Friday, 7 December 2007
Bilko in Bergen
The first piece I ever presumed to write was for Mister Pike Bishop.
This piece, I wrote for the Yellow Duck Pond.
Sadly, neither site is current. (Two great sites from great people).
So, apologies to those who know the story - but I want those scribblings to be here, in my place.
Sergeant Bilko was my hero when I was young. He was just so like my father – not in looks, but in character. A sort of Good Soldier Szweik with a betting slip. Always won when he lost and lost when he won. Except for one day.
No, scratch that as well.
'For once everything goes right for Bilko, from hot showers in the morning, to picking all the winners in a horse race, but by the time he realizes it the day is over.'
The rest of the band was flying to Norway.
For lots of reasons (ie cash) we decided to take the boat from Newcastle to Bergen.
A good decision.
We met lots of people on the boat and had a riotous time.
Played with Ricky Wilde in the piano bar. Met a chick who owned a club and chatted with a World Champion martial artist.
Not so bad – music, sex, martial arts plus loads of beer. Fine. In whatever order.
But, we are in Norway on business. An ever-to-be unknown rock band making an album.
Now to work. It's not good.
Turns out we have been shafted, in typical rock fashion, by the manager and there is not a lot of money about.
The band is about to split and we have to produce our best stuff in order to just survive here.
That is, the producer says if we play well in rehearsal he will pay the whole cost of the recording and 'take it back' through money he already owes our songwriter for previous 'Gold Discs'.
Cool, we might just get through this.
We work, we fight, we play, we work, we fight, we play.
Ok, no matter. There is one bright spot. I have the beer tickets. They were mine. I had a day off.
I wanted some space – and I got it. Starting early.
I went to the TheaterKafeen for a beer. Some time to relax and get the head together. These guys are doing my nut in. Should be ok – my lady friend is the owner - hence the beer tickets.
Some old guys are playing chess in here. The kickboxers are here, too. A couple of guys are playing guitar. Some nice chicks too.
Ok. I am a foreigner and people are obviously curious. They want to speak to me.
My thing is guitar, so I am definitely interested when I see some guys playing. Plus, I am getting into what they are doing. As the day goes on, I get more interested in what they are doing and they get more interested in me being interested.
I have already sparred with the kick-boxers. One of the guys has just won the Gold medal at the World Championships. We talk karate and do a little touch sparring. I get called over by the guitarists for a jam. I get called over by the chess players for a game.
We start to play chess. This guy was the local champion in nineteen-canteen and I must be dead focused. I am.
But, the guitar players know we are playing with a famous Norwegian producer and want to speak about him. The kick boxers know that I am a karate instructor – and they know I don't give two fucks.
We are in the pub after recording. This pub is very nice but has a bit of a reputation. The usual.
Mafia, drugs, violence etc. My kinda place.
I now have a reputation. They think I am a nutter.
A few nights previously all the boys had been there. Hughie and me went for a piss.
As we are in the toilet a few of the local skins are in the queue and they start to talk about us.
Now these guys are very polite – or they would have already hit us. They call us the ficky-ficky guys ( all Brits say fucking this, fucking that) and make jokes about it.
Now they tell us they are going to fight with us. Hughie does a runner and I am left to sort it out.
I say to them ok I will fight with you. But, first can I have a cigarette? Ok they say.
Now I reach into the urinal and pick up a cigarette doup.
I put it to my lips. Can U give me a light?
They all leave. Quickly. One of them points at his head as he leaves and tells me I am a nutter.
I know that already, big man.
So my reputation is good. Or not. I don't speak Norwegian. I can guess, though.
So paradise. I feel like I am the hero in that episode of sergeant Bilko. You know the story.
Bilko has his lucky day – he can predict every winner. I like the concept - everyone has one day that is theirs. They can do no wrong. This is my day. Guitar, chess and karate and even some girls.
Homecoming means 'down to earth' big style.
Typical Glasgow. When I meet my friend Jamie. I tell him of my most wonderful day. I am so happy. Ecstatic, still.
Not in Glasgow, apparently.
He says “You were a lucky bastard, that's all - next time it will be a game of bridge, a piano and a squash racket. Fuck off.” Back to reality. That's Glasgow
What was the final result on My Perfect Day?.
Bilko, eat yer heart out.
I got 3 and a half to 1 half against the Bergen Champion
I got a reasonable 'draw' against the World Champion.
I played a couple of songs for a girl – and got paid in kisses.
PS The band in the picture is Outsider, from Poland, and we are playing at Orle on the Czech border.