Lund, though a beautiful old university town, was really only our transit camp to house us up temporarily on our arrival in this strange land before continuing the long trek to the tundra wastelands further north and to let us have a shower and a bite to eat and perhaps a celebratory arrival in Sweden type glass of beer.
Once refreshed, we dined luxuriously on traditional Swedish Thai food and had a look round the Coop supermarket to convince our Rose that her hard earned krona would be sufficient to supply her with victuals and toiletries to keep her in the comfort to which she is accustomed. I surmised that if she was prepared to eat and bathe in pickled herrings for the whole of her stay then her financial worries would be unfounded.
I’m ashamed to say that after our not all that Scandinavian meal we went into a traditional English pub called the John Bull. Well, all we wanted was a cuppa and we didn’t realise it was so English until after we had placed our order. The high standard of cleanliness and the lack of pissed people staring into their beer and shouting, ‘Are you looking at me?’ did make me wonder if it really had any English characteristics at all. There was a band playing there too who belted out the songs of traditional Swedish artistes like the Beatles, Neil Young and the Eagles. They were called The Nowhere Men. I bet you can’t guess which Beatles’ song they sang.
The streets of Lund were all very neatly laid out, spotlessly clean and practically void of any human activity, rather like a cemetery. The cemetery of Lund was very neatly laid out, spotlessly clean and practically void of any human activity, rather like the streets of Lund.
The streets of Lund seemed to have been taken over by hooded rooks which were rather sinister in appearance just like big, fat and scruffy magpies. I supposed that, due to the geographic proximity of Scandinavia to Newcastle upon Tyne, these would-be magpies might have some sort of genetic link to Geordies. They looked quite miserable too, as if waiting for the inevitability of their football team’s relegation.
We tried to guess where all the people had gone from the abandoned streets. It was obvious from the number of graves that thousands of them were in the cemetery, but surely not all of them. Eventually, as we approached our hotel, we spotted the biggest psychiatric clinic in the world ever. They must have all been in there. But why? Where they mad? Had there been anywhere in Sweden where you could buy a drink stronger than a half of Shandy Bass they might have all been in there doing rehab but there wasn’t. In fact people had been caught by Customs & Excise officers as they tried to smuggle Shandy Bass into the country in the dead of night. Perhaps they were all just struggling to come to terms with the shame brought about by their countrymen imposing the music of Abba on the innocent ears of poor, unsuspecting people all around the world.
Back at the fashionable Genghis Khan Hotel (Djingis Khan in Swedish … and he had gone out djing at a wedding) we marvelled over the fact that the fire extinguishers were called Skum and were painted red and white. I already knew that English football was very popular in Sweden but to have their fire fighting appliances sponsored by Manchester United was taking things a bit too far, I thought.
The red and white Skum in the corridor
of our hotel in otherwise lovely Lund.
I also thought how nice it was to have arrived in another land. So far its lovely old wooden houses, its big churches, windy streets, fit and healthy looking people, profusion of yogurt and knäckebröd and expensive beer had met our expectations. Happy we’d arrived but still with five more days to go for me and four more months to go for young Rose.