Anden, trejde, fjerde, femte, sjette, syvende

I met a bunch of people socially a few weeks ago. It was some sort of foreigner meetup but we were all strangers so it was like a 10-way first date. More fun than that sounds. Anyway, the event planner knows me from this very organ and we had a chat about blogging. Then some of the guys said “You’re not going to *blog* this, are you?” and I was like “Well, no. Probably not. No. Not like you think.”

A lot of bloggers do a blow-by-blow or a retelling of things of interest. I am not above a bit of that. But, no, I’m not going to blog everything that happened. However. There was something interesting that happened and you need the context of “a bunch of international strangers, having a chat in Denmark.”

I started wittering on about my downstairs neighbour (who you may recall was a drunk drug dealing scumbag), and I made the “joke” about him having a Dutch name, which made him, what, fifth generation immigrant. And then said “You know, you really have to watch those guys. Those fifth or sixth generation immigrants.”

Jesus, it is a wonder I am not booked for parties. Imagine seeing my material live!

The guy looked kind of, well, you can probably imagine… Put off by a racist. Put off by someone who said something really fucking stupid about immigration. Confused that she thought it was funny. That face. The face of a nice man who is not amused by “jokes” about seventh generation Dutch immigrants in Denmark all being drug dealers.

Then later I find out that he is seriously fresh off the boat. Maybe a week or something. Maybe less. I keep bumping into people who have just arrived. Like those Estonian au pairs I met who had arrived that day.

Obviously, this information came as somewhat of a relief. It wasn’t my joke that was weak, he just had no context in which to find it funny.

What everyone needs to remember is, is that Denmark is like Britain in the 80s. They’re just finishing with half day closing on a Saturday. You can sometimes get bagels. They have just realised that carbs are not the way to lose weight.

They are also disproportionately hung up on the idea of someone’s heritage. (Obvs there are individuals in Denmark who are so over that shit). Now, I am a curious woman. If I meet someone who seems to have a family background in another continent, I might ask them “Hey, where’s your family from?” but it’s very unlikely to be my first question. It probably won’t even be in the top ten. But I like to hear about people’s backgrounds. You know, eventually. It’s nice to get around to it.

However, I won’t then label this person as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th immigrant. If they were born in my country, they’re from my country. It’s really simple. And seriously, even if they identify more strongly with the place of their parents’ birth, that is fine too. But they’re still British. In my heart. (Where, obviously, it counts). I even count people who arrived in Britain as children and teens (and shit, even adults), as British if they’ve stuck it out longer than maybe five years.

In Denmark, this is not a thing. If you have a foreign background which shows up on your facial features or skin tone or accent, then you are ALWAYS an immigrant. Second. Third. Fourth. Descendants. They like to label them as “other”. They like to measure their criminality. Their achievement at school. Their integration. And if they are found lacking, well, that is widely publicised. And if they are not, they find another way to measure it until they are found lacking.

I read a (boring), article about children learning a second language as the main language of instruction in schools. What I took away from it was that Danish children who were considered “second gen” do much worse than their peers whose parents come from Denmark. In Britain, “second gen” have no difference in achievement. Whatever language they speak at home.

There is an irony here that I want to unpick. In my country, it’s a multiculture. You do your thing and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, everyone’s okay with it. But if you were born in my country, you’re British. You just get to define what that means on your own terms. In Denmark, it is aggressively maintained as a monoculture. You are strongly “encouraged” to give up your cultural practices, your linguistic heritage, your identity, even which foods you like to eat at home. But even if you were born in Denmark AND do all that, you’re still not Danish. You’re a descendant or bilingual or different heritage or non-ethnic or ethnic. Depending on who does the describing. There are uglier words. Often, when ignorant people are talking, they simply say “Muslim”. Muslim! Whether the person is Muslim or not. As if “ethnic Danish” people can’t be Muslim too.

What this means is that the culture of Denmark is forcing children into an identity of foreigner, when this culture is all they have ever really known and are allowed to know.  And then, when they fail, blames their heritage on their failure. What would they know about their heritage? They are strongly discouraged from having anything to do with it!

The reason why my joke was so very apt, was that there are masses of descendants who are considered “ethnic” Danish. And their families come from the Netherlands, France, Norway, Sweden and so on.

Now, a lot of people say that these cultures are the same, so they might as well be ethnic Danes. BOLLOCKS. The history of the Dutch settlers on Amager, the Huguenots in Fredericia, the other Scandys all over… they were very different people with different languages, foods, customs. Shit, the Dutch didn’t allow marriage with Danes for more than a hundred years when they lived on Amager. The Huguenots got chucked out of their country for being religious nutjobs.

