Dispatch #21 – Economy.

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 not considering.

Let me ask you a hypothetical question – use the might of your British Born Brain to answer it; use every ounce of your Commonwealth Commonsense and your wealth of Empire Endorsed Experience. Now…would you buy a used car from this man?

Let me preempt your answer: “Not on your Nellie, Mr Dippylomat esq”, and I would whole-heartedly agree with you. A slick backed Status Quo-inspired ponytail and an earring last seen on one half of 80s pop sensation duo Bros  – you might as well hand your hard-earned inherited cash over to a man in a sheepskin coat selling genuine Swiss ‘Polex‘ watches in a backstreet Moroccan market.

Now let me reveal the true identity of this man as Anders Borg – Sweden’s Minister for Finance, chief economist and, err, self-proclaimed feminist. The Swedes not only trust him with their spare kronor – they trust him with ALL their kronor.

This man who has seemingly not only kept the Swedeconomy afloat, but positively sailing like a Viking longship – while much of Europe, nay the world (apart from the Chinese bit), bob around like Titanic flotsam.

Economically Sweden is always circling the top of the ‘Countries with the Best..’ and loitering near the bottom of the ‘Countries with the Worst…’ charts. Someone somewhere is clearly doing something very right and as Britain haemorrhages money like a drunk pensioner at a Las Vegas slot machine, we REALLY need to know how.  But is Anders Borg – a man who looks like he went to his bespoke tailor and said ‘the wife beater look please’ – actually responsible?

I, for a distinguished one, think not.

Let’s have a little poke around the list of countries the UN thinks, all things considered, have a sterlingly-strong economy. Comfortably within the Top 10 are Norway, with a seabed bulging at the seams with oil; Switzerland, with a stash of looted Nazi gold under the bed and Sweden, with a surplus of…IKEA beds. All nice little earners admittedly, but methinks there is more to their secret than meets the monocled-eye.

Now let me draw your attention to the Big Mac Index, the key to explaining to The Under Classes the world of economics using the only language they understand – McDonalds’ burgers. Do you REALLY think it is pure coincidence that the three most expensive Big Macs in the world can be found in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (click me for tomato source)?

So when these suit-clad financial leaders claim to have solved the global depression we are currently wallowing in, don’t assume it is down to number crunching, fiscal policy and quantitative easing, all they do is persuaded McDonalds to hike up the price of a Big Mac and wait for the calorie-fuelled tax coffers to roll in.

If you REALLY want to understand the baffling concepts behind global economics, don’t listen to a man having a mid-life crisis with a matching ponytail, you’re better off listening to Ronald McDonald!

I need to skedaddle, my side-project beckons – keep your eyes peeled for my own fast food chain – Burger Emperor.

Toodle pip,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: The £Pound has gone down the proverbial pan, the $Dollar is as weak as a baby chick with brittle bone disease and the €Euro  is sunning itself on a Greek beach…let me introduce you to the Dippy – the new kid on the currency block. A 50Dip note will be sent to the next 10 subscribers.



Posted in British Empire, diets, Economics, Ex pats, Food, Humour, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dispatch #20 – Furniture.

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 not considering.

I was always a finicky little scamp as a child; I was fussy, picky and choosey and it is these traits I proudly dragged into my adulthood – it is those very qualities which distinguish me from The Underlings I was warned about during my formative years.

And, if there was one thing which blighted my tender years more than any other it was, of all things, Lego. Through my eyes Lego was just a ghastly collection of gaudy-coloured bricks and peculiar-shaped building blocks; they came with minimal assembly instructions and anything constructed fell apart the minute you sat/rode a horse on/over it.

I hated Lego.

And now I hate IKEA – for EXACTLY the same reasons.

Try as I might however, it is nigh impossible to remain blissfully ignorant of the goliath of Swedish furniture chains; drive five minutes out of any city and you will soon glimpse the familiar blue and yellow hue appearing on the horizon. I normally pay it no regard or attention, but just the other day a most fantastically peculiar fact came to light:

ONE IN TEN EUROPEANS WERE CONCEIVED IN/ON/UNDER AN IKEA BED.

