over a time span of two weekends.

On the Sunday of the second weekend we get a call from the pilot saying it had taken him forever to contact us. He was calling from Bournmouth airport. He had finally coaxed enough details out of Mormor to get our number via directory enquiries. They had landed late the night before. Mormor had not brought our phone number or any contact details with her so he was not able to call us any earlier. Regardless, it was felt he should book her into a hotel near the little airport… the only problem being she didn’t have any money or payment method with her, meaning the pilot had to pay for her. Dad took down all the details and we rushed down to Bournemouth to pick her up. She had travelled not only with no money, but no suitcase and no clothes. All she had with her was a shoulder bag with some toiletries in. Dad found the pilot and thanked and paid him back for the hotel and we headed back home in the car. On the journey back she and my Mum started having a BLAZING argument in the back seat because Mormor had asked “why we hadn’t been there to collect her at the airport the day before?“. I am not making this up.

Mormor and Mum spent the next couple of weeks arguing almost all the time. None of Mum’s clothes fitted Mormor, and Mormor thought all the ‘cheap and cheerful’ clothes we were trying to buy her were…. well just too ‘cheap and cheerful’. At one point she demanded better quality clothes saying she didn’t want to look like a vagrant. The irony was not lost on any of us and more arguments ensued. It was like we were all playing out a ridiculous West End farce.

It got worse however. When we had to take her back to Bournemouth airport a couple weeks later we discovered that she’d flown over withOUT her passport. She’d somehow managed to bypass immigration on the way in but we all knew this was not going to be so easy on the way out. Hours were spent trying to get someone to understand the situation and finally find a sympathetic official who would agree to let her board the plane to leave. Hours that this poor pilot had to wait around for, his plans undermined by my Mormor’s thoughtlessness.

The drama was not over just yet. Mormor never bothered to call us to say she’d got back home safely – in fact we later found out she’d turned her phone off at home so she ‘wouldn’t be disturbed’ – and so we were frantically calling Copenhagen airport and all the small regional ones to find out if the plane had landed etc. When we finally DID discover she’d got home safely – 48 hours later – the first thing she did was verbally rip my Dad’s head off for NOT paying the pilot the contribution for fuel he was expecting for the two flights.

She really was a mad old bat. Regardless I loved her as only a grandson could.

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January 7th 1974

“Berfday. Got lamp, pygamas, £2 from Mormor – bought Stranded – Roxy – Smart!”

So the wild and crazy out-of-control teenager turns 16 and celebrates with … erm… some pyjamas (mis-spelled), a lamp (a lamp??) and a couple of quid from his Danish grandmother.

However, it seems like I made up for it a little later in the day, treating myself to the merest glimpse of Marilyn Cole’s nipples….erm, I mean Roxy Music’s third album, Stranded

Stranded was the group’s first album without Brian Eno, he and Bryan Ferry having fallen out over who was really ‘leading’ the band. With all due respect to Eno, I do feel as though the ‘better man won’ in that regard. Ferry is a stylish crooner in comparison to Brian’s somewhat grotesque “Addams Family” appearance and thin vocals.

(In time, Eno would turn out to be a MUCH bigger hero of mine than Ferry, but we’ll save my feelings on that until reference to him appears in my diary pages)

To enter the grooves of  Stranded one must first get by the striking cover art. Another Anthony Price photo shoot, another superb piece of glamorous titillation. Despite coming from Portsmouth in England, model Marilyn Cole grew up to be a very attractive woman indeed. She was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in January 1972 (indeed, hers was the first full frontal centrespread to appear in the magazine) as well as Playmate of the Year in 1973.

Although dating Bryan Ferry at the time of the photo shoot (but not by the time of the album’s release), it is alleged she was *ahem* actively pursued by Playboy boss Hugh Hefner but ended up marrying the then head of the organisation’s London operations (and renowned playboy in his own right) Victor Lownes.


