30 November 2008


Nitecitysnow #2
Believe me when I say that it surprises even us that Denmark has topped the World's Happiest People surveys for the past 20 years. Go figure. But if there ever was a photo that sums up this claim, Lars took it last week. A broad smile on a snow-covered Copenhagener riding her bike.

Jeremy Clarkson, writing in The Times, has a humourous take on this Happy Nation lark:
So let’s say you live in Birmingham and, in a quest for happiness, you move to Copenhagen. On day one, you look at the little mermaid in the harbour. On day two, you have a snoop round Hans Christian Andersen’s house and on day four, having found nothing to do on day three, you go to the Oresund bridge . . . and jump off it.

What does it all mean, all these surveys about wealthiest cities, most liveable cities, least corrupt nations, most trusting nations?

Not a hell of a lot, unless your working for the tourist board. We don't walk around, pumping our arms in the air, pointer finger outstretched, shouting "DK! DK! DK!!! We're Number One!!" Our football fans are not hooligans, they'e called Roligans - 'Rolig' meaning 'calm'. We certainly don't walk or ride around remarking how happy each other looks on this fine day or saying how much we trust each other. We bitch about the weather like anywhere else. But we'll still stick a cheesy plastic bag on our bike seat when it rains or get a kick out of a homemade solution for non-slip pedals [scroll down in the post]. and get good cosiness value out of candles.

Oh, we buy more candles than any other nation. THAT statistic says more than any other about the simple pleasures. The Danish concept of 'hygge', or cosiness is more telling than any think tank survey. Many languages have a similar word for it - Danes will often say that it is untranslatable but that's not true - but the concept that hanging out at home or at a café is cosy and that it is more than enough sums it all up.


Anonymous said...

The top pic is absolutely epic! What a joy to look at.

Yeah, 'gezellig', tell me about it. We discussed it at length ;), but just yesterday I caught a girl on a bike, who found an alternative way of replacing a broken off back fender.

I guess it's the 'D' in 'Dutch' and 'Danes' ;)

Freth said...

The French are French ...

Tysker (Germans) are not all that friendly as a nationality ... (altho I still have friends there)

The Dutch are much more friendly than Tysker ...

and the Danes (Dansker) are MORE friendly (venlig) than any other people that I've had the opportunity to live amongst!!

WestfieldWanderer said...

What can I say?

Jeremy Clarkson is essentially a bright bloke (he's done some interesting and thoughtful TV programs outside his normal sphere of operation) who seems to enjoy pretending to be, and appealing to, the type of oaf who keeps what little brain he has down his trousers and then opens his mouth before engaging aforesaid brain. So he comes across to most of us as a loud mouthed buffoon.

On the subject of silly titles for cities, Bristol has recently been shortlisted for the "European Green Capital Award", whatever that is. And as the Bristol Blogger says, it was "news met with utter incredulity by most residents..."

Basically, all this award nonsense is just ego-tripping by council managers and politicians trying to justify their worthless existence.

Love the picture, by the way!

MELI. said...

I never take for granted our northern california weather, though I'd like to enjoy some snow.
its almost like a bike angel! what a lovely shot :)

CrowMolly said...

Great Pic!

DeepBlueSea said...

Clarkson... ho hum... boring! Nothing wrong with anti-PC humour but he's just so unfunny, it's pathetic. Spout out a few clichés, little mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen, bla bla bla knock that country, knock those people, bla bla bla...

Lars Daniel Terkelsen said...

One thing that may not be obvious about the photo, is that I shot it at 4:15 on a saturday morning, so everyone I shot at that session was on their way home from a night out. And yes, I think most of them were having fun.
Interesting how the snow disguises the complete lack of daylight.

Regarding happiness in DK: Our suicide rate is not so happy. Far greater risk of a suicidal death than of being killed in traffic. (And they care about bicycle helmets? We need therapy, hahaha).

Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the suicide myth.
The notion that there are significally more suicides in Scandinavia derives largely from at speach Eisenhower made in the 50's about Sweden. He claimed that there was more than double the amount of suicides in social democratic Sweden (in the view of most americans of the 50's social democratic = communist and therefore there had to be a downside to this society that inexplicably prosperred even though the government took care of the weak, provided free healthcare and education and so on). The suicide myth wasn't true then, and it isn't true now.
If anything the early secularization of the Scandinavian countries might have kept "disguised" suicides out of the statistics because there isn't any religious stigma attached to suicide.

Colville-Andersen said...

ah.. you beat me to it. I had the same link ready.

interesting about the eisenhower angle. i recall reading that these American myths about the French being unwashed/unhygenic is based on a book or statment back in the 1950's or 1960's. One sentence... generations of stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

yeah, the same way 'going Dutch' has .

I've worked in Amsterdam cafes during my college years and believe me when I say the only people who went Dutch were the tourists.

Oh well, probably to no avail. First time visitors are often disappointed we don't all live in windmills, dance in wooden shoes and eat tulips. Or that we're not all on welfare or hard drugs. It just defies logic ;). Etc etc.

Btw, long time ago when i lived in the US somebody asked me where I was from...: "Holland? Ahh, the capitol of Denmark, right?" I heard this a few more times over the years. You should also know that Danish Blue is Dutch. Because that's what they speak.


WestfieldWanderer said...

...And where did the English term "double-dutch" meaning "unintelligible" come from?

...and "Dutch courage" meaning "only brave when drunk"...

...and "Dutch cap" meaning....

(I think I'll stop here...)

(Getting coat).


Colville-Andersen said...

keep your coat on.
there is also:
Dutch wife - a prostitute or a sex doll
Dutch book - a way of cheating at gambling
Dutching - a method of sharing the risk of losing in gambling
Dutch Nail - Selling the same item at a higher price
In Dutch - meaning you're in trouble

etc etc etc... :-)

sac cycle chic said...

I love this pic!!! I was thinking how cold it was this morning riding into work but after looking at this picture I feel energized!!

Go DK! DK!

Anonymous said...

Heh heh. Lots of good examples. Got to think of the idea that vikings had horns in their helmets. That was made up by an american cartoonist I think. Nowadays most Danes even believe it to be true. Even though there is no archeological or written evidence to it.

Anonymous said...

I hope that was good fun for ya. A few of them (Westfield) made some sense historically, the rest (Mikael) were, as we say in NL 'pulled out of a Danish herring'.


Nicely buckled white straitjackets for you lot. ;)

Colville-Andersen said...

Wikipedia, Marc. Wikipedia. :-)

the Viking horns is another good one. they did have horns, but only the shamans and only a few examples have been found.

the whole horn thing started in Victorian england when Vikings became trendy in childrens books and in art and literature. almost everything people 'know' about the vikings was made up back then.

bloodthirsty, rape and pillage, etc. but they were so much more than all that.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen said...

Ok, I see now that the statistics are not nearly as bad as the myth. Thanks!
But suicides are still 30% over traffic related deaths according to my one-minute-research ;-)

WestfieldWanderer said...

"bloodthirsty, rape and pillage, etc."

A role now inherited by English football "fans" and binge drinking English "holidaymakers" abroad...

Descendants of those horned Viking raiders no doubt. The nice ones stayed at home... ;-)

jb said...

Can we have this picture as a desktop? It will inspire me later this year to tackle the Boston snow!