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
My sincere and bespokely-worded apologies; my peeplessness both humbles and disgraces me – it shames me to my very colonial core. I would so dearly love to write that I have spent the time deep undercover; perched behind enemy polar lines, but alas this is not the case. Neither have I, in dippylomatic terms, gone ‘rogue’ and idled the days away languishing in a thermal spa bath with twee, blonde nymphette Nina, she of bland band The Cardigans fame.
The truth is oh so much worse…
I have been caught.
…and it was but just an Etonian schoolboy error which led to the disclosure of my secretive sleuthing. I had written a strongly-worded letter of electronically mailed complaint to the most abhorrent cafe I had ever supped in. My opine contained a number of words which had, it would so seem, ‘flagged up’ both my thoroughbred nationality and the true reason I sully my soles on this permafrosted land.
For the record, never use the words ‘Earl Grey’, ‘crumpets’, ‘wench’ or ‘carpet bombing’ while airing your disdain in the written form.
I assume it was no coincidence, but days after the mouse had clicked upon ‘send’ an official summons was thrust through my letterbox. I was given an address and a time and told not to be, under any circumstances, late. The letter was embossed with the letters ‘SFI‘ and from its content I can only guess that this stood for:
Swedish Forcibly Induced.
The building in question, on approach, had all the charm of a Russian gulag. I found myself sitting in a draughty outhouse where I am herded among other captives – NONE of them were Swedish, had I been sentenced to some form of cultural-cleansing facility? Whatever it was, it was being done on an unprecedented and industrial scale. Research tells me that currently 125,362 are undergoing the cultural-conversion treatment.
Then we hear our punishment, delivered by an individual who ominously described himself as ‘teacher’; teacher’s first shudderingly sinister words were delivered with the good grace of a Gestapo officer shining a 100watt light bulb into our collective faces:
“In a year’s time you will ALL be speaking Swedish”.
Or, as it sounded in my top-hatted head:
“Ve have vays of making you talk.”
Well, we will see about that, Ölaf, or whatever phlegm-inducing grunt your parents named you after. Conversations with my gloriously multi-cultured fellow inmates led me to learn this was in fact a program which attempted to coerce us fresh-off-the-boaters into learning the whys and wherefores of the Swedish ways…and then to communicate them in the Swedish brutish banter, i.e. in a matter of months we would all be able to speak like we were singing and hide our grimace when we gnaw on the boney claw of a crayfish.
I left Week One baffled as to how I would shake these shackles; did I ever really want to be ably able to assemble flat pack furniture? Did I ever want to find an ABBA track ‘catchy’? Nej, tack you very much, but then the queerest thing happened while mingling with Malmö’s glitterati.
A waitress approached me and said: “Vill du prova en härsken fisk hor d’oeuvre?”, without hesitating I responded: “Nej tack, jag skulle äta hellre en franskmans socka. I had aghasted myself -I was talking bloody Swedish, I had the Brain of a Brit, but with the silver tongue of a Swede. I have spent nigh on a year trying to demean myself enough to blend in and now it was being handed to me on a silver platter.
Being behind enemy lines has never been so easy.
ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: Have YOU been affected by SFI? See this Dispatch as an open forum to discuss your experiences. And for Pete’s sake, SUBSCRIBE.