That was the question a lot of people asked me when I was back in England over the weekend.
‘What’s the difference between here and Denmark?’
‘Why do you like it so much?’
Having been back in Copenhagen for a day and allowed my observations to coalesce a little, I think what I will do is let one little snapshot of my visit home be my answer.
It was Sunday morning, and I was visiting my grandfather. I’d just had a tasty bacon sandwich and a cup of tea and I noticed that a car boot sale (a kind of loppemarked) was going on at the school opposite his house.
I told my grandad that I was going to take a quick stroll round the sale and off I went.
Once there, I made my way quickly down each aisle of cars, not wanting to lose too much of the time I had left to be with my grandfather. But at one stall, I saw a few books that looked interesting and so I stopped.
I stooped down to examine them and saw that beside me a mother was telling off her child. At first it was nothing too serious, but her scolding gradually increased in vehemence until finally she had the boy – who could not have been more than four – by the wrist and was yelling that she ‘was really going to hurt him’ in a minute.
I felt sick. In more than 20 months of living in Denmark I have never encountered anything like that and I was shocked at my sensitivity to it. It’s pretty routine in England to threaten children in that way, and sadly amost as common to carry out the threat.
I don’t go in for stereotypes, or mass generalisations. But i’m afraid that one incident illustrates in a nutshell why I’m here, and not there.