Borders

What is the world coming to? I know I’m succumbing to nimby-ism when I am more interested in what the Danes and the Swedes get up to along their shared border, rather than the more serious issues elsewhere in the world. But somehow abandoning ID-free travel between the Nordic countries feels wrong. It has been special; something to take for granted, because we are such nice and sensible people.

And then it turns out that some Swedes had the ‘wrong’ ID cards to be allowed* to travel back to Sweden. (Well, they didn’t. It was a case of careless list-making by the authorities.)

It makes me think of when the 15-year-old Mother-of-witch travelled to Norway in 1939. No passport-free crossings then. And she had no passport. The family didn’t have the money to travel that far, either.

What they did have was Grandfather-of-witch. He worked for the railway, in a most menial position. But they got free travel, so the family went all the way to the far north of Sweden for free, sleeping sitting up in third class, on wooden seats. And when they were there, they made a daytrip to Norway. My Grandfather simply told the border guards that he was a Swedish railwayman, and this was his family, and in they went.

I’m guessing that back then, being a railwayman was a pretty good and proper thing to be, and stating the fact was enough.

It was a different world back then. I do understand that. It’s the sense of honour in a man making a statement and being believed and being welcomed that makes me happy.

I once almost experienced something similar, travelling on the London tube. I needed to buy a ticket for Offspring and me, but for some reason we couldn’t get exactly what I’d had in mind, so 14-year-old Son needed to pay for an adult ticket as we didn’t have proof of age with us on our day trip. The rather scary West Indian ticketseller lady enquired if I was his mother. I said I was, and she said in that case she was satisfied.

So sometimes being a mother is as good as working for the railway. (Perhaps I should have mentioned my Grandfather to her.)

*Makes me think of the old Danish saying that a good deed for the day would be to accompany a Swede to the ferry [back to Sweden]. Just to get rid of one more tiresome drunk.

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