(Source: BBC)

That is a somewhat stunning and petrifying fact, are so many Europeans living below the poverty line that they are forced to shop at a furniture store which basically hacks down a pine tree, saws it into unfathomable chunks and leaves the rest to the consumer? Whatever, it certainly made me prick up my ears and take note of the IKEA phenomenon. Firstly I had to investigate who was behind it; actually I say ‘firstly’ but once you understand Mr I. Kea the key to its stronghold quickly unravels.

IKEA, you see, IS, like the British once was, a global Empire. Established in 1943 by  Ingvar Kamprad it now has stores in 25 countries and in 2010 had 590 million customers stealing pencils traipsing like herds of cattle, following the arrows through the relentless IKEA maze.

Hold the phone! Did I just write ‘established in 1943’? Who starts trading in bargain lampshades and sofa beds in the middle of World War Two and at the height of the Nazi regime? Sweden might have maintained a suspicious hush during those dark hours while the rest of us fought ivory-tooth and manicured-nail, but even for a ‘neutral’ country it seems a bit of a daft time to set up shop.

What kind of lunatic wanted to concern himself with living spaces and empire building during…OH MY GIDDY AUNT, NO.  Surely not, can you see where I might be going with this yet?

Of course, Adolf-bloody-Hitler, a man equally obsessed with living spaces, or lebensraum as he presumably shouted it as his troops trundled into Poland to make room for Germany’s back garden annex.

Both Adolf and Ingvar established themselves as empire builders, both were obsessed with living space and both did their darndest to do so as the WWII bombs fell. This is surely more than just a coincidence?

My darkest fears were soon realised. Now, this is not news to The Average Swede, but it may well shock my fellow Empirees to the very core. Mr Kamprad is so tainted with a Nazi past I’d be surprised if Hitler’s Nuremberg Rally podium was not the first bit of flat pack furniture sold under the fledgling IKEA name.

Kamprad WAS part of Sweden’s pro-fascist movement; he joined in 1942, just one year before IKEA was up and running. He both recruited for and pumped money into the right-wing group.

In 1943 Sweden’s secret service created a file listing him as a ‘Nazi’.

In a 2010 interview he described the leader of the fascist movement Per Engdahl as a ‘great man’ adding “I will maintain that as long as I live”. Per was invited to Kamprad’s wedding as part of his closest circle of friends.

So just remember, my dear Empirees, the next time you take that long journey out of town, the next time you are met by an army of uniformed ‘workers’ and join the depressed looking masses as they shuffle down the corridors of the vast warehouse…just remember one thing:


I bet the British War ‘Cabinet’ is solid oak and Chippendale crafted!

Toodle pip,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: It’s a lot easier to subscribe to the Dippylomat’s Dispatches than it is to build an IKEA chair.


Posted in Benjamin Disraeli, Ex pats, Gothenburg, history, Hodge Podge, Humour, Politics, RAF, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Dispatch #19 – Booze.

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 not considering.

I am partial to a sniff of post-dinner brandy, or a toast of Royal-wedding Champagne, I know my Chateâuneuf-du-Papes from my Chateâuneuf-du-Poops, but I drink out of duty to the Empire – I am neither teetotal or….Irish.

It was therefore only when I actually needed to buy a bottle of plonk that the Curious World of the Swedish Drunk unfolded before me. I was staying in and watching a DVD attending a dinner party hosted by the French Ambassador and his wife and needed a fine vintage red.

An unfortunate badger brush-related shaving incident had rendered me late for the dinner and I was teetering over the edge of being fashionably late to being rudely Spanishly mañana-ly late. As I trawled through the streets en route I desperately tried to find an off- licence in order to buy a fine bottle of vino, but alas I could not find one. I decided upon finding a supermarket instead, I may not be able to find a decent vintage there but ultimately, who cares, they’re French. Drat and blast, had I found the only supermarket outside Dubai which does not have a wine aisle? Zut alors, it’d have to be a corner shop, it may taste like a heady mix of anti-freeze and Old Spice aftershave, but who cares, they’re STILL French.

I arrived on their doorstep late, looking like I had been dragged through a pine forest backwards and, worse of all, sans vino, but who cares, they’re still….you know…, what do they know about wine anyway?

