I have been in Denmark.
It is a country that I have always admired. They gave us pastries after all, and Sarah Lund, and Vikings (which, in retrospect, was a good thing although our Saxon ancestors may not have been quite so enthusiastic). Added to this my parents honeymooned in Copenhagen and we spent a holiday there when I was about eight in a wooden house with a big 1960s picture of an orange gonk on the wall. To me this seemed the epitome of Scandinavian glamour. I bought a china dragon from a junk shop possibly on the same day as I was stung by a number of jellyfish.
It is easy to get revenge on jellyfish and I spent many happy hours bisecting them with a plastic spade while they lay stranded and gasping on the beaches of Jutland. They are not so stingy then…hah!
That was not the reason for my visit on this occasion. I do not hold a grudge that deep against jellyfish.
I was lecturing to various landscape architects and nurserymen, I hope that they understood what I was rabbiting on about. I listened to the previous lecturer who spoke in Danish and, in spite of two series of the Killing and one of The Bridge, the only words I understood were in Latin. And “Tak”.
It was a lightning raid: cab at 4:15 in the morning to Stansted then 7:00 am flight to Billund…
Hang on, rewind a minute….
4:15am: No cab.
4:25: No cab.
4:35: No cab.
Damn. Do I wait? How long do I wait? No point in calling the office it is 4:30 in the bloody morning.
Sod it… Leap into car, drive like lunatic to airport, park somewhere expensive and enter the Armageddon that is Stansted security at that hour of the morning. A teeming mass of sleepy people forgetting to remove their belts before venturing through the metal detectors. On the other side there were still lots of people many of them already drinking beer. At 6:00am. Honestly, the only acceptable breakfast tipple used to be either Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers, not pints of Stella (i).
The world is going to the dogs.
Then (finally) flight to Billund. A very crowded flight to Billund.
Why do people want to go to Billund midweek? Because it is the home of Legoland and it is half term. The airport started as a private airport for the Lego executives and has swollen slightly. I am, however, deeply disappointed that the arrivals hall is not made of Lego. in fact nothing at all is made of Lego, not the buildings, the chairs, the taxi ranks, the partitions, the lavatories, the catering franchises nor the flooring. Nobody is dressed as a Lego person and there are no loose bricks left lying around to snag the unwary barefoot traveller (ii) This has to be a serious missed opportunity.
Every time I fly on RyanAir I swear it will be the last time, it never is and my continuing failed boycott makes me feel inadequate and slightly grubby. It is something about the wipe clean seats, the selling of smokeless fags and the fanfare when the flight lands.
Taxi to a very spiffy hotel overlooking a fjord, used to be a sanitarium for TB sufferers but is now full of conferencing Danes. Lunch delightful, gave two talks and back to the airport feeling a bit pooped.
The cab driver did not appreciate my poopedness and after about fifteen minutes complained that I did not talk much so I then had a long conversation about his hobby. When not driving people to sanatoria or Legoland he researches ancient documents to do with his village. Archaeology, history, social reportage: all these are grist to his mill. There are other aspects of life of which he does not really approve. Taxi drivers are quite similar no matter where they live. The difference is that most British cabbies would not speak Danish as well as he spoke English. Sometimes I think it would be really nice to learn a slightly obscure language like Danish or Dutch, just out of politeness.
Arrive at airport, hang around for two hours pestering people on Twitter, realise that I have neither Krone nor Euros so am unable to eat without a currency transaction. Join in bunfight that is boarding.
All the crew are Spanish and are completely incomprehensible through the tannoy. I am also proposing, when I am swept to absolute power my a tumultuous multitude, banning hand baggage that is not actually hand baggage. In other words those small shin-cracking suitcases that people put in over head lockers and pretend they are not compressed steamer trunks. Under my new law hand baggage has to be carried at all times and you can only carry what will fit into a large Jiffy bag. Offenders will have to eat their excess baggage – although, as an act of extreme clemency, we will provide a selection of organic condiments to make that task a bit easier.
Return to Stansted. Drive home. Bed is a nice place. All part of the rich tapestry etc etc etc
The picture is of a licheny stone thingy.
A couple of years ago I was doing much the same thing as I was a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about it here.
I am listening to It’s All Me by Holly Golightly.
(i) Once, many years ago, I had Sauternes and chocolate cake for breakfast. It was an almost instant hangover whose effects I can still remember.
(ii) Treading on a six-spot Lego brick is one of the most painful experiences available. Especially if if lodges itself between the toes. Probably not as bad as having your molars removed with pliers but still a bit nasty.