Lucky blighter that Victor!

No Eno. Jobson!

Back to the album itself, which kicks off with “Street Life“, the only cut released as a single (reaching #9 on the UK Singles chart in November 1973). Moody atmospheric electronics start the track off, before it kicks into overdrive, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the “ghost of Eno” was still amongst the group. His place in the group had been taken by Eddie Jobson, a multi-instrumentalist previously with the band Curved Air. Whilst Jobson’s keyboard noodlings were never as innovative as Eno’s, his contribution to Roxy Music really came to the fore with his ability to play the violin, musically adding a ….erm… whole new string to Ferry’s bow.

“Street Life” is a real swaying cruncher of a song, despite only really having one chorus in the middle, and features Ferry almost growling out his thinly veiled allegorical lyrics. His attack on the media (in light of his new found fame and predilection for stunning female companionship) is palpable:
Hey good-looking boys – gather around
The sidewalk papers gutter-press you down
All those lies can be so unkind,
They can make you feel like you’re losing your mind

It’s a pop song which I feel has fully stood the test of time. Conversely, it’s really the only cut on Stranded which harked back to their previous two albums. I’ll admit that personally I think Roxy Music were a much more interesting act with Eno in the line up. It may be because Brian often managed to quell some of Ferry’s predeliction to overt romanticism, or at least disguise it somehow. On “Stranded” however, Ferry was holding on to the reins all by himself… and did a bloody good job!

Personally I’ve always been of the opinion that the rest of this album and the next two albums (“Country Life” & “Siren”) almost represented a kind of “Roxy Music Mk II”.

As if to prove my point – and to prove that Roxy Mk II could be every bit as good as Mk I – “Just Like You” is the next track. This song never fails to move me. It luxuriates in its own languid gorgeousness, Ferry’s crooning beyond reproach. The lyrics are a little bit “moon in june”-ish but he believes every single line and sings them with such conviction its impossible to criticise.

Just when Ferry has lulled you into a soporific state of mind, along comes the somewhat bizarre “Amazona“. It goes off on so many tangents, lilting and tilting here there and everywhere before almost settling on a driving rhythm at the 3-minute mark, then scaring you again with the world highest-pitched guitar solo from co-writer Phil Manzanera. An odd song, but a brilliant one.

Psalm“, closing Side 1 is alleged to be the first song Ferry ever wrote for Roxy Music back in the band’s formative stage. It starts with what sounds like a church organ overlaid with Ferry’s vocals. Slowly, drums, guitar, oboe, violin and a (real? electronic?) choir all contribute to what appears to be some kind of tribute to a multitude of different religions. The song is written – and Ferry sings it – in such a manner that it sounds like a traditional composition from the 40’s or 50’s (surely his intent?), his voice now starting to more regularly display that strange vibrato he does so well.

Side 2 opener is “Serenade“, probably my least favourite cut of the eight. The rhythm feels all wrong to me – always has – and I think the guitar solo halfway through is the only thing that vaguely redeems it.

Where “Serenade” fails, the next two cuts more than make up. “A Song for Europe” is, quite simply, a majestic work of art. Ferry’s immaculate phrasing underscored perfectly by the accompanying musicianship. The simple bass riff at the 3:24 minute mark sets up Mackay’s sax which then does battle with Ferry singing in a variety of tongues – I think it’s Latin, French and Italian? Somewhat weirdly, I often find myself muttering Ferry’s (somewhat awful) pun halfway through the number, where he alludes to Venice with “and the bridge… it sighs”

If that wasn’t enough, it’s followed by “Mother of Pearl” one of my favourite ever ‘corkers’ by Roxy Music, indeed it would almost certainly be one of my ‘Desert Island Discs‘ if I were ever invited on to the programme. Ferry’s lyrics are 100% top notch from start to finish, even if I’ve never really been certain what he’s banging on about. For me it’s just one of those songs that sounds right, if that makes sense?

