Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30th, 2007:
Happy New Year,
and Helsingborg - The Video
(introducing a local celebrity)

What I think:

Firstly, let me take this opportunity to wish all Helsingblog readers a Happy New Year; this includes the occasional and accidental, as well as the regulars.

Here's looking at you:

Now that that's out of the way...

I realised today that this blog is now two years old. Hurrah! Two years of memories and idiotic observations immortalised here. I love this big webby thing.

I know I used to write a lot more than I do these days, but please bear with me; I'm still kind of distracted with starting up my business here. So far, I've managed to get officially registered, I've received one of the tax documents I'll need, and I've got a logo.

Check this out:

What do you think?

Yes, the company name is We Can English; kind of an ironic play on words. You see, I've noticed (more than once) that some Swedes who are misguidedly confident about their English proficiency will say, "I can English". This is because, in Swedish, the "speak" or "write" that you'd think should be in this statement is considered unnecessary; it's understood.

My colleague Helena did the logo for me. Cool, innit (US: huh / CAN: eh / AUS: G'day, Bruce & Sheila, more shrimps on the barbie) ?

And I've bought the domains:, .se, and as well. No actual web pages yet, but I can deal with that a bit later.

I start all on my own in mid-January, and I'm well-excited about that. And terrified; I'm not the most organised and methodical person alive, and it will be difficult to discipline myself (I'm used to paying someone else to discipline me. I will miss the smell and the luxurious textures of PVC and hot leather).


Moving right along, as a special New Year's treat, I'd like to present to you a fantastic little video - a ballad about this fine city. The artist's name is Rolf "Beme" Gilleberg - more about him later. But now, without further ado, please take a few moments to enjoy a lovely song, and some great views of Helsingborg. Here is Helsingborgsvisan (The Ballad Of Helsingborg):

Affects me every time.

Rolf - or "Beme" as he's known, although I really don't know why - is a bit of a local celebrity.

I've taken the liberty to roughly translate this song (with much help from my girlfriend). I hope that Beme doesn't mind. I've put a few little explanatory notes in brackets along the way. Here we go:

The Ballad of Helsingborg
Helsingborg, it's my dream
By the sound so tender
(The "sound" is Öresund, sort of a narrow strait between Helsingborg and Helsingör, Denmark.)
I saw you there
My friend Helsingborg
Come into my embrace
Helsingborg's harbour and Pålsjö's pond
Kärnan's height and Jordbodalen's depth
Everything's wonderfully delightful.

Myriads of people on Hamntorget (Harbour Square)
A warm summer's day
Magnus Stenbock on his horse (A statue in front of City Hall)
He can see everything best
And the old town with Maria Church's glory
And Bruksgatan's charm
I love it all.

Helsingborg, it's my dream.

The summer wind by the Öresund (The sound - see second line, above)
The sun always shines clearly
On the girls on Fria Bad
(a beach)
With the scent of the salt of the sea
I love it all.
My friend Helsingborg,
My faithful old treasure.

Helsingborg, it's my dream.

Beme owns a music store in central Helsingborg. It's quite a nice place. And along with all the guitars, keyboards, amps and other stuff you'd expect to find, he's got an assortment of more exotic intruments - things like sitars, tablas, and a didgeridoo (US/CAN/UK/Rest of world: a big painted wooden pipe that you put to your lips and make farty sounds to produce something like music).

Check out Beme's shop, see clips from more of his videos (he seems to be very much into birds (fåglar) and love (kärlek), if the videos are anything to go by), and look at loads of his personal photos on his extensive website ->

I've been there a few times, bought a few things, and even had some restoration work done on my acoustic guitar there. When I went there just to browse once, I found Beme on the floor, in the position just prior to standing on his head. Kind of a scary sight.

He explained that it was his Yoga time. I thought, yeah, fair enough, but you're in the middle of the shop.

Maybe he should close the shop when he's doing Yoga; perhaps have a special sign to put on the door, like "I'm having my Yoga time, please come back when my chakras are aligned with my karmic awareness - usually about fifteen minutes, on a good day", or something.

In any case, he's a very kind, easy-to-talk-to, nice guy. We need more people like him in Helsingborg. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. But maybe we don't need any more videos about Helsingborg; let's not overdo it.That's what I think.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday, December 9th, 2007:
An update and
a Helsingblaze

What I think:

OK, time for an update. Sorry about the lengthy pause. As a fellow blogger, Kellypea from Kellementology, said in a comment on my last post, "There's no vacation in bloggsville."

I know this is no excuse, but I have been rather preoccupied over the past couple of months. I promise to be more prolific in my posts...soon.

"So, what have you been up to, then?", I hear you ask, in a most charmingly apathetic manner. Well, grab a coffee and/or some amphetamines to keep yourself awake, and I'll tell you.

Firstly, I've been looking into starting my own business here in the south of Sweden. That's right, after working with the same company for over twenty-one years, and in three different countries, I'm leaving IKEA.

I'll be a freelance copywriter, and I'll mainly be working, I think, with copy-editing and improving English texts. You see, most Swedes can (and do) write fairly well in English, but not all write that well. For some global Swedish companies based here, or even different cities' tourist information departments, some of the English being produced is quite frightening.

So I'll be seeking these out and offering my services. Wish me luck; I'm on a mission here.

IKEA have been kind enough to offer me at least 6 months' worth of part-time work (20 hrs per week) to get me started - so they'll actually be my first "customer", which is nice. I think having IKEA on my list will look good.

