Friday, 24 August 2012

Week16: Swedish moral gone too far

This week I’ve been to work with my host who is a librarian. Apart from being a bit more organised (even the picture books are in alphabetical order), her library wasn’t that different to the libraries I’ve worked at in England. What surprised me more was an official sign on the notice board informing me that smoking was banned during work hours.

I’m not a smoker and I’m by no means supporting smoking as I know people who have died painful deaths because of it. It’s fair enough to ban smoking inside work places and perhaps stretch it to outside the work building if it irritates other people, but to ban it altogether? I’d call that discrimination. One reason for the ban is that ”no customer or citizen should be exposed to people smoking or smelling of smoke during work hours”. What’s next? Will garlic be banned as well? And what if someone gets exposed to a member of staff chewing gum or sucking on a cough sweet? Isn’t it your own responsibility if you want to ruin your lungs or teeth?

When I asked my host what she would not miss about Sweden if she lived abroad she said ”It can be a bit too moralising sometimes, but it’s not only bad, it depends on how much I agree”. She’s right. I think the smoking ban in pubs that came into force in Sweden in 2005 and in England in 2007 is great, but I don’t mind if someone wants to smoke outside - whether it’s during work or party hours doesn’t matter.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Swenglish so far, a Poem

Swenglish - so far

I've been a fly on the wall,
a spy in the everyday life
of my friends

The walls between
me and other people
have become thin
like five-pound notes

I’ve shared their
fry-ups and Sunday roasts
their fish ‘n’ chips
and Marmite toast

I’ve read stories to little brats
and battled with wild cats
I’ve cleared up domestic mess
God bless the English
- keep calm and carry on!

I’ve met fussy tea drinkers
and heavy deep thinkers
Mediation and dance
Taking a chance
when quizzing in a pub
surviving the greasy grub

Bubbling and squeaking
I’m sick of toilets
that don’t flush and I blush
like the Setting Sun
when I think of all the fun
conversations I’ve had
in bedrooms and bathrooms

I’ve slept in a caravan
in kitchens and public houses
Cheers! Another pint,
I feel frail after all the real ale
Beer Festivals and Red Tents
I’ve been up on the Downs
for countryside strolls
and lost control
of weeds in gardens

I’ve climbed walls
and I’ve painted walls
I’ve been off the wall
and driven my friends up the wall

One woman nearly slapped me
but I felt more numb
when this guy rubbed my bum

Breaking down the wall
between Sweden and England
I’m  not Swedish, I’m not English
I’m Swenglish!

©Lou Ice 2012

I wrote this poem, looking back on the fifteen weeks I spent with fifteen different people in England this spring and early summer. I've only got a couple of days left of my break that I've spent in and around my hometown Nässjö. On Sunday I move in with the first person in Sweden who lives in Malmö in the South, and later on this autumn I'll go all the way up to Umeå in the North. I'm excited and ready to hit the road again! 

If you want to know more about my project please subscribe to my blog posts by typing in your email address in the box to the right below the "about me" picture. You can read more about my Swenglish project here.

Photo by Adriana Pusha who works for Brighton and Hove TV that are making a documentary about Swenglish.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

WeekX: Make a Wish - but Not for Vegetarians

The woman I stayed with during week 3  asked me if I wanted to make a wish. Sure, I said. But when I found out that the wish involved chicken bones I changed my mind ... It's an old English tradition to break off one part each of a chicken bone - whoever gets the biggest piece is allowed to make a wish. I haven't seen this tradition in Sweden, perhaps because I'm too young or because I mainly hang out with other vegetarians.

My host put all the chicken bones together and made a star. She called this piece of art "Unfulfilled" ...


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Week X: The Freedom to Roam - Allemansrätten

In Sweden it's legal to put up a tent anywhere in nature for one night without asking for permission. This "right" is part of something called Allemansrätten ("Everyman's Right") and basically means that you've got the freedom to roam in nature.  Allemansrätten is not a law but is inscribed into one of Sweden's four constitutions and is unique for the Nordic countries.

Over the weekend I went camping with my friends on Öland - a Swedish island in the Baltic sea. We took a chance and followed a dirt track down to the sea and put up our tent. It stank of cowpat and seaweed, but I experienced a real sense of freedom and the sunset was a beauty. Some of us also had a (naked) bath in the sea. The cows left us alone, although some birdwatchers woke us up in the morning ...

(I've camped in "the wild" in England too, so it's possible. Now I almost missed the excitement of the risk that a farmer would come by with his gun ... )