Wednesday, 30 November 2011


 It's been lonely in this house. My parents have been enjoying the heat of the tropics, eating at hawker centres and general frolicking about the island of Singapore. I, on the other hand, have been alone, but have not had a bad time of it, but I'm quite done with living by myself. I am glad they are returning, and they'll have a newly decorated house to return to. I also intend on baking tomorrow--honey wheat bread, cinnamon and saffron buns, maybe some Turkish delight--in between my trips to the laundry room to hang up my whites and colours.

I am quite pleased with my decorations. Mamma and I picked white moss on our trip to Bygdeå, and the bag of it has been sitting on the balcony for the past few weeks. Finally I filled the candleholders and stuck some silk flowers in--a perfectly decent Christmas cup.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Free Coke

Today I put up Christmas decorations, ironed the red curtains and hung them in the kitchen window, and placed the miniature stable and Baby Jesus in a place of importance. At two o'clock I cycled away to church to practice for worship--I had been informed only an hour or so beforehand that I was to sing--and Elsa, fighting a cold, and I, fighting a general lack of singing experience, had time to practice for twenty minutes, which resulted in a worship service where I'm quite sure I forgot to turn on the microphone for the first three songs. But no great loss. We are still a small church, and today was the first Advent, meaning that all the non-Christians go to church for a formal event, and all regular church-goers stay at home, thinking they've earned a rest from all the going.

Gustaf preached about the First Coming of Christ, as is necessary during Advent, and recommended a short time of prayer at the end. After all was said and done and prayed, the last microphones packed up, the drum and soundboard and box of cords put away, Hans and Lena drove everything to the apartment, and we unloaded it in pappa's room. I doubt he'll be very happy when he returns to find the entrance blocked, but I have a few days to come up with an excuse exactly why there is  keyboard sprawled recklessly across his floor .

Arriving home I realized I had left my phone behind and had to cycle back in the cold and the dark and unlock the door and pocket my phone and cycle back. It's a good thing the church is nearby. After all this unnecessary amount of dipping and dashing, my uncle invited me to his house to celebrate cousin William's fourteenth birthday; we drove to Pizzeria Alladdin, where the man behind the counter handed my uncle the pizzas with an order: "That girl," he meant me, "Give her this Coke."
And so I was given a free Coke, from a stranger who had not spoken two words to me.

My uncle and aunt's house is decorated with candles and festooned with red ribbons, white curtains, and silver balls. I took a turn about the place and admired everything. After dinner, the teenagers retired to some dark corner of the house (as teenagers are wont to do), while cousin Amelia and I made origami Christmas trees and cut out paper snowflakes in the conservatory.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Santa Clause: The Documentary

Every Friday, Oscar and Jenny have the youth over for fika or a movie or a board games. The only people in attendance, apart from our hosts and their twin daughters, were Mike, Tracy, and myself--we are like one big, multicultural family. We had popcorn and saffron buns and watched The Santa Clause, in preparation for the coming of winter. It has been a very long time since I watched a Christmas movie with someone who actually believed in Santa Claus. Little Erika, one of the twins, held my hand the entire time, looking at me for confirmation of certain information revealed about Santa Claus, and believed the movie to be very much an accurate depiction of how things really are, how elves look, how reindeer fly, and how Santa fits into houses without chimneys.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Social Requirements

I lunched with my aunt and uncle today. I fried up boiled potatoes and sliced sausage, and then I bid farewell as my uncle drove me to town, where I met up with Maria Lundberg to work in a coffee shop. We have declared Thursdays to be our study days. I caught the bus home and cycled over to Oscar and Jenny's place in time for dinner. They were in the midst of putting up Christmas decorations--Oscar is American and wishes to pack as much Christmas into the month as he can--and their living room was a mess of boxes filled with tinsel and tiny light-up Christmas trees and snowflakes and Santa-on-a-motorcycle. Oscar put up strings of colored lights and a plastic door on the balcony, though he felt unhappy with the empty patch and wondered what he would put up in the space. He turns to me. "It ain't over 'til the fat man needs shades to look at the balcony."
I helped to unscrew the bottom of the tiny trees and put in batteries, which is a bit like trying to put candy into a spring-loaded Pez dispenser.

