It looks like I’m going to have to start every blog post by apologising for not having blogged in awhile. This is something that I don’t want to do, so I’m going to get it out of the way now, and then hope for your understanding in the future. My lack of posts are simply down to the fact that blogging has become the very last of my priorities. Documenting your life through jumbled words on a computer screen seems to, in some way, preclude actually going about your day and living that life. After getting through my ever increasing work load, perhaps going to the cinema, more often watching the local ice hockey team, or generally just relaxing with a book at the end of a day of studying, the last thing that comes to mind is engaging in the activity which I am involved with at precisely this second. But today I woke early, the morning light is streaming into my room, the tree outside my window has frozen again, and it really has been quite awhile since I last posted. Plus, I’m desperate for any distraction from having to start studying again. So, here I am.
Just as a note, as I type these letters I am also engaged in a debate with a Councillor on twitter as to whether or not trees freezing is a uniquely Nordic phenomenon or something observable in Scotland, as well. I think he wins, but I have never noticed frozen trees until living in Sweden.
Since my last entry I have experienced a lot more of Sweden. Skiing – no, not of the Nordic kind, but skiing nonetheless. Visiting Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city and comparable to Glasgow – if we insert Sweden into a sort of Scottish model (something I do on a regular basis). Watched ice hockey, professional and children playing in a school playground, eaten more meatballs, found out what that purple sauce on the meatball sandwiches is, promptly bought the purple sauce, experienced -15 degrees, gained an understanding of why Swedes remove their shoes at the front door, and picked up a little bit more of the lingo.
Firstly, skiing. Now I had skied once before, although it was about a decade ago, on a dry slope, and I quickly realised once I got to the top of that fateful hill two hours north of Uppsala, that I remembered nothing from that one time experience. So I think it should be discounted. I spent the morning on my backside, my knees felt like they were going to break, the gaggle of children on the slopes seemed to be infinitely better at this pursuit than I could ever dream of being, and we went for some lunch at the point when I was getting ready to throw in the metaphorical towel. The final straw was when I had to voluntarily collapse to the ground as I sped towards a small child, the look of fear contorting his face, and the impending guilt of having annihilated a toddler pressed heavy on my mind. Clearly I was not the first person to have ever done this, as his mother motioned to me and uttered in Swedish that I had dropped my goggles. What kind of mental pursuit is this?
After lunch I was like a new man. Well, so I like to think. In my mind a revolution occurred, all of a sudden I was an expert slalomist and I could skid stop in an impressive fashion. Now I am aware that the reality probably looked far different, and from my girlfriend, Julie’s, giggling at my attempts, I’m fairly sure I am on the mark with this one. But either way, I had markedly improved. As we took the lift to the top of an intermediate run, skied off, slalomed our way down, and I stopped without even a hint of a fall, I suddenly realised why people like to ski. It was a rush – but I am still left thinking that any recreational activity in which you take the greatest pleasure at not falling and almost killing yourself, is a rather odd pursuit. But I might just be on my way to becoming a convert.
Secondly, Gothenburg. My father decided to take a jaunt out to my adopted Nordic home, but since ryanair flights are far more convenient to Gothenburg than Stockholm – and we thought it would be nice to see the other side of Sweden – we decided to visit its second city. It reminded me a lot more of Scotland than Sweden. It was windy, there was no snow, we saw some homeless people drinking on the streets, almost tripped over beggars, and we kept coming across parks or streets named after Scottish industrialists; Keiller Park, Carnegie Street (or ‘Gatan’ to those versed in Swedish), and so on. When we visited the city museum, the nineteenth century section was more of a who’s who of Scottish capitalists than anything particularly Swedish.
I think this post is quite long enough, so I’ll leave it there. I could go on to tell you about the stuffed whale in Gothenburg’s Natural History Museum, the fact that the museum itself was like something from the 1950s and that you could almost imagine Carl Linnaeus himself hunching over the exhibits, or about the gender history that I am writing just now (who would have thought). But I’ll save these intrigues for another time.
One last thing; I really, really, can’t wait for spring.