So why was it so dastardly difficult to get my hands on some squiffy inducing liquor when I most want to induce a state of liquor-fuelled squiffiness?

Because the ONE store which sells it….is always, when you MOST need it, flippin’ well closed! 

WHY?

To understand this we need to go way back, in fact way, way, way back to pre-history. While the rest of us soon-to-be-civilised countries were busy figuring out how to invent the Corby loin cloth press, the Swedes were busy inventing…alcoholism!

Boffin historians now know that ‘pre-historic beer’ was drunk in abundance by the Scandinavians. Apparently this was to balance the taste of their revolting diet of pickled herring and salted pork – any excuse, some might say. Ever since the Nordic countries have struggled to get back on the wagon – the fact that the ‘wagon’ is more often than not on ice, does not help matters.

Heard of the greenbelt? The Bible belt? What about the vodka belt?

That’s right; throughout the centuries those half-cut Swedes were so busy making vodka and moonshine out of their grain and potato that it threatened food supplies. There was a half-hearted attempt by King of Sweden Adolf Frederick, who first tried to poop the party and introduce laws in some shape or out-of-focus form. In 1766 he gave up all hope of sobering up the barbarian hoards – boozy, beery bedlam ensued.

At its drunkest peak 170,000 household distilleries were bubbling away making whatever they could to help ease their diet of pickled fish and almost EVERY male was considered to be a drunken abuser of alcohol; although if I were to be honest, if I had to eat a raw herring for every supper then I’d probably want a litre of Absolut vodka beforehand too.

A quick temperance movement and bucket of cold Baltic sea water later and in 1955 government-run offie Systembolaget was born – Sweden’s way of telling its citizens ‘if you are going to act like children, then we are going to treat you like children.’

Either way, the price of getting plastered in Sweden is more expensive than getting your six-bedroom manor house re-plastered in England; see a drunk lying in the street in Stockholm and you don’t think ‘poor guy’, you think ‘blimey, someone is doing alright for themselves’.

ADVICE TO WAR CABINET – Destroy the Systembolagets and attack during the inevitable hangover.

I should go, I need to brush the fact that a Brit drinks 3 litres more than a Swede every year under the reindeer skin rug.

Bottoms up,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: Carlsberg don’t write Dispatches, but if they did…they would ne nowhere near as good as the Dippylomat’s.

Posted in alcohol, Culture, Ex pats, France, Gothenburg, history, Humour, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dispatch #18 – Health.

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 not considering.

Just the other week I was relaxing in my drawing room musing that it has been almost a year now since I’ve had my bespoke brogues underneath the proverbial flat pack table that is Sweden. I have done my utmost best to assimilate myself with the strange Scandinavian ways which are practiced around my satellite English outpost.

But on reflection there was something which still bamboozled me; I have seen the consumption of copious cups of coffee that the Swedes drown themselves in on an hourly basis, I have watched in disgust as they fill their Baltic bellies with red-fleshed animals which should be caged in zoos rather than served on plates and I have recoiled in horror as plagues of pick and mixers lay bare the shelves of the numerous sweet stores. And yet still, and here’s the baffling bit, they maintain one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

As my chart displays, it is the soy-guzzling Japanese who grace this planet the longest; the Swedes surprisingly stand at No.7 and the Brits are at a somewhat embarrassing 20th place…even the French get to live longer than we do (source) – how’s that for rubbing heart-attack-inducing salt in the wound? I was left flummoxed, until…

Upon one morning while exiting my 24th floor penthouse suite I could hear my elderly and distinguished neighbour grappling with what I believe were her crutches; I was unaware she had sustained an injury but as the Gent I was born and raised to be I came to her aid before she cluttered to the floor. It was as I approached her that I came to realise that they were not crutches she was struggling with, but hiking sticks; as she so dutifully informed me, she was off on her daily 5km walk, to which she then added: “Jag är 81, du vet?” How remarkable, I pondered to myself as she blazed off in a cloud of lily of the valley-scented dust.

