Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday, December 11th, 2006:
Tagged in Helsingborg -
This may sound weird, but...

What I think:

As my regular readers may have realised, I usually write about idiosyncrasies about Sweden I've found as an expat living here. But I got tagged a couple of days ago, by a Canadian blogger called Lost In Life, to list six weird things about myself. I've then got to tag six other people.

At first, I thought this would be quite a difficult thing to do, as there is very little that's weird about me - as far as I'm concerned anyway. So I decided to try to think whether there's anything that other people might consider weird about me.

Here's what I came up with:

1. I always wear black. I started doing this in the mid-90's. There's no really good reason for this; I'm not a goth, and I'm not into making any big fashion statements or anything. But I have to say that it does make doing the laundry just that much simpler - no sorting of colours, etc. So perhaps I wear black because I'm lazy. I don't know.

2. I was married for fourteen years but only lived with my wife for five days. Let me explain: I had lived with this nice French-Canadian girl (in Montreal) for a few years, and I wanted to move to London (I have dual citizenship, and an opportunity came up). But she wanted to study. So we thought if we got married, she could move with me, and study in England.

But it turned out that she would have to live in England for five years before she could apply for citizenship there, so she'd have to pay rather prohibitive overseas student rates if she wanted to start studying straight away.

But we got married anyway, on April 22nd, 1990.
I left for London on April 27th, 1990.

We visited each other a few times and kept in touch over the next three years, but eventually drfited apart. They say that "absence makes the heart grow fonder". They also say "out of sight, out of mind".

I rang her up one day and asked if she still wanted to move to London. She had started to pay off her student loans, and happened to land a really good job, so decided against it.

Years passed, and we just never got around to getting a divorce. I was quite happily married anyway.

But when I moved to Sweden, my girlfriend at the time didn't really fancy living with a bloke who was married. Go figure. Also, the Swedish government's immigration people weren't too keen on the idea of me moving to Sweden on the basis of living with a citizen if I was married to a Canadian. What the big deal was I'll never know. I think they're weird.

So eventually, in late-April, 2004, I got divorced.

3. I've got a tattoo in Chinese characters that reads "beef in oyster sauce". Read more about that here. No, that's not weird, shut up.

4. I've got this sort of fetish for long nails. I had a girlfriend, many years ago, who used to scratch my back so hard during, errrm, Scrabble, that she used to draw blood. And this was just about when I'd achieve, uhmm, a triple-word score.

Ever since then, whenever I see an attractive girl with long nails, my back gets all tingly, and I get - how shall I put it? - an incredible urge to pick out letters from the Scrabble bag. Yeah, that's it.

5. I have a sick bag collection (US/CAN: barf bag collection). I've been collecting them for quite a few years now. On Saturday night, I got my girlfriend to help me put some of them on my kitchen wall. I sure know how to show a girl a good time, eh ladies?

6. I attract weird people or weird situations whenever I go out on the town. I sometimes think I'm a weirdness magnet.

Just one example: I was out with my girlfriend one night, and I saw a guy I know from work who was very drunk. When my girlfriend went to the toilet, this guy started telling me about how he and his wife are into swapping, and that they sometimes look for lonely guys to have fun with. He asked me if I'm a lonely guy. Nope, sorry.

He kept going on about it, saying how much his wife thinks I'm attractive, and that he could get into watching us going at it. I tried to make it clear that I'm not into mixed-doubles Scrabble. He got a bit confused at that. When my girlfriend got back, I suggested that we finish our drinks and leave.

So that's all I could come up with. As I think I've illustrated above, I'm a pretty average, mundane kind of guy, without any really weird quirks. It's the rest of the people in this town who are weird. I think it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

I'm tagging:
1. Tug, from
Just Tug
2. Jay, from Kill The Goat,
3. Maritza, from jump in the ocean,
4. Cooth, from Breeze on By,
5. ParaTed2K, from Driving Barefoot, and
6. Lexile, from Dead Puppy.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday, December 7th, 2006:
A short-legged cat in Helsingborg

What I think:

Firstly, totally off-topic, I've been watching Sky News on telly because there's been a tornado in residential Kensal Rise, Northwest London. Weird. No one was killed - it happened at about 11:00 a.m. GMT, so most people were at work - but six were injured, one of them seriously.

Hundreds of people have to find somewhere to sleep tonight because their homes have had their roofs ripped off, or have been severely damaged. My mate Roland lives within walking distance of Kenton tube station on the Bakerloo line just seven stops up from Kensal Green, so try him if you're really stuck.
But beware his rabid sock monkey.

What was I going to write about? Oh yeah, OK...

