swedish class

My Blue Jeans

The Subject Of Jeans

My Blue Jeans

My Blue Jeans

It’s been four weeks since I last went to Swedish class, and I was feeling apprehensive. I’ve had a few commitments over the last few weeks which have kept me busy and unable to attend class. I’ve also been neglecting study, and haven’t really listened to or read much Swedish in the intervening period. I was anxious the class would have moved well beyond me, and I would have found myself struggling.

Yes, I struggled a bit, especially with a grammar exercise, but it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was a lot of fun, especially as we spent most of the class chatting. There were three new classmates who have arrived in the intervening period, and it was great to meet them, and interesting to hear about the reasons why they’re learning Swedish. One had been a student in Sweden years ago, another had a wife, the third had a Swedish mother, and although he spoke well, he was there to learn to read and write better.

And then the subject got around to jeans. We had an exercise where we had to talk about a photograph in a Swedish photo book. The subject of one photograph got one of the classmates talking about Swedish fashion, and in particular jeans. He’s quite fashion-conscious, I think, and has quite a collection of Swedish clothing. He listed off half a dozen different Swedish clothing brands. Not being as fashion conscious myself, the only brand I recognised was ACNE.

Another classmate chipped in, and mentioned the difficulty he had in buying jeans in Sweden, since Swedish men tend (and this is a broad generalisation) to be quite tall and thin. A 34″ waist is a bit of an oddity in Swedish clothing stores, he noted. It’s a problem I shared a few weeks ago in Stockholm, when I asked for a 34-36 inch waist and was immediately taken to the “Grandpa Jeans Department”.

The original guy, who is reasonably short, complained he always has to have his jeans mended because jeans in Australia tend to be far too long. Another classmate chipped in, noting that at least H&M sell more varieties of sizes in terms of waists and leg length in Sweden than we find in Australia. I agreed. Until now, my best fitting pair of jeans was a pair I picked up in Copenhagen which recognised that some people are short and fat, not everyone is tall and thin. We all sighed that H&M hasn’t opened a store in Australia yet.

And then I chipped in with my anecdote about buying a pair of Swedish jeans from a store in Surry Hills, “Somedays” a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find the right size in Stockholm, but I found a perfect pair in Sydney.

Despite my apprehensions, Swedish class was great fun.

Afterwards, I had a drink with my friend The Best Judge about a project I’m planning to undertake. He provided some wonderful, sound advice.

Lutheran Church and Cafe Svensson on Goulburn Street, Sydney

All a bit stupid

Lutheran Church and Cafe Svensson on Goulburn Street, Sydney

Lutheran Church and Cafe Svensson on Goulburn Street, Sydney

Well that was all a bit stupid. Having spent the day in bed feeling pretty sick, I decided I’d still try to make it to Swedish class. Big mistake.

The symptoms of my illness? A bit of hayfever, lots of sneezing, a bit of a bronchial cough, and general lethargy. Damien told me last night he had a few people off work yesterday, and one of my class-mates at Swedish who lectures at TAFE told me it’s pretty common. “A lot of people have it”, she told me,

For me, it’s been a day mostly in bed, and mostly watching television. Oh my goodness, how bad is daytime TV?

I watched a bit of the anti-carbon rally on the lawns of Parliament House, I watched a bit of the Press Club which was about the pokies, and then I watched a bit of Question Time. The highlight was a division over whether Christopher Pyne should be excluded from parliament for twenty-four hours.

As I watched the division – with the expert commentary which explained they no longer have as many divisions with the Speaker of the House now having greater discretion – I noticed they’ve been using the same set on Question Time for twenty years. They really could do with an Adam Boland make-over, surely? :):)

By late afternoon, thoughts had turned to Swedish class. Was I up to it? My inclination was to stay in bed, but I’d heard from Grant earlier in the day that he had also been feeling sick and wasn’t planning to attend. At the thought of class being half-empty, I decided to have a nap on the couch for a couple of hours to see how I was feeling and make up my mind then. And actually, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed. At about 6.15 – the absolute last minute – I caught a cab to class and settled down.

