Dispatch #1 – Queuing

I AM a representative of the former British Empire and the current Commonwealth of Nations; I am the descendant of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the son of an RAF pilot. I did not graduate with First Class honours from Cambridge University and since then have not entered the Foreign Office’s prestigious diplomatic corps.

The Northern Plights’ documents my assessment of Sweden for the possibility of any future conquests which the British Government’s War Cabinet is not considering.

DISPATCH 1: Queuing.

It was 9am sharp and I was facing a middle-aged blonde, going-on-grey, lady. Her last name ended with the letters ‘…sson’ and her first name contains the letter ‘å’ – a letter not found in the Civilised Alphabet; she could not have been any more Swedish if she had crayfish dribbling down her chin and was dunking a herring-shaped biscuit in her fifth cup of coffee of the morning.

I was standing at the reception in the Swedish Embassy in London’s Montagu Place and about to hear the words which will come to echo my Swedish Assessment Experience:

“Take a number and we’ll call you.”

I am, of course, familiar with the concept of ‘taking a number’ from a ticket machine; I recall the reputable British cobblers Clarks had such a queuing mechanism in the junior section at its stores. I also note they’re increasingly used in various delicatessen counters throughout the UK’s supermarket food halls, in Sweden, however, they are epidemic.

I have, to date, been asked to take a ticket in a café, a bookmakers, a tobacconist, a post office, a railway station, a butchers, a bakers and an…Ikea. I have been asked to ‘take a ticket’ in an electronic shop so small if could only fit three customers in at any one time. I fear that if ever the long winters were to become too much for me, I’d have to take a ticket in the ‘Throw Yourself off the Oresund Bridge Suicide Queue’.

Swedish society is, in the modern era, a very bureaucratic one; indeed they make no secret of the fact that the word ‘ombudsman’ has Swedish origins. But what WAS Swedish ‘society’ better known for? The answer is of course, savagery. Can you imagine, for example, a horned-helmeted Viking lining up in single file in the Pillage Queue? Of course not, and this is why the Swedes have introduced the ‘take a ticket’ system. Unless the Swedes are kept in a highly-administered society, constantly distracted and bamboozled by endless form filling they will descend into utter mayhem and be sailing to The Americas, axes held aloft, before you can say “I am sorry, did you say RAW herring’?

Let’s take a bus queue as a prime example.

Instinctively, and left to their own devices, this is how the average Brit waits for a bus:

In contrast, this is what happens at a Swedish bus stop:


So from henceforth, if gratuitously asked to take a ticket, I will not think ‘what a hassle’, but rather consider the alternative – having my head lopped off by a man wearing a bear skin in a desperate bid to buy postage stamps.

Toodle pip

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About The Dippylomat, Esq.

A connoisseur, a charmer and a bit of a cad.
This entry was posted in Gothenburg, Malmö, Minnesota, Stockholm, Sweden and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Dispatch #1 – Queuing

  1. Paula Monroe says:

    Great stuff – keep the dispatches coming.

  2. Helen M says:

    Sir, I fully understand your situation. Indeed the ‘take a ticket’ system may be the last bastion between you and marauding hordes of rampaging Vikings. I salute your courage and pragmatism in facing this situation with the quintessential English spirit of tolerance and acceptance. Keep up the good work sir; I await your next missive with anticipation.

    • Off for din-dins with colleague later for tales of the Empire and Future Glory Days -will report in once a week.

      Pip Pip
      The Diplomat

    • Therese Hellberg says:

      How did you manage to subscribe? I’ve ticked the box but it doesn’t seem to work :-/ Are you registered to the site?

      • Helen M says:

        after I ticked the box the site sent me an email – and you have to click on the link in that to activate the subscription. Have you checked your email? x

  3. Therese Hellberg says:

    You lot would be NOTHING without us Vikings! You wouldn’t have brilliant words like: flesh, kubb and smörgåsbord! I don’t even know how you would communicate…

    Good work – looking forward to coming attractions.

  4. Rachel F. says:

    I impatiently await the next installment…

  5. Mara says:

    Do I have to take a number to leave a comment?

  6. Mara says:

    Or to get on the list to receive your future posts?

  7. Gristybeasty says:

    Your problem be young man, is that you reached sunny happy, friendly Sweden far too late. Now back in them good old days, you know, when you could only exit the UK with a maximum of fifty quid, moi and me mate had a jolly great time. Talk about beer, beautiful and willing women, and raucous songs night after night. Still forty quid left in proverbial pocket and still going strong night after night, linked arms and skipping through the Malmo thoroughfares at midnight singing the Eaton Boating song. You know the one, “The sexual life of a camel is……..
    Pity you were not around then but, on the other hand you would have probably been chucked out of the country for failing to ask for a ticket and wait your turn at the public toilets you ugly sod!
    Chow
    Your favorite Unc Pete

  8. Carrie says:

    A jolly good read, old chap. Very amusing! Looking forward to reading more. Now, I must go and refill my pipe. Good day, Sir.

    • Thanking you kindly, young lady.

      Would it be impertinent to suggest you have a wee click on the ‘subscription’ icon.

      ~The Dippylomat.

      • Carrie says:

        Oh, I sorry. Forgive me for being so rude. I have put one’s name in the ‘Subscription’ icon and awaits your next dispatch. Thank you for this, kind Sir.

  9. Caroline says:

    Ha the tickets yes. Weird I never noticed not having them in the uk! Holland doesn’t bother with the whole “letting someone off a bus first before getting on” which drives me up the wall.

    • Bloody savages the Dutch, I tells ya. What I miss most about the UK Bus service is 18 passengers getting off, all thanking the driver and the driver acknowledging each passenger individually as they leave…manners cost nothing…they just drain your Oyster card!

  10. Bec Proctor says:

    Hmmm vikings.. I once sat next to a Norwegian at a wedding who was very proud of his Viking heritage, pillage and maraude-age, and as I have blue eyes he felt that I must have Viking blood in me too. It seemed like a great idea to tell him the joke “do you have any Viking in you…?” And that’s why I say leave comedy to the professionals! Keep on entertaining us with your tales, Northern Plights!

    • Not that I am here to defend The Vikings, but it is poplarly believed that many of them travelled with their wives and families and it was the native inhabitants of the countryies they invaded who would use their presence as an excuse to go a little wild, i.e The Vikings were scaoegoats for our forefathers :-/

  11. neil evans says:

    Great post – for more Scandinavian interest, I suggest the excellent documentary – ‘the troll hunter’, offers invaluable advise if you should encounter one of these beasts on your travels.

  12. Karen says:

    very good , ive often thought of doing a “Thoughts of an ex-pat in Thailand” but then i feel myself veering off into “what a bunch of cunts other ex pats are)

  13. myblogject says:

    Wow so great to follow and find your blog. Thanks for your comment on liz’s blog. My comment was wondering which city if just one of those,as I realise couldn’t visit all. Which, if any, would you recommend most… Oh and I realised about the copenhagen airport as a friend just this weekend was telling me about the bridge/tunnel

    • Good day to you!
      Thank you ever so much for your flattering comment 🙂
      Well, I now live in Malmö, it does have its charms but I would not say it is the jewel in Sweden’s (three) crowns. I do, however, adore Copenhagen, so if you want to tick as many boxes as possible then stay in Copenhagen but pop over to Malmö for a day.
      I’d be more than happy to give you further advice and guidance if you choose this end of Sweden.

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  14. I could not think you are more right

  15. nikita says:

    That’s an all round well written blog post!

  16. What an all ’round amazing blog post…

  17. Hello, I check your blogs regularly. Your story-telling style is witty, keep up the
    good work!

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