stockholm continues its attempt to do an impression of a REAL CITY where a person might want to actually live without killing themselves by re-opening its market called 'street', where up'n'coming designers can sell stuff and where secondhand goods are also vended, apparently. i cannot tell you how much i have missed any kind of market here. a city without a market is like a body without a heart. even nose-in-air, dog-poo-on-shoe PARIS has its fleamarkets. amsterdam has the beautiful noordermarkt and the whole city becomes a massive jumble sale on april 30 every year. london is diamond-strung with spitalfields and greenwich and portobello and even grody old camden. but stockholm? why no dear, no market for you dear, go home now dear, gaze at ebay and dream dream dream of a city that throbs with mysteries and the challenge of rummaging gold from piles of shit for you will not find it here, dear...
except... that was a lie! stockholm just SHUTS DOWN for winter, and street is no exception. today street was overtaken by a book fair and various readings and stuff, which was useless for the girl who is still on beginner book 1 of how to speak swedo, so i cannot comment upon the quality of the place yet... but no matter. my heart is stirred by the mere existence of street, a place where, as the guy who set it up puts it: "Street in Stockholm is a meeting place and stage for all people with creative, unusual, special, or just plain crazy creations or ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you have something to sell, say or show - Street is a place for hundreds of artists to sell their wares, and creators of events and happenings both large and small to meet their public."
amen to that. furthermore, street is a 3km walk from skanstull station, along the loveliest little stretch of river / woodland. past an open air swimming pool, past a park that leads onto a tiny beach where people swim in the water during summer. and the weather, today, was flawless - cloudless sky, bright sun and a brisk wind.
so. after we had perused the unintelligible swedish texts we bought coffee and cake and sat on a deck in the sun, by the water. i knitted the first few rows of jimmy's new jumper (64 stitches of moss stitch on 4mm needles - this project will either blind me or drive me mad!), gazed at the swedish hipsters and their babies in strollers, and thought that maybe, this summer, after jimmy comes out, it will be not be so terrible to be here after all. in fact, it might actually be quite fine.
I suppose a good thing about living in Stockholm is that you can pop to the indie disco on a whim and see top pop pixie Robyn performing her NUMBER ONE IN BRITAIN (as they kept reminding us) single 'Every Heartbeat' completely unexpectedly. That was kind of cool. She really likes touching her tits! And she looked like a little pixie builder carpenter lesbian, which was cute. I should have videod more than the last 30 seconds, but I was too busy protecting my pregnant stomach from the pointy elbows of the whirling Swedo-dervish girl before me. They're broom-up-bum, these Swedes, but when they dance, they really DANCE.
I am not going to moan about it. I am not. I am not. This is my biggest fear. That the sunshine will come: O ORANGE BALL IN THE SKY, HOW I SLAGGED YOU ALL MY LIFE, AND NOW I SEE THE ERROR OF MY WAYS: it will come and it will shine on Stockholm, and still, still, STILL my mouth will make the moaning-shape.
You would not believe it, but I am NOT a moany whiny horrible person. I am not. I am HAPPY, goddammit. At one of my jobs (I was an usherette in an art-house cinema. I wore a bright pink top and a green striped apron. I smelled of pick'n'mix and popcorn. I earnt £3.25 an hour. It was delightful) I was nicknamed the 'Sunshine Girl', because of my sunny demeanour.
Sure, I was also a dizzy little cunt to whom nothing particularly bad had ever happened (no break-ups, no disappointments, no fatuous copywriting jobs, parents still together, scholarship schoolgirl, star pupil, destined for greatness, you know the drill) but damn, there are enough people out there who fit the above criteria who still mooch around sucking down antidepressants like they're Haribo Tangfastics to make the above worthy of note.
What I am saying is: I am a happy bastard. You want fun, I bring the fun. That's what fuckers hire me for. In fact, at work I (seriously) get called into meeting rooms to discuss what is up if I fail to bring the happy to their office banter. (Being Swedes, they are incapable of generating it themselves, hence the need to import me.) I wear interesting outfits and o, yes, I am Witty and Delightful and A Bit Cutting Sometimes, but with a Cute Edge that Makes Everything A-OK. That is... I was.
I was till I came here. To the Darklands. To talk in rhyme. With all my mates back home on Messenger and absolutely nobody at all in the real world. And then the darkness did come, and the sun did not rise till 9am, and it was basically a horrid dusk until the sun slid wanly back under the horizon at 2.50pm every afternoon, and then my sunshiney demeanor basically fell off the edge of the planet to be replaced by:
Utlrawhinge with her ginger minge. Ultrawhinge hates everything, and Stockholm most of all. Ultrawhinge enters conniptions of rage when the sun sets. Ultrawhinge wails with fury when she looks at her watch and realises that, even though it has been dark for the last million years, it is only 6.20pm, not 11.20 and bedtime which is what it feels like. Ultrawhinge snarls when Londoners try to tell her that the sun sets really early in London too and they really can't see what the fuck she is complaining about. UltraWhinge is Bitchy Bitch on steroids, and I had no idea she was part of me until STOCKHOLM (boo hiss) bought her out.
