What I Love.

If you are one of my lovely Facebook friends or you have happened across my tweets in the years gone by, you probably think I am a bit of a grumpy bastard.
I assure you, this isn’t true. My heart swells at the sight of a beautiful sunset, a good meal or an awesome show, my eyes well up when watching “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or “Long Lost Family” and I get all giddy at the prospect of a free update to my favourite audio software.

To try and convince you, Dear Unknown Friend, that I am indeed made of softer stuff, I have decided to try and put into words just a small sampling of the things that make me feel joy, giddiness, excitement and good old fashioned happiness.

I love my family and friends.
I love the sound of a good PA in a great venue.
I love a short soundcheck.
I love cooking for my wife. Mostly versions of Spaghetti Bolognese.
I love new technology and manuals.
I love (most) Apple Products.
I love installing software updates with exciting new features that will eventually crash my system and force me to do a full reinstall. I love doing full reinstalls.
I reluctantly love Amazon Prime (although I hate Amazon’s business ethics and how they treat their staff and I will participate in any effort to force them to change their ways. Even cancelling my beloved Prime if need be. (Actually – just did)) 
I love synthesizers – All of them. Oberheim. ARP. Yamaha. Sequential Circuits. Roland. Ensoniq. Emulator. Moog. Korg. (Mostly Korg.)

I love Facebook.
Anyone who doesn’t have a regular office or works around the world will recognise the need to stay in touch with people in a casual but friendly way. Facebook is that way. Now, invite me to play Farmville again and I will hide your toothbrush in my ass, but like every other passtime it’s best enjoyed responsibly. I owe a lot of good things to FB (also, a lot of Cat videos.)

I love bands.
There is something about the inherent dysfunction that exists within a band that solo artists will never experience, I think. The joy of having someone to agree/disagree with, to fight and make up with over petty things. Someone to share both the limelight and late night load outs with equally. I could never be a solo artist – but I could have been in a band.
Back in the day, that is.
Now I’m waaaaay too comfortable.

I love a great gig.
It’s the main reason I went back on the road.
I love it when the crowd gets what the band is doing. When the band is running at max potential. When the crew are good, relaxed and happy. When you have that rare moment in a show where you actually get to enjoy your work. I could list an almost infinite amount of things I hate about touring, but somehow The Great Gig resets my loathing for airports, invoicing, logistics and waiting. I suspect that most of my Road Warrior friends feel the same way. (Also, that’s another list.)

I love a great festival.
With a comfortable backstage, great catering, old friends in the offices, great tech, a joyous crowd and a beautiful setting.

I love a good Tour Bus.
Something with great aircon that doesn’t make me cough my lungs out. A bus with a functioning WIFI connection to call home, a decent toilet, a popcorn maker, a cool fridge, good bunks with plenty of fresh air and somewhere where you can relax in silence when the party is raging elsewhere. I love a quiet Tour Bus with an excellent driver.

I love early mornings. Reluctantly.
But there is something about getting ahead of the world before it descends on you like a hungry eagle and tears you limb from limb. Like getting the best position on a surfboard before the wave strikes. (I would imagine – the thought of being on a board in the surf frightens the bejeezus out of me.)

I love people who are good at their jobs.
I had an epiphany when we played Coachella with earlier this year:
The world is absolutely jam packed with beautiful people.
It’s no wonder, really – Naturally, most people will try their hardest to be attractive and confident and make pretty babies, using all the knowledge and technologies at their disposal, forged by centuries of research to make our brains believe that this particular girl/boy is just the picture of perfection and a worthy mate for the procreation of the species.
But “beautiful” as a singular attribute is useless. Beauty should be a coincidental attribute, not a life goal.
People who are good at their jobs rock my world. (That these people are also beautiful, is just an evolutionary stroke of good fortune.) The list is a lot longer.