Once I had cycled back home, I had barely settled into my chair before the doorbell rang, and Joakim our neighbor was at the door. We had a brief conversation about renting his apartment during Christmas as ours is much too small for the guests we intend to have, and eventually the conversation landed on the inevitable question. "So, what are you doing now?"
I squint. "Right now? I'm enjoying my hamsters."
"Yeah. I'll show you."
I whirl around and march back inside and hand him one of my snowy furbies."I'm watching The Devil Wears Prada."
He sat down for a bit, and I ploughed ahead in the conversation, as I am apt to do. We talked about his upcoming internship at the hospital, childhood Christmas calendars, the high median age of Swedish church goers and what exactly a pastor does. (He was confused over the matter.)

Oh, and Spencers Trousers sent me a package in the mail, an envelope filled with cloth swatches. I had been admiring their sturdy plus fours on their webpage and asked for a sample to be sent to my address. Of course, I could never afford their trousers, but if I did grow ridiculously wealthy and was in need of a pair of plus fours, Spencers Trousers is where I would turn. Now, you may say, what do you need swatches of tweed for? What will you possibly do with them?

Why, make tiny tartans for my hamsters. Of course.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Today I showed Ida how to make toffee in five minutes, and now I will show you.

4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons margarin

Mix everything in a ceramic bowl. Mircrowave for 1-2 minutes. Take out of oven and stir. Microwave for another minute. If you are unsure when it's done, test the mixture by dropping some of it into a glass of cold water. If it becomes stiff and holds its shape, the toffee is ready. Spread the toffee over a baking sheet and tell everyone to grab a spoon. Once it has cooled, scrape off apiece and eat! (Or, of course, if you care more about appearance, you can spoon the hot toffee into bite-size pieces and serve when cool.)

Soak the bowls and spoons in water before cleaning. It helps.

Dear Natalie

I wore the plus fours you sent me today. Thank you for sending them! As you can see, I have not yet found a blue sweater, but I thought a scarf in the same shade might suffice for now. I promise, of course, that I will keep looking. Also the hair needs a bit of quiffing in the front, but other than that, I am ready for adventure.


My Friend Ida

My friend Ida came to visit, to cook me a meal because she was afraid I would live off scraps. I'm not sure why I awaken such motherly feelings in people, seeing as I can cook but prefer not to. She arrived with a packet of frozen cod, a jar of green pesto, cherry tomatoes, and a packet of creme fraiche. She apologized for the simplicity of the meal.

It has been so pleasant to have someone around the house. It's so quiet otherwise. Ida and I went for a walk in the neighborhood, admiring houses and gardens silent in the gloom of autumn. Everything is waiting for winter.

Ida said strolling with me was a bit like taking a dog for a walk. I made her stop every few minutes so I could inspect an interesting branch or take a picture of a withered leaf.

Look for colour. You will find it.

Ida thinks she drinks too much tea. After our walk, she was cold and wished for another cup, which she had, whilst I heated a cup of blackcurrant cordial. I am not much for tea, but hot cordial warms cold hands just as well.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Tjuvarnas jul

This year I bought my very first Christmas calendar. It's a calendar with numbered flaps that correspond to the days in December, as well as a television program that airs every night during the month. The very first calendar aired in 1960 known as Titteliture, and children have watched it ever since. I still have vague memories of Klasses julkalender in 1992, where Klasse lived in a house high in a tree. We moved out of the country very early on, and I was deprived of any more series, though my grandmother was kind enough to tape Pelle Svanslös in 1997. When I was still a wee bairn in Sweden, I wanted to have a calendar, but we had little money and could not spend it on frivolous things. My sister reminded me just today that we did have one--Bamse the World's Strongest Bear calendar--though it wasn't official and had no corresponding television show. We, however, did pull it out every Christmas and opened the numbered flaps with the same enthusiasm as if we were seeing them for the first time.

Kurre and Charlie

This year's calendar is Tjuvarnas jul, or Christmas of Thieves, a Dickensian tale of a band of thieves. (I found the following information on this site.) It will be set in the 1800s, just as Christmas is at the door. Madame Bofvén is the leader of a gang known as the Package Snatchers, which includes the likes of Bongo, The Shadow, Troll, and Kurre, who is arguably the worst pickpocket of them all, despite having grown up under Madame Bofvén tutelage.

