The Gothenburgians are strange people and they can be split into two groups. There are those that work in the public-service sector that are very, very polite and there are those that don’t, who aren’t.
I got told-off lots of times in Gothenburg by members of the latter group who seemed very keen to point out the error of my ways in several circumstances. Sometimes they even formed a queue to do this. For instance walking in a cycle-lane is an offence which will get you tasered. Apparently the general public are allowed to carry tasers, bullwhips and cheese-wire just in case anyone steps out of line.
On the issue of cycle-lanes I don’t think they realised that I come from a country where lycra-clad cyclists are universally loathed and that you do your best to get in their way, never mind build special roads for the buggers. Another benefit of getting in their way is that you lay the foundations for a nice fat compensation claim when they crash into you on their shiny new mountain-bike. You should never feel too bad about this, as it is a push-iron that probably cost twice as much as the car you drive. So they can afford it.
Likewise the Gothenburgians get all holier-than-thou about their personal liberties. In my country a domestic argument between a man and wife that spills out onto the streets is something to be relished. If you have a camera handy then it is also one to be filmed and the joy shared with the rest of the world on YouTube. Not in Sweden apparently…”we don’t do this in our country” he said, pointing to my camera…he had a big dog with him so I wasn’t going to argue.
And then there was the man with very big arse at the Uwelli Stadium, where we’d gone to watch the Speedway Grand Prix. He arrived late and edged his ample frame along the row until he reached the empty seat next to me. Fair play to him, he did manage to squeeze most of his bulk onto his own seat. Apart from the buttock that sat on my left leg for the rest of the evening.
So you have two types of Swedes. There are the very polite ones and there are the very rude ones. Sorry, there’s a third type. These are the ones in the middle, who appear to be permanently drunk. I’ve never seen so many respectably dressed middle-aged men hanging on to bus stops and then pretending not to understand the Queen’s English when they are being sick on the same tram as me.
I blame the climate. One minute we were enjoying the stomach-churning delights of the Liseberg Amusement Park and the next we were sheltering under emergency ponchos as the heavens opened and they emptied a year’s-worth of rain on Gothenburg in a mere twenty-four hours. With that sort of miserable weather it is probably best to stay pissed, or stay surly unless you’re getting paid not to be.
On the plus side Gothenburg does have a very good art gallery. Indeed it is a superb art gallery that they should shout about a lot more. However shouting isn’t allowed either…so they told me, several times.