I have just returned from Stockholm. Sweden is famous for many things: meatballs, lingonberries, Roxette, Ikea, H&M, cool design. Whatever. It gave the world the magnificent Abba and for that, we are eternally grateful. I can forgive them for Ace of Base.
Now, we did lots of sightseeing, we hopped on boats and looked round islands, we walked miles, we drank beer, we went to a fantastic photography museum. Yes, yes but really it was all about visiting Abba, The Museum.
This has only been opened a few years which makes you wonder why it took them so long. The Swedes are a very understated nation. While we were there, they won the Eurovision Song Contest and you'd never know it. They gave the world one of the best pop groups and it's taken them 40 years to put together this museum.
It's not a typical museum, it's very immersive and fun. Outside you can stick your head through a picture wall to be one of Abba. The Americans in front of us had more fun than is surely allowed doing this, endless photos, hooting and howling with laughter. It was actually just fun watching them. After all, they'd travelled a long way to be part of Abba. And this museum is about making you feel one of the band.
You start with a short film which is one of the best short films I've ever seen played entirely in the dark and on screens surrounding you. It's very, very loud and when it launches into that famous piano bit at the start of Dancing Queen about half way through... I am not ashamed to admit I welled up. Because if ever a band sums up a childhood then Abba sums up mine. The joyfulness of Dancing Queen cannot be understated.
There is plenty dedicated to Waterloo, including the costumes they wore when they won Eurovision.
There are the original phones from Ring, Ring.
And they make a big thing out of only four people having the phone number to call you and it just might ring. I stood there for a good five minutes, nothing happened.
You can hop in the Arrival helicopter.
The actual helicopter they sat in! Nothing precious, no ropes round it, just get in. It's tiny by the way. They must have all been very small.
You can go and have a dance in a room with a glitter ball. It's every Abba fan's wet dream. There is loads of informative stuff too, Benny's diary from Eurovision for example which was very sweet. There is an Abba quiz - I did easy and it wasn't. Do you know the name of Abba's kids?!
There is an entire room devoted to their lycra costume glory. And they have recreated their dressing room, the Polar studio, Benny's summer house and much much more.
The shop is simply magnificent. Abba vinyl, CDs, DVDs, keyrings, magnets galore, postcards by the dozen, books and books and books, posters, pencil cases. You name it, Abba is on it.
TeenBoy, who rolled his eyes about going, genuinely enjoyed it. Because Abba were perfect, a soap opera of a band. Agnetha and Anni sang like angels, Benny and Bjorn wrote masterfully and put together, they truly were magical. Even jaded punk fans can appreciate Abba.
The museum is a very upbeat experience. You don't hear The Winner Takes It All or the utter genius of The Day Before You Came. This is happy Abba, no melancholy allowed. And that's ok. I went back to our hotel (owned by Benny of course) and listened to the ballads and sighed contentedly to myself.
I will love them forever for their layered pop perfection. I read a line in a review that summed it up. "Abba were a band who were good at sounding happy but their lyrics were dark and Swedish all the way."
If you go to Stockholm (which is lovely by the way) then go and pay your respects.