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Operation
"Nicki back"...

The last journey of the black Nickelodeon...

Ahoy everybody,
well, the operation "Nicki back" certainly needs to be explained...
SAILOR had no need for the old black GK Nickelodeon any more which was used at all their shows between 1993 and 1996. We - Karsten and I - were to get the side pannels of this Nickelodeon as a very special SAILOR souvenir.
Instead, our SAILOR friends Malcolm and Eileen kindly took the old Nick to their house/garage for about 1 1/2 years, eventually seeing that it would be too difficult to take the instrument apart to just bring us the side pannels.
So, during their holiday in February 2006, they spent a little while in our hometown Kassel and dropped the old Nickelodeon off at our house. This special delivery caused us all some trouble to get "Nicki" behind our house where it now has a new place in the back garden (!) and causing our parents to wonder what to do with that thing now...!
Later on the day we were joined by SAILOR fan Susanne from Stuttgart, and the 5 of us hosted a 2 hour radio special about SAILOR's "Buried Treasure" at the Free Radio Kassel.
But - enough of all those explanations - here are some photos...
A complete report of the journey from Malcolm can be found below!
Best wishes and SAILOR-greetings,

~ Katrin
your webmaster


Malcolm and Eileen with the flight cases


One of the flight cases stays in Karsten's cellar



I guess I'm an old-fashioned dreamer - A journey report by Malcolm Knowles

A couple of years ago Eileen and I became aware that the black ‘Georg Kajanus’ Nickelodeon from 1993, was lying in a barn and in danger of being scrapped. I also understood that the band had suggested that Katrin & Karsten could have it – the only problem being that the barn was in England whilst K&K live in Germany.
Now, as a loyal SAILOR fan, I just couldn’t bear the idea of this beautiful version of the Nickelodeon being scrapped and so I volunteered to look after it in our garage until we could work out a way of getting it to Germany. With some help from Grant, mainly to locate the barn, we loaded it on a van and gave it a new temporary home. There were also a few old flight cases which I picked up at the same time. The great thing about having a Nickelodeon in your home is that no one ever knows what it is and, even when you do explain most people just look puzzled. Trust me, it beats any piece contemporary modern art as a discussion point.
Never one to make things easy, in late 2004, we moved from London to the North of England. In short, the Nickelodeon was now another 200 miles further from its intended destination than when we started! However our new house also had a garage and the Nickelodeon settled into yet another temporary home.

Having pondered on the matter, we finally decided to fulfil our promise to Grant and the Wagners and deliver the Nickelodeon to central Germany. So we acquired a van, booked a ferry, plotted our route, sorted out hotel rooms along the way and set off for Kassel. Now there are a couple of things you need to know about the ‘GK’ Nickelodeon. First, it is very very heavy and second, the wheels are like those on supermarket trolleys and don’t necessarily all go in the same direction at the same time. Still with a bit of scientific thought about weights, measurements and angles we managed to get it into the van. With the brakes applied and ropes tied round it to stop it moving we set off.
First stop Dover where we were guided into the inspection bay and the Customs Official who wants to know what’s in the van. How do you explain a Nickelodeon to someone who doesn’t look too happy about working on a Sunday morning? In the end he let’s us through looking rather bewildered by my explanation. As we leave, Eileen suggests we should have just described it just as an old stage prop. Clever thinking but too late.