Besides that, I'm still waiting for my flat to get sold. The housing market here has been very slow, which is a pain in that area just below one's lower back.

A Gig at Charles Dickens
In other news, my band, CSI: Helsingborg, played at the Charles Dickens pub last Thursday night. Finally.

They hadn't been terribly impressed by our "demo CD" (can't say I blame them), so I had to offer to play for free, so that they could get to see us live. So we picked a date, and it was to be a Thursday, which is usually a very quiet day of the week.

But about a week or so before the gig, they found out that there was a big football match (US/CAN: soccer game) happening on that night - and they always show Helsingborg's football matches on about six TV screens. This one was taking place in France, between Helsingborg and Bordeaux.

This actually worked out well, as it happened. We had planned to do two sets anyway, so we did one before the match, and one afterwards.

The real challenge for me was to remain relatively sober (or at least not to get too sloppily squeegeed) during the football match. This was indeed a challenge because I'm not into football, so I'd be drinking & chatting while many were gawping at screens.

So I started on the Red Bulls when the match started (with only one measure of vodka per drink), and that seemed to have done the trick.

There were loads of people for the first set anyway. Helsingborg lost the match, so the place cleared out considerably for the second set (folks not in a celebratory mood, apparently). But there was still a larger crowd than at the Bjuv Festival gig.

It turned out really well, in the end.

An Evening of Mayhem
About a week and a half ago, I took a ferry trip, mainly to get a case of cheap beer, but also to catch up with The Yank. We'd decided to meet on the ferry (he was coming back from Copenhagen), and just go back and forth from Helsingborg to Helsingör (Elsinore to all you Shakespeare fans) a few times, and enjoy a few beers and a chat.

Here's The Yank enjoying a beer, with a newly-purchased case of beer next to him: Also joining us on this occasion was a friend we know from work. In order to preserve his anonymity, I won't reveal his name. All I will say is that it starts with O, ends with E, and has two L's in the middle. And it's got four letters. And he looks a bit like this:After a few round trips, with accompanying beers, we got off back in Helsingborg and decided to go to the Bishops Arms pub for a decent pint.

But there had just been a football match between Helsingborg and Vienna - which Helsingborg had won - so that pub was absolutely packed. So we went to the nearby Utposten instead.

Utposten ("The Outpost") wasn't too busy, so we ordered a beer and stood at the bar there. They've got this cool new-ish popcorn vending machine that I had to try out. It's really cool. You put money in the slot and stick this cardboard cup in a little compartment, and it makes fresh popcorn. OK, so it's probably really old hat now, but this is Sweden and I'm easily amused, alright?

But suddenly, we heard loads of commotion outside. There was a huge mob of people marching by chanting and lighting flares and fireworks.

I had to go out and snap a few pics. It was surreal; loads of firelight and smoke, with dozens of people marching by making some serious noise.

Besides being resized and sharpened a bit, the photos below are unaltered. I think they look phat. Is that the right word? I can't keep up these days. My teenage niece in Montreal thinks something that's really cool is "sick". OK, so here are some really sick photos of a mob of Helsingborg football fans for you:

How was that then, eh? Sick enough for you?

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We just finished our beers, and went our separate ways, with our cases of ferry-bought beer.

London and Paris
At the end of October, my girlfriend and I went to London and Paris. She'd never been to Paris, and I'd never been on Eurostar (the train between London and Paris), so off we went. Plus I wanted to catch up with my friends in London as well.

So we went to London first, and stayed there for a few days. We visited a friend of mine who lives near Harrow in Northwest London. We went to a cool place called Trinity Bar. We had beer. And we smiled.
On October 31st, we went to Paris. As I mentioned, we took the Eurostar train. Unfortunately, this was a couple of weeks before the high-speed rail service opened at London St Pancras; we had to go from Waterloo. It still took less than 3½ hours, but apparently it's now less than 2½ hours. Hhmm.

So here's my mandatory Eiffel shot from Paris:With that out of the way, we did loads of walking, drinking, eating, etc. You know, the Paris thing. We found a nice restaurant/bar called La Fourmi (The Ant). We liked the food, the wine, the clientèle, and especially the wine bottle chandelier: Sick, isn't it?

Oh, by the way, if you want to visit Paris, have a look at They help you find cheap flights, and they've got travel guides, and bits of history and stuff like that. Good site.

Oh yeah, Gothenburg...
At some point before the London/Paris trip, we went to Gothenburg to visit my girlfriend's brother, his wife, and their baby boy. It was his first birthday party, and he was partying like the little rock star that he is (I'm sure you've heard of him, but I'm too cool to name-drop here).

I have to admit, we were having some difficulty keeping up with the pace, so we decided to visit a couple of friends who (coincidentally) live right across the courtyard.

We had a few beers with them (actually a case of beer I'd brought up from a previous ferry trip), then we went for a quiet few drinks at their local pub. Here are VikingHumpingWitch (an English girl), and WitchHumpingViking (a Swedish guy):Besides being resized, recoloured, brightened, sharpened, pastelled, film-grained, paint-daubed, and canvas-textured with the light coming from the left, the photo above is practically unaltered.

We had a few drinks, I danced with some dreadful old drunken woman, and we threw peanuts at the DJ (whom they know, and he kind of expected it anyway). It was just another normal evening out, but it was fun. It's always nice to catch up with the Humpers.

So that's pretty much it. With the housing market as it is now, it's about time the Swedish government did something useful for a change and bought my flat. The bastards. That's what I think.