Tony Penultimate

A Terrible Kind Of Love

Dave contemplates the Finnish landscape (photo from 2004)

Since I'm not playing the UOGB's two dates in Oslo and Helsinki (I'm going to my niece's wedding) I thought I'd pull up something from the archives with a Scandinavian flavour to get you all in the mood - you can follow the UOGB's adventures on twitter and facebook..........


There are few feelings better than being in a band thats on the way up, the irony is that you will never know this until long afterward because you are so busy going from gig to gig.

This was the position that the Ukes found themselves in during 2004, when we came off the back of two years of rural touring (playing village halls up and down the country) to small audiences, which had really tightened the band up musically, to playing the Jools Holland Hootenanny TV show (a big New Year rock music show, prerecorded in November). This was back in the days when getting on TV was a big deal for any band (youtube launched in 2005) and we got a good reaction to our slot.

This led to a promoter asking us to play a couple of gigs in Scandinavia, one in Stockholm, Sweden, the other in Espoo (Finland's second largest city).

 A faded flyer from a UOGB Village Hall concert in 2003

The band had played overseas before, but foreign dates were still something of an anomaly back then.  I had to skip the gigs as I was still working my regular job and had taken too much leave already and besides, in those days, who had ever heard of a professional ukulele player?

So in early April 2005, with a sense of suppressed exitement on their part and considerable envy on mine, the band set off to play the two gigs.

After flying to Stockholm and playing the first gig, which passed without incident, the band then boarded the overnight ferry to Helsinki to play the second at Espoo. Unbenownst to the UOGB, the overnight ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm has a fearsome reputation amongst the cognoscenti of debauchery, its often referred to as the 'Bang Boat" due to the appalling behavior of its passengers. Due to the difficulty of obtaining alcohol in most of Scandinavia (its very expensive and sold via government agencies) these ferries sail into international waters and therefore avoid the taxes and restrictions on alcohol in their home countries.

 The plucky band of ukulele travellers share a joke unaware of the evening to come

Finns and Swedes often board the boat for the sole purpose of drinking themselves into oblivion, singing karaoke and fornicating, and often dont even disembark untill they return to their home port - all of this was unknown to the members of the band.

Since I wasn't there, I have been questioned all of my colleagues and been able to tease out the facts in much the same manner a journalist or a policeman might do. Everyone has given a slightly different version, but its is Jonty's version which seems to me the most plausible.

What happened was this; after boarding the ferry in the evening several of the band went to have a look around and find a place to bed down for the night, eventually finding a table near the disco with plenty of banquettes to sleep on.

Richie, who had had a look around, reported back on the wierd 'Hieronymus Bosch' style vignettes he had observed: a roomful of drunks singing "Its Raining Men" - in Finnish in the karaoke and other distrubing events too bizzare to report in a family blog like this......

Dave, was sitting on a chair at the edge of the group, minding his own business, when a burly and thoroughly drunken Finnish lorry driver plonked himself down on the seat next to him and with a sleazy leer, jabbed himself in the chest and loudly proclaimed: "Maarti", by way of an introduction.

Because Dave has long hair, the theory goes that Maarti was so drunk, he mistook Dave for a woman.

"Maarti" he said again and making a 'Roger Moore' style gesture with his fists, indicating that he'd like to dance with Dave.

After the third time he'd said "Maarti", Dave picked up a discarded newspaper and pretended to study it (a Finnish newspaper - the most impenetrable language in Europe).

"No thank you" Dave replied querulously, like a retired school mistress being invited to an orgy.

The drunken Finn then decided to take matters into his own hands, it was fairly obvious that this beautiful British blonde was giving him the 'come on' and then playing 'hard to get'.

Maarti braced himself to get up from the banquette, but staggered and fell back.

"SUICIDE" he slurred (probably the Finnish word 'hupsista', meaning 'whoopsy daisy').

"Yes, good idea!". shot back Dave - ever the wag. This drew a peal of laughter from a Finnish couple seated nearby, whereupon Maarti, sloped off somewhere else to try his luck.

The next morning, when the band desembarked, there was a large board of photographs by the gangway, which had been taken the previous day by the ships photographer and available for a small fee, and there slap bang in the middle was Maarti, looking very much worse for wear, clutching two carrier bags full of bottles - probably containing (and this is a wild guess) alcoholic beverages.

If only the band had bought it!

While there is no great denouement to this sad and sorry tale from the bands history, a curious thing happened after the gig in Espoo. The Finnish couple that had laughed when Maarti fell (and who it subsequently turned out lived in Espoo) came to the gig, half out of sympathy and half out of curiosity, and afterwards offered a heartfelt apology on behalf of their countrymen for the indignity that Dave had suffered.

Dave rarely referers to the incident, but I know it has left its scars...........



Thank you Andrea!
Hi Peter, have fun at wedding!

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