Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Night with the UOGB

Joe Tuesday night, along with our Swiss friends D. and G., we attended what was (for us, anyway) the most eagerly anticipated Uppsala cultural event of the fall: the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, performing live at the Regina Theater.

They performed a number of their standards, like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," and their "Life on Mars/My Way/Substitute/etc." medley. They also played a bunch of stuff we hadn't heard before, such as "Anarchy in the UK" performed in the style of a Simon and Garfunkle sing-along, "Pinball Wizard" as a sea chanty, and an old George Formby ukulele classic "Leaning on a Lamp Post" as Russian folk music (doing a pretty good balalaika impression). It was, in the words of the London Telegraph, a "plucking good time."

The concert ended around 9:30, so even after hanging around for a bit while D. bought one of the group's DVDs and got it signed, it was still early enough for us to go out for a beer. Tuesday night is pretty slow in Uppsala, and several of the bars downtown were already shut for the evening. We wound up at an Irish pub on Stora Torget called O'Connors, rumored to have the best pint of Guinness in the city. It also has live music every night, but it's big enough that we were able to score a table far enough away that we could hear each other as we rehashed the performance.

Well, that was the plan, anyway. While G. and I were ordering at the bar, one of the gentlemen at the next table struck up a conversation with D. and Jennifer. He turned out to be extremely talkative, and more than a little drunk. I never caught his name, but we did learn that he was a born-again ex-skinhead of Sami descent (and, in some ineffable way, also Jewish). He spent the next hour telling us all about his congregation back home (part of a Boulder, Colorado based Baptist splinter church), the superiority of Eastern spirituality to Western, and his Swedish folk/punk band; in fact, he spent so much time talking to us that eventually his drinking buddy, a young raggare* who never said a single word, got up and silently departed.

The Sami eventually got caught up in a confusing conversation with a waitress, in which he first needed to pay for his current beer, and then received another, larger beer he hadn't ordered and apparently didn't need to pay for; armed with his new beer and in need of a smoke, he eventually stumbled off. At that point we all decided to call it a night.

I leave you with one of my favorite UOGB numbers, unfortunately not on the playlist for us as Peter didn't come along for the Sweden tour:

*Raggare is a Swedish word describing a member of a Swedish subculture marked by pomade hair styles, Rockabilly music, cowboy boots, blue jeans, classic American cars, and a vocal pro-American stance. For more info, see the wikipedia entry.

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