These days I think it completely normal to have a party in the honour of fish. Tis’ the kräftskiva season in Sweden – the crayfish party. No August would be complete without it and the complementary attire of crayfish hats and crayfish table regalia on sale.
And where better to find some of these tasty little blighters than the west coast? I went on the hunt in Halmstad where everyone seemed to be drawn to Stortorget. It was as if a magnetic force from the large nipples of Carl Milles’ Europa and the Bull statue, in the middle of the square, was pulling them in. So I followed suit. But rather they were there for dinner and a few pints at the Wärdhus accompanied by a Per Gessle lookalike and his guitar.
The other eaterie I frequented was the Chinese across the street so, I’m afraid to say, the nearest I came to this sumptuous seafood was a baked potato with tinned tuna mayo and deep fried sweet ’n’ sour prawns.
Normally, I would have chilled out at the beach at Tylösand or hung out at the bar of the hotel owned by the real Per Gessle (one half of Roxette fame for non-Roxette fans).
But Halmstad has a varied smörgåsbord of artistic points of interest and I had a healthy appetite to see them. The most interesting of which is the work of the Halmstad group; six local fellows who bonded through surrealism and cubism in the 1920s. Their paintings, with chopped off heads and the likes of red squares on white squares on black squares with a yellow triangle, are on display at the Halmstad Museum.
They had been inspired by the likes of Picasso and his 14 metre high sculpture ”Woman’s Head” stands on the banks of the river – based on the model of the original figure.
Close by is the confusing artwork which commemorates Halmstad’s 700th year in 2007. Democratically chosen by the locals, it is a tad strange when you think about it. Named 0+0=8. it’s a big zero bouncing on the river using the reflection to create a figure of eight. Better served I thought to celebrate an 800th anniversary in 2008 but I wasn’t involved in the vote.
And I navigated a busy dual-carriageway to see the Martin Luther Church which was made entirely out of steel, It aims to be a house of God for the forward-thinking man but looked more like a holy power plant to me.
Heading back to the centre and Storatorg was again bustling. A large crowd had formed and I could hear the sounds of African drums. Is this what happens on a normal afternoon in Halmstad? Turns out it was the final day of the town’s annual street theatre festival. Little did I know I was going to be performing in it.
Off went the dancer from Congo and on to the stage came a bloke labelled ”British variety entertainer – Max Normal.” Obviously he was anything but, not only by virtue of his name, but the content of his act, his bad jokes and sexual innuendoes. What was funny though was how he had the Swedes in side-splitting hysterics.
He and his nipple ring climbed through a wire coat hanger much to the amazement of onlookers who couldn’t contain themselves when he put a rubber glove on his head and started prancing round like a chicken. That’s not normal, surely?
On went his English radar when looking for a female assistant and I was the lucky lady hand-picked from the audience. I through him off scent slightly when he asked ”What’s your name and where are you from?” But I received an appreciative round of applause for ”coming all the way from England especially.” I didn’t come clean.
Max being Max told everyone he didn’t want a ”normal” assistant. He wanted a bit of flair and charisma; and demonstrated a little dance he wanted me to perform when passing him his juggling knives.
Now unfortunately I have no pictorial evidence of this event as the woman I entrusted to capture the moment on my camera confused the off button with the one she should have pressed. So you’ll just have to take my word for it, or ask anyone who knows me and can vouch for the fact I’m rather partial to a performance.
On command, I danced, cheered, sang and built up the suspense for Max’s grand finale – where he strips of to his pants, climbs inside a big balloon and rolls around a bit. Max proclaimed I was one his all-time best assistants and I thoroughly enjoyed myself – just another normal afternoon out really.
Now forgive me for stooping as low as Max’s humour for this but it raised a smile for me, like the first time I heard about crayfish parties.
As many of us know, normally the Swedes’ command of the English language is shockingly good. But the folks at Halmstad Youth Hostel are either having serious spellcheck issues or just having a laugh with their kitchen notice to guests as follows.
- Door has to be close when you are cocking or when using the microwave and/or toaster
- Accidental fire alarm due to cocking, use of microwave or toaster will be charged on deposits from each corridor
- Always make sure someone is in the kitchen when cocking dinner