For a very long time now I have harboured a secret fear and envy of anyone Scandinavian.
I used to think it was some sort of terror reaction left over from the days when a large blonde chap wading ashore was not some genial party-seeking surfing dude, but more likely to be the harbinger of a beach barbeque where your croft was the kindling.
Later in my life they just drove me nuts with their towering height, flawless complexions, dazzling teeth and socially inclusive policies driven by a belief in a fairer society etc, etc.
They really wound me up when Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest. What’s this? Tall blonde folk coming over here singing pop pap better than we can?
I managed to lay my jealousy to one side, and take a more liberal view of our Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian cousins, when blow me if they haven’t stirred all up again.
This time it’s the Fins with their “baby in a box” idea. As a plan, it’s a belter. When you have a baby in Finland, the government, who view babies as future taxpayers and therefore A Very Good Thing, think they should have an excellent start in life, and supply a neat little box full of basic goodies for the new arrival. In fact, many Finnish babies start their lives actually sleeping in the box.
Anyone who has been stunned by those first weeks of new parenthood will tell you that all help is welcome in those early days.
And lest we forget, that beautiful little bundle in your arms is also the biggest drain on your bank account you will ever hold. A handy pack with some really valuable stuff like sleep suits, vests and nappies is a fabulous idea – and that cosy little box with its dinky mattress looks like a way more sensible idea than that huge expensive cot for a newborn.
This is what you get when governments get a dose of sensibility, and the people say, yup, great idea, no argument from us, let’s batter on with this good plan. But Lo! What’s this we see? Why a terrific group of people in West Lothian have taken up the idea and launched baby boxes in Bathgate. Well, take that Finland.
We’ve got a charity called New Life doing what your government is doing, but hey, it’s a start.
You still annoy me, though, with all that Nordic sensibleness. I thought blondes were meant to be dumb? Or is that a rumour put about by us swarthy Picts?
Don’t worry if you get cramp.. Sven is on his way
Evolution is a wonderful thing, is it not? We’ve scrabbled out of the slime, developed a huge brain and opposable thumbs so we can heft javelins at woolly mammoths, gather berries and scroll through our mp3 players on the bus.
I mean, seriously, humans are a funky bit of kit.
So, how come, in this long trail to upright, two-legged, big-brained planet domination we and Mother Nature didn’t iron out the problem of leg cramp?
It won’t come as a surprise to learn that I was pondering this question in the wee small hours, when the calf muscles on the left went off like snapped knicker elastic.
Not to be outdone, the right calf decided to kick off as well, which as we all know, immediately creates that involuntary wriggle-and-twist motion, leading to that suffocating binding in the bedding.
I can’t help but feel that the Norwegians should have come up with some sort of solution to this, for example a 24-hour physio service where you could call out a tall blonde sports masseur called Sven who would cycle round to your house to sort out those twanging muscles.
Hmmmmm. . . there might be a business idea in that. . .
Will Brazilian rioters travel?
Dear Brazilians – can’t help but notice you people have really hit the riot button on account of a rise in the fares they are asking for the buses.
Boy, you people are angry and you sure know how to make a point.
Now, I know you’re a bit busy and all that, but I was wondering if you out-sourced at all? If you do, could send a few angry people over this way?
We’ve got a bit of a public transport situation over here and we’d like to see what you’d make of the trams.