Published September 18, 2007
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.
Published September 5, 2007
In recent days, the weather here in Copenhagen has turned distinctly brisk.
The leaves desert the trees, I’ve swapped my quilt for a duvet, and tonight I’ve dug out my pyjamas for the first time since February.
I thought this would make me sad, but in fact the opposite is the case.
The cold, bracing air has brought with it many happy memories… strange how changes in temperature can impact our moods and sensory impressions so profoundly.
Copenhagen is bewitching at this time of year… rosy-cheeked girls on bikes, beautiful couples hurrying home to snuggle on sofas, friends gathering in cosy cafes to catch up on each others’ lives.
I’ve often felt peripheral to the lives of the cities I’ve lived in, but it’s different here.
It’s as though the sharp demarcation of the seasons creates a more acute sense of communality. I’m happy to be here, and happy to discover what the next day will bring, and the next.
Published September 2, 2007
Copenhagen , Danish life
Well, they never really went away actually. But last night was their biggest action for a while.
Yesterday marked six months since the demolition of Ungdomshuset and the milestone was celebrated with customary restraint by the activists – a looting and rioting spree in Nørrebro.
TV2 has the full story here, while English readers can get more info from the Beeb here.
On a related note, when they’re not raping and pillaging around Nørrebro, the activists are busy with a campaign to persuade the government to furnish them with a new home, an old waterworks on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
They say that unless their demands are met by October 6 – G-Dag – there is going to be trouble. Big trouble.
Read about Aktion G13 here.
Update: Fellow Cph blogger Isabel found herself caught up in proceedings last night; my pics following the aftermath of the December 16 Ungdomshuset riots last year.
Published August 10, 2007
Copenhagen , Danish life
I love my bike, I love biking in Copenhagen. This video helps to explain why.
Published August 1, 2007
My friend Mikael is going to be increasingly busy over the next few months as his film starts pre-production and so he’s asked me to lend a hand with his cycle culture blog – Cycleliciousness.
Take a look, it’s a wonderful insight into the nuts and bolts of Copenhagen bike culture, encompassing history, advocacy, and all the minutiae inbetween.
I just hope I can keep up his good work!
Published July 26, 2007
The shit is really gonna hit the fan here . . .
Dane Michael Rasmussen had been leading the Tour de France for the past 10 days and was basically set to win the whole event.
But suspicions that he has been cheating had been growing and it seems that for one reason or another, his team felt those suspicions left them with little choice but to sack him.
It’s difficult to convey to readers back home how deeply ingrained cycling in all its forms is in the national psyche here.
Also, Denmark’s comparatively small size leads to a situation where individuals who make an impact on the world stage – either sporting or cultural – achieve almost God-like status here.
Danish cultural mores mean that those individuals, such as Rasmussen, are not viewed as superior or intrinsically more worthy than anyone else, but are instead celebrated for demonstrating Danish excellence abroad.
Rasmussen would not have been a popular winner of le Tour, but the Chicken, as he is known here, would nevertheless have struck a blow on the global stage for his compatriots.
Denmark is one big family. This will hit them hard.