I have heard of children from Korea being adopted, growing up, having children and then those children being taunted with “You’re not Danish, you should go home.” Don’t give me “cultural differences”, it’s just boring racism.

No one gives a shit if you are second generation British or third generation Swede only in the case that you are white. If you are a black British person settling in Denmark, you and your kids are going to operate under a completely different set of “rules” than I ever will. And we have more or less the same culture, certainly the same cultural values. So. BOLLOCKS.

I have to keep reminding myself that Denmark is my country but 30 years retarded. I have to keep saying it over and over. Because I REMEMBER in the 80s, shit like “Which team would you support if England played Jamaica” being vitally important to twats. I remember all this “African persuasion” shit. I remember it all. So, I just have to be patient and kind and occasionally kick some bottoms until they get it.

On Offensiveness, Outrage and Shitting the Bed

Twitter and Facebook have made outrage so much easier these days. In the past, someone would do something outrageous and maybe a few hundred people would write a stern letter to the editor or ring a switch board. Or someone would say something offensive in the pub and people would get offended and react appropriately (rage, nervous laughter, resolving never to speak to that person again, eyelid spasm).

Now, shit man, you only have to be a little bit out of step with what others think, get re-tweeted by an influential anti-simpatico and it’s GET THEM! Say you are feminist BUT you don’t see what all the fuss is about FeministIssue#5 and you are in for a treat. By treat, I mean, a few hours of being “shouted” at by people you don’t know.

Oh well, we’re all working out where all the new lines are. What an exciting time.

Spare a thought for the social media “jokers”, who have been sent down or given fines for what they have said (in the UK). I can think of a handful off the top of my head. The guy who made a joke about blowing up an airport because he was frustrated that he couldn’t visit his girlfriend. The guy who joked while drunk about having a riot in his town and then deleted it when he sobered up. The guy who said he hoped that soldiers would burn in hell after fighting and dying in Afghanistan (he wasn’t joking but still, it’s a bit of a hypothetical situation, considering hell doesn’t exist). The guy who made some jokes about a murdered child. The guy who made some jokes about a footballer dying after he collapsed, revolving around how the footballer was black.

Obviously, they are all people I am not sure I would get on with. From that limited information I have on them, they seem a bit socially gauche and the sort that would say “Can’t you take a joke?” after saying something that made them sound like a twat.

But they all got in trouble WITH THE LAW. Jesus. This is because they did these things on the internet. Had they done it in the street, in their homes, in the pub; society would have sorted them out in the following way:-

“You have shat the bed. No one thinks you are big or clever. Shut up now.”

Whatever happened to a good eye roll and a tut? Why do we have to call the rozzers?

Anyway, I bring it up because of something I read on twitter, which I thought merited a bit of a share with my networks.

A Danish kid put an old “joke” about the Holocaust on a sign in the supermarket he worked at. What a twat, right? I hope he gets in trouble with his boss for being a twat during working hours.

But then the joke got photographed and then shared on social media. Where SOME Danes commented on how apt, how witty, how droll the whole thing was.

An Israeli-Dane blogged it as “offensive” (fair enough, right?) and out comes the boring, same-old same-old justification.

The joke was poor. The joke wasn’t funny. The joke might hurt some people’s feelings. The people on Facebook don’t need to be punished or anything for finding it funny. But it is still her right to express

“You have shat the bed. No one thinks you are big or clever. Shut up now.”

Instead, people are all over her for not appreciating that Muslims hate Jews more. That the Danish people did a lot in WWII to save the Jews (right, that’s an interesting narrative you have there, I heard that the German ambassador warned the Danish Jews about what was going to happen, so Jewish refugees paid Danish fisherman and other sailors incredibly tasteless sums of money, considering, to get them to safety. Humanitarian, MY ARSE). That Danish humour is blah blah bloody blah and you’ll never get it because you’re a pc American blah blah blah. And “other people died in genocides and massacres, why do Jews get special treatment?” (Could it be “no one is joking about the other mass murders”, shit for brains?)

Why can’t dandroids for once just fucking say “OMG, yeah, ok, we shat the bed here. Sorry. We’ll just go over here to shut up.” ?  Or make a comment in response, showing a level of self awareness and wit?

I am not outraged. I am not particularly offended. I have heard a lot of Holocaust jokes and they’re made because humour sometimes comes from dark places. It’s not funny and it’s not clever and it’s not cool, but you know, whatever. Keep trying, guys, you’ll make the BEST genocide joke next time.

