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Sneezy Rider

“It just shot out of my nose at a strange angle and it hit her on the face.”

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Copenhagen is apparently the worst place in Denmark to have a pollen allergy so, as a massive sufferer, I’ve picked the perfect place to live for the foreseeable future.

Supposedly some bright sparks a while back decided to plant loads of birch trees in the city, which are really bad for allergies. Bloody good job, DANES.

hayfe
Just an example of the hilarious content I serve up on Facebook

Atchoo-choo

All of this talk makes me recall the time I sneezed on a girl. I was on a train and my hay fever was particularly rampant that day.

It just shot out of my nose at a strange angle and hit her on the face. She flinched, wiped her face and looked revolted.

As you probably would if a stranger on a train sneezed on you.

I apologised profusely, and she just muttered something quietly and turned away from me. I wanted to offer her a tissue but all of my tissues were horrid snot rags curled up in my pockets.

Eye-wateringly Humiliating

I was just getting over the embarrassment of it, and I even started to laugh at myself internally about the ludicrousness of the situation I’d got myself in, when I noticed she was crying. Not hysterical crying, but just a couple of tears rolling down her cheek.

I wanted to say something again, anything to get across that I’m not the kind of guy who goes around snotting on strangers faces.

Something about the fact I sometimes bought the Big Issue, so how could I be a bad guy, maybe? But I couldn’t get any words out. So I just left at my stop, looking back apologetically and sweating with embarrassment.

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, my brain serves up that memory.

I wonder what she’s doing now. Did the incident affect her? Does she refuse to go on trains now? Does she wear a mask or a veil across her face and dart between carriages with her hands up in a protective stance?

Or maybe I’m mistaken and she was actually crying about something else? We’ll probably never know, but I guess it SNOT IMPORTANT HAHAHA.

Life Developments

Well, that was some great content!

I’m off to Transylvania in Romania for a couple of weeks. We’ll be hiking in the mountains for a few days (I’m hoping to see bears) and poking around some Saxon villages, as well as generally relaxing.

When I get home, I will be STARTING A NEW JOB. I’m going to be doing some copywriting for a large hotel chain. Maybe they’d be interested in my sneezing story?

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Football Managing

“The thrill of rotating your squad and keeping results going! The selection dilemmas; should I play the promising youngster or the dependable veteran?”

“Are you still playing Football Manager?” My friends ask with a mixture of resignation and pity.

Yes, I’m still playing Football Manager. I have been playing it since around 1995, I think, although it was known as Championship Manager at the time.

 

Championship Manager ’93: The First Cut is the Deepest

So that’s around 23 years of consistent addiction to one game, albeit one that has grown ever more complex and in-depth with each yearly update.

I’m often asked what I think about as I play. Usually the people who ask this have never played Football Manager themselves. I always ponder the question.

What Exactly Do I Think About When I’m Playing Football Manager?

I normally manage outside the Premier League (unless I get a team promoted there, of course) but here’s an example of a save with a well-known club that I despise in real life; West Ham.

When I took over at Christmas, David Moyes had led the team to the bottom of the league off the back of some pretty bad results. It was a simple survival job.

WH1
The first thing I did was assess the players I had at my disposal; it was fairly obvious they had some decent full backs who could push forward, a creative midfielder in Lanzini and a goalscorer in Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez.

I put on my Southgate waistcoat and opted for a 3-5-2 with wing-backs and an advanced midfielder behind the strikers.

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I hired new coaches to improve how they trained. I drastically improved scouting so we could improve the squad in January. And…

Results quickly took a turn for the better:

WH2

Yes, we avoided relegation comfortably and added the FA Cup to our trophy cabinet as well after a tense win over Manchester United.

Now, in the following season, we’re in the top 4 and competing in the Europa League.

The thrill of rotating your squad and keeping results going! The selection dilemmas; should I play the promising youngster or the dependable veteran?

But why does this mean anything to me? Because, as a bit of an introvert, I like to live in the world of fantasy.

When I’m managing I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody (apart from my players and assistant, of course.) This is a part of my day I can’t do without. My second job.

Who’s Going to Laugh at Mr Luke?

But, of course, nobody’s going to win all the time. In the league table of life you can’t always be in the top 4.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” And I like to suffer. That’s why I choose projects that will challenge me in different ways.

Like qualifying San Marino for the World Cup (in FM 2005, it took me ages and I printed out a “press release” announcing our qualification and stuck it to my door in university halls. I was a very, very popular guy and had lots of girlfriends as you can imagine.)

Sometimes, like a 56 year old computer programmer taking on the role of an Orc called Snargle in a MMORPG called ‘RuneQuest’ or something, I like to play different characters.

My Football Manager alias is based on my P.E teacher from secondary school and is known simply as ‘Mr Luke.’

Mr Luke
He’s a no-nonsense, “get it in the mixer” style coach. He allows me to play lower-league football without sullying James Brown’s name as a progressive possession based coach. He wears a tracksuit instead of a shirt, imagine!