I love manual labour.
Actual work, you know, with your hands. My fondest memories are always centered around actually doing things. With my parents, with friends, in my in-law’s garden, repointing a wall, painting a door, making a new fence, reassembling my bike, soldering cables and packing up FOH after a sold out show.
You can have the backstage party to yourselves, if I can just have a quiet arena and two hours to carefully wipe down the desk and pack my boxes in an almost ceremonial way, maybe with a good colleague for nice conversation. If you think I long for the executive corner office, you know me very little.

I love landing at Gatwick Airport.
This one’s a no-brainer. It means that I am less than 60 minutes away from what has become my home, Eastbourne. And then predictably:

I love Eastbourne.
Who’d have thunk it ? From the burned down pier and the corny seafront hotels to the downs and the freaky abundance of churches, I dig this place so much. It holds a large chunk of my family and so many places and people that bring me a slice of happiness. Dave Lynch and the amazing Electric Zoo studios, Jal The Hair Dresser, Nelson Coffee, Camilla’s Books, The Towner, the old fashioned station building and Harry Ramsdens Fish & Chips. Paul The Editor & Christine The Jeweller, Brother Bjarke/ Sister Mary and little Nephew Benjamin, Neil The Electro Wizard and Rachel The Florist/Cellist. I am even fond of the recurring characters around Eastbourne Town Centre. Like the 6’8″ 70’s Gerard Depardieu look-alike who wanders around the Andale Center in his tight bell bottoms and belly-overhang boheme shirt. And the fact that Eastbourne has a yearly cross dressing gentlemens gathering that no one really talks about.
I love Eastbourne because it has no relevance for my career. Moving here was purely driven by love and nothing to do with expanding the business.
A move that all of us self employed people rarely get to make.

I love letting people know how I feel about them. (usually only in a positive way)
If you, like I, believe that there is only one round on this rollercoaster, then you’ll start to get a sense that professions of great affect and appreciation for other people should be an integral part of your life and not saved for retirement speeches and eulogies. The back of that medal is that the opposite then also applies, but with a bit of perspective you start to realise that “people who annoy you” usually don’t set out to do so and as such, appreciation can take on many forms. I have a lot of love for people I don’t even like, because I understand the urge to be yourself. I understand the responsibility that comes with this. Honesty and hard work.

But most of all – I love Catherine and all that comes with her.

J

Jon Boston Glasses

Vi ses, Mormor

For Roma,

1 year ago today our grandmother passed away as she finally lost her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

This was the disease that started by making her forget that she had already bought milk, then it made her forget where she was, our names, who we were, who she was. She forgot to sleep, wake up, eat and drink.

In the end  she forgot to breathe.

I got the news as a text message in a small apartment in Stockholm. Alone and far away from my loved ones I felt powerless and guilty. I cried and regretted not having seen her and spent more time with her in her final days.

But I know exactly why I didn’t.

The last time I saw Grandma, was at her birthday in the wonderful nursing home that our mother had effectively bullied everyone in the health care system to get her. People were there to celebrate her, even if they don’t necessarily get along outside those walls – they put their differences aside, petty or otherwise and sat there with Grandma Roma. Or rather what was left of her… I talked to her and she would reply – random words in random order to no end, glazed look in her now grey eyes with not a hint of recognition. And I realized then and there, that my grandmother, our grandmother and all she was, had died.

Roma didn’t have an easy start on life – She was kicked out of her home and sent off to the big city at age 14. She fell into one marriage and had a child (something my generation only found out much later) and after a very short time left this family behind and started another – Ours. With Valdemar (Granddad) she had another two children – Diana (whom I call mum) and Walther. Many years after the passing of granddad and, I believe, the passing of her first husband, she manned up herself and got in touch with Kurt, her son of the first marriage. Something that became a joy for us all as Kurt, mild mannered and with a heart the size of a whale, just welcomed her back into his life as had she never left.

Kurt fell to cancer in March 2010.