On October 25th, I got a lift to go pick up a cat in Svedala, which is a little town outside of Malmö. I wanted a cat because I missed having another living creature walking around my flat. And I like cats. And I guess I was a bit lonely.

As luck would have it, I met a girl a few days earlier, on the 21st, so I didn't really think I'd actually need additional companionship anymore. But I had made a commitment, I still like cats, and she seemed adorable (judging from the photo I'd seen).

So I went for it (after having asked my new "girlfriend" if she's allergic to cats, of course. I added the quotation marks because I couldn't really assume that she'd be my girlfriend at that point. We are still together six weeks later, so I guess she's my girlfriend now. More on her later. If she'll let me.).

Isn't it cool how a five-word sentence can become a whole bloody paragrah if you just stick a load of stuff in brackets?

About my cat: She's just under two years old, apparently, and she comes from a harbour town called Ystad, which is on the southern coast of Sweden. And she's got uncommonly short legs.

Her name was Lucy when I picked her up, but I've since re-named her Mini-Minus, after Minus, my ex-girlfriend's cat, who's getting quite old.

Here's a pic:

Mini-Minus was a bit fat when I met her, as she lived in environments in which she had to eat as much as she could, when she could. Good survival instincts.

But, because her belly was almost dragging on the floor due to her short legs, I felt that she needed to lose some weight. I had considered putting a stick up her bum to use her as a mop, but I soon dismissed the idea; it would have been too time-consuming to prepare her fur to make it really effective.

I had a weird conversation in the smoking room at work. I was telling some girl about my new cat (as you do when you get a new cat). I told her that she was "rescued" from the harbour in Ystad.

Her first question, without any other information, was:

"Has she got short legs?"


According to this girl, cats from Ystad are known as "pallet cats", meaning that they're cats that have evolved to have short legs because they live under wooden shipping pallets. They run under them when they're afraid of potential predators (i.e. me or you - yes, you), they make their homes under them, and they give birth and raise kittens under these wooden pallets in the harbour.

I tried searching - sorry, "Googling" - on the Internet, but could find nothing about this phenomenon.

The day after I got her, I couldn't find her anywhere. I eventually found her under the bathtub. My bathtub's front panel is nine centimetres (3.5 inches) above the floor.

Yeah, short legs.

Here's Mini-Minus spouting out obscenities.
Luckily, I don't quite understand enough Swedish to work it out.

Not enough is known about this phenomenon, and the cat-buying public needs to know about it. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006:
Tattooed in Helsingborg

What I think:

Gosh readers, we've got a lot to catch up on, eller hur? (London-Brit. English, roughly: "innit?")

November is not very well-liked in these parts of Sweden; it's just started to get dark, but it's not quite cold enough to be called "winter" yet. It's generally just a really blahhh month all round.

I, however, happened to quite enjoy this particular November. I met a girl and I got a cat at the end of October, and I've had some great experiences. But more on these another time. Firstly, I'm happy to announce that I finally had that tattoo done; you know, the one I wrote about earlier...

I made the appointment at the House of Pain tattoo place, and trotted merrily off on November 16th to have it done. It was a Thursday (work day), and I must say that I was more than happy to leave it the meeting I was attending. The tattoo would definitely be less painful.

House of Pain is a friendly place, staffed with a few talented people who are happy to stab you with ink-filled needles over and over again. They will even make holes in your private parts as well, if you pay them enough. It's amazing what some people will do for money, eh? I suppose it's equally amazing that some people are more than willing to pay to have these things done.

Here's a photo of House of Pain, taken just before my appointment:As you can (almost) see, House of pain is located downstairs from Tim's, a trendy hair salon. I went there once, and a bloody haircut with a bit of colour cost me more than my previous tattoo.

By the way, I now have three tattoos: a Canadian flag, with a Union Jack (British flag) just below it, on my right upper-arm, and my new one is on my left upper-arm. Each tattoo cost me 800 Kronor (about US$120/ €90/ £60).

And that thieving trendy trumped-up barber bastard upstairs charged me over ninety quid for a haircut. I hope he gets a nasty series of bad-hair days; that'd probably kill him.

Here's my tattoo:

Nice, innit? I think these particular Chinese characters look really good. I won't tell you what they mean. For that, you'll have to read my previous entry. But I'll give you a hint: When I showed a Chinese guy at work, he said, "Why you got food on your arm?" (in a Chinese/Swedish accent, bless).

And here's a photo of me,
taken just a few hours ago,
looking very pleased with my tattoo:

Yes, I like my tattoo, and the price was very reasonable for something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. But haircuts should never cost more than 100 kronor. OK, maybe 150 if it's really good, but no more than that. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.