Yes, it’s a bit weird. I wonder how the real Mr Luke would feel if he knew he was a regular character in my video game life?

In this save, having just been promoted from the Vanarama National League South,  Oxford City are struggling to compete with the budgets and reputations other teams have and are in the relegation zone.

But I bet you Mr Luke can find a solution with his tough, pragmatic approach.

Most Of What I Know About Football I Learned By Playing Football Manager

It’s true. Every time I see a big money football transfer for a young player, I am able to nod sagely and say things like “he’s an excellent left-footed ball-playing centre-back. Worth every penny.”

Friends will point out that I’m not always right. I once confidently predicted an Arsenal youngster who was amazing in FM, Carlos Vela, would be Young Player of the Year. He barely played that year, although he’s had a decent, if non-spectacular, career since.

But I can confidently say that playing the game has given me a better understanding of different tactical systems, and what it takes to play in certain positions.  So when I’m watching a real game, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.

I’m still crap at playing the actual sport though. Some things can’t be helped.

“When Are You Going to Stop Playing Football Manager?”

My girlfriend sometimes asks me this, like there’ll be a magical age I’ll reach when I’ll suddenly stop wanting to play it.

I’ll be happy if Football Manager and I can grow old together. And Maja, obviously.

I imagine if I have children then I’ll probably have to curtail my usage somewhat, but I also can imagine playing it with my child on my knee, in a happy monologue about our away trip to Fleetwood and how we should rest our 35 year old centre back because he’s looking tired.

I’ll obviously change its nappy and stuff if I have to. Jesus.

We all need some escapism in our lives, and I choose Football Manager. Here’s to the next 23 years.

Me
Even my avatar has immaculate fashion sense.

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The Free Afternoon

“He drank more Coke.”

Wednesday afternoon stretched out before him invitingly. He had finished his Danish lessons and, unusually, he didn’t have any freelance assignments to do until tomorrow.

The afternoon was his. The sun shone brightly on Copenhagen as he cycled the 15 minute journey back to his apartment. Sweat began to appear on his brow but he didn’t mind, he would soon be home.

First, he would make lunch. A simple, healthy lunch to keep him going while getting on with all those things he had planned.

Next, he would complete some admin tasks. He’d finally change his bank details with the people he invoiced back in the UK, so then he could get paid directly into his Danish account. While he thought of it, he still had to clarify something with the tax authorities. He would give them a call.

Next, he would go out into the courtyard outside his flat and get round to one of the writing projects he had been meaning to get to for ages.

Either that film idea or the children’s book. He could get a lot done in the next few hours. Then go for a run.

He pulled up at his flat and parked the bike. Right then, time to get down to it.

First, lunch. Hmm, well he only really had cheese and bread in the flat so he’d just have a sandwich. Not that healthy really. Oh he had Coke in the fridge, so he had a glass of that.

He opened the windows of the flat, knocking over a plant pot as he did so. He’d clean that up later.

He sat down with his lunch and put the TV on and switched it to the Chromecast and put on the highlights of the football match from last night. Just while he ate lunch. Something to do, it’s boring just to eat.

He fired up the laptop. Oh, Football Manager is still running from last night. Well, it won’t harm just to play a quick game on that. He needed to save Hearts from relegation from the Scottish Premier League (it’s the 2025 season and he needed a job on the side from the Scotland manager job).

Just a quick game while he ate lunch.

He finished lunch and he noticed he was still playing. He had also fallen into a YouTube Hole, with the match highlights progressing to the post match interviews, to the post match analysis from pundits and then to ‘Three Lions.’ He drank more Coke.

He played more Football Manager. There was actually only a few games until the end of the season, so really he ought to confirm safety before doing anything, or he’d just think about that.

After winning the final game of the season to ensure survival, he just wanted to list a few players and make some offers for replacements. He’d still have time to do a bit of writing and a short run. And then tidy up the house. He drank more Coke.

He played more Football Manager and reasoned to himself that he might as well get the team completely ready for the new season so he could sleep easily tonight, he’d drunk loads of Coke, so it probably wasn’t a good idea to go running feeling all gassy.

Then his girlfriend came home from work. “What did you today?” she asked.

“I went to my Danish class and, er, did some admin stuff,” he half-lied.

“I see the kitchen is messy and the windowsill has soil on it.”

He left this comment to hang in the air, neither contradicted nor confirmed.

He played Football Manager a bit more and had the last of the Coke.

Later, he would write a blog post about his afternoon, as if this would somehow absolve him of his guilt.

What a twat.

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Five Things You Should Actually Do in Copenhagen

This article, as well as being the kind of keyword-rich SEO man’s dream, is intended as a bit of an alternative guide to being a tourist in Copenhagen.

When I show people from the UK around the city, I’m conscious that there aren’t as many BIG ATTRACTIONS as in London or New York, for example.