And then, before said dust had settled, I was forced to stop my purposeful stride as an elderly gentleman eagerly swooshed by me on his bicycle. And this is when it dawned on me, you can eat all the deep fried wild boar, drink all the caffeine-laced beverages and munch on all the salted liquorice your Scandinavian teeth and tummy lining can handle, just as long as you do so after burning more calories than a winning marathon runner after his ‘lap’ of honour. Not rocket science, I know, but how many of my fellow Empirees have a grandmother who boast they USED to run for their county but who now think that exercise is no more than holding a bingo card aloft and bellowing ‘house’. How many British grandfathers do they know who, as was ably demonstrated by a Swedish gent as if filming for ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘, rollerblade home with a weekly shop – a bulging carrier bag in each hand no less?

The Swedes are a relentlessly healthy bunch of scallywags and we should curse them for it – it makes us look bad and it may give them the edge when the conflict does not kicks off. If the greying generation is this fit then just imagine what the younger ones are like?

Advice to the War Cabinet: Use anti-exercise machine missiles and NOT anti-tank missiles.

Toodle pip,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: May I prescribe one Dispatch per week, to be taken with a pinch of salt and a tot of sherry.

Posted in diets, Ex pats, exercise, Food, France, Humour, sport, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Dispatch #17 – Food.

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 17: Food.

Go to the finest of the finer fine dining restaurants in all of Sweden and the menu will look like an ‘I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here‘ eating challenge, in fact it is only the Nordic palette which considers ‘gourmet’ what the Civilised World considers ‘cat food’.

Many of us curious cuisiners would have expressed a heartfelt and collective ‘YUCK’ when we are confronted by the fermented herring dish surströmming, but in reality it is only the most attention seeking hardiest of Swedes who consume the nauseating novelty dish. I would like to introduce both Embassy and Empirees to the far more popular Swedish food quirk lösgodis, or as we would know it ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ – the staple diet of shoplifting oiks from the estate Where the Wild Things Are.

I first stumbled upon the Swedish sweet fixation during my behind-enemy-lines training; my task was simple: rent a DVD which does not star Michael Caine or Roger Moore. On entrance to the rental outlet I assumed I had failed at my first hurdle – all I could see were aisles and aisles of sweets before me – it was like crash landing on the inevitable Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stage show. In fact so much floor space had been reserved for tooth-rotting snacks that the film shelves were so sparsely stocked that the only films with Swedish stars in ALSO featured Roger Moore.

But soon I realised that it was not just video shops which stocked gelatin-based products on such a large scale, far from it indeed; almost anywhere which accepts the kronor currency will probably be able to flog you a diabetic-coma inducing bag of sour wriggly bits of jelly. To say the Swedes have a bit of a sweet tooth is an understatement of gross proportions.

Records show that lösgodis became increasingly popular from the late 1930s when it was sold in jars behind counters. The key sugar-coated year was 1985 when the National Food Administration, for reason unfathomable to this particular Brit, recommended to the Health Department that anyone looking for their next sugar rush should be able to both pick and mix themselves. The idea came from three Finnish businessmen who by COMPLETE coincidence happened to own a candy brand.

Prices dropped, distribution increased and now Sweden is one of the largest pick and mix importers in the world; the fact that council estate dietary cornerstone Haribo is produced just a hop, skip and a bridge away in Denmark cannot help matters. Indeed the average Swede eats 18 KILOGRAMS of pick and mix A YEAR – that is more than any other nation! On average 100 million bags are sold a year, each weighing around 350grams and containing 1,600 calories.

My advice to the War Cabinet: Attack during the sugar crash and NOT the sugar rush.

I should go; I need to glaze my roast wolf cub dinner – bon appetit!

Toodle pip,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: Unless you have candy floss for brains, you should probably subscribe!

Posted in Benjamin Disraeli, diets, Finland, Food, Humour, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dispatch #16 – Television.

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 16: Television.

My unrelenting summer soiree season is over, the natives are starting to retreat from their obscure crayfish-chomping dog day festivities; everyone is preparing to bed down for the ensuing winter months. Yesterday evening I sat down, cranked up my television and wondered if I could decipher Sweden’s broadcasting output.

