Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What the Puck? Part 1

I scored last night.

No, not that sort of goal-mouth action. After all, I’m married with two kids. And it was a Monday.

I mean to say that last night I played my first ever game of ice hockey, and, against considerable odds, managed to fire three pucks into the back of the net! Ok, so one of them was into my own net, but hey, it’s still a goal in my book.

When a group of dads from Dagis (nursery) recently suggested getting together for a regular Monday night ice hockey game, I thought why not. After all, there must be three or four outdoor ice rinks within a 500m radius of my house. Seemed a pity to waste them.

First order of the day was to buy some equipment, so I visited the city’s second-hand sports store and splashed out a couple of hundred kronor on some Jofa hockey skates, a rather fetching Jofa helmet (from 1974) and a Koho Profeel hockey club. Is it just me, or are all ice hockey equipment manufacturers named after characters in the Star Wars films?

After that, I did what I always do when I’m unsure about any subject – I Googled ice hockey. Now you may think learning to skate by internet is about as useful as a lonely one-legged man applying for a distance course in ballroom dancing - but you’d be wrong.

I discovered a wealth of really helpful information out there.

For example, if you want to skate backwards, you should “practise sculling with both feet to sculling with one at a time. This may lead more naturally to the Hockey wide-track "C-cut" backward stride, where you roll/slide the foot back instead of picking it up, but that's more for quick manoeuvring, not speed/distance skating”.

Uh-huh. Alrighty then.

And what about this well-intentioned piece of advice….

Because of your momentum, falling down on ice isn’t always painful, as your forward motion will mean you often land at an angle and glide to a halt.”

After last night I can categorically state this is a load of bollocks. Falling down on ice is always painful. Ice is frozen water. Frozen solid that it. It’s the reason we don’t make beds out of ice, or that gymnasts don’t perform their floor routines on the stuff.

Next post: in Part 2 I take to the ice with six really large Swedish guys who hurl themselves at me with great speed on very thin, sharp bits of metal.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Bloke's Guide to Surviving Children

When those lovely people at Britishmums.com asked me (of all people) to start up a new blog aimed at British fathers bringing up children abroad, I initially thought they must be suffering from some form of collective post-natal stress disorder.

If you've ever had the energy to read through some of my archived articles you'll know that I don't hold with the conventional views of fatherhood as preached according to the gospel of Vi Föräldrar, but rather more agree with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, who once famously said:

"To be a successful father there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years".

But the more I started thinking about it, the more the concept of a blog for Dads appealed to me.

Because you see men think very differently from women when it comes children.

We try not to show it of course, throwing ourselves obediently and enthusiastically into everything from naughty zones to baby massage classes.

However, it's only when blokes get together, far away from the ears and eyes of their wives and partners, that the real truth comes out and we all start reminiscing about the good old days when they used to put children up chimneys to earn a bit of money.

So I’ve created a blog for all you Dads (and would-be Dads) to come and shoot the breeze, exchange ideas and stories about fatherhood and most of all, have a bit of a laugh.

It's going to be a place where Dads can express themselves openly and honestly, and maybe find some comfort in discovering that they’re not the only man on the planet who, no matter how hard he tries, can never ever dress his child to the complete satisfaction of his wife or partner.

Dads can find it here. Mothers should stay away and look here!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Day in the UK

I'm back home in England and so thought I'd share with you what I plan to do today.

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

9am: Turn on the telly and watch all three Sky Sports channels while drinking unlimited amounts of tea. Follow this up with a full English breakfast consisting of two cumberland sausages, two rashers of bacons, two eggs and a slice of toast. Oh, and a glass of orange juice as this makes it all healthy.

10.30am: Go straight to Coop and buy any six pack of beer (get two free) that's over 3.5% abv. Because I can.

10.35am: Go to the Coach and Horse pub in Whitstable High Street. There I'll meet a guy called Jeff sitting at the bar and we'll have a conversation that goes exactly like this:

Jeff: (in a chirpy cheerful voice) Hullo Darren! Haven't seen you for ages!

Me: That's because I've lived in Sweden for the past five years Jeff.

Jeff: Well bugger me sideways. Still, the weather must be quite cold up there I should think.

Me: You're quite right Jeff. It's bloody cold, and will stay that way until May.

Jeff: Ruddy hell. Rather you than me old boy. Still, I suppose the fact that there must be lots of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swedish girls with big tits running around asking you for sex all the time more than makes up for a bit of cold weather, what!

Me: Actually Jeff, that's something of a stereotypical myth. The reality is that not all Swedish women are blonde and big busted, and very few of them have ever asked me for sex. In fact, even if they were to ask me I'd turn them down immediately, as I'm very happily married to my beautiful wife who occassionally reads this blog.

Jeff: This What?

Me: Nothing Jeff. Would you like some pork scratchings?

3pm: Go back home and watch Match of the Day with an extremely cheap wine box.

7.30pm: Pop into the East Kent pub on Whitstable High Street for a quick pint.

11.30pm: Stagger out of the East Kent after several quick pints and head to the Donar Grill Kebab shop for a sweaty lamb handbag.

11.45pm: Drop into the 24 hour Tesco supermarket on the way home to buy another six-pack of beer over 3.5%. Because I can.

12.15am: Lie on sofa and wash down a couple of elephant-strength paracetemol with three pints of water.

12.17am: Turn on the telly and start watching re-runs of the A-team on the Bravo channel. Fall asleep with my head at an alarming angle.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

6 Things you Never Knew About Sweden

Every January the Swedish Statistiska centralbyrån (SCB) publishes a wonderful book crammed with facts and figures about the Sweden country and its people.