It’s not a place where you tick off various monuments off your list, really. People get terribly disappointed how Little the Little Mermaid is.

So I’ve come up with a list of things you should actually bother to do when you’re in the Danish capital:

  1. Netto Boat Tours. I generally take my friends on this if they come and I don’t mind going on it multiple times. It’s a nice way to see the main “sights of the city,” cruising along the canals and sea for an hour and (if you can hear them above the engine) the tour guide tells you some good historical facts. Plus, it’s only about £6 each.
    If you have a bit more time, there are also some really good “Pay What You Want” walking tours.

    snegl2. Have a snegl at a bakery. Forget open-faced sandwiches or pickled herring, this is the one food you should have when you’re in Denmark. These delicious swirly pastries come in two main varieties; Kanelsnegle – delicious sugary / cinammony goodness and Direktørsnegl (sometimes known as Chokosnegl) – God I love this. Chocolatey, cinammony and impossibly moist. A foodie I know took two of these home from the airport he loved them so much. Go to Lagkaghuset and enjoy.

    3. Lonely BeerVisit a Mikkeller bar. “Seriously? £7 for a small thimble of beer?” Once you’ve got over the prices of alcohol here (just let it go, you’re in Denmark now) you should make a point of visiting one of Mikkeller’s bars / restaurants around the city. I haven’t been to all 15 of their locations yet, but I can thoroughly recommend Warpigs (in the trendy meatpacking district) and Baghaven, a microbrewery on an island where you can pick up some experimental beers and sit by the water. There’s often food stalls in the area too. You can see me drinking there alone, left.

    4. Rent a bicycle. Public transport is a bit unreliable here, taxis are really expensive and walking involves constant paranoia about being struck by a bike. So you might as well join them and enjoy this laid back way of getting around. Some people use the City Bikes, which have motor assistance and built-in GPS but I’d just get a normal one from the app Donkey Republic, for example.

    5. Get out of the city. There’s lots of stuff going on outside the city, just a short (and cheap) train ride away. I like Roskilde, about a 30 minute train from the main station, because it has a FANTASTIC Viking Ship Museum there. Helsingør, home to Elsinore Castle from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is also well worth a visit, you could even get a short ferry across to Helsingborg in Sweden from there.

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My friend Giles in a Viking ship. Look at his little face!
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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Cheap Flight

“All your friends are going! Even your girlfriend says that to not go would be a damning indictment of your friendship with the Stag.”

Reading this article on stag weekends reminded me of a theory I have.

“Here goes my theory about stag weekends. Hem hem. This is my stag weekend theory,” etc. Here it is:

Being asked on a stag weekend is the modern version of conscription.

Now, the first thing to say is, pretty much all of the “stags” I have been on have been fun, because I’ve gone with the right people.

However, at their worst the following is true :

A sense of duty / macho pride compels you to go

When the recruiting sergeant (best man) comes calling, you are expected to willingly volunteer.women

All your friends are going! Even your girlfriend says that to not go would be a damning indictment of your friendship with the Stag. They frame it as voluntary, but there’s no really choice in the matter.

Only the most frail of men will be allowed to miss action, or those with plausible enough sounding excuses about having important work trips or other weddings that weekend.

See also:  conscientious objectors. Even worse than not having an obviously made up excuse, some just come out and say they don’t agree with the idea of these trips. Cowards! Traitorous scum!

Departure to a foreign land

boulogneNow that they think about it, your loved ones are scared now. What have you signed up for?

As you head towards the airport, your stomach churns. Will I accidentally give away the destination of the trip even though it’s been shrouded in secrecy for months before (I have done this at least once)? Will she wait for me while I’m gone?

It’s hell out there

trench.jpeg

Shots all around you. Will you survive the night? Will you have enough money left at the end of the weekend?

Just some of the questions you are asking yourself when you catch the eye of another fellow stag soldier in your cramped living quarters.

You try to give him an encouraging smile, as if to communicate “it’s okay, one more night and then it’s back to blighty again! Keep the British spirits up!” but it actually comes across like you’re one of them.

The sergeant majors. Parading up and down, demanding more and more drinking and laddish behaviour. They are there to enforce discipline; those who step out of line will face punishment shots.

You write sad poetry throughout the entire experience

Okay, this one might just be me. But when I’m in my hostel bed, chaos going off around me, a few melancholy lines of poetic verse calms me down. This doesn’t make me better than you, but it certainly makes me different and special.

Here are a few examples of my work:

poetry

In Banter’s Fields

In Banter’s fields the floppies show
Between the tossers, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the street
    The locals, still bravely walking, bleat
Scarce heard amid the laddish bellow
We are the Stag do. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
 In Banter’s fields.

The Lol, Did’ya?

If I should vomit, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of the Slovak capital
That is forever England.

