Friday, April 18, 2008

There is a saying amongst the Scandinavian people and it goes something like this: "Swedes are quiet, Danes are noisy but the Norwegians are just right." No doubt the phrase will be made to disappear when the politically-correct loonies have their way but a nation's characteristics cannot be expunged at the drop of a hat. In general, Swedes are quieter than their immediate neighbours and the Danes do happen to be somewhat noisier. The bit about Norwegians being "just right" is open to debate. Alas, I found the majority of the younger generation extremely stuck-up.
It's strange comparing the attitudes of today from those of yesteryear. No longer is an Englishman's word his bond. At first sight on foreign soil, an Englishman arouses scorn and a contempt in his host; he is an invasive figure to be avoided at all costs and treated like a nasty object which has become stuck to someone's shoe. The English as a nation are derided and exist solely to be poked fun at.
Perhaps by some bizarre twist of Fate I had run into the wrong people but during an unforgettable train journey through the north of Sweden, such mockery of all things English caused an anger in me which was extremely hard to control. It's 3rd November 1999, and the positively, unfriendly banter is making fun of Winston Churchill, mocking the British Army's efforts during the last World War and lauding the Germans. To cap it all, they're laughing at the loss of British Servicemen during the Norwegian campaign of 1940 and the Falklands of 1982.
Thorolf clenches his fists, constantly reminding himself of "When in Rome...." and weighs up the harsh reality of arrest should he decide to attack. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Make no mistake, Thorolf is at the height of his physical prowess and can lay these cretins all out flat without even breaking into a sweat but he controls himself. Just.
Discretion rules the day and valour has to take a back seat. The thought of languishing in a foreign jail and then being deported does not contribute to an instilled sense of decorum and an inherent self-discipline.
As I get older and come to realise that respect is no longer an attribute nurtured and admired in today's modern world, I cannot truthfully affirm whether I would react in the same way now, given an identical set of circumstances.
Sweden - be thankful for a proper English upbringing. Your most northerly hospital could have been very busy that day.

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