By Jove, it was a lot easier than anticipated.

The first channel I found at random was airing BBC’s loathsome attempt to mock the upper middle classes ‘Keeping Up Appearances‘, another click and now I am watching English-spoken ‘Friends‘ – a show so bland I am surprised the DVD box sets are not kept with the muesli in supermarket aisles. Speaking of ‘supermarkets’, here is Jamie Oliver on Swedish TV – speaking his own peculiar version of English – advertising the equivalent of Sainsbury’s:

I was starting to wonder if Sweden had any broadcasting output of its own, indeed many of its channels are actually broadcast from the UK. The reasons why are neither here nor there but take the Swedish version of lower-class entertainment tripe factory ITV, it is called TV3 and is beamed into 80% of Swedish homes. But try and send it a telegram and you discover it is actually based and broadcast from, of all places, Chiswick High Road, London.

I loathe to say I ‘channel surf’, that is so crass and antipodean – I channel sauntered and finally came to rest upon interior design makeover show Sveriges fulaste hem. I tried to compute what co-presenter Tomas Cederlund was rabbiting on about but before I had a chance to look up ljuskrona in my trusty Hurdy gurdy to English dictionary a sound came from my television – a sound which brought back images of the rolling green fields of England, a sound as rich and as inspiring as the opening strains of Sir Hubert Parry’s hymn Jerusalem.

The sound was the voice of one Mr Simon Davies. 

While I hastily scribble these Dispatches and while the Foreign Office’s War Cabinet don’t pour over military strategies, Mr S Davies esq, the unknown shining beacon of Empire Building has without hesitation rolled up his sleeves and got to work. Mr S Davies esq, we salute you.

Lesser ex-pats have succumbed to ‘blending in’, but the audacious Mr Davies has waded into a prime time TV show studio where he tells a country, which prides itself on interior design, how they should furnish their homes..IN ENGLISH! While his Swedish counterpart mutters on incomprehensively, the bold bellowing English patter dictates The Way It Should Be. He peppers his script with the occasional Swedism, but this is done for comic effect, almost as if he was mocking.

We have a Mole in place, how long will it be before the average Swedish home starts to look radically different?

In Simon Davies’ hands we trust.

Could this be a casualty-free campaign? Could this war be won by propoganda alone? In previous battles we have needed to rule the air, perhaps Sweden could be defeated by the airwaves?

I am off to re-write ‘‘Allo ‘Allo!‘ for a Swedish audience, keep an eye out for ‘Hej Hej!‘.

Toodle pip,




ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: You don’t need to perform a miracle to help the Empire, just subscribe to these Dispatches and I will do the rest.

Posted in Benjamin Disraeli, Ex pats, Humour, Stockholm, Sweden, Television, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Dispatch #15 ~ Royalty.

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 15: Royalty .

‘For King & Country’ – that mantra is the (partially blue) lifeblood which pulses through me, that is not the reason I travel to these far-flung lands in the pursuit of Empire Building. Of course I say ‘King’ because in my humble opinion it is the kings who have built this formerly great Empire, all the Queens do/did is/was keep it tidy.

Anyway, I digress, if the Empire is to sponge up Sweden then any reigning monarchy needs to be considered – are they worthy of representing the True Crown?

When I was first posted here I was sent deep undercover; I was taught to dress and behave like a native and located in what I can only describe as a ghetto in order to fully satiate life here. Only after I could look and feel comfortable in a jumper that most of the Civilised World would consider an embarrassing Christmas gift from an elderly aunt was I considered to be a convincing Swedish gent

During this period I was informed by the local newspaper my HQ that not just the city, but the very neighbourhood in which I resided was due a visit from no less than the King of Sweden. Not only does a regal visit send a shiver of excitement down my spine but this would also prove an excellent surveillance opportunity.

From my third storey vantage point I could see the road he was due to grace; I did remark as to why a King would want to soil his Royal Soles on such a ghastly and run down area, maybe it was akin to Lady Di tip-toeing over a Bosnian minefield?

