Across the week, five post-cards from each of the countries which challenge the often rose-tinted view of this part of the world offered up by the Western media. Along the way, a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of the region – it isn’t always easy being Nordic.
First up the Danes – consistently rated as the happiest people on earth and yet they pay the highest taxes.
Reader: Gunnar Cauthery
Abridged by Richard Hamilton
Produced by Gemma Jenkins.
1. Denmark: The Danes are consistently rated as the happiest people on earth but pay the highest taxes. In the year that sees a major new exhibition on Vikings at the British Museum our fascination with all things Scandinavian shows no sign of abating.
2. Iceland and the part the Viking spirit played in the country’s response to the 2008 financial crash.
3. Norway – a country taking stock post-Breivik and the impact of the nation’s colossal oil wealth on the Nordic psyche.
4. Enigmatic Finland – a visit to what lies at the heart of the country’s social and political life – the sauna.
5. Sweden – a country held up as a beacon of perfection by the Western world and yet disliked by its neighbours.
The format is pure ACME Hack Methodical Xenophobia
1. some snigger
2. some stats that can be made to mean anything you want
3. some history
4. some smug swagger
This has all been done before in the Xenophobes Guide series. And really, this could be seen as a skit on Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World where the title should be: The Clumsiest People in Scandinavia: Mr Booth’s Bad Tempered Guide to the Perfect-ish World.
The Local runs these cheap country comparisons and national psyche prods as column fillers as a matter of daily routine.
Michael Booth has whipped up interest in the book in following manner: ‘The grim truth behind the Scandinavian miracle’ – the nations respond
So move along, nothing to see here – go spend your hard-earned book money on something worthwhile.