So Denmark is so far treating me good. We’ve been here for just over five months now.
The move was probably the most stressful thing I’ve done in my life. Not so much the drive across Europe, but the prep before and the unpacking after. We still have about dozen boxes left to unpack. I’ve just put my weight back on. Lost about a stone, due to said packing /unpacking and house renovation. Had my mum and dad come over from Jamaica. Still enjoying marital bliss.
The Danes are interesting people; filled with idiosyncrasies and contradiction.
For example, they’re big – I mean really big on tradition and family values. Don’t get between a Dane and their chosen Christmas tree in December…you will witness the Viking spirit come out like the Ghost of Christmas Past. And shops close EARLY at the weekend! Yeah, the reverse of probably anywhere else in Northern Europe. The reason? Because the weekend is family time. Beautiful!
At the same time, whilst at home with your family watching an entertainment show like say X-Factor you’ll hear the f-word and any of its ordinarily bleeped cousins sporadically inserted into dialogue and interviews as though it were an ‘Amen’ at church. Turn on their equivalent of BBC Radio 1 during the school run and you’ll encounter the N-word in all its glory. The land where Thomas Blachman (a judge on Danish X-Factor – like Simon Cowell, only less toned, engaging and tall) gets a show where he and a co-host watch a girl strip and critique her body. The country that was the first in Europe to legalise porn…apparently.
In personal company the Danes are also big on polite protocol. All meals must be concluded with the words “Tak for mad” or “Thank you for the meal” in English. This must be said when the meal is finished and not before. That said, the same Dane in a supermarket will barge you into a stack of cat food and not say damn a word. Literally nothing. Hold a door open for your average Dane, but don’t expect a thank you – it won’t come. At first being a Brit, I thought everyone was simply rude, but I realise now that it’s a cultural thing. It’s just they way people interact here. I got talking to a neighbour, who described the politeness of the Aussies as verging on insanity. “You bump into them, and they say ‘sorry’. Crazy people!” He hasn’t been to the UK yet.
All that said, I love it here. The traditions are charming, but still they’ve adopted innovative systems that just work. For example, your national health card isn’t something you file away and forget, but a chip card you use every time you use the health service. If you go to any hospital department, you swipe your card and you’re in the queue. If a doctor writes a prescription, you take your card to any pharmacy in the country, swipe and they instantly have your prescription on file.
The countryside is beautiful. And there’s certain ways of life that you just don’t see very often – a rare innocence I guess: in rural areas, like where we live, you’ll regularly pass unmanned kiosks, where people leave their produce; Apples from their tree, spare cabbages from their veg patch. Beside the product you’ll see a price, a scale perhaps and a tray with money. You walk up, take what you want and leave the money in the tray. What??!!