Dulce et Budapest

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Weak-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through Budapest,
Till on the haunting club we turned our backs
And towards our hostel where we could rest

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their wallet and shoes
But limped on, half-cut. All went lame; all blind
drunk with tequila; deaf even to the hoots
Of the cars that followed behind.

Keys! KEYS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting it in the lock just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And, ‘gainst the wall, committing a petty crime

Lads, you would not tell with such high zest
To legends ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Stag weekends give the best
Top banter stories.

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Hancock

“While we all still looked like pale, nervous children (because we were), he looked like a Viking Warrior.”

I don’t remember exactly when I met Dave Hancock. But I do remember that, from the outside, he could be a kind of imposing figure.

His shaggy hair, his massive beard that he seemingly was able to grow from birth, his black heavy metal band T-shirts, his high-octane speaking style and big hearty chuckle all contributed to put him firmly into the “larger than life” category.

But then it became apparent when you spoke to him that he was the gentlest of men. And he was a man already at 15 compared to most of the teenagers at Chiltern Edge School. While we all still looked like pale, nervous children (because we were), he looked like a Viking Warrior.

Capable of talking at 100 m.p.h and making us laugh with his latest hilarious utterance at a party, or crushing us in a hairy hug, he was also incredibly contemplative and wise at times, and he showed me many kindnesses over the years.

There’s two stories I’d like to tell about Hancock that I hope show this.

The first goes back to around 2010, when I was on a master’s course that required work experience to complete. He gladly helped arrange for me to stay at the home he was renting in Peckham Rye. He also had me stay overnight when I went for a job interview later that year.

During one of these times, knowing that I was a bit of a politics nerd, he even arranged for a friend of his who worked in the Houses of Parliament to give me a little tour around, which was a typically Hancock thing to do – incredibly thoughtful and generous.

We went for some drinks afterwards and it ended up just being the two of us at the end of the night. We were enjoying some beers and I had a puff or two on his cigarettes (which he didn’t mind sharing even though I probably didn’t even inhale them correctly) while we talked.

He asked me what music I was listening to at the moment, and I felt a bit self-conscious about replying (as I established earlier, he was the interesting, heavy metal guy) but I mentioned that I really liked the Canadian folk / country singer-songwriter Neil Young. Far from laughing at me, he said he was also a fan and even recommended one of his live albums that I still love listening to today.

Talking to him that night about music, politics and more, I remember thinking “wow, there’s a lot more to Hancock than you’ve ever thought.” Minutes later, he said words to the effect of “Brown, I didn’t know you were so deep.” Because, like me, his memories were probably defined by the parties of our teenage years, where I drank half as much as him and got twice as drunk.

When I heard the terrible news about Dave, I played my favourite track from that album and smiled at this recollection.

The second story is more recent; the last time I saw him, in September of last year. It was around the time I was leaving London and I was having some drinks to say goodbye. He came along and was in good spirits.

He hadn’t met my girlfriend Maja before and clicked quickly into Entertainment Mode, reeling off everything he knew about Denmark at machine-gun speed: “LEGO! THAT PHILOSOPHER! KIERKEGAARD THAT’S IT! HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN! PICKLED HERRING!”

He and I decided to get rounds together and we quickly observed it was 2 for 1 cocktails.

“Look, Brown!” he said excitedly, pointing at a particularly dangerous looking concoction.

“Ooh, three different types of rum and a shot of absinthe,” I said weakly “that’s certainly an option, or what about this… Bellini Flower?”

“Brown, The Zombie comes in a skull glass and is set on fire before you drink it.”

Even I had to admit that was pretty cool. After a few rounds of these, I was feeling pretty far gone while Hancock was merrily making friends with some of the other people at the drinks he’d never met before – people warmed quickly to ‘Hanky’ (I’m pretty sure I was the only one who ever called him this but I could be wrong?).

So when I announced I was defeated and needed to go home and sleep for the next few days or something, it wasn’t surprising that he told me he was carrying on the party… with people he’d only met that night. They were heading on to another pub.

Just before he left, Dave gave an elaborate stage whisper towards me: “Brown!” and nodded at his backpack. He’d “borrowed” a couple of the cool skull glasses we’d been drinking from earlier; he tipped me a huge wink and scurried off giggling like a schoolgirl. See you, then.

When I left London, we certainly didn’t go our separate ways and kept in touch on social media. He often commented on my facetious Facebook posts, always eager to share a joke with people.

Generosity, playfulness, affection and enthusiasm; just some of the qualities Hancock had. He loved to travel and always made a point of saving up enough money and holidays so he could see as much of the world as possible. He always spoke fondly of his family in Wales and I cannot begin to imagine how devastating his loss will be to them.

There’s no doubt been many tears shed this week, but it’s time for those who knew him to celebrate and remember David. This was a man who drank greedily from the cup of life, and then nicked the cup to take home with him.

And I will miss him.

Dave

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Am I Missing Something?

