Sunday, 18 October: Sometimes the stars align properly and everything falls together. So it was at Euro ’13. Some of you already know the story of Swedish Rikard’s infamous “Magic Trick” others may of heard rumour of it. I am here to dispel the myths and share the events as they occurred.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was to be the last Euro where all the usual suspects were together in Folkestone. By 2013 I was living in Spain’s Costa Brava, and the 2 hour hop from Barcelona to Gatwick on a BA commuter plane was like a dream by comparison to the long haul flights I endured for years to and from America.
One of the many pleasures of Euro are the traditional evening meals with friends. In my first years I let others decide on the dinner locales, only to be disappointed by the menu. I had read up on a restaurant in Folkestone called Rocksalt. It opened in 2011 down on The Stade, but admit I normally stayed away from this district as it had a reputation of being dodgy. Turns out, Rocksalt is owned by a Folkestone celebrity chef named Mark Seargeant who is also the chef at the Game Bird in The Stafford Hotel in London. Arriving into Folkestone on a Thursday, 19 September after a wham-bam, thank-you ma’m night at The Ritz London, I went for a late lunch at the Rocksalt. It was verrrryy good. Verrrryy London-hip. And with verrrryy London prices to match. A perfect locale for a modeller’s dinner.
At least I thought so at the time.
I previously arranged a list of guys who would be at Euro that year I though might enjoy a corker of a dinner together at Rocksalt. I was pleased to learn two of my Spanish friends would also attend. Pere Pla was a Euro veteran. However Javier Soler had never visited Euro. I had become friends with Javier since moving to Espana. He told me he was having children soon and it was his wish to attend three concorsos whilst there was still time. They were Nordic Challenge in Finland, Shizuoka in Japan and of course Euro Militare. In the end I attended all three with him. This was the perfect opportunity to host a dinner.
I felt it especially important to invite Pere Pla and Javier Soler along with Magnus Fagerberg and Markus Eriksson to the dinner as I had taken them to the British Lion the night before for a pub meal. A cockroach scurrying across the floor turned out to be a bad sign.
So then, on Saturday the 21st we all agreed to meet up at the Southcliffe Bar in the glam Southcliff Hotel. Not a great hotel mind you. But the terrace is a local gathering spot for a lot of attendees of Euro, and the view of the Channel isn’t to turn a nose up to either. I was staying at The Clifton and hoofed it over to the Southcliff where most of the guys had gathered already.
The Spaniards were staying at The Clifton as I was. They were having a late siesta and let me know to go ahead without them as they were running late and Petri Kovanen was judging and would not be able to join us. After a quick vodka and grapefruit juice on the terrace the rest of the lads and I began to walk down The Leas towards the Road of Remembrance which we would descend to go to the restaurant. On the way I showed the group a WW2 bunker sticking out the side of the hillside, precariously close to the road. This was actually a Royal Navy bunker being used to pass along Enigma coded from German E-Boats operating in the Channel.
Continuing down the steep road to the harbour we passed under a low bridge once carrying the Orient Express out to the Harbour Arm station where it continued on to Europe by boat. Rocksalt is a custom-made restaurant. Clad in black and architectural in every detail, we were shown direct to our table. Much to the chagrin of the host we had increased in size from 8 to 12 guests. We managed.
Dinner was a marvellous affair of beer, fine wine, massive steaks and lobster. All seemed to really enjoy it. And thankfully, Swedish Rikard was well behaved. As I was the only smoker at the table I popped outside solo for a fag. Enjoying the fresh night air I returned a few minutes later to our table. Everyone was sniggering about what I didn’t know.
After a walloping great dinner with too much wine and too many laughs and stories of lunacy past we paid up and headed out of the Rocksalt. Swedish Rikard, feeling especially celebratory, found a fountain at the entrance to the harbour and decided it would be clever to stand a top it as the water geyser erupted. Of course it was all funny and we fell about in hysterics as Rikard soaked his jeans, and even a passing Bobby had a laugh.
Returning to The Leas and the Southcliff we got another round of drinks on the terrace whilst Swedish Rikard went to his hotel room for dry pants. Sitting about smoking
the odd cigarette and putting back pints and glasses of vodka, Swedish Rikard returned to the terrace with the intent of performing a magic trick. Okay, why not? Producing a beer bottle top from his pocket he put it behind his back and asked me to guess which hand it was in.
Rikard revealed from behind his back his left hand. In his palm the beer cap. Putting his hand behind his back again he asked again for me to guess.
Rikard revealed from behind his back his right hand. In his palm the beer cap. Putting his hand behind his back yet again he asked for me to guess.
Rikard revealed from behind his back his right hand again. This time his palm was empty. Same with his left hand. The bottle cap had magically disappeared.
Thinking the trick was over I returned to my vodka. But as Rikard stood from the circular table I realised there was more to come. Dreadfully so. Dropping trou, Swedish Rikard displayed his willie in plain view of everyone on the Southcliffe terrace. Worse was yet still. From under his positively ugly foreskin he revealed the missing beer bottle cap. Although his junk was positively awful it was also positively funny and we all fell about laughing. Tucking his junk away he offered me the bottle cap. I told him he could keep it. Rikard then told me that I really didn’t think his willie was so bad.
‘What are you on about?’ I asked
‘Yes, ‘ he replied. ‘You’re a fan of it.’
‘Why do you say that?’ I asked.
‘Because you even have picture of it.’
‘Come on! What do you say?’
‘Just check your iPhone,’ Rikard replied. *
He left a surprise on my iPhone. Reluctantly I unlocked my phone. In the photos was a selection of horrific images of his willie. It looked something likea lemon wrapped in cheesecloth. Rikard then did tell me I ought not leave my mobile behind on the table when going outside for a cigarette break. I was both laughing hysterically and completely horrified, at his willie or that he had taken them under the table at the Rocksalt I can’t recall now. I do admit I deleted the images immediately. There are some things even I will not save for my archive.
However, after the dust settled and I had a cigarette to calm my nerves and a fresh vodka, I had to admit it was rather funny. The rest of the evening was dominated by tales of Rikard’s magic trick and other incidence I will not get into in this particular blog entry.
Suffice to say Rikard’s Magic Trick goes down as one of the more memorable incidence at the Southcliffe.
Post script. This popped up on my FB newsfeed in September of 2019. This from Markus Eriksson’s FB page, a memory six years gone. Its relevance is obvious. In the first photo we see Per Olav and Swedish Rikard in Magnus & Markus’ hotel room at the Southcliffe getting ready for a night to remember. In the second, Rikard explains something to me over our meals at The Rocksalt, just prior to me heading out for a cigarette. I think it must have been Per Olav who passed over my mobile. Bastards one and all.
Until next time. Be well and safe in this pandemic world we are currently in.
*Special thanks to Javier Soler for his account of this exchange as it had gone to the fog of my memory.