Cookie Tossing and other Norwegian Sports
The year was 1980. It was the end of a bitterly cold February in Denmark, and me, and five other unfortunate individuals, collectively known as APOLLO, were making our way across the Skaggerak to Kristiansand on the South Coast of Norway.
Now, when I say making our way, I mean we were being tossed around like a plastic duck on mountainous seas, creating the illusion that you were walking upstairs when in fact you were walking downstairs, and the gangways of the battered ferry were awash with more than just beer and seawater.
We’d just completed a gruelling two month tour of Danish towns and cities in sub zero temperatures, and we were looking forward to our first visit to Norway. With the benefit of hindsight, and twenty-eight years and thousands of sea miles later, I can confirm that this was the worst sea voyage I have ever experienced.
By some miracle, I didn’t toss my cookies. (I believe that’s the correct nautical term) Within minutes of finding dry, horizontal land, we got our first glimpse of the Hotel Caledonien on the sea front in Kristiansand. With the tall ship Sorlandet docked behind her forming an impressive backdrop, we made our way to the place that was to be our home for the next month.
The first time we walked into Caledonien Dancing, we were amazed. It was such a well-designed, futuristic looking club for a mainstream hotel; with strange “pods” hanging everywhere that contained seating. Sure enough, we had a fun month there.
One particular incident I recall involved our drummer and band leader, Jim Percy. The way the stage was laid out; there was a balcony above and behind us that accommodated a number of tables. A bunch of drunken Norwegians decided to encourage the very drunkest of their number to throw ice cubes over the balcony down on to the unsuspecting band. Being a multi-instrumental line-up, Jim rearranged us for the next number, with the keyboard player taking his place on the kit, while he sneaked off stage and up the stairs through the myriad of levels and alcoves to find the culprit.
Now, you need to know that Beer, and particularly spirits were, and still are, astronomically priced in Norway. Jim found the guy, and leaning over him in a mock friendly way, proceeded to upturn a full bottle of Jack Daniels, holding it down on the table while the entire contents glugged out over the man’s trousers. Still smiling, Jim explained that we’d very much like him to cease throwing the ice over the balcony, and waddaya know, he seemed to agree!
In keeping with my alcohol free lifestyle, (brought on not so much by a dislike, but an inability to pay) I was happy to find Caledonien dancing had a first rate coffee machine behind the bar, and I availed myself of it regularly. The small cups, especially designed for the Nightclub and the machine also caught my eye, and I decided to avail myself of one of those too, as a memento of our stay. (I know, Danu, I am incorrigible)
There was sadness there, too. I remember us performing on March 27th, towards the end of our month there, the night of the Alexander Kielland Oil Rig disaster, and we dedicated the songs to the memory of the victims.
The final death toll when the Alexander Kielland Accommodation platform collapsed was 123, mostly Norwegians.
We made many friends there, and such is the nature of my business, that you are usually destined to never see them again. But with the Hotel Caledonien, there was a bitter twist in the tale. Six years after our final stint there, it suffered a terrible fire and fourteen people died. We never did find out if any of the victims were people we knew.
Sadly, I can’t find my cup, but I’ve drawn it for you here, against the backdrop of Caledonien Dancing, from memory.
KEV MOORE, Spain (Albir)