Slightly brush against a stranger in the street? I’m spluttering ‘Undskyld! I’m so sorry!’ Nothing back. Unbelievable.

The question I get asked most often about moving to Denmark is:

“Do you miss the UK?”

or “Do you miss London?”

Well you egotistical bastards, let me answer that question as best I can.

Yes, occasionally. I’m happy here but there are some things that I do miss about dear old Blighty. Here are five things I miss:

1. Pubs
Pub culture doesn’t quite exist here. When you want to meet friends in the UK, the most common suggestion is the pub, but in Denmark they’d probably just invite you to their house. Which is nice too, of course, but there’s something about a big room full of other people getting drunk that I miss.  Denmark has either more expensive bars (I paid £24 recently for a round of three drinks – they were 2/3 pints) or ‘bodegas,’ old man bars where everyone smokes but it’s cheaper. You stink of smoke roughly 3 minutes after arrival.

2. The BBC
God save our gracious Beeb! I probably took this for granted when living in the UK, but there’s a lot of English TV I miss and the BBC makes most of it. There’s a channel called BBC Brit on our TV, but that just shows Pointless, QI and Top Gear on loop which doesn’t quite fill the void. There are ways round the BBC’s restrictions on iPlayer in other countries, but I haven’t sorted this out yet. For now, I just cry and salute when I see pictures of Martin Freeman, Gary Lineker or Alan Sugar.

3. Unnecessary politeness
This one hurts hardest. In Denmark, they just don’t apologise as much as we do. I’ve learned the Danish for ‘sorry’ – ‘undskyld’ – and I use it a lot in any given day. But rarely do I hear it. Slightly brush against a stranger in the street? I’m spluttering ‘Undskyld! I’m so sorry!’ Nothing back. Unbelievable.

4. Ease of communication
Now, of course, Danes speak amazing English. But they don’t know you’re English straight off the bat (unless I’m wearing one of my tweed numbers and singing ‘Jerusalem’ heartily at the traffic, that usually gives the game away) so they start talking to you in Danish. I’m too polite to tell them I’m English, which just leads to me listening in silence, awkwardly laughing and walking away. They could be saying anything but I’ll be damned if I make them feel silly about speaking their own language to me.

5. Food
Much of Danish food is excellent. They have a sausage for all parts of the day, which I welcome. Their pastries are divine. Divine I tell you. However, there are certain things the British get right; A sausage roll. A pasty. The cheese in supermarkets is more reliably nice – and cheaper. Diet Coke is nicer in Britain than anywhere else on the continent. That’s just a fact. I went to my brother’s house the other day and we had ham, egg and chips. There’s no reason that this should be such a pleasure, but it was.

One final, bonus thing I miss:

YOU GUYS

Did you think I’d miss you out?! Oh, you did.

Next time, I will blog about a Danish Christmas. God Jul to you all.

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Coming in from the cold

“Nuggets! Nugs! Nugzzzz! The coolest most quirky thing you can possibly eat, and we were having it!”

I’ve been absent for some time. Here’s a brief rundown of stuff I’ve been doing.

Brownchitis

I got ill a few weeks ago. It started off as a cold and then developed into Bronchitis, which meant I couldn’t really breathe or sleep for a couple of weeks. It was a lot of fun.

It was probably caused by playing football for 2 hours in the freezing rain with mud but, please do bear in mind this is what a proper footballer looks like and anyone else is just a luxury player like Berbatov or all Brazilians.

IMG_20171022_141014_781.jpg

Brown-d Trip

Me old mucker Rob visited me last weekend. Here’s some things we did:

I took him to some bars so he could see firsthand how expensive everything is here. He winced as we paid about £6.50 for NOT EVEN A PINT of beer. Quite nice though.

We went to a trendy food market on Papirøen (Paper Island). It might not have been as cool as the East London ones, but you could get a seat and the food was very nice.

There was a big election going on in Copenhagen when he visited. Our favourite candidate was Simon Strange, who freaked us out with his penetrating stare, turtleneck jumper and unusual name.

Browndby

We also went to see some football. We saw a six-goal thriller between Brondby and Nordsjaelland.  It’s a good job it was an interesting game, as we had lost all feeling in our limbs by the end of the match through freezing temperatures.

We also treated ourselves to massive beers (750ml) that you could actually drink at yours seats! Imagine!

Happily, we also had chicken nuggets at half-time. Nuggets! Nugs! Nugzzzz! The coolest most quirky thing you can possibly eat, and we were having it! Honestly, it’s like we haven’t grown up hahahahahahahahahahaha nugs I can’t control my laughter.

Brondby look like they might be champions, but I think I’ll stick to a more local team in future, as it took hours to get there and back. I guess I was attracted to them because Peter Schmeichel played for them about 25 years ago. A great opportunity to re-share this from the archive, me and actual Peter:

IMG_20171115_213217_726

On that happy note, this update abruptly ends.