But I share this story with you because I want the world to stop thinking The Danes are these groovy, tolerant, fun loving, relaxed guys. I want the world to appreciate that there is a significant percentage of Danes who are mouth breathing, red necked, peasant scumbags.  And they are enabled by each other (and actually by some of the more groovy ones), because they don’t “get” free speech.

They don’t “get” that the flip side of being able to express yourself is that ANYONE is also allowed to call you out on what you said.

Free speech isn’t a get out of jail free card. It isn’t a guarantee that people will like you after you open your mouth. It isn’t an assurance that all bad taste jokes are edgy, funny and will go down well with all your network.

Free speech is just the right to speak your brains. If people think you are a stupid racist fuck after you do, it’s really not anyone’s fault but your own.

Bubble timez

Sorry I haven’t been blogging. Tis the season where foreigners like to turn on each other and I literally have no “overskud” to deal with it. Not that I’ve been at the centre of much drama this season (yet), though I have been peripheral to a lot already and it is only pigging October.

What gets me is that the same people that put me on their shoulders and laud me for “telling it how it is” and express gratitude that I vomit out such words as these for their reading pleasure are ready to shun me for bringing them down or being too negative for their tastes. Honestly, guys, make up your minds. If “I’m telling it like it is” in summer and spring, how am I causing you mental distress in autumn and winter? May I suggest it is not I who is causing you issues, it is THE COUNTRY YOU ARE LIVING IN. And as I benefit, as you do, from friendship, dropping me just for expressing views about this country (that you agreed with when the sun was shining), is a bit of a “dick move”.

There are a lot of people who are going to think I am talking specifically about them which goes to show how widespread this shit is. No, I am not talking about you. I am talking about y’all.

Anyway, when the spring comes, you are welcome to make contact and enjoy my company anew. No hard feelings or nuttin’. I just wanted you to hear that I am a real person with real feelings, not some anti-dk roboto. (NOTE TO SELF: Invent anti-dk roboto)

My solution, (just as theirs), is to make a nice little bubble where I don’t peek out and spoil the “hygge” I have “skabt”. So, this means I haven’t been reading nor watching the Danish news. There is no grist to my mill. So, no blogs to be written.

Mostly, though, incredibly, things are okay with me. Yes, my boyfriend is in Helmand, Afghanistan doing a dangerous (and somewhat pointless and probably illegal), job. Yes, my job is disappearing and I have to find a new one here or leave the country and lose the boyfriend I will have been waiting for six months for because he will not come with me. Yes, I tried to get pregnant but the embryo got stuck in my tube, threatened my life, died and then was not acknowledged as a pregnancy at all because the embryo was crap and was not producing enough hormones to show up in my wee (which buggers up the possibilities of getting grief counselling). Yes, work asked me to do extra lessons to make up for the time I missed through this medical emergency and other illnesses and then changed their mind and tried to take a class off me entirely and then finally came up with the compromise of having a backup teacher in case I was ill again and are now finally leaving me alone. Yes, the “expert” that came in to assess the levels of mercury after a major spill a couple of years ago said that “I’m not a chemical engineer but I expect it has evaporated by now” and then printed out the first google hit about the “half life in blood is 3 days”. (Yes, the half life IN BLOOD is three days, the mercury isn’t all pissed out, though, it goes from your blood to your internal organs, where it stays and that says nothing about the half life of mercury in a room which is swept with the same contaminated broom every three days) and then refused to even try to measure the levels in the classroom. Yes, I’m ill every five weeks for a week. Yes, I live in a country which I have great difficulties feeling welcome. Yes, the loneliness of my situation crushes me.  Yes, every single part of my life has high levels of bullshit attached to it.

But it’s not all bad, is it?

I have actually been feeling pretty cheery. Some good stuff has been happening. I am learning to make socks. Work asked me to give a small talk about my teaching to the other teachers and it went well. My fitness is increasing. My weight is decreasing. My fertility is normal. My doctor is really good and is going to treat my asthma, to see if untreated asthma is why I am so ill all the time. My lessons are going great. I have been keeping myself entertained. I have planned a lot of social arrangements. My boyfriend comes back on R&R in a few weeks.

I have been keeping my head above water with a combination of exercise, meditation, “good” bacteria pills (shown to be mood altering in some studies) and, as I have already said, avoiding the Danish news.

Life is actually okay. I am feeling good and, dare I say it?, happy. Okay, that’s enough peeking out of my bubble to talk to you, I’m going for a swim.