Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006:
You'd better be on time in Sweden

What I think:

In Sweden, if you're invited to a dinner party that starts at 7:00 p.m. (or 19:00, as the Swedes would write), you'd better be there at that time. The Swedes are generally very time-conscious and, consequently, very punctual. If you know you're going to be late, make sure to ring your host(s) to let them know as soon as possible (preferably two weeks before). Otherwise, you'll be the topic of conversation for every minute that you're late. The concept of "seven-ish" hasn't really taken off here yet - although I'm told it's becoming a bit more common among the younger adults. Thank God.

Apparently, it's equally rude to turn up earlier than at the appointed time, as well. This is because you might get in the way of the preparations that are frantically being made to make the party a success (first impressions, and all that). Your hosts could be busily putting the final touches to the meal or the decorations, or they could be in the middle of tidying up. Being caught tidying up is probably one of the most embarrasing things to be caught doing, as it shows your guests that your home is not always spotless, God forbid. Much better to be caught shagging on the kitchen table with the blinds open.

Swedes' time-consciousness is also apparent in the workplace. In an average office (well, where I work anyway), there's a massive influx of marching bodies flowing into the building each weekday morning, almost simultaneously. At
lunchtime, it's like an exodus; almost everyone seems to disappear at the same time. It's actually quite impressive; it almost seems choreographed. Coming back from lunch, the flow is a bit more staggered (people go to different restaurants, so come back at slightly different times), but the afternoon coffee break (known as "fika" pronounced "fee-ka") is synchronised very nicely, indeed - sheer poetry in motion.

I can't speak for the whole country, but in Helsingborg, even the buses are usually on time - THE BUSES! Having moved here from London, it took me a while to get over being impressed with this. The trains are usually fairly reliable here as well, but not as much so as the buses - THE BUSES, FOR GOD'S SAKE!!

In conclusion, I think it's great that public transport is so efficient here, but too many people are still so bloody uptight about friends turning up fifteen minutes to half an hour late for their latest attempt at "international cuisine" (Thai, fajitas, or sushi are popular these days), and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.


Blogger Jacqueline said...

Just wanted to pop in and say hi and that you make me chuckle. Marie introduced me to your blog, and well, yes, I am a bit late in saying hi, (she sent me your link last night), but it´s okay that I am late because afterall .....

it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.


9:49 pm  

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