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Cycling, ReCycling and BureaucraCycling

I wanted to shout “DON’T YOU KNOW I’M A BRITISH CITIZEN? THE QUEEN WOULD BE FURIOUS IF SHE KNEW HER SUBJECT WAS BEING TREATED LIKE THIS”

Denmark! What is it? Well, it’s a country, obviously. But how does it act as a society? What are its defining features? Can it be summed up simply by a delicious pastry or a little mermaid? Or Lego? Or something else? What?!

Sorry, I got a bit lost in my introduction there.

Today I’m going to talk about three things Denmark excels in and also conveniently look like each other as words:

1. Cycling
2. Recycling
3. BureaucraCycling

SPOKESperson

Cycling! It’s just like riding a bike! Pedal to the metal! Time to change gear! If you don’t like it, on yer bike!

Sorry, I’m evidently having real problems writing introductions today.

But I’m bang into the cycling at the moment. I’ve never been a big cyclist, with my abilities resembling a scene from Frasier:

But I like it here. It’s easy. You have nice little lanes to go in where cars can’t get at you.

You can make little mistakes without people getting annoyed at you. No one has beeped at me, or got annoyed. They just cycle round me.

And you go places a lot quicker. One minute I’m in one place, the next I’m quite literally somewhere else. Amazing.

Here’s my chariot; an old-skool bike that I got second hand for my birthday.  The beauty is, no one will want to steal it:IMG_20171017_144757

Boring your PANTs off

Recycling! It’s a hot topic!

Like it or not, recycling’s on everyone’s lips at the moment… and everyone’s having their say.

One thing’s for sure, the subject of recycling is not going away. It’s a hot potato up for considerable public debate and a bone of contention. A whirlwind of controversy surrounds recycling.

I’m so sorry, I’ll work on this for the next blog because we’re getting nowhere.

Recycling in Denmark is a bit more thorough than in the UK (my experience basically consisted of chucking a few things that may or may not be recyclable in a green bin and hoping the council don’t complain).

Here, you have different bins for everything. You’ve got your papers and your cardboards, two different types of plastics,  your electricals, your food waste. And then there’s PANT.

Let me introduce PANT to you. That’s not a grammatically incorrect yet saucy come-on, but a bottle and can deposit scheme, which I believe is being discussed in the UK, finally.

It works as you would think; you pay a bit extra for your cans of beer etc at the shop, but then you DON’T just throw them away after using them.

You bring them back to the shop and use the bottle return machine thingy and get a voucher off your shopping.

You may also see this little ledge for your bottles and cans on public bins. That’s so homeless people don’t have to fish into the bin to collect these bottles that are worth money. Bless those considerate Danes!

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THIS MAN URGENTLY NEEDS CPR

Bureaucracy! We all need it! It makes the world go round… oh fuck this.

We’re always told by mad posh guys that bureaucracy is the biggest evil in the world, that is holding us all back from quaffing Champagne for breakfast. In truth, any well-functioning society like Denmark needs a bit of bureaucracy to make sure taxes are paid, bike lanes are made and recycling is done.

That doesn’t stop it being quite annoying. I have been living in Denmark for a few weeks now, and I still can’t get CPR.

Another term to explain; a CPR number is like our National Insurance Number. Without this, you can’t get a Danish bank account, join a gym, a library or get a phone contract. Once you have the CPR number, you are also entitled to free Danish lessons so you can integrate into society.

I still cannot get one, because I don’t have a job in Denmark. My freelance work doesn’t count because a) it’s in the UK and b) there’s no contract guaranteeing I earn a certain amount a month. So that means I’m stuck with being a half-citizen and unable to learn the language, save for an app on my phone.

I learned all of this by being sent through several different grey Copenhagen offices in various suburbs and queuing for hours, only to be told I’d wasted my time. I wanted to shout “DON’T YOU KNOW I’M A BRITISH CITIZEN? THE QUEEN WOULD BE FURIOUS IF SHE KNEW HER SUBJECT WAS BEING TREATED LIKE THIS,” but I knew it would be fruitless.

I do have a phone contract in Denmark however, as my girlfriend got me one through her CPR number.

(NOTE FOR FRIENDS:
my UK number will no longer work from November 17th, PM me for my new number. Thanks.)

To sum up, life in Denmark is different from the UK.

Here ends the blog.

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Welcome to my Crib

“Should I rapidly need to relieve myself, I imagine I will be grateful for this Danish innovation.”

We have now moved into our apartment. Please see pictorial evidence.

It comes complete with a nice kitchen WITH A DISHWASHER, how did I ever live without one?

It’s got a tiny bathroom that is fairly typical for Copenhagen. Basically, in “the old days” apartment blocks all had communal toilets in the basements, so they’ve had to combine the toilet with a shower room.

It’s quite strange showering and being able to touch the toilet with your foot. But, should I rapidly need to relieve myself, I imagine I will be grateful for this Danish innovation.