For a while I felt okay, but after a while I soon realised the body may have been stronger, but the mind was definitely weak. As I began to read out something to the class the words swirled before my eyes. I even struggled with reading out loud my own writing. “I’ll be better next week”, I promised my classmates.

And besides, next week, there’s a Scandinavian Quiz Night in the cafe downstairs.

There’s a notice about it on the Danish Church website which Liam alerted me to. The text below is in Danish by the way.

Onsdag den 30.marts kl.19: Skandinavisk quiz
Onsdag den 30.marts byder vi i samarbejde med Den Norske Kirke og Den Svenske Kirke på skandinavisk quiz og hygge i centrum af Sydney. Denne aften har du muligheden for at møde nogle søde og flinke svenskere og nordmænd – og samtidig vise dem, hvem der ved mest! Dørene åbnes kl.18, så der er tid til at få hilst på hinanden og få fyldt kaffekoppen inden quizzen begynder kl.19. Emnerne vil være med et skandinavisk udgangspunkt og omhandle alt lige fra historiske begivenheder til popmusik.
Så kom med din paratviden og dit gode danske humør. Jo flere, jo festligere!

TID: onsdag den 30.marts kl.18.00. Quizzen begynder kl.19.00
STED: Den Svenske Kirke, 96 Goulburn St., Surry Hills, 2000 NSW (5-10 minutters spadsertur fra Central)

Har du nogle spørgsmål så kontakt Kathrine på tlf.: 9980 8223 eller info@danishchurch.org.au

Tilmelding er ikke nødvendigt.

Hopefully we can make it downstairs after class in enough time to contribute more knowledge about Swedish pop music than most of the Swedes present.

In the meantime, ahhh ahhh ahhh choo.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Movies and Shows

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

The placement of the apostrophe in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest confuses me. I thought it would have been The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

“The subtitles don’t exactly match the text”, I whispered in the ear of my friend Grant.

“And isn’t it great that we can recognise this?”, he responded.

We were sitting in the Dendy Cinema at Newtown watching the third and final in the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson.

Grant has read the books in English, and I’m about half way through a chapter in the first book in Swedish (it’s taking a while).

Both of us have been learning Swedish for some time, and both agreed it was a bit of a breakthrough moment in terms of understanding Swedish.

“Swedish films with English subtitles are a good way of improving listening skills”, I suggested to him at the pub later, especially if you can try to ignore them, and only look down to the text when it becomes confusing.

For me the confusing parts were when they got into reasonably vocab-intensive speeches, and when a few of the people spoke with regional accents. The doctor who looked after Lisbeth when she was in hospital, for example, was a little hard to understand to my ears trained on a “Stockholm accent”. Michael Nyqvist, however, who plays Mikael Blomkvist has beautiful diction, and I found him quite easy to follow.

The film also has a lot of “Stockholm porn” as we like to call it: some great instantly recognisable images of places around Stockholm such as the stairs leading down from Mossebacke. “I used to live near Lisbeth’s apartment”, Grant said at one point. “And I’ve stayed in the hotel, Scandic, where Peter Teleborian stayed in Stockholm”, I added.

Luftslottet som sprangdes

Luftslottet som sprangdes

We watched the film a little differently to a lot of other people I guess, most of whom I’m sure were just there to see a good film.

I haven’t read any of the reviews, though I know one reviewer on ABC Local Radio described the film as boring, little more than a courtroom telemovie. And on top of that, he argued it wasn’t a very interesting courtroom. Fellow blogger, Victor, also expressed the view the film has a rather limp ending.

This third film lacks a bit of the action of the second film. About the most graphic thing you see is the removal of the bullet from Lisbeth’s brain early in the film, and later, when she takes revenge on her crazy half-brother.

This film is a lot more cerebral, and a lot of the time is spent in and around the courtroom. It also seems to be a film which brings to a conclusion some of the plot-lines. After all of the death and destruction of the previous two films, you might even say it has a “feel good” quality to it.

