Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The city with roads to nowhere...


Today was a happy and at the same time a pretty bad day. Today our daughter Miss E was arriving from The Greatest Britain to see the house and of course freeload from us for three weeks. We had telephone communication and online communication setup to ensure that the little darling managed to get to the train station and airport on time, also we needed to ensure that she went to the right airport…you see she is only 22 years old and whilst I have not been a “curling parent” (someone who sweeps ahead and ensure that all is smooth for your little offspring…) I am aware that this was the first trip involving trains planes and automobiles without the guidance from Mr or Mrs E.

Miss E arrived safely at Copenhagen airport in Denmark, a short one and half hour drive from here. Once we picked her up I decided that instead of using the motorway I should take this opportunity and drive back to Elsinore, home of the Castle set in Hamlet Prince of Denmark written by the Greatest British author Mr Shakespeare, using the beach road…

Noted at this point that it was some 20 years since I went to Copenhagen driving and after Miss E had seen the statue of Hans Christian Andersen and driven down HC Andersen Boulevard 10 times looking into Tivoli Gardens she quietly told me “Dad…can we go home now?” The only problem was that the Danes have either had “Chinese metal thieves” around or someone had overnight removed all form of road signage from the Capital, of those beer brewing gents who took over Newcastle Breweries, so I was lost…truly lost…and then Mrs E came up with the brilliant idea of asking me to pull over and ask a bloke in the Shell Garage??? How stupid is that???

We drove around for another 45 minutes and then we found a sign which the Chinese had not spotted who directed us back out to the motorway thus allowing us to move in rapid speed back to Sweden…

This is the last time I complain at the road signs ever again in the Greatest Britain…
Photo Copyright Ruud Moret

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To wait you need a ticket…


Firstly, Happy New Year to all of you, and I hope that 2008 has been exciting with not too many irritations. I am sorry about the delay in posting my next post but so many things have irritated me that had to calm down and get everything into perspective. I have finally made the move from The Greatest Britain to The Kingdom of Sweden…or should that be the Kingdom of go slow to nowhere?

Sweden is a very odd place to be in, especially when you are Swedish and speak the languages as a native. People expect that you should behave and do things like other Swedes, you see there is no language barrier or physical signs that says that I am a foreigner…but let me tell you when you have been away for over 22 years there are so many changes which you have to take onboard, I feel like a foreigner…The Swedes are supposed to be a clever and hardworking people, who invent things and make bad things better, reliable and sometime not just flat packed.

Well let me tell you that everything is not as it seems. When I lived here here last, the government controlled all the off licenses known here as Systembolaget. They ran it a bit like Argos, you could not browse the store you had to take a number and wait your turn. You then proceeded to a till where you kindly advised the cashier what it was you wanted, selecting it from a small catalogue. The cashier collected the items you paid and left. What was the reason for this system? Well one idea was that Swedes should not be tempted by the variety of bottles, browsing could lead to alcoholism and God forbid theft… Now 20 years later the Systembolaget has, as I found out at my last visit there, become adult. It allows the customers browse the store pick up their selection themselves and then pay for it at the check out…pretty normal for anyone who lives in Europe and beyond.
I believed that this would be the last time I saw the ticket machine queuing system, you see Systembolaget also believed that Swedes were unable to form an orderly queue without a fight…

So what do I now find when I enter “normal” stores, if not a bloody ticket machine…everywhere…you cannot move or do anything unless you have a bloody number!!

In every store there are Swedes standing around waiting…waiting for their turn to pay for their medicine, their clothes even bloody H&M have a ticket machine….thousands of Swedes are standing around like sheep in a pen waiting for their number to be called…what a bloody joke. Imagine at Primark back in The Greatest Britain you pick you clothes up and then walk up to a till and say, “could I pay for these?” and the bloody stupid person behind the till says “Do you have a ticket?” “There is no-one else around so let me pay for these and then I’ll be off.” “No sir you must have a ticket.” When you then have located a ticket machine you find out that a busload of happy shoppers has entered the shop and they have all taken a ticket, and the stupid “bingo-like sign” says “We are now serving number 78” and your ticket says 106…which means at least 30 minutes wait…idiots…
This is why the Swedes are so good at inventing things they have hours of just standing around thinking about making things better…apart from a better queuing system…

Swedes are the least service minded people on earth; they even tell me that the service in The Greatest Britain is good for heavens sake…

Well I am not going to go by the flow so I have now banned Mrs E from shopping in any stores which use the ticketing system so that means that we now have two stores we ca go to…the local newsagent and the guy who sold us the Christmas tree…doesn’t look too rosy…