But the first of December brings some unexpected news. Outside his hovel, Kurre finds a young girl, his daughter Charlie. Kurre doesn't know what to do with her, until Charlie accidentally saves the Package Snatchers from the police and becomes the gang's mascot. Madame Bofvén orders him to teach his daughter their criminal ways, but should Charlie really grow up in a gang of crooks? And how can Kurre, who can barely take care of himself, take care of Charlie?

I'm stoked.

Spot the numbered flaps.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

For Mike

For church I decked myself out in a long black skirt and a bright red hapi coat from Japan. As my parents are not here to drive me to church, I buttoned up my mother's coat, strapped the box drum to my back and headed out into the wind like a lone hermit bent against the unyielding landscape. It was cold outside, and I'd forgotten my hat, which happens a lot, but I succeeded in staying the wind with the my green scarf wrapped around my head. It started to snow, the first virgin flakes of the season. Winter has been remarkably slow in coming.

Church began with all the harried preparations it always requires; after setting up the sound and arranging the tables and starting up the projector, I finally found a moment to linger over the fika table, deciding between coconut squares and gingerbread. Mike--for whom I brought the box drum--found me and gave me his usual Sunday hug and then looked me over. "Why do you look Japanese?"
I raise an eyebrow. "Why do you look African?"
Mike laughs. "I am African."
"I'm Asian."
"No, you're not."

I have a sneaking suspicion he may be right, though his succint argument does not overturn the fact that I took my first steps and said my first words on Singaporean soil. I have spent half of my life in Asia and have only in recent years strayed from its boundaries. How long must I live in a country before I call it my own?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The New Mic

My friend Griffin told me I have a "decent number of followers" (29), and though there aren't many of you, he was very kind to exaggerate your numbers. He has recently set up his own website The New Mic with subjects of discussion--politics, sports, arts & entertainment, science & technology--intended to start healthy conversations about our world. The New Mic is "more than just a place to get your news fast. It’s a place to see what the world is saying and to contribute to the conversation. The New Mic is made for comments."

I find this an admirable goal. The internet is filled with ranters and ravers who have little say but say it nonetheless with capital letters and poor grammar--therefore, good people, support this project that aims for intellectual curiosity and the high-minded ideal of hale and hearty dialogue. You can always stop by to admire the layout.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Eighties Night

 My parents flew to Singapore a few hours ago, and I, experiencing what my brother has termed "reverse empty nest syndrome," I decided to cheer myself with a bit of fantasy. I googled "fairy movie," and I was given Richard Donner's Ladyhawke (1985), which I then proceeded to watch. It stars Rutger Hauer as Etienne Navarre, Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau d´Anjou, and Matthew Broderick as Phillipe Gaston the Mouse. I enjoyed it. My brother tells me I could never be a film critic--he says I like everything--and so I shall fall back on being a film encourager.

Ladyhawke follows the tail of the Mouse, Phillipe Gaston, a lowly thief imprisoned in Aquila who escapes by pushing himself through the narrow sewers like a rat. The corrupt holy man, the Bishop of Aquila, sends out troops to find him to stave off a possible rebellion by the other prisoners. Phillipe is saved during a skuffle with the soldiers by the dubious Navarre and his hawk, who are both cursed--Navarre is cursed to be a wolf by night, and Isabeau his lover, a hawk by day. They are, as Phillipe so astutely points out, "together forever, eternally apart." He joins Navarre on his mission because the man saves his life, but much to his chagrin, Navarre intends to take him back to Aquila as a guide, and Phillipe is not thrilled to be forced back at sword point.

The successes and shortcomings of the film balance each other out to some extent. The oddest feature of the movie is the soundtrack, which alternates between traditional scoring (a la James Horner and James Newton Howard) and a peculiarly placed and strangley triumphant eighties music, complete with heavy drum beat, synth solo, and trumpet calls (was it?). The scenery, however, is spectacular with sweeping shots of the bleak Italian landscape and ruined castles.

The acting was a bit stiff, but I think Broderick can be forgiven. He is young and struggles with his rather non-descript English accent. But he is definitely the most enjoyable to watch. His wobbles are outshone by Phillipe's sincerity. This liar and thief has a funny informal relationship to God, often throwing out quips at his Heavenly Father as if He were listening in and providing a running commentary on his lot in life. When Navarre tells him he will take him back to Aquila because he is his "guiding angel," Phillipe is quite ready to dismiss him:
"Sir, the truth is I talk to God all the time, and no offense, but he never mentioned you."

