A group of Manchester writers have discovered that lyrics from ABBA songs have more worth than filling up birthday-function playlists.
The group, calling themselves Writers Connect Manchester, made the find in a group writing exercise led by one team member. ABBA had never previously been used as a stimulus for this group’s activities.
The Stockholm pop group disbanded in 1982 after releasing a string of cheesy, mind-numbing, chart-topping hits. Their album sales still stand at 2-3 million units per year, but this is only one way the Swedish pop quartet affect people’s lives.
“I took some slips of paper,” explains group leader Oz. “I wrote a different ABBA song title on each one, and folded them up. Each member of the group picked a slip at random, and they were then faced with a memorable party classic. I gave the group ten minutes to tell a little story that must include their song title. The results were astounding!”
Local writer Matt Tuckey offered his absurd piece as an example of how these lyrics can evolve into a mind-blowing, culture-defining and literature-world-shaking vignette. Or not. Can you guess which song he was given?
James stepped forward to the microphone, dewey-eyed. He tapped the mic head. Sounds of thumping filled the room. People hushed, putting down their forks and drinks.
“Hello”, he said, and his voice boomed quietly from the corners of the hotel function room. “Thanks for making it here today,” he said. “I’m a very proud father.”
A smidgen of cream cake rode on the corner of his lip, riding the waves of his speech. “I’m glad the ceremony went well. I hope you all enjoyed it. I certainly did.”
A camera flash painted the room white for a nanosecond. James looked up in the direction of the camera, offering a smile.
“I couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy than Lewis to, er, to give my daughter away to. You drive us nuts sometimes, but you’re certainly a good lad.”
Lewis looked into his plate, smiling.
“My wife has grafted hard to get everything ready. It’s been controlled chaos, I think is the phrase. But thanks go to her for doing a good job. And Tony, where’s DJ Tony?”
“Here!” – A modest voice struck in from the back.
“Thank you for the music.” He glanced to his right, to the star of the show- and the most important thing in his life.
“And of course, my daughter, Helen. You look… You look beautiful.”
“I can never write these exercises long enough in the time given”, says Matt. “In the silence of Waterstones’ Costa Coffee shop, sometimes the only sound that can be heard is the crunching of rusty gears inside my skull, as I try to plonk together words like one of those thousand-piece double-sided jigsaw puzzles. Only those puzzles had the picture on the box to refer to- with exercises like these you never know what you'll be looking at when the timer beeps and it’s time to read out…
“When I delivered this it got a fairly good reception (reception. Geddit? Never mind) but people said they could see the song title ‘coming down the road.’ I expect you could too.”
Are you a Manchester writer? Why not join Writers Connect in Waterstones Arndale on fortnightly Sundays.
ABBA members are not known to attend.