13 is just a number

Contrary to popular belief, Luck is not a lady but a burly skinhead named Trevor, with one hand for holding open doors, and the other balled up into a tight, cast-iron fist! And when he lays on the hay-makers, some cry, some rage against the unfairness of it all, some shrug their shoulders and open a beer… and some try to mop up the last sticky puddles of their spilled sanity with the wonderfully absorbent pages of that most entertaining of comic-books; the Holy Bible.

Atheists, as every Alabama schoolchild knows, are made to renounce superstition in a darkly ritualistic oath, which must be recited whilst hopping on one leg, blindfolded and juggling the fossilised testicles of Charles Darwin (pickled chestnuts are a permitted substitute, according to the rules of the Atheist Super-League’s Handbook of Evil, which sits by my bedside).

Now, just so that I am very clear on this: I like to believe there is no place for superstition in my world-view. It doesn’t matter how hard you click the heels of your ruby slippers together… you’re still tripping on some pretty heavy stuff if you think you’re standing on a yellow brick road, talking to a green woman, who can’t stand next to someone who spits, for health & safety reasons. The poor street-sweepers outside the Peter Pan school for gifted “children”, have seen enough blood to know that, as sad as it seems, absolutely no amount of wishing will make you immune to the forces of gravity… If even LIGHT cannot escape the pull of a black-hole, then dressing like the Jolly Green Giant’s diminutive younger brother probably isn’t gonna make a difference. Unfortunately, I am ashamed to admit that a belief in LUCK (at least BAD luck), is something I have a hard time letting go of. I have a friend who used to call me “Lucky Eddie”: a character from “Hägar the Horrible” comic strips, whose name, in case you hadn’t guessed, is ironic. My sister has mentioned on a couple of occasions, that I have what Geordies refer to as “The luck of the seven blind bastards”. All these things aside, I chose 2013 as a suitable year in which to get married…

Since then, the words “Thirteen is just a number!” have become my mantra, even if it’s difficult to recite them with a sore throat, or through a mouthful of broken teeth.

January of this year started in very much the same way that 2012 had ended; I was feeling pretty full of myself, having survived yet another apocalypse, and even if I didn’t have a job here in Sweden yet, I still had my health… Then, at the end of January, my health decided it had behaved for long enough (ever since I was struck with kidney stones in November), and promptly went back to kicking in windows and being a thoroughly bad boy.

I was struck with Glandular Fever, which in turn meant that I could not take the immunosuppressant medication which keeps other areas of my health in check. This crappy illness kept me in bed for several weeks, unable to eat anything but Honey and Yoghurt (which I previously loved but have since never touched), until I finally felt well enough, just in time to get my first job interview in 5 months. “Excellent!” thought I, and off I went. The interview went well, until I was told that the 8 week training course was entirely in Swedish, and “was my Swedish good enough?” This was the first interview I’d had since coming to live here, so I bit my tongue and nodded my head. I got the job, and went along to the training course, nodding in all the right places and desperately hoping that my poor Swedish would get me through the course and into a job where I would not need anything but my own language, since I would be an English tour-guide; a plan which worked… until I was told that I must stand in front of the class and talk about Sweden… in SWEDISH… for a total of at least 15 minutes!
I swallowed my considerable terror, wrote something about Sweden, and recited it over and over until I thought my pronunciation was good enough, and delivered it to the class. *drumroll*… “Thank you very much, James. You may sit down.”

Meanwhile, during the last week of March, after sitting for over an hour with Amki,  trying to calculate every ingredient of every meal for the upcoming week, in order to save every penny, I slipped on the ice and broke my wrist on the way to the supermarket! Cost = 1200SEK

April: After a trip to England, I returned to Stockholm, where my computer immediately blew-up… trapping, in its now inaccessible databanks, all my videos, photos, artwork and plans for our proposed company, and for the impending wedding. Then, after bluffing my way through almost the entire training course, I got the following pieces of news on the same morning:

1) My children would not be allowed to attend my wedding.
2) There would be a language test, necessary to qualify for the City Hall exam.

May: After another visit to the hospital revealed that my cast had somehow been removed a week too early, I sat my City Hall test for the second time, and this time passed! Then I started work and began my struggle with the Swedish tax and migration services. Apparently, it is not sufficient that you have work, are an EU citizen, and are marrying a native Swede… they are still not convinced you want to stay here. So, I was refused a Swedish ID number. Shortly thereafter, I was informed by my employer that unless I was granted a Swedish ID number very soon they would be unable to continue my employment, since their insurance would not cover me, and so… after many months of struggling… and beginning to run out of money, we resigned to return to England permanently if I lost the job as a result of the ID problem, and… guess what?

June: Apart from a minor hiccup, where Amki’s wedding dress arrived along with an unexpected bill of over 800SEK, necessary to pick it up from Swedish customs… things started looking up. I was finally granted a Swedish ID, work started going well, the wedding began to take shape, with the help of some of our friends; not least our flat-mate, Tilda, because without her help both myself and Amki would have lost our minds months ago.

So there it is. I promised you the rough story outline of why I have been missing from these pages for the early part of the year, and now you have it.

Today we met with our wedding officiator and he turned out to be a self-interested nutcase who made us all very uncomfortable… so there are still hiccups from time to time, but we now have a new officiator, and although our wedding budget will be rather tight, the wedding will go ahead, and all will be well.

I will return to these pages, and hopefully later, to the video channel, but remember: 13 IS JUST A NUMBER!

Until we meet again: Don’t bend over for the soap.



Edit: Having posted this before watching British tennis history made… tune in next week for a commentary on British Sport… or something.



4 comments on “13 is just a number

  1. I love what you have written, as always. It is, after all, the main reason for us getting married in a little less than three weeks, this mutual admiration 🙂 I hope that 2013 will be rising ever upwards for us now, and especially for you!


  2. Your spirits are high, I can tell! What an adventure you’ve had. I’m a bit jealous that you can keep a merry sense of humor even in such chaotic times — it’s a blessing. On top of that, even though you’re not one for superstition, I wish the best for you in your upcoming wedding, and for Frigga’s blessings to be upon you. Cheers!


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