It being mid-January I am going to assume there are a lot of people out there feeling pretty much the same way as me. Suffering from a variety of symptoms including lethargy, irritability, and chapped lips I have been reduced to the point where I clothe myself in baggy shapeless jumpers and christmas themed bobble hats that lost their irony a very long time ago. I know that somewhere in the future it will no longer be winter but I have been cold for so long now that I have forgotten what that feels like and draw no comfort in the empty faith that seasons will in fact change. I am suffering, of course, from the well known (at least amongst the inhabitants of the British Isles) malady that is Winter Blues.
I take my vitamins, I drink hot cups of tea, and I try and eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in far off places full of light and sunshine but it doesn't really change the fact that it gets dark at 2:30 in the afternoon and I have permanent bruises on my elbows from resting against the edge of my desk where I am basically always sitting doing my homework. In England there are certain things you can do to treat and alleviate the symptoms (if not the cause) of Winter Blues which quite simply do not work in Sweden.
Firstly you can have a well good pompous shout at someone on the bus or London Underground when they a) stand on your toe b) spill your coffee or c) if you're really lucky you can tell off a bunch of school kids for taking up the seats reserved for the elderly and then once they sullenly slink off to the back of the bus where they belong you and some probably racist old lady can shake your heads together at the state of young people today.
In Sweden people don't shout and the only school kids you find on the bus or metro are sitting quietly reading the paper like the angelic little gits they are.
Secondly, in England, theres always the option to go down to your local Pub and sit exhaustedly on a well padded bar stool next to an old toothless hag called 'Fag Ash Lilly' who consumes a constant stream of "gin-easy on the tonic my darling" whilst chain smoking and reading the Daily Mail. If Reg isn't playing the slot machine you can have a turn and waste some of the pound coins you get every week when you cash your dole check, and if your feeling like a clever bastard you can even have a go on the 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" game by the ladies bogs. The best thing about your local pub is that you can get fully wrecked with dignity, if you're too legless to go home for your dinner the landlady Mags will make you some egg on chips and when you've been going there long enough (expect 15 - 20 years) you might even get invited for a lock in and achieve total life validation.
In Sweden there are no pubs, only twatty restaurant bars where aryan hipsters who look like albino Abercrombie models and dress like the british aristocracy (think wax jackets and riding boots) pay upwards of £20 for a cocktail that Mags wouldn't serve to one of her grandchildren and then they have the cheek to call it 'responsible drinking'. It aint responsible if it costs the same amount as the average GDP of a medium sized country in Africa is it ya knobby toff?!
Thirdly, most Brits will be on first name terms with their local chippy. This is the person, usually Sam or Tom or Carole, who keeps food in your belly when your will to cook has been sapped. Tom or Sam or Carole manage to stay immunised against the Winter Blues by being exposed to a steady stream of nudie calendars which they proudly display next to the giant poster of 'Fish of Great British Isles' which include such specimens as 'Haddick' and 'Shagfish'.
In Sweden there are no chip shops. I can only surmise this has something to do with the legally imposed invisibility of dirty pictures in public places and the knock-on effect this had on the local population of Sams, Toms, and Caroles. There are also no curry houses, no greasy spoon cafes and burger vans because at dinner time Swedish people are all running either on strange machines called 'treadmills' or out in the snow where there blonde hair can flap in the icy wind.
There's another thing you'll get in the Great Britannic Kingdom which will get you though the Winter Blues and thats the double combo of highly evolved television viewing and Terry's Chocolate Orange. Eastenders aint what it used to be thats for sure- they even got a couple of batty boys on it now which makes for well good tele- even if you did feel a bit sick after watching them snog and your nan got a bit of a shock when you pointed out that Syed was in fact a man with long hair kissing another man and not an unattractive Indian woman with a deep voice "trying to steal herself a white boy".
In Sweden people don't watch that much tele, in fact my 'fully furnished' flat doesn't even have one. Instead the average Swede can be expected to spend their evening attending a strange cultural institution called the 'folk university' where they go along and learn things for fun. At the end you don't get no certificate or nothing so its all been an exercise in twattery, probably because the cheap gits don't pay for it. Thats right ladies and gentleman, Swedes don't even pay for their folk universities so they spend their evenings sitting around in circles talking about things, not getting anything to show for it at the end and contributing nothing to the economy- not like 'Fag Ash Lilly' and Reg and Mags thats for sure.
So yeah Winter is a bit naf innit? Can't wait to be back in London in ten weeks and three days for a proper fry up and a couple of pints down Stokey with me old china.
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