Scan Magazine | Humour | Columns
IS IT JUST ME…
By Mette Lisby
Who secretly felt relief when I last woke up to a rainy day? Something was lifted off my shoulders, and I’m beginning to realise what it is: my heavy Scandinavian heritage. You see, being Scandinavian, sunshine is an obligation to me. I have to enjoy it. I am compelled to make the most of it, pour on endless amounts of sunscreen and soak up every single ray of it. I just have to! It’s the sun, and every Scandinavian greets it like a special VIP guest. It doesn’t matter that I’ve lived in California for ten years and have gotten used to it. I gasp when my fellow Californians sit inside for lunch on a sunny day. When they ‘seek shade’, my Viking genes quietly frown on them, these heathens, not appreciating heat and natural light – doing whatever they like, willy-nilly, when the sun is visible in the sky and not dancing on the edge of the horizon about to disappear for 18 hours. Oh, you spoiled philistines have never felt the pain of a four-hour daylight zone; that quiet desperation that creeps into your bones in Oc-
tober when you know that it will be months before you have a full day of light again. See, that was how I used to feel, but something has shifted. I have recently found myself committing unthinkable acts – driving around on a sunny day in my cabriolet without taking the top off, dining inside in restaurants that have patio decks. It stings, and I can’t shake a deep feeling of shame and regret as I shake my head in disbelief over who I have become: I am officially sunned out! And now the feeling of relief when it rains? This doesn’t usually happen to Scandinavians. You’ll know if you have been to Spain, where all the blonde people sit, insistently, on the beach, refusing to hide under a sunbrella, their leather faces turned towards the sun – these are real Scandinavians, looking 180 years old but probably just in their early 60s. I wonder what’s next in my deScandinaviasation? Will I denounce ABBA?
Wrapping paper It was my birthday recently, and today I picked up a gift-wrapped parcel from the post office, sent by friends in Sweden. When I say gift-wrapped, I mean just that. The parcel had been sent – not inside a jiffy bag, or a cardboard box, but as the present it was, an address label stuck to its front. The man behind the counter glanced at the wrapping paper. “Is this some kind of Christmas thing?...” he asked, referring to the elaborate pattern of blue and gold, decorated with Dala horses and couples in full Swedish folk dress, dancing around flags. “It’s a Swedish thing,” I explained excitedly, while my heart pounded at the sight. Traditional Swedish gift-wrap always has this effect on me. It makes me instantly revert to the dumpy kid in the frozen north, going nuts at Christmases and birthdays. The suspense was almost the best part, that moment when what was inside was still concealed and the possibilities were endless. It could 126 | Issue 125 | June 2019
Stop eating liquorice? Oh my God! We can only hope it stops here – that for once, when it rains, it doesn’t start to pour.
Mette Lisby is Denmark’s leading female comedian. She invites you to laugh along with her monthly humour columns. Since her stand-up debut in 1992, Mette has hosted the Danish version of Have I Got News For You and Room 101.
By Maria Smedstad
By the end it covered the entire office floor. “What did you get?...” my colleagues asked, finding me flustered inside a sea of blue and gold. Somewhere in its midst was the actual gift. I couldn’t remember what it was, or even seeing it, completely entranced by all the lovely paper. I made attempts to gather it and myself back into some sort of order. “It’s a Swedish thing…” I muttered, and nothing more was said about it.
be anything beneath that thin, crisp paper – anything! But back to the present-day parcel. At work, I couldn’t stop myself from unwrapping the gift. At first, I was very careful, trying to preserve the precious paper. Then, when it became clear there was quite a lot of it, I began tearing at it. And tearing. And tearing.
Maria Smedstad moved to the UK from Sweden in 1994. She received a degree in Illustration in 2001, before settling in the capital as a freelance cartoonist, creating the autobiographical cartoon Em. Maria writes a column on the trials and tribulations of life as a Swede in the UK.
Promoting Brand Scandinavia! Including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.