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
Pains me though it does, it would appear many of you might be one cucumber sandwich short of a Harrods’ Summer Holiday Hamper. An audacious and arrogant claim I’ll admit, but let me take you on an amble through The Average Brit’s psyche and try to surmise how I perceive you perceive Sweden from my
disadvantage point here on this Nordic landmass.
There are, of course, varying views but myth seeps through them all like gin through a Victorian women’s refuge.
Firstly, we have the, well, it does not matter what they are now, come The Invasion they will dutifully be used for human shields and cannon fodder. There is not much to say about this ilk, they may hear the word ‘Sweden’ but their brains lose track as their attention span fizzles to a close after hearing the letters ‘Sw..’ Where their broken brains take them after is anyone’s guess, but more often than not they conclude the rest of the word is ‘…itzerland’.
So to debunk Myth No.1, Sweden is not…well, it is not Switzerland. To clarify, Switzerland is the politically neutral country which always bags half of the gold medals during the Winter Olympics, whereas Sweden is the politically neutral country which always bags half of the gold medals during the Winter Olympics – seriously, how could anyone muddle them up?
The next category of Brit will be the foot soldiers; they know which way to point a musket – historically at anyone not as pasty-skinned as us and/or not drinking tea – and are drone-esque when it comes to taking orders. These are the people who are hungry for the hype and swallow the myth along with their meatballs with voracity.
I can begrudgingly admit that the Swedes do, possibly more by luck than judgement, get, on occasion, things (a bit) more ‘right’ than the rest of us do, but they are not Utopia-dwelling Super Humans who live until the age of 200 and live in flats which are as clean and as minimalist as a NASA vacuum chamber.
Debunking Myth No.2: they do not live forever, just longer than us; their standard of living is not perfect, just more perfect than ours; their trains are not always on time, just more often than ours; they are not beautiful, but they are more beautiful than us. Now ask yourself this, do I really want to live in a country where I can’t adorn my sitting room walls with the height in British good taste?
The third category is by far the most detrimental to any British stronghold Swede-side; launch the word ‘Sweden’ into a dinner party conversation and the aforementioned category guests will gush in envy of the nation. The gushing continues like a globally-warmed glacier until a Category Three will shoehorn in the issue of suicide like a quasi-Stephen Fry followed by a cod science explanation so fishy it smells like, it smells like…it smells like Sweden:
“They have one of the highest suicide rates in the world, don’t you know? It’s because of the 23 hours of darkness and the 13-month long winters.”
To debunk: no, they don’t, so subsequently, no it isn’t.
Sweden is nowhere near the top of the ‘topping yourself’ national statistics, nor is it at the bottom – it is in fact one of the very few league tables which Sweden just floats around the average of.
So why do so many people think otherwise?
Here is why, the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower. Makes you want to swap your top hat for a deer stalker for a bit of Holmes-inspired detective work doesn’t it? Trust me, it is a long story, but in short it all stems from Dwight and his cohort Joseph McCarthy’s unhealthy obsession with ‘Commie bashing’. Back in the 1950s life in socialist countries like Sweden was starting to look all a little too appealing to post-war Yanks, so before the Stars and Stripes became the Hammer and Sickle and Stripes, the witch hunters took a few ill-informed haphazard pot shots at Scandinavia, cranked up the propaganda machine and poor ol’ Sweden bore the brunt with this somewhat unfortunate and inaccurate reputation.
The cruel irony being that nowadays if Swedes had to live in America they probably WOULD want to kill themselves.
There is of course the fourth and final group of Brits, sadly they are few and far between, but you will know them by their declaration: “Allt jag vet om Sverige är korrekt, eftersom jag läste The Dippylomat esq’s Nordliga Plights.” And obviously Sweden needs as many of these as possible.
ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: For everything you don’t really need to know about Sweden, subscribe to The Northern Plights.