A Swede and a Turnip went into a bar…


I don’t remember exactly where we saw this in Stockholm but it sort of sums up the Swedes – calculatedly quirky

When we left Denmark, here, we caught a train across the Oresund Bridge. It’s big, bloody humongous, actually. And the train is comfortable so it is easy to drift off, unless you are in the middle of reading Iain M Banks’ ‘The Bridge’ in which case you remain, like me during our trip, wired like a 1970s stereo system.

Opposite me sat a smallish weasel-faced man who kept trying to catch my eye. Eventually I gave in. I was trying to write the poem about Denmark that was in the last post, and had my journal open on my lap.  In our time in Copenhagen we had heard maybe one voice raised in anger but this chap, on capturing me as his audience launched into a stunning denunciation of his ex-wife.

He called himself Michael Smith – Johnson and said he was Danish but had lived in Ireland for ten years so was probably Irish, naturalised Danish. Certainly his strongly Irish brogue suggested as much. He was missing a front tooth and there was a degree of ugly scar tissue around his mouth like he had ground his face into gravel on more than one occasion.

In a stunning twenty minutes of vitriol and virtuosity I captured this  about him:

  • he had two children by said ex
  • he had another of 3 and one on the way with his girlfriend
  • she was Muslim as was  he apparently
  • her father was an ‘ugly brute of a Turk’, his words, who was involved in some complicated affairs in Turkey involving electrocutions and elections
  • he was worth €42 million net
  • he had a charitable foundation that acted like a dragon’s den helping starter businesses
  • he hated the Danes for their insularity as he saw it
  • he had been homeless and empathised with anyone needing a start
  • he had a PhD in anthropology – and another in business affairs
  • he had played a role, not exactly well explained as ambassador to the EU for the Irish government
  • he was considering the offer of a chair at Cairo university
  • he spoke 17 languages and tested me in German and French, not that I passed
  • he had a book being fought over by publishers, based on the story of his life and his unique philosophy which he called democraship or some such and if implemented would solve the financial crisis at a stroke
  • And he never drank, even though his hands shook and his eyes belied his professed restraint.

When finally I looked down and refused to look up, he told me the English were the worst race in Europe and generally rhymed with bunts before he fell asleep. We moved seats at that point. I wish I’d taken a photo because  you don’t often meet Walter Mitty in the flesh. Whatever country plays host to him has my deepest sympathy, though the writer in me wants to find a story into which I can insert Michael Smith – Johnson. One day. maybe..

That was my introduction to Sweden and Stockholm. Bizarre, beautifully bonkers, breathtaking but free of vitriol and, overarching all this: smug. It was all of those things as I will relate next time.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in miscellany, travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to A Swede and a Turnip went into a bar…

  1. His life story in a few minutes…did you believe much of it ?? Fascinating what strangers will share. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Sounds like he made up for the lack of vitriol. Quite a character, unbelievable I’d say.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. BunKaryudo says:

    I’m not sure I’d want to meet him. Democraship sounds like Demo-crock-of, er… ship.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So that’ll be the captive audience, then. Did you take notes or did you remember it all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachel M says:

    Sounds like a nice guy 🙂 Every country has them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sacha Black says:

    This is thoroughly entertaining and made me laugh out loud the whole walk home!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jennypellett says:

    As I was reading through the list, Walter Mitty immediately sprang to mind…although he was harmless. This bloke sounds like the typical ‘nutter on the bus/train’ which, if you’ve commuted for as long as I have, you’re bound to encounter once in a while 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jan says:

    What an introduction to Sweden! Hope the rest of the trip was a little less stressful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. floridaborne says:

    Why wasn’t he riding in a private jet instead of sitting in a train and slumming it? I think you described the “why” of it quite well.

    People like that guy were the reason I stopped riding busses for several decades, delusional drunks with Rasputin-scary eyes who might go ballistic at any moment..

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Judy Martin says:

    Ha HA! Trust you to get lumbered Geoff! Mind you, I am glad you did as it was a very entertaining read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My memory of Walter Mitty was he was a dreamer and harmless – this guy sounds psychotic and has probably done a lot of harm to a lot of people. He will make a dreadful villain for one of your novels! I thought it showed your British manners that you stayed past the attack on the ex-wife. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a character to spill his life story in the first hiccup of meeting. Wonder how much might have been true. I share your feeling of wishing to have taken his picture. 🙂


  13. People like this are pretty much the only reason I leave the house. “Writing gold” that guy. 😉

    Seriously, sounds bloody awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. davidprosser says:

    Sounds just like when I used to take a bus. I might be the only person sitting on the top deck but the Nutter would come sit next to me. I was a Nutter magnet (Hmmm, or they were?) and had to listen to drivel from one end of the journey to the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Charli Mills says:

    That was a gift from the writing muses!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. rogershipp says:

    With fellow travelers like him… you were in no need of purchasing tickets for entertainment!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.