Living With the Swedes

It’s been three weeks since I started living with the Swedes. For the sake of clarity, I mean the northern European people normally resident in Sweden, not the root vegetables. That said, after having met and observed some of their adolescent and university-aged specimens, the distinction between the two blurs.

For the most part, I enjoy living in Sweden. Swedes, in general, are kind and decent people. They’re a bit reserved, but they’re polite and helpful. One thing they’re not known for is being boisterous, something which on occasion becomes a problem for me — especially when Spanish Inés and I start having heated arguments in Castilian. I made sure to have our last heated argument in front of Malmö’s famous windmill.

There are, however, certain, infuriating things that are rather typical for Sweden. When visiting Italy early this month, I was able to wash my clothes at a laundrette near where I was staying in Milan. Whether in Japan, the UK, Italy, Germany or Australia, there was always some possibility for me to wash clothes. In Sweden, there is not. Some years ago, the Swedish government passed a law which required all housing units to have access to washing machines and they must be free. On paper, that sounds good. In reality, it’s a bloody nuisance.

I’m still in the process of settling in. Part of that involves my living in short-term lets, usually shared. It’s not an issue, really. Though somewhat inconvenient, especially when having to head out with three suitcases, it gives me a chance to spend time in different parts of Malmö and to see which areas I like and which I dislike. It does, however, become a nuisance when I have to rely on others to handle booking a time slot for a washing machine. Yes, it’s based on a reservation system. What that has meant is that I’ve had to cross the Øresund to Denmark on a weekly basis. For the past two weeks, Viking-type chum has granted me the use of his washing machine. As his schedule, for the time being, does not permit it, I have had to find another solution. There are no laundrettes in this part of Sweden. They became redundant some time ago. Instead, I get to cross the Øresund to Amager and make use of a Danish laundrette.

The Fall of the SNP?

So it’s finally come to pass. Nicky the Fish is gone, her husband arrested and years of mismanagement catching up. Scottish Labour have a new leadership that seems to at be at least somewhat capable of communicating with Scottish voters. Scotland is unlikely to become a Labour fiefdom again, but Labour do have a good chance of becoming a serious party north of the border again. In the mid-to-long-term, the Tories at least have favourable odds of remaining a small, but relevant political force. Most importantly, Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have the ability to deny the SNP and their Greens allies a majority at Holyrood. A Labour-Lib Dem coalition would, most likely, be an improvement over the SNP. Things might not change overnight, the SNP will probably remain an electoral force, but what talent do they have? What leadership?

The UK Is out of the EU. Life goes on. I’ve heard breathless reporting from the BBC, Guardian, etc. about how everything going wrong in the UK is because of Brexit. Eh… The same problems, or at least the same number of problems, exist in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc. The Land of Eternal Dementia (formerly known as the USA) is becoming increasingly farcical. With the sky not falling and no serious politician wanting to touch that issue, it’s not going to be a real issue. The UK might join EFTA, it might not, but Brexit is finished. Even in Scotland, it’s not the only issue, and there are more pressing things than the minor differences in daily life.

I know what I am

Why do so many Politians have a problem with defining what a woman is? I’m pretty sure that they would have no problem with defining what a man is.

So why do they stutter and stammer when they are asked to define ‘a woman’?

Well first of all they might like to remember that approximately 50% of the human race are born with XX chromosones, with female genitalia and the ability to incubate another generation.

Men are born with XY chromosones, with male genitalia and, apart from a one-off action, have little to do with furthering the survival of the human race.

And no amount of later intervention can change the XX and XY chromosones. We are what we are – however much the medical proffession changes our bodies.

These ‘politicians’ and mainly-male-trans-right activists might also like to recall that it isn’t until a feotus is 6 weeks old that the Y chromosone kicks in to turn a feotus into male…

… as one (male) genetisist I read said: “men are simple genetically modified women”.

What a devastating thought that must be to those males who for centuries have thought they are the ‘Kings of Creation’ and have treated women as second-class citizens.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if men want to live their lives as women or vice versa.

But I do mind if people with XY chromosones assert that they should be treated exactly the same as those of us with XX chromosones just because they ‘think’ they are female.