The fascinating thing I’ve found about watching all three films now is that, despite their length – all about the two-and-a-half-hour mark – they’ve always maintained my interest.

The other thing I mentioned to Grant at the pub was a BBC documentary I saw on Youtube about the success of Scandinavian crime fiction.

One of the fascinating arguments in the documentary is about the centrality of the assassination of Swedish PM, Olof Palme to the mindset of the Swedes generally, and in this type of crime fiction in particular. Zoom up to about the 30 minute mark to see this particular focus.

Although a number of people have come forward to admit to the assassination, it remains an unsolved crime, and there’s an undercurrent of conspiracy theory the government knows more about Palme’s death than has been revealed. There are lots of undercurrents of government cover-up in the Millenium series also.

It’s a documentary worth watching.

After the film we had a beer or two, and then it was off to Oxford Street for a catch-up meal at a local Thai restaurant. And then, watching about 20 minutes of Polly’s drag show at Stonewell.

Sthlms Liv CD

Min svenska liv

Sthlms Liv CD

Sthlms Liv CD

I had a bit of a breakthrough at Swedish class tonight. I normally loathe grammar, but I quite enjoyed the exercise we did tonight. Best of all? I think I actually understood the principles behind what we learned, and can possibly even apply them in real life. That’s a real breakthrough, let me tell you.

To “celebrate”, I came home and put on a CD which Grant bought back from Stockholm for me, called “Sthlms Liv”. It’s a collection of mostly jazz songs from the twentieth century with lyrics about or inspired by life in Stockholm. There’s also an accompanying booklet which explains in both English and Swedish a little of the background to the songs, and features some wonderful photographs mostly from the 1950s and 1960s which demonstrate how little/how much Stockholm has changed.

I find it fascinating how much the Swedes sing about their capital city. Although we have lots of songs about Sydney – including reasonably overt lyrics and titles – the Swedes seem to take it to a higher level. For example, one of the most popular television shows has as it’s theme song a track called “Stockholm i mitt hjärta” (Stockholm in my heart).

As I looked through the track list, I recognised a couple of tunes instantly. There’s “Sakta vi gå genom stan” (Slowly we walk through the town) which is actualy a Swedish translation of “Walking My Baby Back Home” by jazz-legend Monica Zetterlund and “Min egen stad” (My own town) by former ABBA member, Anni-Frid Lyngstad. So I guess when I put on the CD I was half-expecting a bit of a nostalgia trip. Not so, it’s an album full of wonderful surprises.

That said, there are quite a few songs which have that nostalgic feel. And I can imagine lots of older Swedes would have bought the CD purely for its nostalgic value. “Sakta vi gå genom stan”, for example, is a great song, sung well…

But the CD is much more than that. It’s a genuinely wonderful collection I suspect you coud enjoy without any Swedish language skills. Calling it a jazz collection is both correct and incorrect. There’s certainly a “jazz feel” to the CD, but in a very broad sense with a range of musical genres from “tango” to “beat poetry”.

The first song which really stood out for me was “Jag vill ha en gondol” by Zarah Leander. It’s got a wonderful “tango” feel about it, and is sung in a very dramatic style.

I was also transfixed by a piece called “Stockholmsmelodi” by Sven-Bertil Taube. It’s a piece which opens again, quite dramatically, with what sounds like a bit of a mad-man ranting on the sidewalk. The level of Swedish is too complicated for me to understand instantly, and so I’m going to have to do a bit of research and translate to see if he’s as mad as he sounds.

There’s also some wonderfully relaxing, evocative pieces including “The Midnight Sun Never Sets” by Quincy Jones and “Var blev ni av” by Freddie Wadling.

But the one track I’ve been playing over and over again is called “En självbiografi” by Sonja Åkesson. To a “beat poetry” style jazz backing, it’s the story of a “suburban housewife” talking about her life. Again, I’m going to need to translate this one to get a better feel for it, but it’s a piece which has really captured my attention simply because of the instrumentation and the lyrical presentation.

So yeah, what a great night…