But you know what? That's over now. The sun is BACK BACK BACK. It's gleaming, it's winnowing (whatever that is), it's burrowing into my retinas. It's streaming into the apartment and it's illuminating every single speck of dirt and dust and the disgusting mire with which I have surrounded myself for the last four depressing lonely months. And I'm scared. I'm so scared. I normally hate summer. Stockholm has punished me with winter, it has dragged ULTRAWHINGE AND HER GINGER MINGE out of some dark crevice inside of me. And now comes the sun. And then you know what happens after that? More sun. Then more sun. THEN MORE SUN.
AND THEN THE SUN SHINES LIKE 24 HOURS A DAY LIKE A CRAZY FUCKING ECSTASY PERSON WHO WON'T GET OUT OF YOUR FACE.
...and what does Sweden have? DINNER. DINNER for LUNCH. It's fucked up.
Gregg Wallace, m8, you don't know you're BORN. I do understand that English people love to moan. It's one of the cute things about them (I'm not sure exactly why it's cute, it just... is. Fuck, you have no idea how much I miss moaning. I was wandering around my super-deluxe Swedish office today, taking a rest from writing some incredibly taxing blog posts, looking out at the sea, eating a free cream bun that work bought us because it's Semmeldag, thinking about how it was nearly time to pay my £200 monthly rent on my massive one-bedroom apartment that would take me 30 minutes to commute back to when the day was over, and all I could think of was 'God, I want someone to moan to SO MUCH.'
And there's no one. They take moaning really fucking seriously here. They furrow their brows and then advise you to speak to whoever it is that you're bitching about, try to sort things out. Like, no way dudes! That's not the way to do things. You just huddle in a corner, slag someone or something off for 10 minutes, then exit, feeling closely bonded to whoever you bitched to, and hugely empowered despite having done precisely fuck all to change the situation that was pissing you off. THAT's how we do things in fucking Britain thank you very much, so why can't they do that here?)
Anyway. Swedes may not know how to moan, but Gregg certainly does, for he is daring to slag off... SANDWICHES.
Oh, sure. Sandwiches. Boring old bread with some boring slimy stuff in the middle. Ooh, Mother's Pride, curling up at the corners. Ooh, British Rail sandwiches ha ha ha. Ooh, rubbish. SHUT THE FUCK UP. You think sandwiches suck? Imagine A WORLD WITHOUT SANDWICHES.
That world, ladies and gents, is Sweden. They have dinner for lunch. And then they have dinner for dinner. Somehow, miraculously, they all remain thin, fit, and healthy looking. I don't know how. I think it's because they like 'training' so much. There's a Stadium (sportswear store) on every single block. They all go 'train' together at lunchtimes, and play tennis and squash in the evenings for kicks. That definitely must have something to do with it. I've heard rumours that there's a correlation between physical activity and slenderness, though I'm loath to believe it myself.
Nonetheless. At 12.00 every day they go out to lunch and they pay approx 90SEK (about £8.00) for a massive lunchtime dinner. We're talking 'pitt y panna' (oily fried potato and ham) with beetroot and a fried egg. We're talking thick yellow pea soup (with oil pooling on the surface) and ham with pancakes on Thursdays. We're talking platefuls of wild mushroom ravioli in a creamy sauce. We're talking tagliatelle with chicken, and shrimps, and creme fraiche, and LOBSTER. For lunch. Every day.
And this is no leisurely, decadent kind of lunch - the kind of olde-skoole publishing or journalism lunch that would start at 1 and meander on towards 4pm, lubricated with red wine, port and a G&T. Nonono. This shit is rushed down at 12.00pm, and they're back at their desks by, hm, 12.43, smiling and thinking about the awesome 'training' they're going to do when they chip off at 5. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS CANNOT BE HEALTHY (apart from the fact that, judging by the lardy English and the svelte Swedes, it blatantly is).
But, Swedes - No. THIS IS NORMAL:
Skip breakfast due to hangover and lateness (nobody here drinks, so nobody is ever hungover. And the transport system is perfect, so nobody is ever late) Nip to Pret at 11am for breakfast sandwich of sausage, ketchup, bacon, salad - or to greasy spoon for FRIED EGG SANDWICH mmmmmm Nearly vomit at lunchtime Feel miraculous by 2pm due to combination of Coke, sandwich and Paramol (they don't do proper painkillers here btw... because that might be FUN. Swedes HATE fun.) Nip out to Pret or Eat or deli for another sandwich Finish work, go to pub. DO NOT 'TRAIN'. DO NOT EAT DINNER. GO STRAIGHT TO PUB.
Fucking hell I miss England.
I miss England. I miss sandwiches. I miss moaning. I miss hangovers. (I almost miss fat unattractive men, but not quite. And if I ever do I can always look at those pictures of YOUR DAD that he keeps sending me hahaha just kidding). The sandwich, you see, facilitates the British lifestyle of drunkenness, sobbing, and debauchery. You can't eat DINNER for LUNCH when you feel the way most British people do most of the time. Without this slender snackette (just thin enough to ease down the oesophageus without inciting gagging... just dry enough to soak up the remnants of last night's booze before it can reappear too hurriedly from either orifice) where would the British be? The sandwich is the very substance that makes Britain great. Without it we'd be... we'd be just like the Swedes. NORMAL. HAPPY. HEALTHY. AND INCREDIBLY, AMAZINGLY, ASTOUNDINGLY, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FUCKING SHIT-ASS YAWNY-YAWNO BORING.