I've really, really enjoyed MF's visit. She's someone I have liked a great deal for about a decade, but never actually spent any extended time with. So I'm particularly pleased that she actually agreed to my spontaneous invitation to come to Stockholm. We've had a lovely time, talking about everything, filling eachother in on our lives and what sort of people we are, as well as discussing books (I lent her The Armaggeddon Rag and Triton, both of which went down very well) and ideas. I am somewhat unsociable and having someone in my space for a whole week is a bit much for me (there are a very small number of exceptions to this) but the enjoyment massively outweighed the slight irritation. MF's company and wisdom are really good for me. We had fun feeding eachother too; she made me soda bread, which I'd read about loads of times but never actually eaten.
Her visit also gave me the excuse to be a bit more actively touristy than I would on my own. Wednesday night we went to part of an open air theatre festival that's taking place in Stockholm this week. We took a posh picnic (MF made a salad of lentils and celeriac, and I made P'tite Soeur's super-colourful beetroot and orange salad), and the weather was just perfect for hanging out in some really pretty parks. I managed to get slightly lost on the way to the first event, so we were a little late, but it didn't really matter as an outdoor performance like that is pretty informal.
We were both expecting Orion's Cosi fan tutte to be terribly earnest am-dram, because that's what you usually get when free theatre festivals do classic opera. Instead it was a kind of comic dance routine with a Mozart sound track; I think we could probably have worked that out from the publicity but I skim-read the Swedish which seemed to be mostly a plot summary of the opera. As it was we were a bit taken aback to realize that the performers were just clowning around and not even miming as the speakers blasted a (fairly reasonable sounding) recording of the opera. It had some really funny moments, in a physical comedy way, and Nina Åkerlund and Richard Ahlman in particular had some really nice body language going on. Some of it was embarrassingly awful, and there was more pelvic thrusting and nudity than any performance really needs unless you're of the mentality to find that kind of thing inherently hilarious. MF commented that it had a somewhat Rocky Horror feel, which I think is a good description. Not something I would have paid money for or intentionally set out to watch, but definitely entertaining.
The second show we saw was much more thoroughly worthwhile. Burnt out punks are a kind of circus troupe who use a lot of fire related tricks, as well as some acrobatics and a little bit of character comedy, with a punk soundtrack. They were very, very good. The whole show just flowed, with exactly the right balance of thrills, technically impressive stuff, comedy and just carrying the audience superlatively well. And there were lots of individual elements which were seriously impressive: gorgeous synchronized fire poi stuff as darkness fell, and Will C's (I think, identification from their website is a bit uncertain) pole acrobatics stuff which really excelled in strength and grace (the fact that he is very pretty half-naked didn't hurt either). Lovely set too: Perfect Circle, Faith No More, Jefferson Airplane, a couple of Swedish covers of punk classics, and in general if it had been a club rather than a performance I would have been dancing my feet off.
Friday was quieter, we wandered round Stockholm city centre and Östermalm looking for the little quirky things that abound. When we got into town it started raining, and we both agreed we didn't care, but then the rain turned into torrential downpour. When we were absolutely soaked to the skin, we took refuge in Vetekatten, which is a rather amazing tearoom with decor from before Sweden got all minimalist and stylish; the cakes are stupidly overpriced but they are good cakes and it's worth it for the experience! MF had mentioned that she had some Swedish ancestry, but it turns out that she's actually directly descended from someone who is famous enough to be pictured on the currency here! We went looking for traces of MF's ancestress, but didn't find much other than a billboard marking a hole where her house had been. Rounded off the day with a nice meal in Riddargatan 20, which is a pleasant café with reasonable food.
Anyway, as you've probably noticed I've been pretty much offline, cos all the time I wasn't talking to MF I was working. I've done some of the planning and sorting for my trip next week, but not all of it. But I will get back to everybody soon. Further apologies if I've missed some vital news of yours.