Dispatch #5 – Transport

A bit of a dandy, a bit of a cavalier and a lot of a charmer, rogue British official The Dippylomat. Esq. investigates…


While this is not an undercover mission per se, the Foreign Office weren’t keen for me to fully saturate myself into Swedish life and culture. This started back in the motherland; both The Netherlands Empire Scout and I were given makeovers for our respective duties. Of course I cannot fully reveal either of our identities, but you will see from the before and after photos how our appearances were altered in order to aid us to blend in.

Here we both are as we embarked on the training:

And then, relaxing with a game of tennis after the training and makeover was complete – you do not need to be a cultural anthropologist to figure out which of us is going where:

The difference is practically tangible; we were now both ready to be dropped, or rather privately-jetted, behind potential enemy lines. On previous assessments I haven’t been met by an ambassador and taken to a helipad or at the very least a car with tinted windows. But, to my utmost horror, on this occasion I was directed to my TRANSPORT, a bike…A BIKE! “My dear fellow,” I expressed to my colleague, “bikes are for children and liberals, and by each passing minute I become less and less of both of those ilks, is this some kind of prank?”

It wasn’t.

It turns out that my first port of call (Malmö) is a bit ‘bike friendly’, in fact so ‘bike friendly’ that it makes my old university city of Cambridge look like a Formula One race track. Let’s put some perspective in here: Malmö is 130 square miles in area, but 69 square miles of that are water, subtract rural areas and you are left with an urban sprawl of 27.3 square miles – in which there are 250 miles of cycle paths. Run that by yourself again; if you stretched out all the bike paths in Malmö you could get 125 miles nearer Mars AND BACK or from the north of London to the south of Paris, now while I do not recommend anyone to visit such a fetid city like Paris that certainly is a barmy fact. More than 40 per cent of commuter journeys are made by bike. The cycle paths both run parallel to the roads and also criss-cross the parks and pedestrian cobbled roads. Special bike counters clock the bi-wheeled cog and chain movements of the day, there are cycle roundabouts, traffic lights and, on the rare occasion that a cycle path ventures near traffic, the cars part like the Red Sea under the command of Moses.

This being the case, why the devil does this happen:

This will NOT impress the ladies!

Malmö Cyclist – Missing In Action.

The use of a bicycle might be considered civilised but I have not witnessed such ill-manners and misuse on a transport network since a sunny day in June seven years back when I asked a young Arabian looking gentleman on the London metro why his rucksack was ticking.

My Theory:

In England, we learn the rules of the road the hard way; if you drive the wrong way down a road then there is an increased chance that instead of driving a flower delivery van, you will be morphed INTO a bouquet of flowers and left by the side of the road. If, however, you cycle down the wrong way of a cycle path, the worst you will face is an aggressive tinkle of a bell or a pathetically gentle parp of a horn. Mistakes are not harshly enough punished and this leads to utter bedlam at cycle junctions, roundabouts and crossroads.

Accordingly, may I suggest any ex-pats following in my stealthy footprints replace the humble bell with a device a little more effective for dealing with any rogue Swedish cyclists:

I must get a wriggle on, Ferrero Rocher is doing a launch party for its new ‘herring’ range and I am a guest of honour.

Toodle pip,

ATTENTION BOTH FELLOW COUNTRYMEN & NATIVES: If you would like to receive my dispatches at precisely the same moment as the Foreign Office don’t, then tick the box requesting email notification of any missives on the right of this VERY page – please don’t forget to confirm the electronic mail you will be sent. It’ll be like Wikileaks, but not quite as savage….’Weakileaks’©

About The Dippylomat, Esq.

A connoisseur, a charmer and a bit of a cad.
This entry was posted in Cycling, Ex pats, Gothenburg, Humour, Stockholm, Sweden, Transport, Travel, United Kingdom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Dispatch #5 – Transport

  1. Helen M says:

    Excellent as usual, sir! My eldest was demanding some form of attention grabbing device for his bicycle just the other day. He was more inclined towards a bell but, having read this, I am in total agreement that the gun would most certainly be more effective. Informative and entertaining, I salute you!

    • May I suggest you attach a water pistol to the young chaps handlebars? Get them started on the right path, but try and prevent younger brothers being shot in error!

      All the best
      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  2. Gristybeasty says:

    Cut out all this bullshit nephew! I am becoming nothing less than bored with all this crap. Why Oh why did i sign on for it. Incidentally my friends at C. House are also getting pissed off so watch your step my boy!

  3. james says:

    Invaluable as always….invaluable. Your insights will undoubted lead us to glory when we roll into Malmo with TANKS AND CRUSH THESE BICYCLE RIDING FOOLS UNDER OUR WELL HEALED BOOTS.

    They will learn the error of their ways, they all will….

  4. Oh dear Uncle, surely you must know that all I know about Empire Building I learned from you and your emails 🙂

  5. A Dutch Savage says:

    Dear Dipplyomat,

    A marvellous read my boy, simply marvellous. I come from a long line of cyclists and used to relish my adventures in a little red chair fixed onto the back of my mother’s bike, en route to the shops wind blowing through my hair.

    Even in those days, however, there were rogue cyclists causing distress and injury to those around them; cycling into parked cars and over small children’s feet, zooming through the park only to end up at the bottom of the canal. The occasional chance to flip them over and have a ’round of dominoes’ was jumped upon by many.

    I do believe there are more rules to control these heathens nowadays, but it seems they may be failing. I applaud your innovative idea for killing off these unruly bicycle fiends.

    Chin chin!

    • The Netherlands Empire Scout, who suffers the same problems as you, is very fond of the In-built Rogue Cyclist Defence Mechanism – dirty canal water with a dash of peep show juice which seeps into the water from the nearby ‘shops’.

      All the best to you, Ms Savage,

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  6. Carrie says:

    Once again, my good Sir, you have entertained me with your marvellous writing skills and funny wit. I do not care for bikes though as I am lame with my spazzy legs 😉 So I will continute riding my horse instead.

    Now, I must go for afternoon tea.

    Good day to you, kind Sir.

    • A horse (and carriage) is most befitting for an elegant lady such as your good self. If you were to travel ‘sans’ carriage then I do trust you ride side saddle, if for nothing else than to make it easy on your legs.

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  7. Haha well you are so right about the ill mannered cyclists in Malmö. I one of them.

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