I sat and waited in anticipation, I do love a royal fanfare. He was due sometime around midday; 12am came and went, 1pm and not so much as a police cordon or a Special Forces helicopter buzzing over head, 2pm and not even a sniff of a man in a suit and mirrored sunglasses talking into his lapel – had the King cancelled? Had the Royal Volvo been in a prang with a wild boar en route?

No, he had not and no it hadn’t. Later it transpired that he and the royal entourage had been, shaken a few hands, cut a ribbon and left – not a pomp or a ceremony in sight. No one other than passer-bys gave a hoot – poor ol’ Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus of Sweden.

But why such apathy?

To find out, I trawled through the Swedish Royal Family Tree; what would await me? Medieval blood feuds? Civil wars? Barbaric executions using reindeer antlers and a five-year-old herring? Possibly even tracing back the regal bloodline to the 9th century and a Viking whose name would have to be bleeped out by the BBC because it sounds like ‘#%*@’?

NOPE!

The tree starts like any other modern day royal family, namely princes and princesses who try to act like normal people – having jobs, driving their own cars, flushing their own toilets. But this particular family tree takes a strange curve just as the wigs are getting properly silly. All of a sudden there are fewer and fewer ‘Gustafs’ and more and more ‘Jean Pauls’, and then, like an Englishman on page one of an IKEA assembly guide, it stops.

You see, up until 18th Century the blue (and yellow in Sweden’s case) blood was running a bit thin; sure they had had their fair share of men in tights who had the thickest armour and thickest castle walls but more kings and queens were dying off than in the Russian Annual Chess Tournament.

So what did the Swedes do? The answer is the biggest FAUX PAS until Princess Diana’s chauffeur thought ‘I’ll speed up a bit, that’ll lose ’em’. Seeing as Napoleon was still all the rage back then, the Swedes kick started its defunct royal family with a man called Jean Bernadotte, born in France and a general in the French army but hey,who cares? Let’s make him the King. The House of Bernadotte reign in all its garlic-scented glory to this very day. So, who really does support the Swedish Royal Family…?


I am off to watch my ‘Highlights of the Greatest Battles – Agincourt’ DVD- don’t ruin it for me; I’ve been avoiding the result until now!

Au revoir Toodle pip,





ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: Due to an unfortunate incident while riding my boneshaker and a wild boar trampling over my internet connection, this Dispatch is late…back on schedule this Friday.



Posted in Ex pats, France, history, Humour, RAF, Royalty, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Dispatch #14 – Fashion.

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 14: Fashion.

Enough hair lacquer to give the follicle appearance of a baby seal, a trouser crease sharp enough to shave with, shoes shined so bright they can burn retinas and…sock garters – the cornerstones of a gentleman’s fashion sense.

Prissing and preening and being besottedly preoccupied by  your attire is the frivolous distraction of the proletariat and not befitting those of us with more urgent and pressing matters to attend to, like not building an Empire.

It is not my concern how a nation dresses, I have no interest in prying into Sweden’s self-assembled wardrobes – people can wear whatever the devil they choose – it does, however, help identify those who will help manage the new Empire and those of who will have to help clean the new Empire.

While I may not adhere to seasonal fashion trends, I am at least aware of them – I say ‘aware’, what I actually mean is ‘wear less tweed in the summer’. I do appreciate however that most of The Civilised World alter what they pluck from the wardrobe according to the four seasons. The ultimate shallow goal is to reach the peak of fashion no matter the reading of the barometer.

However, Sweden, from my experience, only has two seasons and therefore only two modes of dress. I first crash landed on these partially-Arctic-Circle-covered lands during its fleeting summer months weeks days and I was quite unprepared for this, and I have to confess that perhaps a straw boater would have been more suitable than a top hat.

The Swedes very much conform to their national stereotype; they are all blond(e), tall and good looking – apart from, that is, the shorter, darker haired, fatter, uglier ones. What you will find however is that throughout the summer they all dress somewhat fashionably…albeit far too informally for my liking. The towns are full of chicly dressed natives spanning the whole age spectrum – you literally feel like you’ve crash landed into an H&M fashion shoot

But then something happens, the summer QUICKLY comes to an abrupt halt; the balmy days are over before you can say “chuck another reindeer hoof on the barbecue, Sven”. And then this happens and before you know it the linen slacks and flouncy blouses are bumped back into the darkest recesses of the wardrobe WINTER IS HERE.

