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Scandinavian Exile

I was lucky. My flight to London was only half full. A half-full Airbus A380 makes for a roomy flight. Connecting at Hellrow was quick and pleasant enough, despite one airport employee; a Pakistani woman who looked like her favourite pastime was sucking lemons, having something of the vespidae about her. For once I could connect in the same terminal which was fortunate as I had a relatively short wait between flights. Passport control at Copenhagen went quickly, as did luggage delivery. I was through the Danish border with everything in less than ten minutes. I noted a change right away. All passports were stamped, European or not. Usually one must request that a European passport be stamped.

Viking-type chum was waiting for me the same place he always does. Everything went so quickly that he was busy staring at his smart-phone, a faux pas he diligently avoids in my presence as he risks thorough retaliation 6-10 months after the offence occurs. I fear, however, that my visit has caused the poor lad a crisis of confidence and identity in other, more unexpected ways.

Viking-type chum is from the southern Jutland. It is obvious enough, really. He way of speaking Danish is rougher and more guttural than is normal in Zealand. His personality and demeanour reflects his provincial origins as much as his speech. He is honest, to-the-point and artless. It’s what I’ve always liked about him. A Dane he was born, a Dane he shall die. I am merely a fully-Anglicised Hun on holiday in his hyggelig Scandinavian home. We communicate in English usually, save for those times I goad him in Swedish. Nothing warms a Danish heart more than being goaded in Swedish, save for being berated in Hunnish which I am always willing to do for any reason. Except… Except that this time, everyone from shopkeepers to fare-inspectors to museum guides addressed him in English and me in Danish. I have apparently seized his beloved mantle of Danskhed.

My intense reserve and disdain for emotional incontinence apparently makes it far too easy for me to blend-in in Scandinavia. In Denmark, all speak to me in Danish. My lack of lengthy responses suits the region perfectly. It’s nice, in a way. I enjoy blending in and being left in peace. We travelled together for a few days. We visited Fredriskborg Castle – a masterpiece of Danish architecture and a monument to Christian IV’s dreams of making his country the greatest of Nordic realms. His death, however, spared him from having to see his profoundest legacy – the loss of Skåne, Blekinge and Halland to Sweden. We visited the Danish National Museum. Their collection of runes intrigued me most, especially those from Greenland. Of course, we had coffee and cake as we always do at La Glace. It’s our tradition and a much civilised one.

A surprisingly pleasant experience was the Karen Blixen Museum. It is in the house on the Øresund where she lived. It has many rooms with the furnishings she used. Her considerable artistic talents are on display on the walls where her paintings hang. Some of her clothing and jewellery is likewise on display. She had excellent taste and led a most interesting life.

I took my leave of Denmark yesterday, crossing into Sweden. Passport control has returned. I had to show my passport before boarding the Øresundståg to Kalmar and we were delayed on the Swedish side by the police who inspected everyone’s documents. It was quick and relatively painless, although I found it amusing that they spoke to non-Swedes in English, except me who was honoured with Swedish-language conversation despite showing a Hunnish passport.

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Categories: General
  1. February 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

    C, thank you; very interesting as ever.

    Talking of Karen Blixen (I had a farm in Arfricar) I discovered that her lover, Denis Fitch Hatton was an alumnus of my college, a rich adventurer who died while piloting his small plain in Kenya.

  2. February 23, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Do you think, Janus, that it was a particularly soggy plain?

  3. February 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Oops, and thank you, Sipu! 😡

  4. christinaosborne
    February 23, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I do like your phrase- a disdain of emotional incontinence,
    splendid.

  5. February 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Yes, CO, EI, as it will now be known, is the grist to the Trump mill.

  6. February 24, 2016 at 7:43 am

    But back to the thread, Lars Lokke, pilloried recently for living high on the hog, is now under fire for flying Ryanair! Why? Because the combative Stuart fell out with the Danish labour restrictions at CPH airport. I’m afraid Danes can be very petty at times.

  7. February 24, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Janus: at the same time Danes can be remarkably forgiving. Anders Fjo caused a lot of damage but he’s largely been forgiven and is often seen as an elder statesman. Except by Danish-type-chum who despised him from the beginning. Denmark is typical of a close-knit society with all its warmth and oppression.

  8. February 24, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Anders F was always a lone ranger, never interested in building a team. Result: Lars Lokke!

  9. February 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I must say, Christopher, this Scandinavia trip sounds infinitely more civilised than some of your recent adventures.

    I hope it continues.

  10. February 25, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Araminta: thus far, Scandinavia has been a very civilised experience. I am enthralled with Kalmar. I left for Lund yesterday but long to return, preferably when Kalmar Slott — the largest Renaissance palace in the Nordic countries — is open daily. I’m more tepid on Lund. It’s a major university city and the atmosphere is decidedly strange as a result although there are some fantastic buildings.

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