A lot of people ‘think’ they are aliens, or Napolean Bonaparte – how long will it be before we must all affirm their fantasies?


I know I didn’t get around to wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. But I hope you all had whatever suited your particular desires and needs.

And I know I’m a couple of days late in wishing you all a Happy New Year, but I hope that 2023 will bring you whatever you want.

Looking at the celebrations around the world, I find it wonderful that so many, many people are so optimistic…


There is something about deserts that appeals to me. They’re desolate, isolated — they’re expansive. Perhaps this stems from the fact that I tend to live an extremely ordered, structured life. To paraphrase Bruce Chatwin, by normality is the chicken coop that is England.

I thought of that recently. I will be back in Europe in April, somewhere in the Copenhagen-Malmo region. My life will, again, by very ordered, tidy and neat. There aren’t many real deserts in Europe. The one that does exist pales in comparison to the Great Australian Desert, the Kalahari, the Gobi or the Mojave.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the expanse — like Camus’s adulteress facing the Sahara. In February I’ll fly to the Mojave Desert, near Lake Mead, to see the sunsets — and visit the Atomic Bomb and Mafia Museums.


Hi Charioteers,

I have seen that very little is happening on this site these days. When posts are written, by far the most are from Christopher, who writes exceptionally well, yet often on subjects which are heavy or political.

Since Covid I have taken a much needed backseat on writing or commenting about such topics, because I found it wasn’t doing me any good. My views around the covid measures were seen largely as the ideas of a loony conspiracy theorist, many of which have now been vindicated by research and evidence. Excess deaths are increasing worldwide. None of us really know what the lockdowns and virtually forced vaccines were all about. Anyway, here I go again, drifting into the “heavy”.

Over the last year or two, in order to keep away as much as is sensibly possible, from MSM and social media, (I still use Facebook for posting some of the nicer aspects of life, such as holidays, running events etc. As my family and friends are spread over many countries, Facebook is a great way to let them know how we are and what we are up to), I have been doing a lot of reading and hiking.

As we are living in Spain and I have been concentrating on learning to master the language, I noticed that my German was gradually weakening. I still often speak German with Bettina, but as time went on I began to notice that I needed more effort than before to find certain words. In the hope that this was not due to dementia setting in, I began reading books in german again, mostly novels. It seems to have worked. My german is now back with the fluency it once was.

My second main activity, hiking, is a great passion of both mine and Bettina’s. We began a little project to try to walk the complete circuit around the perimeter of the Iberian peninsular. As we began this in 2014, we went away for one or two days every couple of weeks to walk the coast. Now, as we have to travel over 600km to reach our next starting point, we go for around 12 days every 2 months. So far we have covered every inch from Portbou at the French border, down to Mazarron in Murcia. In the Summer months we do the GR route across the Pyrenees, from the Mediterranean towards San Sebastian.

We have completed approximately a quarter of the whole coastline and a third of the Pyrenees route so far in 8 years. Now, we are trying to decide whether to increase the frequency of our trips or accept that we won’t complete the journey before we become too old. I suspect, in the end, we will just continue as we are and let life show us how far we get. The end goal of actually completing the circuit is less critical than the goal of attempting to. We have so many lovely experiences of situations or meeting new people, that it is the journey that gives us pleasure, not the final goal.

Now that I have drifted into waffle mode, if anyone is still reading this, I will finish by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and good health and happiness in 2023.

Oh, one more thing. I shall be going away to Garrucha in Almeria over the Christmas period for the next 12 day coastal hike. We will be having a very quiet time walking along, while everyone is eating, drinking and celebrating with their families.

What will you be doing this Christmas?


Not quite sure where to start. Politics are pointless. As much as they make me sick to my stomach, it seems as if Labour are destined to win a working majority. The Tories have seemingly lost the will to survive. Sunak might be PM in name, but it’s clear that Jeremy Berkshire is the de facto PM. The man looks utterly deranged. Germany is sleep-walking into crisis. Merkel was over-rated. Germany declined drastically under her 16-year-rule. The current government are doing even worse. I won’t even mention the Sub-Canadian Entity. It is scarcely worth a mention. I simply feel bad for the many decent people who live there.

