Do you think it’s funny to be here?

Crawled out of bed early to attend a Norwegian frokostseminar, which translated means something like an online talk at breakfast time, and being hosted in Norway meant an earlier crawling at this end.

I only do this sort of thing for special people – in this case Son – who was giving a talk, ‘Britain: so close, it’s practically Scandinavian?’ It works both ways; Scandinavians believe they are really good at English, and the British know all about hygge these days.

Hah. I was served a shit sandwich. (Language, boy!) It’s not something I usually consider, but yes, the British tend to hide a bad message with kind words, whereas the pragmatic Scandinavians just get to the point. And being Scandinavian, their sandwiches are open affairs, so you can’t really hide the shit all that effectively.

I was gratified to see that our chance encounter with some lovely people about twenty years ago, was still good for a translation talk. We had just arrived in Sweden for our holiday. We went for a walk and met a dear neighbour with her son and daughter-in-law, and the latter enquired whether we’d had a bath yet. We had not. We had not gone for a swim yet, either.

For the Q&A afterwards, someone wanted to understand the difference between fun and funny. The Resident IT Consultant and I laughed [off microphone]. But it set me thinking. At the tender age of 13 I must already have known the difference. My English pen friend visited me in Sweden. We met up with a couple of my friends one day, and the chatty one asked the pen friend if it ‘was funny to be here’ and the pen friend looked really confused. Especially as she probably thought it was rather funny to be there. But I knew where the chatty one had gone wrong and what she should have said instead, so managed to clear it up.

But yes – or should that be no? – neither side of the North Sea can pretend to be the other. Hygge is impossible to grasp (by reading books, anyway), and no matter how good your English is, people can tell you are not.

Plus I’m seriously considering crawling back into bed.

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