Vaxjo is not in the middle of nowhere. It is, in fact, about fifty kilometres above the Middle of Nowhere and just to the left of The Back Of Beyond. Even with those fairly accurate directions it is still difficult to find. It is also hard to find anything about this little Swedish town on the internet, unless you’ve entered its name using all those weird Swedish dots above the letters.
If that all sounds far too complex then try finding Vaxjo by car headlights in the middle of a stormy night whist keeping one eye out for the next moose that’s going to take a suicidal leap in front of your car. Moose, or ‘mice’ if we’re talking plural, are the biggest cause of car accidents in Sweden.
The Swedes are supposed to be the happiest race in the world, closely followed by the Danes. I’m not quite sure what the Swedes have got be so happy about. Sweden doesn’t appear to have any daylight for fifty-one weeks of the year, you can’t buy any Action Man toys because they’ve banned them and their road-signs use ciphers that even Dan Brown wouldn’t have dared bamboozle us with in the Da Vinci Code.
At least their neighbours, the Danes, have Carlsberg to keep them happy, probably.
The Swedes may be happy because they are the only ones that understand what all the furniture names at IKEA mean. Whilst we can only guess that ‘Brylldrp’ means ‘damned fine coffee table’ the Swedes know that it actually translates as ‘monkey-turd in a butter-dish’. Maybe it’s all one elaborate Scandinavian in-joke to get the rest of us buying rude words. It was probably a scam thought up by the government to keep the population’s morale high since Abba split up.
Vaxjo, which translates into IKEA as ‘bloody invisible’, certainly tested my sense of humour as I bumped from moose to moose on a wet moonlit Swedish highway. I did eventually arrive in Vaxjo before the sun came up, and then went down ten minutes later.
I was in Vaxjo to spend a drunken Saturday night with a singer called Robert Wells who is very famous in Sweden. He is a jolly nice fellow who he bought me lots of beer and hot dogs after his show. On that basis alone he deserves to be famous elsewhere, even if it is just Finland.
On the Sunday morning I awoke to find Sweden closed. It stayed pretty much closed for most of the day. Unlike the UK they don’t open up their shops to eager consumers that are desperate to waste the whole day in a spending-frenzy at Argos.
Instead the Swedes keep the shops closed for most of the day. This is part of a government scheme that insists that the population stay at home with their families on Sundays to practice the ancient Swedish art of building flat-pack wardrobes from IKEA.
As the rest of us spend half of our Sundays being jostled at IKEA and the other half swearing at the newly purchased flat-pack wardrobe that refuses to assemble, before finally stabbing it with our screwdriver and throwing the Allan key at the cat, I can now understand why the Swedes are so chuffing happy.