The World Cup is on, I hear. Japan are out so I don’t care. They did well, though.

I’m rather busy with my own life. I thought that I was done with a two-year Castilian programme. I decided, at the last minute, to extend it by the equivalent of a third year. It will involve literature from Mediaeval Spain to contemporary Latin America.

After several delays, I will leave for Europe again in April. Viking-type chum encouraged me to give Denmark a go. I think I will. Worst case scenario, I end up in Luebeck which is a beautiful city which I quite like — even if it is full of Germans.

Clown Car Crash

Bonkers came and went. Liz Truss came and went. Now… There is Rishi Sunak who pleases nobody. Well… Perhaps Labour… Actually, I feel some sympathy for Liz Truss. She came in with a lot of good ideas. She attempted to do something, to actually keep her promises. She approached implementation poorly and she lacked Thatcher’s spine and mettle. Too many in Westminster wanted her gone. They only tolerated her very grudgingly and got rid of her when they had the first opportunity. Afterwards, they ensured that they’d get their man.

At least 100 MPs had to support a candidature. That meant that the process would be faster, but that it would also prevent a non-establishment pick from going far. That is, no risk of a Kemi Badenoch or Suella Braverman becoming PM. Most importantly, the party members had to be bypassed. They didn’t want Sunak.

With no real opposition, Sunak managed to take the highest political office in the land. He is, of course, an incredibly intelligent, competent and generally decent man. He has a fine eye for detail, a good work ethic and he isn’t prone to being swept away by the passions of the moment — in stark contrast with Bonkers. At the same time, he’s a profoundly unimaginative man. His economic policies are largely inline with those of Dementia 46, Trudeau the Lesser, Little Manny Macaroon and Sergeant Scholz. He is making some decent noises. For example, he’s not going to Cop-out 27 and he’s banned King Chaz 3.0 from attending — holding up Truss’s initial prohibition. He’s also indicated that the Channel crisis isn’t tolerable and has sought to reign in “woke” policing. How much is just hot air is to be seen.


Even though I’m only ¼ British (my maternal grandfather came from Yorkshire), I insist upon adding my voice to those mourning the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

That’s not all I have to mourn. I’m sorry to have to inform all of you reading this that ChristinaCleone, known better to me as Tina, my beloved wife, passed away on August 26.

Her end came after a long and incurable illness and it grieves me that about all I could do was to try making her more comfortable and drive her to appointments with the medical specialist, who also tried his best.

Tina emphatically rejected any thought of a funeral or memorial service but, looking outward to the last, donated her remains for scientific/medical research. Others should have such noble thoughts. She did suggest that, after a quiet interval, I might consider inviting her Garden Club friends over for drinks.

That leaves this house occupied only by yrs. truly and Max, a smallish canine we got from a rescue organization and who turned out to be the sweetest thing on four feet. I’ll continue to read the Chariot as well as various newspapers, trying to keep my alleged brain focused on all the other problems in today’s world.

Thank you, Ma’am.

I wasn’t sure if I should write this or not. I’m not really all that relevant a person and nothing I say will be anything that someone else hasn’t said and better.

So it happened. Her Majesty has taken her leave. It should not have come as a surprise. She lived a long life. Reaching 96 is an accomplishment in and of itself. After Phil the Greek passed away last year, it was clear that HM would follow him sooner rather than later. I still remember the picture of her sitting alone, weeping, at his funeral. She continued to do her duty, the most important of which, in her quiet, dignified way was to prepare us for the inevitable.

I watched the King’s Speech. He did well, but it will take some getting used to, saying His Majesty, the King. It will get some getting used to, seeing images of Charles III on coins and banknotes. It will be strange watching Charles III give this year’s Christmas address. I have known no other monarch than Her Majesty. My parents knew no other monarchs. Only my grandparents, three of which are already deceased, could remember a time without her. My nan, the last of the four, was living in Germany during those years and had other things to worry about.

So, all I can say is “thank you, ma’am”. From Cambodia to Italy, from South Africa to Russia people have paid their respects. There is something telling in that throughout the United States flags have been flying at half mast. Even the Irish have, largely, shown grace and respect.