If you can endure ploughing through the 800 pages of charts, spreadheets and lists you'll discover some illuminating facts about this amazing country that you probably never knew.

Below are 6 Swedish stats for you to use to amaze your friends with, get that all important promotion at work or use to finally win a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Warning: I've made two of these facts up. Can you guess which ones? Answers in a couple of days.....

1. The average Swedish marriage lasts 10.4 years. This means I should be filing my divorce papers some time in November this year.

2. The average life expectancy for a Swedish man is 77.79 years, and 82,26 years for a women. This clearly illustrates my long-held belief that women always get the last bloody word in.

3. There are 17,472 registered plumbers in Sweden. Not one of them was able to help me fix my bathroom on time.

4. The hottest day in Sweden ever was recorded in Målilla in Småland, which roasted in 38 degrees, while Vuoggatjålme in Lappland shivered in -52 degrees. This also confirms my long-held belief that you should never live in a place you can't pronounce.

5. 1.8 million Swedes went fishing in 2004. This is a funny enough fact without me attempting to try and add to it.

6. The top 15 most popular family names in Sweden end with son. Like Johansson, Erikson, and so on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sex Inspectors

Last night we saw the Swedish TV premiere of a new British sex education series called 'Sex Inspectors'.

It was, of course, hilarious.

Not only because I can't think of a more inappropriate nation than the British to be handing out advice on having sex, but because the whole programme was shot according to the ultra-conservative British rules regarding TV sex and men and women’s wobbly bits.

As a result, despite the pre-show hype that this was a groundbreaking peek at real-life lovers (as opposed to dead ones) who had bravely invited cameras into their bedrooms to film them bonking, what you actually saw was a blanket moving rapidly up and down and someone's head (I couldn't make out if it was his or hers) occasionally popping out for some air.

It was like watching sex in the Big Brother house, only it lacked the drunken parties and lengthy washing-up scenes.

The Sex Inspectors in question were Tracey Cox (boy did this job ever have her name written all over it) and Michael Alvear, who with his pedicured appearance, softly lisping voice and tight shirts looked like he would have been far more comfortable giving the bloke a hand.

To avoid any possibility that we sensitive viewers might actually see any, well, sex, the producers of this British sex education programme hit upon the cunning idea to film the copulating couple using a heat sensitive camera.

This has the unintentional effect of making them look like a military target in imminent danger of getting an air to ground missile launched right up their arses.

So after all the hype in the end we were treated to the sight of a throbbing red and orange blob which, if you stared at it long enough, you could just make out as two human beings. Or a dog chasing a rabbit down a hole, depending on how many glasses of wine you'd had with your evening meal.

All that being said, this is funny stuff and essential viewing. Can't wait till next week's episode........

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Year's Resolutions to Myself

1. Be better at time management (you should have posted this last week)
2. Learn to appreciate something good in every day however small it may be, like the sparkle of evening sunlight on fresh snow, the sound of a child laughing or a packet of freshly opened cheese doodles.
3. Go to the gym (and I really mean it this year buddy. Buying a card that's valid for a year and going five times doesn't cut it).
4. Learn French. All of it.
5. Send the synopsis of your snappy behind-the-scenes look at living in Sweden book, My Lagom Life, to some actual real-life publishers in the vain hope that they might front you a few thousand kronor to finish it off so you can realise your childhood dream of getting a book into print.
6. Stop sending the synopsis of your snappy behind-the-scenes look at living in Sweden book, My Lagom Life, to your mother (who has already said she likes it) because you can't stand the thought of being rejected by every publisher in Sweden.
7. Be more tolerant towards your children. Try to understand that their constant protestations, temper tantrums and uncanny abilities to remain awake until after the News at 10 (UK time) should be seen as a perfectly natural part of their childhood development, and in no way a co-ordinated and deliberate attempt to give you a stomach ulcer.
8. Remember your wife's birthday this year. While you're at it you should also remember your childrens birthdays as well as your own.
9. Make this the year you finally memorize your childrens' Swedish personal numbers.
10. Never make lists.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fed Up with Swedish Christmas Food

If anyone offers me another slice of ham, meatballs, some ribs, or any variation of pickled herring then as God is my witness I'm going to fucking swing for them.

The fact is I'm both metaphorically and literally fed up with Swedish Christmas food.

It doesn't seem that long ago when I first smelt the Christmas Ham as it was taken lightly sizzingly out of the oven. I remember feeling almost faint with the excitement of taking my first mouth-watering bite.

Now when I see ham I just feel faint and my mouth waters for all the wrong reasons.

Don't get me wrong - on the whole I love Swedish food. It's a well documented fact that I've always admired the Swedes for the number of ways they can pickle a herring.

I have nothing but the most profound respect for any nation that can come up with so many ways to pickle a fish. Such dedication and determination to a seemingly worthless cause would have come in very handy during the war.

Pickled highlights this festive season were curried pickled herrings and pickled herrings swimming in a sea of cream and caviar sauce. These were of course in addition to the 5 'standard' pickled herring dishes pushed under my nose at every meal since December 23rd.

And that includes breakfasts.

But now enough is enough. Give me roasted goats bollocks smothered in larks vomit, shallow-fried frogs feet with a sweet chilli dressing, sauted platypus on a bed of basil and blowfly lavae.

I'll gladly eat anything but don't dare thrust another ounce of Swedish Christmas food near my face for at least the next 11 months.

Oh, and Happy New Year everyone!!