5 July 2018

Sweden 2018

England: some;  Sweden: too..... 




I know it's a bit of a thingism, but the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize comes from the inventor of dynamite seems to me to be one of those life ironies that ranks alongside Donald Trump being in any way involved in the presidency of the United States or that Sven-Göran Eriksson was once the England football manager.... What if he held that position today?


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I first met Sweden on my twenty-first birthday, when, in Morecambe, Lancs, I took my girlfriend to see I am curious (yellow).  This was way before Travis Bickle, but, if you have ever seen Taxi Driver, you will recognise that perhaps he and I have something in common..... 







Sweden is the third largest (after France and Spain) European country, but has a population of less than nine million.  Which means that it has 46 million fewer people to choose from for its football team.  Which is to say that if I were Swedish I would have a much better chance of representing my country for the game this Saturday.....

Which has no bearing on which side will win.

Or lose.....




I was in Malmö when Sweden went ahead in their game with Germany.  The drunken Swedish sailors I happened to be with were delighted at half time, and the Mello Yello Bar & Restaurang, at Lilla Torg 1211 34 Malmö, was dancing....  It didn't end that way, the Blagult going down two to one.  But it wasn't the end, and Janne Anderssen got things back together for the team to better the Mexicans by three to nothing  and to best the Swiss by one....  I mean....


My (limited) experience of the Swedes is positive.  They are a little bit like turnips, perhaps....  But much sweeter.  This is Marina, who runs the bar on the beautiful, antique ferry boat to and from Vaxholm from Stockholm, and who loves it when it is frozen, cold and icy.....  You can see it in her eyes.





Though, if their literature is anything to go by, not everyone has a sunny disposition.....  Enter August Strindberg and Miss Julie, stage left....






But the Swedes clearly know where to place their trust.  I didn't notice any bars named after Boris 'Stig' Johansen, or Michael Gøve....

but it can only be a matter of time.....




In the meantime, having followed Saga over the Bridge to Malmö and burnt her memorabilia in sight of the Twisted Torso,





I crane up at the torso,




And gaze at the mighty Øresund Bridge, which I flipped over almost unnoticed....





And then, after a brief visit to Lund and its Romanesque Cathedral,






And a quick Wallander wander round Ystad, where the burghers are just a tad old-fashioned,







I proceed to the capital, Stockholm where everything is much more cosmopolitan and bipolar (sorry, bicyclical)...





Here there's no pretentious vaping.  No clouds of Rainbow Sherbert polluting the streets.... People are quite happy to smoke properly.  I guess the climate is so bad most of the time, life expectancy must be reliant on Max von Sydow and his scythe....





On the other hand, they love their dogs sooooo much......







They probably text them when the lead runs out....






So what can I tell you about Sweden?

Well some Swedes (the peasants) live in old houses with limited wi-fi and not enough seating:







While others (the Royals) live in vast palaces with special corridors for skate-boarding or perhaps curling practice (this one was shown to me on a private viewing):






These large homes are equipped with staircases.  Peasant houses may have ladders.







According to museums, the greatest Swedish achievement was building a huge ship which sank almost immediately after being launched on August 10th, 1628.  The Vasa.... is so called because they didn't even finish naming it before it sank  (apparently it was to be called the Vas Deferens as an homage to Gustav Vasa, Gustav the First, founder of the House of Vasa....)







It has been rumoured that it may never sail again, though IKEA are currently trying to find the keel.....


Other Swedish achievements include building unfinished bridges across lakes:






And looking hauntingly into the distance, as if Video Assistant Referees had not been introduced.....







Or looking very seriously at someone else as if they were really listening (while waiting for their phone to vibrate):






Or wondering where to plug it in.....




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But they have some great half empty glasses....








Some lovely windows, which are useful for at least half the year.....







And some wonderful galleries, where you could dream of giraffes, and such, for hours,







Or take your children to appreciate Picasso and Modigliani, 








Or, in Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, a place I really liked, you can spend a little time wondering at clouds, and just how difficult it must be to get them to stay still long enough for you to paint them properly.....








What I think I liked about Sweden (and I still need to think about this) was how people seemed so positive - so confident.  Apart from the unimaginably delightful Marina, everyone I met was very serious, as if they were building up for some great confrontation and they had to muster every nerve and marshal every hair.....  The young,




And the old, deep in rehearsals of things that Janne Andersson has said recently: We know we are a good team. . . . What other teams and countries think about this, that’s not terribly interesting, really. . . . Here’s my thinking. I’m a little bit crazy this way. I don’t think I’ve dug deep down to find out how I feel. . . . I don’t think I’m taking it in. I’m not taking in any of this right now......








Me?  I am easy....  Thinking about what Sweden has given to the world:  ABBA, Anita Ekberg, Jenny Lind, Henning Mankell.....  Do I really care?  They wanted me to pay to go into the ABBA museum!  Excuse me!

I am just happy to have found Tennstopet, at 50 Dalagatan, where I can sip beer and akvavit, eat matjes herring or meatballs.....  




I am a simple soul.  I just hope everyone enjoys the football, and, whoever, wins or loses, there's no hard feelings.....

How about a Nobel Prize for Football?  Awarded to the team that is nicest to everyone else?

Excuse me while I take my clothes off, and squeeze this fish.....






And then retire to my dream house under the clouds.....









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