The living room is rather pleasant. As Danes are obsessed with Hygge, it doesn’t have a central light but one, very dim, light that hangs low over the table, leaving the rest of the room pitch dark. Plus I bang my fucking head on the light everyday.

So we have to light candles every night. It’s not the most efficient way to live I’ve ever seen but I must admit it’s Instagram friendly. Which is vital in this day and age.

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My hygge lounge. Can’t see a fucking thing.

We were without a proper bed for the first week, as the previous tenants had wisely placed the massive bed in the lounge, making it impossible to move it to the bedroom.

So my brother and I had to take apart this colossal IKEA bed, which is probably strong enough to have been a rudimentary fort for a small village in medieval times, and rebuild it in the bedroom. Luckily, Matt is actually quite good at this sort of thing and I could occasionally hand him a tool and nod sagely when he made observations such as “that’ll need a flat screwdriver” and other highly technical phrases.

But now, finally, I feel at home in the flat. It is good.

Hello Sailor

I have also been out on some trips. On Friday night I went for a bar crawl around Helsingor, a town 40 minutes on the train from Copenhagen. Maja’s friend Signe showed us around as they had a festival on in the town. This festival featured sea shanties, a 50’s Rockabilly group and a drag act that sang about anal sex, quite a lot. The latter did not endear themselves to the older, more conservative Danes in the pub, strangely.

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An old street in Helsingor

Football (Ro)Mania

I was also lucky enough to see Denmark’s final World Cup qualifier match at the national stadium, Parken, which is a short walk from my apartment. Maja’s Mum gave me the tickets for my birthday.

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The game actually mattered, as they are still in the qualification hunt. Denmark could only draw 1-1 against Romania, but made the play-offs by virtue of Poland beating Montenegro in the other match.

Although not a classic by any means, the atmosphere was very good. I can only imagine what Wembley would have sounded like had England scraped to a 1-1 draw with Romania. A reminder that Denmark has won a major football tournament more recently than England.

Enough of this

Well, that’s a round-up of my life so far. I will post soon about BUREAUCRACY, cycling and recycling. Leave me now.

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I’m here – sort of

“In other words, I suppose I’m living the life of a hip, young, digital native that works in a 24/7 world of always-on #content?”

I have arrived in Denmark. At great expense.

I had a wedding in Kent over the weekend, one last blowout before I left Britain FOREVER (probably not forever). The next day, we got to the train station and bought tickets, before realising that every train that took us to Gatwick (3 in total) were now bus replacement services and we’d be due in roughly 2 hours after our flight had left.

So, after one particularly painful coach journey, we threw in the towel faced with South Eastern Railway’s continued impressive incompetence and took a taxi, costing us a healthy £70.

Danglo Saxon

After lugging our massive and heavy bags through two airports and through trains and taxis, we finally arrived at my brother’s to the most Danish of welcomes; a Chinese takeaway.

We then watched Grand Designs via my brother’s nifty TV that can get all the British channels from the past week. Last night I watched a particularly good episode of Dragon’s Den (Peter Jones was being a right moody bastard).

I see my stay at my brother’s house as like a decompression chamber into Denmark. While actually being in a different country, I have a week or so of handy orientation via speaking entirely in English, eating food we’d have in Britain and soaking up our rich tapestry of culture.

I’m told I can’t register for my CPR number (kind of like National Insurance) until we have moved into our flat, so I can’t start the free Danish lessons until then. So I have a week of living Englishly to go.

But James, what are you doing for money?

Ah. Well, the second interview I was supposed to be at while I wrote this blog post was cancelled last minute, as the guy “forgot to mention” that he’d already hired someone.

So I’m freelancing at the moment, producing some pretty exciting copy about the 1881 Census. Honestly, it’s quite interesting.

I spent yesterday in a Cafe in Nørrebro working on my laptop, supping on an apple juice (I don’t drink tea or coffee and I’ve decided to give up Coca Cola now I’m here) and eating some serious work.
'LET'S STRAP ON THE NOSEBAG  AND EAT SOME SERIOUS WORK.'
In other words, I suppose I’m living the life of a hip, young, digital native that works in a 24/7 world of always-on #content?

Now, I wasn’t to know I’d chosen a cafe in the area where there have been a number of gang-related shootings recently, but luckily it passed off without violent incident or being accidentally recruited by one of the gangs as their marketing guy.

So I am now an inter-global #content provider and digital outreach professional, offering bespoke, artisan word services. So please do hire me if you’re interested.

That’ll work as a stop-gap for a short time, as I seek out a permanent role which might mean I leave the house and actually meet some Danish people once in a while.

I shall be back soon to catch up on ‘Why Denmark?’

 

 

 

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#Brownxit

“TYPICAL REMOANER,” you cry. “WE WON. GET OVER IT. WE’RE LEAVING AND IT’S BRILLIANT BECAUSE WE WON’T EVER SEE A FOREIGNER AGAIN.” 

