Archive for July, 2006

Banking

Ever get the feeling you’ve been plunged into some kind of psychological hinterland, populated variously by characters from the Chuckle Brothers and Superted?

This surreal borderland, an interzone between reality and opiate-induced phantasmagoria, was where I found myself earlier today after talking to my bank manager.

I suspect Lewis Carroll had a similar conversation before embarking on Alice Through the Looking-Glass.

Once in, it is difficult to escape from this world. You’re trapped in a place where Bananaman rules with an iron fist and mankind’s apparent saviour is a glove puppet called Sooty.

Only Sooty’s attempts at ridding the world of this tyrannical menace are constantly undone by a pink, cigar-smoking anteater.

At every turn, your attempts to establish sense and order are thwarted. Usually by a flying teddy bear in a cape.

Just when you think you’ve navigated the pitfalls of Castle Greyskull, you end up back at the beginning of the maze, a smiling robot called Spotty politely declaring that you’ve breached some obscure bylaw.

Your last thought, as your fist smashes into the phone and your girlfriend runs screaming into the street, is: ‘Why me?’

And the real horror of the situation is revealed – it’s me because the universe is a colossal mass of indifference. My fate is not pre-determined or a result of some karmic retribution.

It is just the way of things. Some of us are destined to perish at the hands of moustachioed removal men, our screams mute to all but an uncaring God.

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Linguistics

Well, it’s finally happened.

Anne has laid down the law and told me that it’s time I learnt the language.

So now she is only speaking to me in Danish. Needless to say, this is quite testing.

We went to the beach earlier and we started talking about dinner.

‘Jeg villle onske at jeg havde taget et par underbukser med,’ said Anne.

‘You will cook dinner in your underpants this evening?’ I asked.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride methinks.

Music for films

I saw a couple of films for the second time recently. Garden State and Napoleon Dynamite.

I don’t normally like re-watching films but I just stumbled on these two and got straight back into them.

They both have several gorgeous scenes but the two most notable, in my humble opinion, are as follows:

Garden State: When Natalie Portman gives Zach Braff her headphones and you hear the briefest smidgeon of The Shins’ New Slang.

Napoleon Dynamite: The final scene when Napoleon plays swingball with his girlfriend and The Promise by When in Rome plays.

Both these songs got me rummaging round the net in search of them and I’m listening to The Shins as I type this. Incidentally, you can find both tracks on Hype Machine.

Sometimes a song just hooks me completely and takes me somewhere different.

So that’s where I am now; the sun beaming in through the window and my freshly applied deoderant faring badly against the onset of a fresh sweat!

Have a good weekend folks.

Update

In case you’re wondering where I’ve got to, I’m still marooned in England. There’s lots I would like to write but, as I have already said, I don’t want this blog to be a depressing experience for readers!

I also want to keep it fairly tight to its theme and to that end I’ve been thinking a bit more about how I’d like Something Rotten to develop.

One thing I noticed when I first arrived in Copenhagen was – the Copenhagen Post aside – there was almost no worthwhile information for expats. Especially not online.

My mini Rough Guide is decent enough but having an information resource on the net would have been invaluable.

I’m back on the 26th and I want to get moving with a few ideas – more bar and cafe reviews, some better photos etc. I am also going to start a fashion section. Copenhagen is bursting with talented young designers who don’t get enough exposure.

I am also going to do a regular interview feature, preferably with an expat who has started a business or venture in Copenhagen. I think it could be interesting to talk to them about the city – get their views on the best areas, bars and so on.

So stay tuned, I’ll be back soon!

Wilkinson’s

My lovely Danish girlfriend came and visited me here in St Albans at the weekend.

Well, I thought she’d come just to see me but as the weekend wore on, her true motives were revealed.

I should have seen the signs when she said the first thing she wanted to do was go to Wilkinson’s.

Hmm, I thought. Fair enough, maybe she has a pressing need for some feminine necessity. Best not to ask too many questions.

Her eyes lit up as we crossed the threshold – in front of us was a huge vat containing packs of three washing-up brushes. Price: 40p.

‘For helvede,’ she muttered.

‘So cheap.’

Into the basket they went and we were off.

Next stop was the hair-care aisle for an industrial-sized bottle of Tres Semme conditioner.

What followed was a maelstrom of bargain personal hygiene and household sundries shopping. I didn’t say anything. Women will be women, I reasoned.

But next day was market day. Sweet baby Jesus and the orphans, it was as though all her Christmases had come at once.

Every stall was plundered for comparatively cheaply-priced goods.

And then it was the clothes shops.

It’s too painful to recall that section of the afternoon.

By now I could see the wood for the trees. She hadn’t come to see me at all, I merely represented a convenient staging post for her trips to the shops.

I felt sullied. Used and abused. She must have sensed my disgruntlement as she consented to a trip to Ann Summers.

Small mercies.

God knows how she crammed all the stuff into her suitcase.

Curse you Wilkinson’s and the hold you have on women from expensive Scandinavian countries.

Curse you England, you nasty consumer paradise.

Lies

I was at a BBQ at the weekend and someone asked me a few questions about Denmark – what the Danes are like, what their work culture is, whether there are differences in social gatherings etc.

I’d had a couple of cans and found myself spouting on like I was some kind of cultural oracle. Anything you could have asked me about Denmark, I’d have known the answer. The beauty of it was they had no way of knowing whether or not I was talking out of my arse.

As far as they were concerned, Denmark begins and ends with what I told them.

Here’s a list of some of the things I largely made up:

1: There is no real class system in Denmark. A refuse collector is thought of as the equal of any loafer-clad City boy.

2: It is a massive faux pas to allude to your own skills or accomplishments. Being big-headed in Denmark is akin to kidnapping babies.

3: There is almost no crime in Denmark. And there are certainly no chavs. Kids who step out of line are routinely recruited into the Army (at gunpoint) and have their impish tendencies thrashed out of them.

4: There are barely any cars in Copenhagen. Car-ownership is looked down on. In the same way us Brits like ganging up on mums who drive 4x4s, Danes like nothing better than randomly smashing windscreens and stuffing spuds up exhaust pipes. These are not counted as crimes.

5: You can leave your bike unlocked wherever you go. A passer-by who sees that you have just nipped into the shops to pick up a crate of Tuborg will stand guard for you, thus ensuring no-one nabs it.

6: It’s the law to own a bicycle. Children who can’t ride a two-wheeler by the time they are three are ostracised. And occasionally beaten.

7: Danish people are uniformly racist. It’s not their fault though as in the 1950s the Government brought out a collection of anti-immigrant children’s books which it was compulsory to read to your kids.

And so on.

You can see I was getting a bit carried away owing to the San Miguel but it’s not so far from the truth.

Honest.

Finger

Back in the UK and back to work tomorrow. I’ve spent most of today on the sofa after an epic binge yesterday with my best friend, Tom.

He’s over from Oz for a few weeks and we decided to celebrate our reunion by doing what we do best – getting smashed and breaking things.

This time he managed to break a very expensive digital camera and I broke a finger after slamming it in a cab door. Ouch.

Before leaving Copenhagen I met with an English friend out there, Alan (see link on the right) and he mentioned that he had a friend who teaches English at private schools and embassies. He’s promised to put us in touch anyway. Who knows, it could lead to a job.

Given how things have gone so far, I won’t be holding my breath!