Having crossed the Channel, our first stop is Lille in France. Having previously been a Capital of Culture we have decided to spend two nights in Lille exploring. On arriving at our hotel, I discover that I cannot restart the van and have to call out assistance. The mechanic tries hard to locate the problem but looks baffled. He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak much French but with a bit a helpful translation by the hotel receptionist I get the message – “it is broken”. He arranges to have the van towed to a local dealer but, being Sunday, nothing will happen today. I wake up Monday morning realising that I have no idea where the van or the Nickelodeon actually are. I phone the breakdown assistance people who finally inform me that the van has been taken to a dealer on the outskirts of town but that they cannot look into the problem until Tuesday. So we spend a rainy and dull Monday wandering around Lille worrying whether we will ever leave. Tuesday morning brings an early call and the news that the van (an almost new VW van) requires a new starter motor. Unfortunately Lille’s only commercial VW dealer doesn’t have one!! However they have been persuaded to send someone urgently to get one and by midday the van is fixed and we are back on the road. Hooray - next stop Kassel.
We arrive in Kassel with just enough time to check-in before Karsten and Katrin come to meet us. We discover that the Nickelodeon has shifted in the van and is now jammed down the side step stopping us opening the side door. Still that problem will wait until tomorrow – tonight it’s Chinese buffet and German beer with K&K.
Next morning, we drive to Katrin’s home to off load the Nickelodeon. Karsten has some how magically lifted the Nickelodeon up the van step and it is no longer wedging the door. We start to unload the Nickelodeon as Katrin videos the event. However, as we lower it down the ramp it is all hands to the deck to stop it falling and causing serious injury to anyone. For once, the wheels cooperate and the Nickelodeon arrives at it new home with Mr & Mrs Wagner looking rather bewildered about what we propose leaving in their lovely garden. However, Mr Wagner enters into the spirit of the event by taking photos on all the cameras and then entertaining us by playing some SAILOR tunes on his own keyboard inside the house. For the record, he plays very well – watch out Henry!!
I am almost too embarrassed to tell you the next part. Since collecting the Nickelodeon I had always thought that the top part was missing and was amazed when Karsten returned from the yard to announce that he had folded the top up. In all the time I have been the guardian, I never knew that the top cleverly folded away and was there all the time. How daft is that?
Anyway, after a lovely lunch (thanks again Mrs Wagner) we set off to explore the sights of Kassel with K&K. After a quick stop off to leave one of the flight cases at Karsten’s flat we head for some sight seeing.

The view of Kassel from the snow covered Herkules Monument is stunning – something neither of us will ever forget. Back in town, we meet up with Susanne who has travelled up from Stuttgart to see us. Karsten has kindly invited us all to take part in his ‘Buried Treasure’ two hour radio special on Freies Radio Kassel. Susanne and myself try to offer intelligent comments each time Karsten opens up our microphone while Eileen appears to have developed unforeseen stage fright. However, I don’t think any of us will be giving up our day jobs for a career in radio. For the last 30 minutes we go to a live telephone interview with Phil Pickett. It seems very strange sitting in a radio studio in Germany talking to one of my musical heroes live on air. Still, nothing about this trip has been normal so why not.
My own copy of ‘Buried Treasure’ arrived a few days before the trip and, whilst this is not a review column, it has to be said that it is a fantastic collection of SAILOR tracks. Considerable thought has gone into the track choice with some interesting versions of the songs we all love and some early stuff that really does help paint a picture of how the band developed. Well done to Phil and all involved – it is wonderful. If you don’t already have a copy then get on
www.sailortheband.com and order one.
With the radio show in the can, we set off for a meal and more German beer and then sadly say our goodbyes to K&K. In the morning, we find time for a few hours shopping in Kassel and have lunch with Susanne before turning the van round and heading for home.
We spend that night in Essen (more shopping) before heading to Calais on Friday. Friday is a strange day with four meals in four countries – breakfast in Germany, lunch in Holland (Eindhoven), afternoon tea in Belgium (Gent) and supper in France. We finally reach home Saturday and ceremoniously take the remaining two flight cases to the rubbish dump. Others have survived but these two had to go – sorry. We both agree that it has been a fun trip and, although slightly bonkers, we would love to do it all again.
Malcolm



Kassel with a lot of snow... the view down from the "Herkules" monument...


The "Buried Treasure" radio special
at the "Freies Radio Kassel"...


Eileen, Malcolm, Katrin, Susanne and Karsten


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