We have established why I am leaving London. Now let’s further tear into everything that I have ever known by now outlining why I’m leaving the UK.

Well, it doesn’t help that we are a nation of idiots.

Over the past 7 years, we have consistently voted for things that will harm us, seemingly because assorted posh people have told us it’s what’s best for us. I sort of sympathise.

There’s something reassuring about the bray of a public-school educated man in a nice suit telling us how he’ll fix all the problems that we created for ourselves by making sure unemployed and disabled people don’t starve to death and by building schools and hospitals.

“Naughty Britain! Go and sit in the corner while I increase homelessness by 133%!”

#Brownxit

And then there’s Brexit. Fuck me, the delusional shite I hear on the news from rich and poor alike, that we’re going to thrive after leaving the EU (based on seemingly no evidence.) I don’t think people realise how disastrous this is going to be.

I genuinely think I’m very lucky to have a “way out” to Denmark because, unless you have a bit of money, Brexit is going to affect a lot of people in a very bad way.

Of course, the very poorest will be most affected. That’s how we do things here.

We’re famously fond of a queue in this country, but in this case all the incredibly rich people are at the front with a glass of Prosecco and crisps (this may not seem like a posh food, but in my head they’re eating crisps from Waitrose or something. Bastards.)

“TYPICAL REMOANER,” you cry. “WE WON. GET OVER IT. WE’RE LEAVING AND IT’S BRILLIANT BECAUSE WE WON’T EVER SEE A FOREIGNER AGAIN.”

Ah, but I’m not remaining or moaning, because I’m doing something about it. I’m getting out of here. Good luck with Illiteracy Island.

But of course I’ll miss things about the UK

Number one on my list is British humour. We are the nation that has given the world Fawlty Towers, Peep Show, Monty Python, Alan Partridge and The Office, for example.

The endless irony and wordplay we pepper our sentences with unconsciously will definitely be something I miss when I move.

Obviously, I’ll miss my family and friends. Especially you [INSERT NAME OF READER].

I was in Oxfordshire the other day and we drove through a village and obviously a bunch of people were playing cricket on the green because we Brits are nothing if not determined to fulfill certain stereotypes about us.

I doubt I’ll see that sort of thing in Denmark and I will miss it.

Oh, and politeness! I will miss our gift of not being able to say what we actually mean. For example, if we want to stop a conversation we’ll present it as doing them a favour by leaving.

Anyway, I’ll let you get on, I’m sure you’re busy.

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Leaving London

And, as the arc of magma-like orange diarrhoea spewed forth from his pooey volcanus, I thought “I’m glad I’m leaving London.”

“When a man is tired of London, he can fuck right off then, frankly.”

– Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Sorry about the cliched Samuel Johnson reference in a blog post about leaving London, but it’s actually the law – you have to mention it or face imprisonment.

So why am I leaving London?

The other day I was walking in Finsbury Park, back to my modest flat where I live with my girlfriend.

That’s right, I have a girlfriend. No big deal. Many do. Including myself.

Just to be clear, I’m spoken for. Off the market. Unavailable for romance.

I was walking through Finsbury Park when I saw a homeless man staggering in front of me, can of beer in hand. Nothing unusual there, this is London. There are fucking hundreds of homeless people.

What he did next will amaze you.

He suddenly ran off the path in front of me, tugged down his convenient tracksuit bottoms and begin shitting violently in full view of the park.

And, as the arc of magma-like orange diarrhoea spewed forth from his pooey volcanus, I thought “I’m glad I’m leaving London.”

Okay, that’s not the reason I decided to leave, but it reinforced my decision quite nicely, in a chilling visual metaphor.

Actual reasons for leaving London

I moved here about six years ago. Then, I felt a little in awe of the big city. There was something amazing about ending up in front of the Houses of Parliament after a drunk night out, getting the night bus back past Trafalgar Square and wondering whether Samuel Pepys, William Shakespeare or Roland the Farter had made the same journey many centuries before.

But recently, that has been replaced by indifference and contempt.

Taking the Tube, previously thought of as a life-giving pleasure ride now fills me with dread.

Going to see friends will cost me hours out of my life on public transport I could spend eating cheese or playing Football Manager.

Most of my salary will be spent on rent, bills and travel, leaving about £1.50 a day for food and maybe the odd treat, such as a giant novelty pencil.

As a man with average earnings (probably below average for London –  I have failed to use my privilege as a white man born into the middle class for any advantage, what a fool I have been) I could probably save enough to buy a small converted public loo with vanity urinals in Hounslow by about 2030 if I really scrimped and saved.

And I really want to leave the UK, for a number of reasons that I will be detailing in my next post, imaginatively titled “Leaving the UK.”

I’m getting the negative stuff out of the way before I start living in Denmark. Please stick with me while I slate everything you hold dear.