The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 16 Jun 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Sweet dreams of Sweden

This is what my dream is. I want to write it down so that, when the end comes and I’m lying in a hospital bed, marinaded in my own wee and smelling of sweaty pork and old biscuits, it mocks me with my utter failure to achieve it. Perhaps one of you could solemnly intone it over my body as I slip away from consciousness, lapse into a coma and, as the phrase has it, fall of the twig. So here it is. My desired future.

I’m living in a cabin, on the edge of a dense pine forest, somewhere in northern Sweden. There are no neighbours because, while where I live at the moment is idyllic, there are still people around and, much as I like them, and much as they’re slowly becoming friends, I’d really rather prefer it if I lived miles from anyone. The cabin is well-placed to survive the Swedish winter, with robust insulation and a good solid roof that can hold its weight of snow as well as thick walls to keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Outside there is some kind of battered, East European 4×4 which doesn’t look much but which I can rely on to get me through the snow. Where am I going? Well, nowhere much. Maybe there’s a small town a few miles away, at least far enough away to deter walkers, where there’s a local shop and a small bar. I’d drive there once a fortnight to get my provisions and, as the winter came, I’d make sure I had enough to see me through periods of enforced isolation.

Because that, I realise, is what I crave. Isolation. The cartoonist Herge, who I’ve written about before, wasn’t too keen on people, either. He’d often, in his Tintin books, draw crowd scenes where everyone’s behaviour was in some way idiotic. The one I’m thinking of may be in ‘The Calculus Affair’ where people have clustered outside the characters’ Marlinspike address, with souvenirs being sold, cars running over people, gawkers and all manner of other dunderheadedness. More than anything else, they contradicts the idea of the wisdom of crowds, and for that, I like it them very much indeed.

In my seclusion, I wouldn’t have to worry about this collective foolishness. The bovine herds in supermarkets, the blank, dead faces of people going shopping, the strange acquisitiveness that prizes the mindless accumulation of new stuff and the witless, artless babble of people who talk just to fill silence. There is, or rather, would be, utter redemption in being separate from all of this. If I wanted sound, I’d just need to go out and listen to the wind in the tops of the pine trees. Or maybe I’d use the TV to watch the DVDs I’ve accumulated or read my books. In both cases, I’ve got enough to see me through and if I want variety, there’s always Amazon.

Why do I want to retreat like this? Simple. I’ve retreated a bit, and found that I liked it. I’ve deleted the BBC News app from my phone and stopped watching Channel 4 News. I no longer read a newspaper. And, as a result, I realise that I have very little idea of what’s happening in the world at all. My single news source right now is Twitter and I’m fighting hard with myself to give that up as well. Pretty soon I’ll be wholly sundered from the outside world and all I’ll know of current events is what people choose to reveal in conversation.

Of course, this is of no use to someone who is politically engaged. And, of course, I’m not. I don’t intend to vote again, least of all in the forthcoming referendum as it simply isn’t a country I want anything much to do with, as you can tell by the fact that Sweden is my chosen destination. I’m a sort of Christian Socialist, and that’s just not what this country does, so I can either rage against it or I can tacitly accept it and move. Were Sweden to give me citizenship, I wouldn’t vote there, either. I’d be too bloody grateful to bother them with my poxy views on politics and they seem to know what they’re doing already, so I wouldn’t need to.

There remains the problem of earning a living. Right now, I’m scratching a wage of sorts writing blogs for people and doing sundry other media stuff, all of which involves working from home, so I’m going to hope I’d be able to do the same, albeit remotely. So, right now, this remains a dream. My passport expires in ten years and I’ve said that I’d never apply for another British one, so I guess that means one of two things. Either I never leave the country again, which is unthinkable, or I’ll have already departed when my ten years is up. I know which one I’m looking pinning my hopes on, so… here’s to that dream. And to that cabin.

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