There was a helicopter flying over-head as I was walking along Drottninggatan – the main shopping street – of Stockholm today. It’s not unusual for people to look up at helicopters, and I saw lots of people doing so, though I noted with a certain anxiety on their faces, given the bombings in Oslo.
Sweden and Norway have a very close relationship. Although different countries with different languages, they were part of the same country until about 100 years ago, and they have languages which can be mutually understood. It’s fascinating to watch the Norwegian television show, Skavlan, which has Swedish translations and to note how similar, yet different the languages are.
On top of that, Sweden has its own issues with far-right politics and a discomfort in some quarters about immigration.
Thus the newspapers and television are absolutely full of analysis about the bombings. The morning television news show, for example, was about the bombings almost completely, with lots of crosses to Oslo and lots of guests trying to make sense of what has happened.
Tonight the former Prime Minister, Mona Sahlin was interviewed on television. And although she spoke in a fairly complex manner and I found it difficult to understood all that she said, I heard loud and clear when the interviewer said to her, “You were mentioned by name in the political manifesto” of the man responsible for the bombings.
All of the banner headlines at the newsagents are also concerned with the bombings. I also noticed at my local Pressbyran the owner/proprietor has put up Norwegian and Swedish flags in the window as a sign of mourning/solidarity.
And then later today when I was sitting quietly in a bar having a glass of wine, I saw one of the barman looking at the newspaper coverage of the bombings and noticed he was obviously quite moved by what he was reading.
Obviously I can’t understand the depth of feeling the Swedes and Norwegians obviously have for what’s occured – beyond that of a normal human being – but I do find it very interesting to be in Stockholm at this particular time, and to realise just how close the people in these two countries are.