There are, apparently, no ‘in-between’ seasons; there is never a season when you wear more than a t-shirt and less than an Arctic-proof coat or less than an all-in-one reindeer hide jumpsuit and more than a skirt no larger than the average cravat. You go from wearing your espadrilles and looking like you belong in a Wham! video to wearing a pair of climbing spikes and looking like you are off to conquer the North Pole by foot – even though all you are doing is popping out for some milk.

So there you have it, you can be as tall and as blonde and as beautiful as you like, for 98% of the year, and as far as the rest of the world can tell, you all look the same, and you all look like this:

I should make haste, the end of August is nigh and that always heralds the start of the National Tobogganing Trials.

Toodle pip,









ATTENTION BOTH FELLOW COUNTRYMEN & NATIVES: Theologians have discovered there were actually ELEVEN Commandments:

11. ‘Thou shalt subscribe to The Northern Plights’


Posted in Benjamin Disraeli, British Government, Culture, Ex pats, Fashion, Foreign Office, Humour, RAF, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dispatch #13 – Politics

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 13: Politics.

Picture, if you will, the Ambassadors of the Free World sitting at a banquet table in order to put the world to further wrongs rights. There would be the United States (on a witch hunt after he heard one of the chefs was a ‘commis’), Germany (complaining that the starter is 0.0001 seconds late), the Japanese (wondering where the ‘on switch’ is on the cutlery) and, of course, the British dictating etiquette and in polite banter with a lady delegate from Brazil. Sweden would be at the children’s table getting ‘the evil eye’ from Afghanistan sitting on the nearby naughty step.

This is where Sweden is currently placed among the lesser-spotted hoi polloi of Countries Which Need To Try Harder:

But it doesn’t have to be this way; Britain doesn’t want, nay doesn’t NEED, its Future Member States to carry with them a bit of clout – we just don’t have the winter wardrobe to head north to administer a bit of Anglo discipline.

So, here is The Dippylomat’s Guide to Adult Politics:

Primarily, politicians need to both act and look the part; take those scallywag British Members of Parliaments, for example.  Not a good family friend Baron Martin of Springburn decided his pad needed a lick of paint and his good lady wife should have a little party to celebrate, this cost the UK tax payer a measly £1,700,000 (17,000,000 Swedish Kronor). Now that may seem pricey if your pay slip has ‘IKEA’ printed at the top of it, but don’t trust me, the place looks AMAZING and the shindig was an absolute hoot. Why should it be considered a ‘scandal’ to lead by example? To show people what they must strive for? How it is achieved should be by the by. In contrast, and across the North Sea, Swede Mona Sahlin , while looking like an underworld femme fatale, was embroiled in the somewhat pathetic Toblerone Affair. It was discovered she had purchased – using taxpayers’ (possibly) hard-earned cash – not one, but TWO bars of the mediocre chocolate snack – she later resigned after it was revealed she had also not paid her TV licence. What kind of example does it set if you rise to the top of the political heap and still need to steal confectionery? A very bad one, I’d suggest.

Politicians need to carry with them a certain air of dignity. When commuting you will rarely see a British MP on the wrong side of a tinted Mercedes Benz window, but has there ever been a worse example set on how to travel than by loony-liberal Marit Paulsen?

I almost choked on my Courvoisier when I read what I thought was an expose on this lady’s lifestyle. It turned out that the story was not the discovery of underhand journalistic tactics but an open admission, and dare I say, boast of Mrs Paulson.

She had been blessed with the honour of attending Brussels as a Member of the European Parliament. A wide array of transport methods opened up to her; how was she going to get to work? Turbo reindeer, Saab-sponsored huskies wearing jetpacks…at the very least a private jet flown by the lead singer of The Cardigans? But no, what did she plump for?