Two reasons to watch this movie: accurate depiction of heavy swords (Phillipe can barely lift a sword) and Alfred Molina in the largely pointless role of Cezar the Unibrow.

(P.S. It also solved a mystery in my life. I have always wondered what movie was playing in the theatre in Richard Donner's Conspiracy Theory. And now I know.)

"Not for the life of my mother, even if I knew who she was."

Captain Sanna

Matt has captured my true self in this doodle--a captain leading an army of vicious hamsters.



After my highly successful run as a model, I caught the bus home. I opened the door for an old woman and later moved over to make room for her when she came in my direction. (My hair was a bright beacon that beckoned.) I couldn't help but pat her hand as she settled into the seat. She looks at me.
"I am eighty-four."
She reached into her pocket and pulled out candies and pushed them into my hand.
"Thank you."
She turned to offer candy to the women seated around us, waving her arms and murmuring staccato somethings, possibly in another language.
The women behind us. "What?"
I had to interpret. "She wants to give you candy."
One of the women politely said no, thank you. "I don't eat candy. Only chocolate."
"I am eighty-four," said the old woman. "Eighty-four. Eighty-four."
We rode in silence; I put my out out to hold her at the sharp corners; she pushed more sweets into my plastic bag. The bus rumbled to stop and as I stepped down, I saw her change seats, shuffling to the front to speak to find an old acquaintance. You don't need language to make friends. And when I got home, I shared my sweets with pappa and read a letter from Natalie that had just arrived in the mail. Everyone ought to know such times.

Let Colour Live

Autumn is the time for bright colours. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

I'm a Model, You Know What I Mean

What days I have. It seems every one of them is filled with something new, something to appreciate, something to give me pause before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Yesterday I woke at five in the morning, and quarter to six my father drove me to the hair salon on School Street, where I would come to spend the next few hours in a haze of hairspray. I introduced myself to the other models (they had all been too shy to do this before I came and had sat in silence, staring down at their hands) and very soon after this I was put into a chair, and a woman came along and coloured my hair a bright copper, whilst I read The Wednesday Wars and a bit of Nicholas Nickleby. After the colour had set and she had washed out the remains, Frederik the suspendered hairstylist dried my hair and brushed it out and crimped the roots of my hair for volume, before he pulled it all back with pins, curled my hair and teased it into oblivion, resulting in a wonderfully thick mass of hair ready for the catwalk. I could not get near an open flame. Not only did I look like a matchstick, but I was just as flammable.

 The choice of makeup was odd. I realize it served a specific purpose (to highlight the exotic nature of the green feathered monstrosity I would have to wear in my hair) but still, i found the savage, unibrowed look to be so 'where the wild things are.' After all the primming and primping, we--models, hair people alike--walked to Folkets Hus, where we would have to stand in front of a small group of hairstylists gathered from the city's salons, whilst Frederik and his friend demonstrated styles, tips, and elaborate headpieces on us.

In the end, I got a free hair colour and an expensive shampoo and conditioner set. I went to shake Frederik's hand in the end, as one should after a business transaction--I thanked him and wished him well, and he said, "I suppose I'll see you next time we're here?"
Apparently, it hadn't mattered that I wore a blue blouse instead of the required black.
"Sure," I shrugged. "Why not?"

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

See what I did there?

I took a shower late in the night two days ago, which rattles the pipes in the wall and woke my mother. She scolded me and went back to bed, and today she told me not to swim in the bathtub so late in the night." Before she corrected herself, I had a brief mental image of my swandiving from the ceramic sides of our tiny tub and doing a few strokes up and down its length.
"I mean," she said. "Don't take a shower so late in the night."
But something good came out of it. Whilst she attempted to fall back asleep, she read the newspaper and came across an ad:

Hair Models
Wella is looking for hair models for a colouring course on 17/11.
If you want to get your hair coloured by professional hairdressers for free, come to our modelling auditions on Wednesday 16/11 at 18.30. If you are selected you will receive hair products worth 300 kronor. We are looking for both girls and boys. You must be at least sixteen years of age to enter.

