>Image by Agent Smith via FlickrONE OF the things I like about living in Denmark is how it operates, for the most part, like clockwork. A grand overstatement, of course, but there is a certain fixed routine about the place that gives one a sense of comfort – if you are obsessed about organisation and preparation like I am.
Christmas approaches and yet it was only a few days ago that my home city of Copenhagen suddenly went festive. A few days ago – the first of December. Now I can’t move for lit trees, burning candles in windows and the sudden arrival of traditional and tasty little ginger biscuit snacks that can be found all over the workplace. If I remember England correctly, Christmas seemed to start at the end of August as shelves started filling with tins of Quality Street and Peter Kay ‘best of’ DVD compilations shimmered in their plastic wrapping at every checkout.
It’s not just Christmas that works to a strict schedule. The ice cream parlours at the seaside seem to open on the 1st of May and close at the end of September. Nevermind if there’s an indian summer where you could make a few quid more as people get out to enjoy surprise weather. No, summer has ended. Obey.
Danes holiday in the same fashion. The first half of the year in Denmark is peppered with public holidays, long weekends and so on (I read once they have more public holidays than any country in Europe, but I am not sure if that’s true). Everyone goes somewhere at the same time, and you are expected to do the same. “Where will you be for the holiday?” I am frequently asked.
And there’s the rub. As said at the start, I am an organisation obsessive, a person who loves timetables and keeps their watch five minutes fast to stay just ahead of the game.
But I am not very good at it. Where will I be for the holiday? I simply never get my shit together in time. We are always at home because we never remember to check when the holidays are. We never remember to conform.
So my routine is shaped by the routine of others. Others do things, while I am reminded that I forgot to do things.
It seems appropriate for Johnny Foreigners like me.