Karl fell over last night. Almost sober, he slipped on an icy pedestrian crossing, hurting his back. And his pride.
The deepest wound was being helped up by elderly ladies, fussing over this young man in his thirties. While Anna and I skidded off to Stampen Jazz Club, Karl was no doubt being invited to a coffee morning, or bingo, with his new-found friends.
This Jazz Club in the old part of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, turns out to be a pick-up joint for the paralytic aged. A crusty sea dog flexed his tattooed biceps at all and sundry, but the woman he wanted was too drunk to focus.
She danced to some stomping musicians, circling unsteadily until collapsing, and being ejected from the premises. Anna and I remained upright.
Each time I poked my head upstairs to see the other live band, a pony-tailed, ageing Lothario would sidle up and ask Anna to dance. ‘Could we manage this one?’ he asked, each time my back was turned.
Upstairs, a bespectacled duffer tried to propose a toast, presumably just for me being with a young blonde, which resulted in Anna’s elbow knocking white wine all over his glasses.
It was like being reprimanded by a science teacher at school where a twitching of the lips becomes an insubordinate snigger. The teacher – or a short-sighted elder, in this case – increases your detention lengths, but the snigger becomes a chortle. You just can’t help it.
At 2am the metro system is still running every few minutes. ‘It goes all night on Fridays and Saturdays,’ says Anna, who must be up late at weekends.
Today, fussing over a mildly-bruised Karl, we’re off for a splendid, time-consuming brunch in the park. Outside, a hot-dog stand is stationed…on the ocean. This is very exciting to me.
Sated by far too much coffee and waffles, my boyish enthusiasm for walking on frozen sea is accommodated. Karl throws snowballs as I marvel that we are actually walking on the sea. Indeed, some are even bicycling on it.
Despite years in the touring industry, I’ve never understood how, after a good night’s sleep, other drivers can get into bed after lunch and sleep a further three or four hours. I’m envious.
Knowing I’d lie restless, I visit the Vasamuseum, one of the foremost attractions in the world. The Vasa, a ship built in 1628 from a thousand oak trees, managed just 1300m on her maiden voyage before listing and sinking within Stockholm harbour.
In 1961, while the Berliners were being encircled with that ridiculous wall, the Vasa was lifted from the depths. It overshadows The Mary Rose, I can tell you.
‘Heyhey’… which means hello, and goodbye, it seems..