She tore it from the newspaper and took it to me in bed, and today I went for the audition. I sat in the lobby reading about Anatoly Kashpirovsky and his likeness to Rasputin, before I moved into another room with the mass of hopefuls. I stood in the back, facing the door, when one of the main hairdressers stepped out, explained the preliminaries of the audition, and started his turn about the room to find girls with "faces suitable for updos." I had no greater expectations of the outcome (I would go to the library to comfort my crushed soul, if all else failed), but then I see the man striding across the room towards me--he was suddenly beside me, asking me to take down my bun to see my hair. I was the first one of the girls out the door. I've been put through my first audition--quite painless really--and tomorrow I go to the studio.

(And yes, I did go to the library and I borrowed Nicholas Nickleby and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)

Baptism on a Gray Fall Day

The star of the hour--Tracy Mufasa--ready to be baptized!

The audience was much more supportive than at first glance.

Father, all smiles, delivers a short message before the baptism. 

Tracy's twin brother Mike and older brother Kevin watch from the pews 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Plus Fours and Other Gear

I told my dear, dear friend Natalie just yesterday that I wanted a pair of brown plus fours, the kind Tintin wears, because if they were good enough to last through his numerous ventures and adventures, I don't see why they shouldn't serve me just as well. And do you know what she did? She wandered into the nearest vintage store and bought me a pair, and knowing she cannot keep a secret, she told me immediately. (Read here.)

I shall now be properly outfitted to look for a ship, a gallant sea-worthy vessel to bring us this much closer to savage waters. I have already put together a skeleton crew. Natalie Moore is my first mate; Matt has already signed on (every ship must have at least one midshipman called Mr. Higgins), and I have yet to ask Fran, though I'm sure he'll accept because he seems to be the sort of fellow who likes the occasional maritime hijinks, and more importantly, he once dressed as a gondolier, which leaves me in little doubt he can convincingly portray a sailor.

Matt and I discussed our route. He thought the Caribbean and Spanish ruins had been done to death, and suggested we hunt for viking treasure in Newfoundland or seek a lost Phoenician colony in the Indian Ocean.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Poor Sampling

I spent a quiet Monday in the coffee shop. I read newsletters from 2003 and took notes, and when I finally looked up, I found a little girl in a high chair holding out a piece of bread to me between her chubby fingers. She had figured out the elementaries of human reaction--the smile and wave. Such simple gestures speak volumes. She had blonde hair that curled delightfully around her face and large blue eyes, and she waved and giggled and clucked at me in her own primitive form of Xhosa. She spent the next half hour waving at anyone who ventured within the confines of the shop. One woman smiled and waved back, remarking in jest, "That's not a very Swedish thing to do."

It is an unfortunately accurate statement. Swedes do not venture out of their comfort zone with relish. They do not speak to people sitting next to them in buses; they do not greet store clerks; they do not have prolonged conversations with strangers. I am not an exemplary Swede, as anyone who knows me will laugh at the amount of times I have broken these unwritten rules. I once spoke to a store clerk when he was ringing up my purchases, and he looked to see if there was anyone behind him.
Today I stood at the computer terminal in the city library to look up Tintin, and a man in a Gryffindor scarf steps up next to me and says,

"You look like a person who's about to finish her business." At my non-plussed look, he continued, "I'll just wait here until you're finished with the terminal."
"I'm looking up Tintin," said I. "I want to read them. Not that I haven't read them before--I have--but I saw the movie a few days ago, and it reminded me that I haven't read them in a while."
"I haven't seen it yet."
"You should."
"My friends are really big fans of Tintin, and they were appalled the movie had combined The Crab with the Golden Claws with Red Rackham's Treasure."
"I thought it was really good. Some changes had to be made, but I thought it captured the adventurous spirit of the books. But then again, I'm not a die hard fan."

 Am enjoying this.

He was rather unSwedish, striking up a conversation like that, and before we parted ways, I briefly wondered if he too had been raised in a country far from his own and taught by teachers from a selection of countries. I wandered off into the children's section and asked for help; a kind librarian led me in the right direction, and soon the library, as all libraries do, brought out the worst impulses of greed in me. I could not leave with only Tintin in tow, and I long lingered over the children's section, deciding between The Secret Garden and The Prisoner of Azkaban. I chose Racso and the Rats of Nimh, which I haven't read since the fifth grade, when Ms. Losey read it out loud to us after we filed in from lunch break, hot and sticky from running around under the noonday sun. Paul Harvey and I, lonely, consummate readers of exaggerated proportions, kept our books low in our laps and read ahead.