Sunset” closes an almost perfect album, perfectly. It’s an ode to death, but it could just as easily be referring to the end of a lovely summer’s day. One word: GORGEOUS!

Is “Stranded” Roxy’s best album? Depends who you talk to. For me, it’s certainly the best of their output from this era, although there are cuts from both “For Your Pleasure” and “Country Life” I wish were on it too, just to selfishly make it 100% perfect.

I do think that, in 1974, I was in a weird minority of music fans. I knew lots of people at school who liked Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Roxy Music, but rarely both. It was almost as if everybody had to fit into one camp or the other. Likewise there seemed to be ‘rivalry’ between ELP and Yes fans, T.Rex & Slade fans, even Roxy Music and Bowie fans.

Me? I was just into it all.

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August 22nd 1973

“Nufin’ much done all day except eat, drink, eat, drink and eat. Mormors berfday – gave her painting and went for a walk around shops – sweaty feet”

The Danes really DO like to eat.

Unlike most Americans – and many Brits – though they seem to savour the time they spend at the lunch or dinner table.

I lost count of the numbers of times we would go to Denmark as a family and be invited to gatherings where we would sit down and commence ‘eating’ at, say, 11am … but not end the meal until gone 5 or 6 in the afternoon/evening!

It’s not non-stop eating I hasten to add – I think my waistline would be even bigger than it is if that had been the case? – but more a seemingly endless series of courses interspersed with cigarette/cigar smoking, ribald gossip and general bonhomie.

Oh, and beer. Plenty of Carlsberg or Tuborg. Wine was (then) quite a rarity.

A supply of Danish “Akvavit” (schnapps) – translated as the “water of life” – was also always in hand with all diners expected to loudly ‘skol’ their fellow guests and/or pay tribute to missing/lost family and friends by taking a sip or two.

It seems as if my Grandmother’s birthday was the perfect excuse for a good old time around a dinner table, followed by a wander round the neighbourhood… maybe followed by a necessary soaking of the feet in a bowl?!

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April 19th 1973

“Bit boring all morning with Mormor – in afternoon went into eastleigh;- lent Mark P Tarkus and bought For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music – smart!”

Poor old Mormor. For the second time in these diaries I have referred to her staying with us as “boring”. What an complete git ungracious grandson I was in 1973.

In apparently better news I finally nabbed Roxy’s “For Your Pleasure” – about a week after first hearing it – and doubtless played it to death, deeming it – like so many other bloody things these days – “smart!”

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August 20th 1972

“took mormor back to london” / “taped all the young dudes, silver machine, seaside shuffle and school’s out” / “coffee evening christine’s house”

My poor, poor Danish grandmother (mormor). She’s been staying with us for the past few weeks and I have mentioned her just the once before now… and that was tell my diary that she was “getting on my wick”. I guess we all should have been grateful she was no more problematic than that? I loved her dearly, but she could really be hard work sometimes!

Christine? Coffee evening? I don’t drink coffee so I’m not quite sure what I was referring to here. I don’t think its one of those cases of “would you like to come in for a coffee” we see in the movies, but I could be wrong?

Looks like I taped a few singles?…

All the Young Dudes – written by David Bowie to specifically give them a hit single – was (like many other people) really my significant introduction to Mott the Hoople.

The song is often referred to as a “glam anthem”, something which it can only be considered as such in retrospect. In 1972, it was ‘just’ another great pop song. Lead singer Ian Hunter is still going these days, his vocal style as distinctive now as it was in 1972. (Let me give a nod to Hunter’s fabulous description of “life on the road”, his biographical “Diary of a Rock & Roll Star“)

I spoke about Hawkwind just a few days ago. I’m still several months away from seeing them play live, but in the meantime their major hit “Silver Machine” would doubtless suffice.

