There were six of us, Sandra, Louise, James, David, Craig and me at the ABBA fest at my place on Sat arvo.
Sandra and Louise arrived early to discuss costume-making, and were decked out in 70s gear, ABBA badges and T-shirts, flared embroidered jeans, denim and faux fur trim jackets. Sandra had a special gold custom-made ABBA bracelet Louise had given her as a present for being her bridesmaid. I was wearing an ABBA T-shirt and ABBA bracelet.
They’d bought the black and white Money Money costumes at the same time as me last year, when I saw them on special at Supre, so we’ve got four ready to roll if ABBAWorld comes to Sydney. Louise said several of her friends, North Rocks mums, are big ABBA fans, and one’s a dressmaker, and one of them drives around with the ABBA numberplate, “it was going cheap” many years ago.
We had a big pow wow regarding the cat costumes and they’re going to have a go at making one. I gave them a few tips and a lot of supplies. It has cost us about $170 each for all the stuff. Louise spent several weekends going to various Spotlights to get the paint colours I couldn’t find – everywhere always had run out of black. Sandra felt very nervous at the thought of painting onto the white satin. I was a nervous wreck doing mine, and I felt it looked crap until I finally wore it and saw the photos on Facebook, so there was a lot of self-doubt and anguish, particularly since we’re not painters. Sandra’s planning it to be a long-term project, but I said her motivation will surge when there’s a big event coming up.
We also had an ABBAWorld debriefing, as all of us had recently seen it in Melbourne. I’d actually enticed everyone round to watch the latest Deluxe edition of Voulez Vous, but after a desperate visit to the record shop and frantic emailing, none of us have it! “It has the ABBA in Switzerland special on it as an extra,” James said, which made us all breathe a sigh of relief, as of course I have a bootleg video copy of that, though we weren’t that keen on watching it, as we’d already seen it a zillion times.
Craig pointed out my Japanese-style ABBA dolls, perched on top of the TV, are wearing the wrong-coloured kimonos, with Bjorn and Agnetha both wearing green.
For comestibles, I put out a big packet of potato chips and some Coke, as we usually end up with too much food, but still ended up with more than enough for about four Famous Five picnics. Louise brought along a huge iced cinnamon log, gigantic packets of Doritos, red frogs, other assorted lollies and cans of lemon soft drink, Sandra brought a tray of fresh Middle Eastern chocolate-covered biscuits, David had several fresh fruit cakes from the bakery, James was in a Queen Mum mood loaded up with gin and tonic, and Craig drank my Coke.
As we chatted, I had ABBA Dabba Doo playing in the background, especially the bit when Frida goes arch bitchy on Agnetha being in the spotlight, and does an “I’m so bored” twirl of the pencil. I mentioned that Matti Crocker is shooting a doco re: hard core ABBA fans and that I had a copy of Hazel and Peter’s 1994 30-minute video diary of UK fans. Everyone was keen to see it, and we knew quite a few faces, Helga, Sara Barnes (winning a Bristol UK costume competition with a knitted Agnetha top) and I was dancing at the 1995 Bristol ABBA convention.
Highlights included looking at the memorabilia swap meets (superseded by ebay), Kathryn Courtney O’Neill’s rendition of SOS, the large number of costumes worn by UK fans (even the guys), and seeing that “youngest” fan dancing. James said: “He’d be about 18 years old now, wonder where he is today? Will they show this clip of him dressed a girl?” We were curious about whether he’s still a fan now.* Sandra and I recently bought Sara Barnes’s excellent book about ABBA sites in Stockholm.
We were excited about absent fan Angus’s coming TV appearance on the ABC’s new quiz show, Numbers and Letters, and another absent fan recently won leather (S&M) Person of the Year. We flicked through my fan photos albums, and the pics of Louise’s youngest child raised a few laughs as she was always photographed next to a rare piece of ABBA memorabilia. “Here’s a photo of my rare ABBA box set, oh, and a baby,” James commentated.
Sandra expressed much admiration of James’s blog, especially his Swedish adventures, and he knows lots of Swedish trivia, such as: “Did you know sign language has been an official language in Sweden since 1981?” No, neither did I.
Also watched a 2001 video of Bjorn and Benny being interviewed by the late Richard Carlton on just before Mamma Mia the Musical launched in Australia. I s’pose one day we’ll be watching ABBA rarities via Youtube linked up to a plasma TV, but at the moment we’re still watching videos and DVDs on a cathode ray telly.
I used up about two rolls of Glad Wrap sealing up leftovers as I sent them on their way.
*Update: He’s now a British actor, Liam Hess. And he won an AFI award for an ABC3 children’s TV series, Don’t Blame Me.