Dispatch #31 – School.

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


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.

About The Dippylomat, Esq.

A connoisseur, a charmer and a bit of a cad.
This entry was posted in Ex pats, Gothenburg, Hodge Podge, Humour, immigration, Language, Politics, Religion, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Dispatch #31 – School.

  1. thewolfonthebridge says:

    Dearest Dippy, only one little comment here: it seems that not only you are speaking Swedish, but you are doing so WHILST LOSING YOUR VIRTUOSO COMMAND of the English language! Nothing serious -yet- but what is this business with repeating the image “with all the charm of”? Surely this is a slippery slushy slope- what next? Lazy metaphoring? Grammar slip-ups? Nej Nej my good man. Stop this SFI nonsense now, while you still can. And set about chasing Redundancy as any self-respecting English gentleman should! Yours ever so truly, Comtesse de La Frenchie.

  2. My dearest, are you doubtting the charms of a gulag or the gestapo?

    ~The Dippylomat esq.

    Ps The Swedish language has about 200,000 fewer words than we do…the poor lambs.

  3. simon7banks says:

    Nothing to worry about, old chap. I have myself offered “Franzosische Tafelwein, aus Franzosicher Tafeln gemacht”. Polite refusal is recommended.

  4. madakanto says:

    A few words of encouragement. Swedish is not as hard as one thinks..and not as poor as you think either ! Try to read Strindberg, you´ll need many years of SFI before your understand him :-). Nice to hear from you…I almost missed you witty posts
    By the way…what is a franskmans socka ?

  5. coolfeline says:

    I have friends who have been through SFI. They must have done a good job on some of them, because my friend from Australia now teaches English as Second Language in Stockholm.

    Fisken är inte härsken … den är RUTTEN ..och RÅ! Yummy stuff! LOL

    I too, have read that number somewhere … that Swedish has 200,000 less words. After eight years of living abroad, I sense that it’s true. English is rich …not only in words, but idioms … ‘no skin off my a$$’, for example — we don’t have that kind of colourful expressions in Swedish. On the other hand, we put words together and they turn into new words: «Jag gick med finskorna i hagen», gets confusing as you wouldn’t know whether I walked with the Finnish girls or with my fine shoes.

  6. Tess says:

    As your devoted employee, I will find it refreshing to be ordered around and shouted at in my own language for a change.

    Repeat after me: “Putsa min monokel!”

    / Chambermaid Tess

  7. Och sedan klara upp att katt sjuka ..!

    The Dippylomat esq.

  8. As long as you get the hang of “fika” – “smörgåsbord” – “IKEA” and last but not least “Jante-lagen” – you’ll do fine! 😀

    Break a leg! 😉 You’ll do great! Nice to read a new post. Long time no see qui?
    Any plans for Valentine or do you consider it passé? I am planning for a small surprise for my dearest fiancé so I hope he’ll be glad.

    All the best ol’ chap!

    / E

  9. Greetings to you, my Dearest E,

    It is a pleasure to be back although this Undercover Training has left me noggin in somewhat of a shambles, hopefully all will be ‘lagom’ soon though!

    For Valentimes I am letting my good lady cook me a dinner of HER choice…I know, I really am TOO kind.

    ~The Dippylomat esq.

  10. Nurse Angry says:

    You were lucky you were simply summoned to SFI. When Nurse Angry moved here 20 years ago they came round and picked you up in a paddy wagon. To turn you into a Swede, at coffee time you were force-fed 7 kinds of cookies and countless cups of coffee that looked and tasted like greasy airplane fuel. Way back then the textbook was yellow and the course was called SFD, Swedish For Dummies. This was deemed to be politically incorrect and socially stigmatizing for the participants as people kept getting it mixed up with the term STD. So some time during the late 90’s the name was changes to Swedish For Idiots.

    Nurse Angry only wishes she could tell you some inspirational stories from her own SFI experience. But she didn’t go. Hahaaaaaaaaaaaa!
    Before going to nursing school she did however take a most fascinating class at Komvux called SAS-B or some such thing (svenska som andraspråk). The teacher was a tough old biddy who looked like Anne Ramsey in Throw Momma from the Train. Most of us were glad just to leave the classroom alive each time.
    Hang in there, old man.

    • Oh Ms Nurse Angy, hur jag relish din responses.

      I am still not sure SFI is ‘that’ politically correct nowadays, I have spotted that there are NO aryans being forced fed Swedish. Jag ska keep plodding on though, if only for oneupmanship.

      Your faithful patient,

      Dippylomaten esq.

  11. Got my book says:

    Great blog, love it! hahah 😀 Though it is quite cute how you wrote ‘franskman’ ^^ Maybe you know this and my correction is unnecessary; fransman 🙂

  12. Truth be told, many people of a quasi-snobbish nature boast of speaking The Queen’s English, whereas I, on the other hand, was raised by a very strict individual who spoke The King’s English, that being King George VI, so I do have a bit of a headstart.

  13. Nurse Angry says:

    Learning Swedish is easy, even if our Dippylomat sometimes may feel like Sisyphus. Nurse Angry reminds you of this simple rule, it has proved invaluable through the ages:

    What’s in a name? that which we call a surströmming
    By any other name would smell as sweet

  14. jerseytjej says:

    I have not mastered Swedish yet. 😦 I fell off of a loading dock 7 years ago just when I had completed SAS-A, had several ops and never returned. To my embarrassment, I STILL confuse hon och han… (valkommen tillbaka 🙂

  15. ladyfi says:

    Sorry for laughing…

    OK – now I’ve turned on my sympathy. I too have been a victim of SFI, in which I learned nothing. In the end, I left its hallowed halls and went to Komvux to learn Svenska som andra språk… It was the first time in a year that we actually spoke Swedish in Swedish class!

  16. ladyfi says:

    Are you still stuck in school?!

  17. Pingback: SUBSCRIBE AND WIN! | loulouloves

  18. ladyfi says:

    Long time no hear! Sorry to hear school is taking up so much time and energy. Ha det gott and enjoy!

  19. Just finished reading your dispatches, till this last one? Do I see ‘the end?’ here…?

    • Thanking you ever so much my good sir.

      And good gracious me, fret not! There has been a temporary blip while the Swedish authorities try to brainwash me, but there is an awful lot more where this lot came from – rest assured!

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  20. Yes, I am left to wonder if the belatedness of this last response from February means you’ve been integrated into the Borg…. ? Resistance is futile, if the Swedes win.

    • Hello there Alison,

      The Swedes MAY have one THIS battle, but they will NOT win THE war, I can assure you of that!

      Next Dispatch due when the shackles of school are cut from me!

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  21. anitalok says:

    Hmm I wonder, Is this my future…speaking Svengelska? =)

  22. How awfully exciting, where might you be moving to?

    ~The Dippylomat esq.

  23. jerseytjej says:

    I say old chap, where are the missives?

    • Ah Mrs Svenskfru, my dear, how the devil are you?

      The clue to my missing missives is indeed in the missive above! The school captures have only just set me free, so after a brief rest in Stockholm I’ll be back on the case of these dastardly Swedes.

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

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