Un petit fille fou-chien, Sauna Football and the curious case of the Swedish intro/extravert

Bonjour,

Probably the hardest thing about moving abroad is leaving behind friends and family. Obviously the communication revolution of the past 15/20 years has given us all a multitude of devices and techniques to stay in touch. What you can’t replicate though is being there in person, and it’s especially hard when something ‘big happens’.

Now the reason for this somewhat random opening is that this week there was some brilliant news from back in England. Maddog and his wonderful wife Maddy were celebrating the birth of their first child, Élodie Bea Maddock. It’s hard to express what fantastic news this is and how happy we are for both of them. But it does bring home the fact that living abroad is not without its downsides.

I suppose my point is this. Don’t put off meeting that friend or family member you’ve not seen for ages for lunch, a drink after work or a coffee sometime. Yea you can text, call, Skype and all that other stuff, but you really can’t beat a good of bit of face time … and no, not ‘facetime’, I mean facetime… ah, you get the idea…

So anyway, I’ve finally sorted out some football… now please bear with me. I am acutely aware that not everyone shares my love of football, so this will be a sideways look at things I promise.

Essentially, playing sport is a great way to stay fit and meet like-minded people. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘Muggen/Coffice’ crowd are great, but when was the last time any of them made inappropriate hand gestures and noises towards a TV screen in the completely insane thought that it might in some way influence the outcome of a football game?

Now in the two weeks before I left London I may have gone a little crazy on the old ‘going out’ front and as a result am not in what you might call ‘peak physical fitness’. So when I came across a nice, relaxed, indoor 5-a-side, I thought perfect, I’ll ease myself back in… I mean what could go wrong… Quite a lot as it happens…

  1. Whilst it was in-door, in classic European style it was also on wooden flooring. Now that in itself shouldn’t be a problem, but this is Sweden and I believe that by legal proclamation anything with ‘wooden flooring’ and ‘indoors’ must by definition be a sauna and heated as such – I swear I came home with a tan!
  1. Plus I don’t have the right kind off footwear for indoor football, so had to play in my ‘Onitsuka Tigers’ which you may have gathered from the picture below were designed very much with fashion, rather than football, in mind. Add to this they played with an ‘indoor football’ which is a size smaller than a normal football and has what can only be described as a ‘mind of its own’, it was a bit like trying to control a tennis ball wearing ski boots.
Spot the difference. Onitsuka Tigers (left) Football boots (right)

Spot the difference. Onitsuka Tigers (left) Football boots (right)

  1. But the final nail in the coffin was yet to come. The game is advertised as an hour. 1 hour. Even I can handle an hour playing football on the surface of the sun for an hour, surely,

1 hour comes… and goes. Game carries on, “ok that’s a bit weird, but I’m sure we’ll finish soon”

1 hour 15 comes… and goes, “Err, we not done because I’m fairly sure I have to put some sunscreen on if we carry on much longer, I think my ears are starting to peal”

1 hour 30 comes… and goes, “Ok, this is a joke right?”

1 hour 45 comes…. and goes, “I’m, err, not feeling too good here and how come Elvis is dressed as a chicken and playing in net for the opposition?”

2 hours (!!)… “Who am I? Where am I? What country is this? Are those my feet? They look like my feet? I think I came with my own feet? Am I talking to myself right now? I think I should probably sit down. Yes, let sit down.”

2 bloody hours of nonstop, sauna football in holiday shoes!  My legs have been in pieces all week.

Anyway, what I’m really after is a Saturday 11-a-side team. You can’t beat Saturday league football and I’ve really missed Kings Old Boys back in London (the group of reprobates you can see on my facebook page). Well up until last week, interest in signing a 36 year old, mediocre left-back turned centre half, whose right foot is only good for standing on and who is, let’s be polite, ‘entertaining’ in the air had been slow… Well big news, I’ve joined up with Långholmen FC. Went to trials with their 1st and 2nd team on Tuesday… fortunately they’ve got lots of other teams because let’s just say those two sides play at a level somewhat beyond my own.

Off to play football Sweden style. Still cold at night? Oh yes.

Off to play football Sweden style. Still cold at night? Oh yes.

Anyway, enough football, time for some Swedish observations – exciting!

Every single Swedish person I have spoken to so far have shared two characteristics,

  1. Their English is faultless. Faultless. It’s got so ridiculous that I’ve stopped asking if people speak English. When you do ask, the look on their face can be best described as, ‘yes of course we speak English, are you an idiot? Unlike you, you pathetic human being, we actually CAN be bothered to learn a foreign language. And what? Do you think we don’t know the rest of the world doesn’t speak Swedish? How stupid do you think we are?’… At least that’s what it feels like.
  1. Everyone, once they start talking to you, is incredibly nice. Incredibly nice. Everyone is more than willing to go out of their way to help and if they can’t, will almost certainly point you in the right direction. Three times I’ve been stood in the street, looking at a map and people have stopped to help me find out where I’m trying to get to.

So far, so perfect right? But there is another side to this, a contradiction if you will. They are not what you would call ‘open’. What I mean by that is that let’s say you wanted to go a speak to a group of Swedes on a night out, it would be very much frowned upon if you just ‘pilled in’ into their conversation. People go out and socialise in groups and only talk to the people in those groups. They aren’t being rude or impolite; it’s just how they socialise.

I think the point is that conversations are ‘formal’ engagements. You ask a question, I answer the question, you counter the answer and so on. Unlike the way us Brits talk whilst out, which is more like something from feeding time at the zoo! ‘I WILL say what I have to say about the matter even if it does mean talking over the top of you Sir!’

So some of you may be wondering where in this blog is piece on the writing class I was due to go to on Tuesday? Well like an idiot I got my dates mixed up and it is next Tuesday. But fear not, I will be going down to no doubt humiliate myself and then share said humiliation with you lot. So you’ve got that to look forward to next week you lucky devils!

Till next time, have a good week everyone.

Fraser ‘sauna feet of fire’ Hynes

Bump Watch: More testing on Tuesday and baby is doing great. Alex  needs to take more rest and iron though, which I am being very committed too – I’ve stripped a girder out of the roof for her to chew on.

Beard Watch: Filling out.

Picture of week

My toe continues to be dipped in the Swedish political scene. This was a protest in a shopping centre aimed at Animal Testing. Good to see ‘the kids’ making a stand for something they believe in. But not entirely sure why the girl in the middle is wearing a fur coat and blindfold… but that’s Sweden for you – new ideas!

My toe continues to be dipped in the Swedish political scene. This was a protest in a shopping centre aimed at Animal Testing. Good to see ‘the kids’ making a stand for something they believe in. But not entirely sure why the girl in the middle is wearing a fur coat and blindfold… but that’s Sweden for you – new ideas!

Track of the week

This week’s track is dedicated to the people of Sweden and their culture of contradictions. I’m not a huge fan of remixes but every now and again one comes along which is so insanely different from the original it completely defies explanation. This was thrown together by a quirky Japanese producer called Tofu. He’s basically taken a track by New York hip-hop legends The Beastie Boys and turned it into this surreal, up tempo, string fest. If this doesn’t make you smile, I fear you might already be dead…

Beastie Boys – Ch-Check it out [Tofubeats Remix]

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