Like all parents, I am sure, Roma could be a pain in the ass. She was hard headed, stubborn and had her opinions ready for anyone who would listen (and for a few that wouldn’t, too) – I fondly remember that whenever she used the terms: “Og så sagde jeg til hende – Nu skal jeg sige dig en ting, sagde jeg:” –   (and then I said to her – I’ll tell you this, I said:) – I always felt that it probably meant: “I didn’t say anything, I bit my tongue and nodded politely, but what I should have said was:” and that would be followed by an imaginary ass-kicking for the subject in question, whether it be the guy down the shops, the lady at the bus stop or indeed anyone who had crossed her path wrongly. It still makes me smile.

She made the best frikadeller the world has ever seen. She would make them for us, our friends and she would even make them for bands that I worked with. The taste of Rødgrød med Fløde is the taste of Roma’s kitchen, odd spoons, wax table cloth and half’n’half milk. She entered me into Wheel Of Fortune on TV once. (I won a petangue set, chocolates and an Anaïs Anaïs perfume series). She would walk my Sunday paper route with me when I was 11 years old. She would ride her bicycle way into her seventies. She tried valiantly to remember all the names of all the band members that I dragged through our kitchen – The band that she never forgot ? The Burning Primitive. “Such nice boys..” – Her favourite musician-friend of mine: Las Nissen. “Oooh, he is such a handsome man!” She took up learning English – not really to learn English as much as to have her grandsons teach her. She adored Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé’s “Barcelona” album. She believed what the tabloids said about muslims taking all our jobs, but at the same time she was best buddies with Abdul in the corner shop. “He’s not like the others!” – proving again that xenophobia is best fought up close with coffee and falafel.
She had a laugh that sounded like someone tickled a baboon with an icepick.

But most important of all – she loved us all and we loved her.

All this, all that character and all that life, was drained from her by this soul-sucking disease that robs us of the one thing that makes us who we are – Our memories. And as her memories faded into a grey thick fog of uncertainty and mood swings, so did Roma Selma Graakjær.
I want to believe that she was in there, at least some of the way. I really do.
I want to feel that she was clinging on for dear life to stay with us in body and mind. Even though I know that the pure nature of the affliction made it impossible. So I do regret not being there for her. I am not proud of my absence.

But I also understand our mother’s final mercy on us children.
She felt that we should remember grandma for who she was and not for what she had become – and for that I am eternally grateful.

Cause I do remember. And I hope you all do to.

Grandma loved my girlfriend Catherine even though she never understood a word she said (says something about the quality of English teachers you can get with frikadeller and rødgrød).

In Catherine’s family it is tradition for everyone to meet once a year on the day of passing of the most recent elder. You eat, drink, pray and remember.
We don’t do that – We go on with our lives and sometime get this sinking feeling that something isn’t what it used to be and then, when they sing that song around the christmas tree that reminds us of the ones we lost, we shed a tear and get on with it. We tell ourselves that family snapshots and christmas cards is enough to keep them with us or, alternatively, we put our faith in the belief that they are still here or indeed in heaven or somewhere else where their memory is kept forever. The truth is that they live on in our memories and only there. It is ironic that the thing that was taken from grandma is also the only thing that will ever truly erase Roma, Grandfather Jørgen who left us in February and Kurt from this world. It is us not remembering them and talking about them and their stories.

This is my feeble first attempt. Feel free to join in.

One of the first things Catherine ever learnt to say in Danish is something she said to our grandma. It has since become the sign-off for my brother Frederik, my sister Anja, Catherine and I when we hang up the phone or part ways at an airport. It embodies my feelings for Roma, Jørgen, Kurt, Evelyn, Valdemar and all those those who left anyone of you – and it is not because I believe in an afterlife where we will all meet and play bingo. It is because we will eventually all just be an anecdote in someone else’s arsenal of stories about people who aren’t here anymore. And if we are lucky, it’s a good story with an awesome ending and some funny bits to keep the great-great grandkids entertained.

See you around, Grandma.

Or:

Vi ses, Mormor.