Wednesday, 27 October 2010

and sweden

began and ended with a mess of children with almost constant contact with t's new niece inbetween. this last few times we've really done nothing much except the family thing while we've been in stockholm and while thta may have left us a bit culturally lacking we've more than made up for it in terms of getting into the swedish, at least the stockholm version of it, society. (i should point out that we did plan a wee venture out to upsalla but the weather did that thing that makes it essential that you stay indoors, drink coffee and eat cake)

it must have been all that watching of wallander but despite the time it's been since we were last there my comprehension has come on leaps and bounds. true, my spoken swedish is still rubbish but even after ten days getting back to scotland both of us were having a bit of difficulty readjusting back to english for the daily pleasantries. i could even make jokes on the fishing trip!

ah yes, the fishing trip. being as sweden is some sort of valhalla for sport fishing it's inevitable that i spend at least one day out on a boat. that and the fact that my presence seems to have a synergistic effect on t's brother so that we always catch a bunch of fish! also the fact that i'm scottish is always a novelty for the locals as well as the fact that i fish in a notedly swedish style. i really should leave all my gear over there as i don't fish anywhere else!

in the interim myself and t had been riding the tunnelbana to see what the outskirts were like. one place we hadn't been was sodertalje 'where all the immigrants live' so it was a happy coincidence to be meeting the boat guy there. and i would've seen more had it not dropped about three inches of snow over night. usually it gets snowy in the north first. not that day! digging the boat out of the snow at the side of the lake was grim but the day turned out lovely. out round the archipelago on a boat is one of the best places to see that bit of sweden even if the cold is chewing the front of your face off!

one thing was is happening at the moment is some nut job is shooting immigrants in malmo. this, coupled with the election of the sweden democrats at the recent election is causing much exercise of swedish minds. it's easy, being a tourist in central stockholm, to imagine this as the country of blond, tall people. it'a only when you take the train to the outskirts, or maybe at seven in the morning when the workers are out, that a different reality is apparent. on our excursions it was very easy, once outside the centre, to be in a carriage full of immigrants. which of course is precisely what the sweden democrats are blethering about in their special incoherent way.

and not helped by the left for whom immigrants, it seems, are all brown people (obviously the sweden democrats have a special place for brown muslim people!). so where does that place 'my' family? we're chilean/argentinian/middle eastern/swedish/english/eastern european/korean. and now of course, scottish. so what do we look like in the park? like something beautiful!

childrens' parks in sweden are not like in the uk. they exist for one thing! but there are no fences and no cameras. children can run around. all the adults watch out for them. during the week it's mainly occupied by stay at home fathers and their kids. there are things for children to climb up, fall off - health and safety is no less prevalent here, just different.

you realise t's brother observes, that if you ever move over here, we'll be the worst sort of immigrants, the ones who bring across the rest of their families! sitting in the park polarises the issue for me. there has to be a better way of discussing the issues of immigration than 'them and us', something more like 'you and i' which migrates into 'we'.

on the last day we have a bunch of the kids round. the youngest (a proper little viking) likes being held upside down and chased and is finally silenced by a pippi longstocking video which has him entranced. the middle kids are outside playing with the cat. i make idiot faces thru the window. the oldest girl (7) is, at first the most withdrawn. she can speak english but doesn't - it's her parents 'secret' language - so i have to resort ot subterfuge. i get a bunch of them drawing. she has never seen drawing technique like mine. she can't help looking at it. a face emerges. flicka i say, pointing at her. her drawing is much more line based and leaves out the awkward fact of my glasses. pojke she writes. a bit of origami later and lack of shared language no longer matters. true i'll never compete against ice cream but in our funny little family situation i've become the rarely appearing eccentric farbror. and that'll do me.

in the end i'm glad to get home. i miss my books, i miss my bikes, i miss my ....everything but the first thing we do is buy a halloween outfit for the baby, for the party we won't be at. there are tears from t when we leave. and me? even i get a little danp eyed, just for a moment!


Marion McCready said...

"that i fish in a notedly swedish style" - really? the mind boggles, lol

swiss said...

i'd have put more details but it's all a bit too niche!

it is true tho, the pike fishing in sweden being so different that it's like a different sport.

there are many reasons for this but i'll refer you back to my initial comment! lol

Roxana said...

ah, damp eyes, swiss, what a lovely and touching travel (of family-abroad) report...

if Marion is interested in your fishing style, i am captivated by your eccentric painting technique, where are the much needed details here? :-)

kate said...

a few years ago we spent new years in upsalla with a friend in her parents 'holiday' home. very, very beautiful. like most, i've always held sweden up as a kind of ideal, i hope things don't go too wrong with the recent seat winning swedish democrats.

does your family visit you in scotland? i'd imagine there are many similarities.

swiss said...

oh, i don't know about an eccentric painting technique, maybe just a form of drawing the wee girl wasn't familiar with. i may have to film something!

hopefully the relatives will be acorss sometime before christmas. the complicating factor, as usual, is my work but that too may be changing soon.