A caravan…A CARAVAN, which she parked up outside of the city. Do we want our countries to be governed by men and women who live in manor houses and arrive by chauffeur-driven limousines or gypsies who trundle in with sticky shoes because they have just had to use the communal campsite latrines? This is NOT the impression The Empire will want any of its representatives to give; it is a lot easier to hide fraudulent expenses claims under a pile of paperwork than it is to hide the fact that you spent the night sleeping on a foldout bed which doubles as a kitchen work surface. And consider, what is more embarrassing: being caught for illegally living in a castle or stealing a bar of chocolate; being told you can no longer claim a helicopter on expenses or paying a fine because your caravan was illegally parked?

I have to pop off to a meeting with my accountant, Fraudrik Tåxdödjberg.


Toodle pip,









ATTENTION BOTH FELLOW COUNTRYMEN & NATIVES: While these Dispatches are not meant for the Foreign Office, they also double as an excellent guide for tourists and anyone planning to relocate to Sweden. Subscribe for future Dispatches.



Posted in Benjamin Disraeli, British Government, Culture, Ex pats, Humour, Politics, RAF, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Dispatch #12 – Empire

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 not considering.

DISPATCH 12: Empire.

I feel like my grasp on Swedish history is ever increasing – to be honest, once you’ve sketched and coloured in a picture of a Viking boat you are pretty much half way there. But a painful and unfortunate mishap led me to discover a whole new chapter of the Nordic peninsula.  What should have been a pleasant, warm summer evening stroll ended in disaster when I stubbed my toe on a statue of this gentleman

As I rested on the plinth to check for war wounds I noticed a plaque; I was eager to discover who the dastardly culprit was who had left me partially incapacitated so consulted my Hurdy-gurdy-to-English dictionary. It was here that I read the words that made my monocle slip in shock: ‘…during the Swedish Empire’.

How and when on Britain’s God’s green earth did the Swedes EVER build an Empire, and more importantly, was it a flat pack Empire?

I’ll be scant with the whys and wherefores, the statue was of Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna and he was a big cheese when the Swedes wanted an extension to their, already massive, country. It’s all a bit of a dim and distant memory now, but the Empire spanned – I say ‘spanned’, what I actually mean is ‘spilled’ – over neighbouring borders from 1561 to 1721.

Let’s cut to the chase – how could an inconsequential medieval country like Sweden ever conquer anything more than a mild case of gout? The answer is ‘easily’ as long as you go for soft targets.

Here is the Swedish Empire at its peak:

Look what they did here, this is what I refer to as ‘Slipper Warfare’, as in ‘I am only popping next door, do I really need to put my shoes on or should I just wear my slippers?’ This is a very slow way to make any progress.

So here is The Dippylomat’s Guide to Empire Building.

Firstly, choose your natives carefully; go to where the locals are friendly, like India; go where they have a valuable commodity, like tea. DON’T go to where the national drink is vodka and where the only reason the inhabitants do not defend their land is because they CAN’T defend their land. Invade and conquer countries where Your Own People™ might actually want to live; ask yourself ‘do we really need more bleak wasteland?’

Don’t be shy about setting your sights further than what lies beyond your own borders – there’s a whole world out there, why would you NOT invade it? If you limit yourself to neighbouring nations then you pretty much get more of what you already have; variety is the spice of life and if there is a spice you can’t grow, then plunder a country which can. At its peak the British Empire covered 37, 700, 000 sq kilometres and the Swedish Empire covered a paltry 1, 100,000 sq kilometres.  This is why The Empire Commonwealth still owns The Bahamas and you Swedes no longer own any part of Norway – ambition. So there you have it, my Swedish potential Empirees, before you get your reindeer-fur knickers in a twist at the sight of an advancing British Army, instead of grabbing your snow shovel and trying to protect your wood cabin, have a little think about being part of an Empire which includes sandy tropical beaches and not countries with rugged coastline littered with beached whales.

It has been a long day and I need a drink, now where can I get a decent shot of vodka?

Toodle pip,









ATTENTION BOTH FELLOW COUNTRYMEN & NATIVES: Got something to say, then say it. Want to be part of The Empire Community now the European Union is going down the toilet? THIS IS WHERE IT BEGINS.

Posted in British Government, Ex pats, Finland, Foreign Office, Gothenburg, history, Humour, India, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, Tea, The Bahamas, Travel, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments