Tag Archives: Tivoli Gardens

August 23rd 1975

“Went to the Little Mermaid. Spent a lot in Tivoli. Tank game – great!”

Contrary to what the Disney Corporation would like you to think, The Little Mermaid is not a Hollywood creation.

It is instead a fairy tale – first published in 1837 – written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Andersen’s poetry and stories have entertained children since 1829 and include classic works such as “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “Thumbelina” and “The Little Match Girl”

However, his tale about the mermaid who is willing to give up her mermaid identity to marry a human prince is, perhaps, the best known worldwide thanks to its simple story about love and sacrifice.

The statue in honour of Andersen’s finest moment was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen (the son of the founder of Carlsberg Beer!) who had been so fascinated by a ballet based on the fairytale he had seen that he asked the prima ballerina – Ellen Price – to model for the sculptor.

The sculptor was Edvard Eriksen and whilst the head was indeed based on Price’s, the body was not. Price refused to pose nude, so the Little Mermaid’s body is actually that of Eriksen’s wife, Eline.

The statue was placed on a series of rocks in Copenhagen’s harbour – in the area known as Langelinie – and unveiled to the public in the summer of 1913.

Most tourists who see it for the first time say the same thing… “Isn’t it tiny?!!”

It is FAR from an imposing statue. Indeed, without the hordes of visitors crowding around it, it would be very easy to walk straight past it without even noticing it was there.

It is just 1.25 metres high and weighs a mere 175 kg.

In the Little Mermaid’s almost 100 year life as one of Denmark’s most prominent tourist attractions she has been the target of vandalism many times over, most famously in 1964 and 1998 when she was decapitated. She’s also had her right arm sawn off, paint dumped over her many times and was draped in a burka as a political statement.

Most tourists are unaware that the statue displayed in the harbour is actually a copy of the original which is kept in a secret location and owned by the sculptor’s heirs. It is also subject to strict copyright, so much so that when the city of Greenville, Michigan installed a replica to celebrate Danish heritage in the area, the city was sued for a $3800 licensing fee!

As her centenary approaches Copenhagen officials are considering moving the statue further out into the harbour so that tourists will no longer be unable to climb on and possibly damage her further. How this will stop the determined ‘vandals’ and ‘anarchists’ is anybody’s guess?

In other news I can vaguely remember the ‘tank game’ of which I speak, but internet research failed to come up with its name or premise. It was a video arcade game and it involved tanks. Tanks which cost me ‘quite a bit’.


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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 4)

[… “Number One Singles of 1973” continued from Part III]

October to December

David CassidyDaydreamer/The Puppy Song
Released as a Double A-side to (somewhat cynically I feel) extend its shelf life and radio play, this was teen idol Cassidy’s 6th UK hit.

It would prove to be his last Number 1 in Britain and spent three weeks atop the chart.

“Puppy Song” was written by Harry Nilsson. It was composed at Paul McCartney’s request in 1969. The Beatles’ new Apple Records’  label had just signed teenfolk sensation Mary Hopkin and Paul needed a song for her debut album “Postcard”. Presumably talk of dreams being nothing more than wishes and a dog that would never bite him fitted the bill?

Gary GlitterI Love You Love Me Love
This was Glitter’s second Number One of 1973 and another that appears ironic in light of the revelations surrounding his later lifestyle choices.

It was written by respected seventies songwriter – and Glitter’s producer – Mike Leander, who had already worked with such pop luminaries as Billy Fury, Van Morrison, The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull,  The Drifters and Ben E King.

Trivia nuts may care to know that in addition to four Top 10 hits by Gary Glitter, Mike Leander also wrote “Privilege (Set Me Free)”, the Patti Smith Group’s follow-up single to “Because the Night”

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
They say that cream always rises to the top. The end of 1973 saw Slade nab the Christmas Number One with a song that sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

OK, so I have to declare early – and extreme – bias in these words of mine. For me “Merry Christmas Everybody” is THE ultimate Christmas song. I love it so very VERY dearly. Yes, I have a fondness for Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime“, Wham’s “Last Christmas“, Bing’s “White Christmas” and I’ll even hum along to Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day“, but Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” is the one which, without, Christmas is dead to me.

Case in point…. several winters ago my wife and I spent a relentlessly-marvellous time in my (other) “old home town” of Copenhagen in Denmark. Although we had coped quite nicely for food most of the time we had been there, we found ourselves a little short on choice come Christmas Day itself. We discovered that the Hard Rock Café – situated on the outskirts of the Tivoli Gardens – was open most of the day. So, that’s where we went. We ate like kings, celebrated with several imbibements, wore paper hats and listened to the groovy seasonal music coming over the speakers.

After an hour or so, I became depressed. We’d heard all the ‘likelys’ in terms of Christmas songs – the Elvis numbers, the endless “Sleigh Rides” and “Frosty the Snowmen”s and the fact that, yes, Santa Claus IS bloody well coming to town. I’d even endured the damned Pogues and that turgid John Lennon song. Can you guess what we hadn’t heard?

I remarked to my totally understanding and sympathetic wife that we hadn’t heard Slade’s classic. She patted my hand in a way that only wives sarcastically can and told me she was sorry.

I continued to complain. Outwardly I was being jokey about it all, inside I felt empty as could be. (Only emotionally you understand, I think a man can only eat so many multi-topped Hard Rock burgers washed down with Danish lager?)

It came time to leave. Still no Slade. I went to the till and paid. Still no Slade. Then, in what still seems like one of the most magical moments of my life, just as we were putting our coats back on to protect us from the Copenhagen snow outside “Merry Christmas Everybody” came over the PA system.

I stood, in my coat, hat and scarf, in the middle of the Hard Rock Café and just listened. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear. My Christmas with the wife in my favourite country in the whole wide world had just turned “perfect”.

Now of course, and to my wife’s utter chagrin, whenever Christmas morning unveils itself I tend to play “Merry Christmas Everybody” over and over again on what must feel to her like an endless loop.

I never, ever, tire of hearing it. Even if it shuffles up on my iPod on the hottest day of summer I will never skip it, Noddy Holder’s screeched “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!!” as satisfying now as it was 36 years ago.

Holder admits he wrote the song to deliberately be joyful and as complete contrast to what the UK was going through in 1973. There were power cuts, the 3-day working week was about to be introduced and much of the population was depressed as it could be. He took a melody he had originally written 6 years earlier, kicked the rhythm up a bit, changed a few lyrics about with the aid of band member Jim Lea and tried to intentionally make it a ‘working class Christmas anthem’ – which is what it undoubtedly became.

It was released on December 7th. By December 15th it had already sold a million copies, and was the surefire Number One, a position it held far into 1974. It stayed in the Top 30 until the end of February, an almost unheard of result for a seasonal single.

As if to further highlight its never-ending appeal in the UK it has been reissued almost every year since 1973 and has reached the Top 40 no less than FIVE further times; 1981, 1983, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I have no doubt it will be there or thereabouts again in just a few months time.

I often say that I would LOVE to be Noddy Holder at “quarterly residuals” time in March every year.

However, I’d settle for shaking his hand and saying “Thank You”

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
It’s the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red-nosed reindeer?
Does a ‘ton up’ on his sleigh
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she’s up and rock ‘n’ rollin’ with the rest

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

What will your daddy do
When he sees your Mama kissin’ Santa Claus?
Ah ah
Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Are you hoping that the snow will start to fall?
Do you ride on down the hillside in a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head then you’ve been slayed

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun…..

(© 1973 N.Holder/J.Lea)

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August 30th 1973

“Went to Tivoli –


Put it all back again though!”

Every so often “Lady Luck” has smiled on me.

However, after she leaves “Uncle Stupid” invariably visits and slaps me around the face.

I can remember this win. It was on one of the one-armed bandits (slot machines) located below the Tivoli Gardens’ concert hall building. Three cherries came up, the lights on the top of the machine flashed, I pushed a button and someone came and gave me a huge bag of Danish coinage. I don’t know how much it was, but it probably would have paid for a meal or two I’m guessing.

That evening taught me a lesson.

Now, if I am ever lucky at a slot machine, or a roulette table, or at bingo I simply walk away with my winnings rather than “reinvesting” any of it.

Basically, I kick Uncle Stupid in the nuts.

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August 23rd 1973

• “Went to tivoli, went on dodgems, not much kop. Nufin’ else done except eat, drink, eat, drink & eat”

Despite opening as early as the year 1843 Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens was not the world’s first ever “theme park”!

That accolade is actually held by Dyrehavsbakken (1669) – now known more simply as “Bakken” – in Klampenborg, also in Denmark.

However, Tivoli is the one which has survived the more admirably, retaining its past style and grace whilst always updating itself.

Tivoli’s founder, Georg Carstensen came up with the park’s concept after he twisted King Christian VIII’s arm advising him that “when the Danish people are amusing themselves they do not think about politics”. For his candidness Carstensen was rewarded with a 5-year charter to create the park just outside what was then the city of København (Copenhagen).

The park – which was eventually incoporated inside altered city limits, and now located directly opposite the town square  – included a variety of attractions right from the beginning; Oriental-style buildings, theatres, bandstands, restaurants, gardens and small mechanical rides. Small river walks were set up alongside man-made streams and small ponds, all lit up beautifully with coloured lanterns at night. Paddle boats were – and still are – a major draw for the city’s residents and visitors.

The pantomime theatre opened in 1874 and is perhaps one of the park’s most famous images, its original resplendent curtain – a huge peacock’s tail that folds open – still in full working order. On its stage the same Italian pantomimes that entertained folk back in the 19th century are performed on a regular basis, with the familiar characters of Cassander, Columbine, the Harlequin and the iconic Pierrot.

Whilst the basics of the park have remained relatively static over the years, Tivoli’s rides have (I suspect reluctantly) adpated to the times. However, the merry-go-rounds are still in abundance, as are the old-fashioned sideshow games. The park’s roller coaster – known as the Mountain Track – is one of the world’s oldest wooden examples, and whilst its speed and twists & turns are unlikely to scare today’s thrill-seekers it is nevertheless regarded by enthusiasts as a classic.

New rides have been added more recently, one of the latest being 2006’s Himmelskibet, an 80-metre high carousel offering fantastic views over the city.

All this in a mere 15 acres.

Needless to say, as a kid, any trip to Tivoli was a major event. Even for a kid of 15!

When I was even younger the scenic railway and the viking ride was always a hit, and I can also remember my grandfather (Morfar) taking me to one of the sideshows where you threw big heavy wooden balls (rather like baseballs) at piles of white household china stacked up at the back of the tent. He and I stood there for ages trying to unsuccessfully topple and shatter one of the piles before turning our attention to a new full dinner service the attendant had just put out. Morfar took out a saucer whilst I took out a side plate.

Evidently, not having had enough of the dodgy dodgems at Eastleigh fair I decided to chance my arm with the ones on offer at Tivoli, obviously deeming them sub-par.

Tivoli is usually only open in the summer months – April to September – so it was a very pleasant surprise for me and my wife when we visited Copenhagen one Christmas a few years ago. The park was open a few selected nights we were there, and although many of the rides were closed for maintenance, and the ponds etc were all frozen over, we were allowed to walk round its entirety. My wife was open-mouthed at how pretty it all was for the time of the year, whilst I silently held back the tears in remembrance of times gone by spent inside its walls with my late Grandmother, Grandfather and Mother.

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