Still good for a second reading.

Who disturbs my slumber?

My friend Matt has just recently bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and has ventured off to slay monsters and steal from unsuspecting villagers. He poked the sleeping dragon and it was not happy to be woken by the likes of a bearded adventurer. Moral of the story: Let sleeping dragons lie.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

City on a Hill

Last night I attended 11-11-11, an ecumenical worship service in Tegs Church. We had planned the day long before we knew it was the Global Day of Worship, and it was an unexpected pleasure to know we had gathered with Christians all around the world to lift up our Saviour on this day.

We are all like little Emmanuel, who articulates very well for a two-year-old, ran around the sanctuary calling,"Pappa! Pappa! I'm calling for my pappa!" It reminded me that we, in much the same way, had come to stand before our Lord and cry "Abba Father!" 

The vicar of the church, himself encouraged by the believers who had come, read a blessing and sent us on our way into the dark night.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you,       
And be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up His countenance upon you,       
And give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26


I watched Tintin in the theatre. Again. I haven't been to the theatre in ages, as it is expensive and I only waste my monely wisely. I have always enjoyed Tintin, and I particularly liked the adventurous spirit of this film, and so I bought myself a ticket and sat in a salon filled for the most part with young men and women who proved to be very polite and ate their popcorn quietly. I was feeling a bit guilty for watching the film again so soon, until I realized I was wearing breeches and brown shoes, much like Tintin, and then any doubts I had were immediately dispelled. All I was missing was a mortal enemy.

I rather admire Tintin's tenacious spirit. He is never afraid of a challenge, works hard as a reporter, ever filial to the truth, often going far beyond what is expected of him. He pursues his subject matter to the ends of the earth, isn't afraid of a challenge, or more likely, a fight, and reclaims the day every time he is knocked down and left for dead. He is never dismayed by obstacles or fixated on what could have been, but moves on with a resilience of spirit that is truly commendable. We need more Tintins in the world.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Where's that bag of frozen spinach?

I should also tell you that I went thirteen rounds with blue-belts and yellow-belts and green-belts and brown-belts today in karate because Shihan was not there and Erika the yellow-belt filled in and made us fight each other, and I hurt my foot with a bad kick (the other belts were very concerned, offering their condolensces) and I will wake up tomorrow sore, stiff, bruised, slightly more tenderized than I'd ever hoped to be, but very satisfied with my efforts.

I wonder if my leg is supposed to feel numb.

Driver's Ed

Strange day. My father and I drove half an hour to Hörnefors in order to let me attend a three hour course in driver's education. We Swedes take our road safety very seriously, and it is a mandatory course to expose drivers-to-be to hazardous driving conditions, such as heavy rain, slick roads, and black ice. The group of students gathered in the waiting room, and soon we were divided into groups and sent off to individual cars. Our instructor sat in a little glass-paneled tower on a hill overlooking the course of curvy, interlocking roads, from which he would give us instructions by radio. We were all alone in our individual cars, guided only by his voice through the walkie-talkie. He placed me in car number one and made me take point in the caravan, somehow guessing my natural leading abilites. (I have to say, the entire time spent on the course I thought of bumper cars and go-karts and Super Mario and for some reason, shooter games--I had to lead my troops through the misty vales that had descended over enemy territory.)

We were run through a series of courses. Motor your vehicle at high speeds through steep curves on artificially slick roads. Push your car to seventy kilometers per hour and hit the brakes when you get to the cones, measure the distance it takes to stop. Repeat, hitting the brakes at the cones and avoiding the "unexpected obstacles on the road" whilst hit by spray from powerful sprinklers on all sides. I careened down the roads at unnecessary speeds and spun out twice, ending up with a car that faced the wrong way and an instructior clucking into the walkie-talkie.

The instructor finally took us into the headquarters, where our tiny group was walked through scenarios, looked at an actual front half of a wrecked car to take in the damage, stood on scales that showed us our weights as an "obstacle hurled through space at fifty kilometers per hour" (i.e. two and a half tons), learned the proper way to wear seatbelts (bottom belt over the hips and the top strap as close to the neck as possible), and sat in a car, which turned upside down to simulate a wreck.

A good time.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011