Despite its sci-fi opening and lyrics, writer Robert “Completely Bonkers” Calvert has admitted that the song is something of a send-up of the whole space race stuff that was going on following man’s landing on the moon in 1969. It’s actually about his…. pushbike!

In subsequent years I always found it somewhat amusing to watch people trying to dance to “Silver Machine”. It’s FAR from a song that lends itself to any kind of body rhythms but time after time at “junior discos” at Hiltingbury Pavilion I would stand in one corner and watch people give it their best shot… and invariably fail miserably.

It was years afterwards that I discovered – mainly because the internet had not yet been invented – that this version of Silver Machine was recorded live at the same Greasy Truckers Party gig – and later overdubbed – as the other Hawkwind cuts on that album.

Seaside Shuffle was the solitary chart hit for Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. This was a ‘nom de plume’ for the cult blues band Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts, the lead singer of which was Southampton-born John Lewis, who (are you reading this, trivia freaks?) later became MUCH better known as Stiff recording artist JonaStop the CavalryLewie

Although very much a throwaway pop song, the lyrics reverberate with me now… “It’s a warm day, the sun is shining, someone says let’s go to Brighton”…… *sigh*, if only Mr Dactyl, if ONLY!

The single reached Number 2 in the UK charts. A year later the fake band’s follow-up scraped Number 45 – ‘Nuff said!

I truly believe “School’s Out” to be one of the best – and anarchic – pop songs of all time, and most certainly Alice Cooper‘s finest contribution to the world of Rock’n’Roll.

The refrain “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” is as fierce – at least in my opinion – as anything the much later punk era produced. School’s Out is TRULY an anthem – and one for every subsequent generation it would seem, the song as popular and well-known now as it ever was.

By the way, I would hate for people to think that I only ever taped stuff. As I am sure future diaries will attest, I did get the “vinyl buying bug”, and in a very major way. I do know I subsequently purchased a lot of the singles I first taped, but usually waiting until they had dropped out of the Top 40 and were available cheaply (10-20-30p) from Jack Hobbs, my local music retailer… about whom I shall undoubtedly speak more of in later posts.

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July 30th 1972

“went down to pick up Mormor at London. When we came back she gave me a bludy smart jumper”

The word “Mormor” is probably an unknown quantity for most subscribers to this blog, so please let me explain.

I am half-Danish. Not the die-hard Brit most of you think I am. As Eddie Izzard once said of himself, I am “pan European”. My mother was born in Denmark in 1929 and grew up during the German invasion of Copenhagen, cocking something of her own snook at the unwanted infantry by being something of a rebellious fearless schoolgirl, bless her.

In Danish, ‘mother’ is ‘mor’ and the grandmother on your mother’s side is known as your ‘mormor’, literally mother’s mother. My Danish grandfather – long since divorced from my mormor – was my ‘morfar’ (mother’s father). No prizes for guessing what a farmor or a farfar was!

Anyway, my grandmother – mormor – would travel over and stay with us every other year. In her later years she created all kinds of grief and havoc that I can barely even think about anymore. In the 70’s however, she pretty much still had full control of her faculties, even if she could nevertheless prove to be a difficult and argumentative house guest for me and my parents.

I suspect my mum, dad & I would have caught a train north to Waterloo Station, taxi’d across London and met mormor at Liverpool Street station, where she would get off the boat train that had come in from Harwich Parkeston Quay that morning. My mormor would then expect – without question or request – my Dad to carry all her luggage to the taxi rank where we would grab another expensive cab across the city (my grandmother would never travel on the underground – it was “beneath her”, in every sense of the phrase) and get whatever the next train was back to Eastleigh.

It would appear that on this trip she brought with her a gift for me. No less than a ‘bludy smart jumper’ , the specific details of which, like so much else, have been totally lost in the mists and alcoholic destruction of time.

I’ll guess however that a jumper (sweater) that I considered ‘bludy smart’ in the seventies would now be something I would sharply recoil away from if I saw it hanging on a rack in the thrift store.

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