December 31st, 2005:
Buying beer in Sweden
At your corner shop or supermarket, you can only buy beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.5%. If you want normal beer (i.e. with a content of 5%+, you have to go to a state-run shop called Systembolaget ("the system company"). In Helsingborg, there are only a few of these, and their opening hours are quite restricted.
Most Swedes don't seem to mind this arrangement. Many say that "Systemet" has a good selection of beers, and is very selective with the quality of the wines they buy. But that doesn't help those of us who fancy the occasional normal-strength can of lager at 8pm on a weeknight, or on a Sunday afternoon in the summer. The beer's quite pricey, as well - at the time of writing, the average price for a decent tin is at least 12 kr (about $1.50 US/ 88p UK / €1.28). And as for the quality of the wine, I'd prefer to have the choice to buy a cheap bottle of plonk to stick in my bolognaise sauce if I want to.
It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.
The news today (oh, boy)
From the world outside:
A Night Of Celebrations: Security is tight in many of the world's cities as they prepare to say goodbye to a year scarred by violence and natural disasters. Sydney was one of the first to ring in the new year, kicking off a night of celebrations from Asia to the Americas. More than a million revellers crammed along the harbour-front area, near the world renowned Opera House, to witness a spectacular fireworks display at midnight (1pm GMT). From Sky News