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
Try as one might to live in a Union Jack- draped bubble, sooner or later one will chance upon and inevitably converse with what is technically known in this overly-lauded land as ‘en Kålrot’, or as we would say ‘a Swede’.
The Swedes are, however, the dormice of the anthropological world – quiet and only really visible during the oh-so-scanty Scandinavian excuse for a Summer. But, quite how quiet the quintessential Swede is may come as a shock. The Swedes’ schtumness is, on occasion, documented, wagless chins prompting such anti-sociable shocking headlines as:
Having now grappled with and subsequently grasped the barbaric basics of this Viking vernacular I attempted to use my newly-acquired articulation skills and make conversational contact with a native. I am a personable chap – I naively thought – but as it turns out talking to a Swede is akin to coaxing a golden retriever puppy dog from out under a bed…try as one might to use your utmost genteel tones and the friendliest of all lilts, the blighty bugger remains steadfast, gazing through a yellowy blonde/e fringe in an apparent fear that engaging your company will be the last thing it ever does – the nervous pup and the Average Swede have much in common.
How ironic it is then that the verb’to speak‘ in Swedish is ‘att prata‘ – a word morphed from the Mother Of All Tongues, English. But, whereas we use this word to describe the act of babbling on incessantly (“oh do stop prattling on, my dear”), they use it to mean ‘to speak as little as is humanly possible…and only if you have to…in an emergency…a very urgent emergency’.
Anthropologists have been noggin-scratching for eons trying to figure out why the Swedes stay speechless; why they’d rather be eaten frost-bitten toe first by a wolf than inconvenience the man just ten metres away brandishing a blunderbuss and ask for help. The conclusion seems to be that for too long in these ice capped and brutal parts, survival was given precedent over socialising – too much time making traps and not enough time making friends. One imagines the only extra head you’d have really wanted to share your dinner table with was the one of the animal you’ve just slain. This trait has become hardwired into the Swede’s psyche – now the millennia of needing to bash in brains to survive is over, they just find themselves being…bashful.
The Swedes go to great lengths to avoid engaging in anything remotely resembling a conversation with anyone outside of their extended tribe – pleases and thank yous are kept to a bare minimum and eye contact is avoided on a Medusa scale proportion.
This quirk does herald some somewhat startling statistics: Sweden boasts, if that is the right word, the most single households in Europe – some 47 per cent of Swedes live on their lonesome (the UK rate is a slightly more gregarious 29 per cent). Is this a sign of independence or just another way to avoid an awkward silence?
However, what was good news for New Wave Empire Building and bad news for the Swedes were the details listed in a
Julian Assange-proofed cable newspaper which proves quite how detrimental a non-communicative and silent life can be.
Boffs are now suggesting that solitude is just as dangerous as smoking and obesity when it comes to an early grave – they’re American boffs, not proper boffs, but perhaps it is wise to err on the side of caution if you are of a Swedish ilk. (click for source)
Add to this that less chat equals less chat-up lines, less chat-up lines equals less romantic liaisons (long or short term) and less romantic liaisons will bring the birth rate crashing down, as is evident in Sweden right now.
Advice to War Cabinet:I am of mind to suggest we simply retire for tea and cucumber sandwiches and wait it out before claiming Sweden and its 100 or so residents.
Speak up Sweden, I can’t hear you.
ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: