I recently bought new glasses. I’ve worn contacts for years but I decided that it was high time I invested in an alternative option. OK, Yes. This feeling was not unrelated to advancing senescence. So, I bought these rimless things made of utterly non-biodegradable super titanium kryptonite or somesuch. My optometrist assured me that they were totally au courant – and charged me several hundred bucks to prove it. Everyone told me they looked great. Then, at the December meeting of the NSW Ministerial Advisory committee on HIV/AIDS and Related Diseases (of all places) some tactless pox doctor (aren’t they all?) observed that my glasses made me “look like a Swedish biochemist.” Bjorn Lomborg is Danish. I know of no hot Swedish biochemists. I wasn’t flattered. Till tonight
Has anyone been following the excellent BBC “history of popular music” thing on our ABC? Tonight was the last in the series and it was revelatory. It turns out that ABBA were a kind of Scandanivanian Thatcherite revolution in bad Gary Glitter drag. Their former producer (wearing glasses alarmingly reminiscent of my own) painted a grim picture of a pre-ABBA Sweden where record charts were banned because they might make less successful artists feel bad. He claimed that Swedish popular music largely consisted of “communist folk songs” – “Drive with me to Uppsala in my environmentally friendly, community owned Volvo my love (if that’s totally OK with you)” – kind of thing.
Then ABBA burst into glory – via the unforgettable Waterloo – in the Eurovision Song Contest, in Brighton in 1974. According to the producer, the first question put to them at the press conference in Stockholm upon their return was an utterly outraged one; surely they were aware of how many people had died at the battle of Waterloo? What were they thinking of to sing such a song? They – intoxicated with success – apparently told the reporter to get a big reindeer and raced off to record Dancing Queen. And nothing in Sweden was ever the same again. Indeed, for Sweden, it was kind of the Lycra, Sequins and Bad Hair Revolution, pre-dating the Velvet one in Prague by over a decade. “We have record charts now” the producer concluded in an almost animated way.
Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha, Anni-Frid – thank you for saving Sweden. And for making me feel good about my glasses.