Friday 19 May, Saturday 20 May, Sunday 20 May: arrive after 35-hr journey. Rest up. Play it by ear re: plans. Staying at Peckham, then Travelodge Stratford (High St, Stratford), 11 minutes’ walk from ABBA Arena.
Monday 23: 8.15am-3pm Harry Potter tour. 4pm: Visit ABBA fan friends who start arriving. Dinner/drinks: available.
Tuesday 24: Rest day. Or do sights of London, hop on hop off bus tour with Roxanne etc.
Wednesday 25: 3.30pm: ABBA Arena for Aussie fans group photo. 7pm: British Library for Carl Magnus Palm talk.
Thursday 26: getting ready. 5pm: ABBA Arena.
Friday 27: 11am: photos at Waterloo Station – Rox’s event. 12pm: lunch/snacks/drinks at Oxo Tower overlooking the Thames River. Arvo: pix on Thames on riverboat, ABBA-style? 2pm-5pm ABBATalk gathering: Print House, 133 High St. 5.30pm: Standing outside for ABBA Arena for Opening Night. Back at Hotel: Launch of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus!
Saturday 28: 9am: Brighton Beach for fans pic at Eurovision Dome. Guided ABBA tour and lunch. 7pm: ABBA Arena for Voyage.
Sunday 29: 12pm ABBA Fans picnic at Victoria Embankment Gardens. 6.30pm-10.30pm: Mamma Mia The Party – Unit 6.05, The, 02 Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Monday 30: free. Chilling out.
Tuesday 31: Leave in morning for Heathrow and back to Oz!
(I’ll be checking my email, so you can contact me via this website Contact page. Or FB Messenger etc.)
Rain and thunderstorms were predicted for my ABBA Pool Party in the height of summer in Oz, but luckily we caught a break and it was warmly humid with a mild breeze. 21 degrees, nice!
In order of Arrival, there was me, Louise, Yol, George and David. We were going to get takeaway and eat it by the pool, but cos we’d been brought up in the 60s/70s to “never swim within an hour of eating” (years later disproven) we decided to follow that maxim – the theory back then was you’d get stomach cramps and DIE/drown! We’re still too terrified to go for a dip after having thought about eating even a crumb, so we put all our food in the fridge and headed off to the pool.
Got there, whipped our covid masks off and jumped in.
Had a splash around and after a while we lined up along the side of the deep end for a photo, with the ABBA towel on the edge and ABBA dolls sunbaking on it. All ready for our closeups, when suddenly WHOOSH!! EMMERGENCY!! A gust of wind and the ABBA dolls and towel were blown into the deep end of the pool and needed rescuing!
“Sue lies by the pool” had become “Sue in the pool!”
Worse, the chlorine had made all the colours in the doll clothes and ABBA towel run, threatening to stain the dolls! All irreplaceable! Luckily the dolls all knew how to swim and floated, so I leapt out of the pool and ran back upstairs to my flat, with Louise’s wise words ringing in my ears: “Use the Colour Catchers!!”
I used nearly a whole pack of Colour Catchers in the washing machine and they all came out bright red after the wash!!
I gave the ABBA dolls and their clothes a thorough cold rinse. Then back to my guests!!
We all rinsed off and had dinner outside on the balcony – George had thoughtfully bought us all Newtown’s famous Clem’s chicken and tabbouleh, and we finished off with Connoisseur chocolate icecreams in blood orange and hazelnut flavours. Divine!
By now, it was about 8pm, so it was time to finish up, as I’d just invited everyone for only a casual swim and dinner get together.
But David started rummaging around on this phone and lo and behold found several rare ABBA clips he just had to share. “Fire up the chromecast!” he ordered.
I turned on the telly, then remembered I had three 1-hour BBC specials my fabulous ex had sent me recently – The Joy of ABBA, ABBA at the BBC and Agnetha: ABBA and After. Well, there was no way anyone was leaving before all three had been fully watched and discussed at length! (We found it shocking that’s LOTS of rare Aussie footage was featured in all the UK specials and we NEVER get to see that footage here! It’s because the BBC has more $$$ for sorting out copyright issues.)
Eventually, after mentioning Bjorn’s latest podcast, our admiration for Bobby’s Brother’s analysis of ABBA songs on Youtube, and the recent rising view count of my Someone Else’s Story vid, it was time to say goodbyes: “Take a pic of the ABBA dolls drying on the clothes stand!” So I did. And here it is!
It was a warm, balmy night for Marky Mark’s visit to Sydney. We rolled up to City Extra, which has great Harbour Bridge views, and got a top spot upstairs.
City Extra is a journalism-themed restaurant, open 24hrs, with a huge broadsheet newspaper menu with lots of journo-inspired foods, but during covid it closes at 12 and the menu has shrunk to fit on a hygienic, laminated A4.
Marky Mark wanted salt and pepper squid and the waiter put an asterisk next to his order so the Kitchen would make it super special. Thing is, Marky cooks for 500 people a day (with the help of just three others) – he does 2 weeks of non-stop 12-hr days, then a week off. He’s the best chef ever, I went over for Christmas dinner a few years ago and the turkey was moist, juicy and DIVINE!!!
David popped in quickly during his dinner break, looking HOT in his St John Ambulance uniform, freshly laden with deadly plague germs from his hotel quarantine job. But he’s had 2 Pfizer jabs, so – INVINCIBLE!!
Yol left early to go to her Opera singing group. Her gorge daughter Tam has an Insta account @cunningculling modelling amazing vintage clothes she sells.
Louise tried to convince us to all to go to No Lights, No Lycra where everyone dances around in the dark, no hassles, great for your mental health. She’s danced in the dark around the world and goes to as many as she can around Australia. Us, with our ageing bits and pieces, are only low-impact disco-ers now, and mostly stick to walking to places ABBA visited when they were in Sydney.
Marky teased us with his fandom story about Bananarama! Turns out he’d caught Siobhan’s eye and ended up on stage to shriek “I’m your Venus, I’m your fire!” (with hand chorry). He ended up over-staying and as he was being dragged off horizontally by Security, he managed to rip the songlist off one of the footlights and the Bananas screamed: “How will we know what’s next?”, laughing as he was tossed back into the crowd, TRIUMPHANT!
We all fell briefly silent in a moment of sombre reflection that, despite all of us being groupies and backstagers, NONE of us had ever had sex with one of our idols, or even a tribute cover band member! We’re so Someone Else’s Story — “I don’t see myself as taking part at all”!
Then we paid the bill with our covid-economic-recovery NSW Dine and Discover 25% off vouchers and scurried to the Opera House steps for night-time pics.
As we gazed over Luna Park, we talked about the Ghost Train fire there which killed 6 people in 1979 and Louise is linked to someone who knew someone who’d perished. There was a recent TV doco which suggested they were killed by an arson attack which went wrong and was covered up by corrupt NSW police, judges and politicians.
We mused that in only 20 years, we’d all be nearly 80! And the members of ABBA are 70-75yrs. Will we ever hear their new songs while they’re all still alive? Will we ever feel too old to take pix of ourselves in ABBA T-shirts and do crazy ABBA stuff?
Huge crowds, about 25% down on exhibits etc this year, and fewer farmers. Still a great showing of animals, plenty to see, did 3 visits. Some of the storeholders said they couldn’t get enough stock in to sell due to covid disruptions. ‘Spot’ the little Shetland was still there, giving rides!