Welcome, welcome, one and all… Come in; fix yourself a drink; grab a t-shirt from the selection by the door; pull up a bean-bag; take a muffin from the counter-top.
Okay, we have none of those things. But we do have a list of things I will miss about Sweden when I away from it in 6 days time, measured against things I have missed about England! 🙂
Wait… where are you going? Surely you didn’t just come here for…
To hell with them! Let’s get on with it shall we?
What I will miss #6: Working as a Stockholm Tour Guide
Just to be clear: I am not in this photograph. Many of my guide colleagues are, however, and it is them I will miss as much as the job itself.
Yes… we are those people sitting at the front of a bus, or a boat, or walking you through the streets, or losing our voices as we attempt to be heard above the crowds in a busy museum; listing endless dates and telling stories about the history and happenings of Stockholm, and, more generally, Sweden.
We have hearts and lives… If you prick us, do we not bleed? And if you wrong us, shall we not REVENGE!!??
Yes. We Tour Guides are all about the revenge… Especially the Italians. In fact I may have earned a messy and untimely death just for mentioning that. But it is difficult to stay angry for very long, when you work as a Tour Guide in this beautiful city:
Of course, some of us manage it. Particularly on days when you have an all too familiar conversation such as this one:
“What is that enormous building?”
“That’s the Nordic Museum… as I mentioned on the bus.”
“What was it originally?”
“The Nordic Museum… as I mentioned on the bus.”
“No, I mean what was it built for?”
“The Nordic Museum… as I…”
“No, you don’t understand. Who lived there when it was built?”
“Nobody. It has always been a museum. It was built for that purpose… as I mentioned on the…”
… and so on.
Alright… to give a little credit to the guests, it’s an understandable confusion when the building in question looks like this:
But that doesn’t make it any less irritating when you are having this conversation for the 3rd time in as many days. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to trust your Guide. Likewise, when we tell you to be back at the bus by a certain time, it is not because we are anally retentive weirdos who measure our lives by the amount of seconds we waste in futile pursuits such as eating… It is because 1000ft long Cruise-Liners, weighing over 100,000 tons, and carrying more than 2,500 passengers, cannot usually afford to wait while the charming couple in cabin 6211 buy fridge magnets with Vikings on them.
The job, like any other, comes with headaches you can’t really understand unless you’ve been there, but for the most part, you can’t ask for many better jobs than showing people around beautiful cities and museums for a living.
I will miss the sights, sounds and smells of The Vasa Museum in particular. Not a lot prepares a guest for the sight of an intact 17th century warship, greeting them as they walk through the doors of a pretty ordinary looking modern building. I will miss those gasps of awe that really made the job worthwhile, and the thanks you get from those guests who have really appreciated their trip and the job you have done.
More than that though, I will miss the people in that first photograph. I have worked in more than 20 different jobs, spanning a dozen different industries, and it hasn’t been very often that I could honestly say I really liked those that I worked with. I will miss them all, and pleasant conversations with them in the warmth of a Stockholm summer.
But, I’m going home, so we need one of these…
What I am looking forward to #6: Working as a Voice-Over Artist
Now, the eagle-eyed will have noticed that I changed the title of this second section slightly, from “What I have missed” to “What I am looking forward to”, because this one is a bit of a cheat. You see, although I now work in voice-overs, I have never worked in England as such. This is something I have only ever done here in Sweden. However, since that is what I am going to be doing once I return, I figured it balanced quite well with the Tour Guide job I am leaving behind.
I have wondered about being a voice-over artist since reading Stephen King’s Rose Madder back in the mid-nineties, and several of my tour guests suggested I might consider it as an occupation. Still, my first job doing this sort of work was pretty much of a fluke, as I was called by an Argentine/Norwegian director and asked to be the narrator for a documentary. And that might have been the end of it, had it not been for another fluke, in which I discovered a job thanks to my good friend, Hector (who is in the guide photo at the top of the page).
I went in to read for an audition, and started work as an audio-book narrator a few weeks later. Since then I have recorded several books (a few audio samples of which can be found here), and had a competing audio-book company try to recruit me. So I started thinking “Huh! Maybe I do have what it takes to do this sort of work after all”, and have spent the last few months researching possible opportunities, and gathering together the necessary equipment (though I should stress that my own iso-booth is not nearly as shiny as the one in the photo).
So you just never know where life will take you if you let it. It brought me here, to a wonderful wife; a great job, and then another great job. Now it’s taking me back to England, and what I hope will be a career.
But that’s in 6 days time. Lots more writing between now and then. Hopefully the rest will be more interesting to read, and a little less flat than this one seems to have been now that I read back through it. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.