The Final Countdown – 5…

What time do you call this? I’ve been waiting here for hours!

Nah! I’ve actually been eating and sleeping, because I’m selfish that way.

As I’m sure most of you know by now, I am moving from Sweden back to England in 5 days time, and this countdown measures Things I will miss against Things I have missed… but I have to keep mentioning it, for the sake of those just joining us. Stop laughing at the back… it happens! I get new readers from time to time!

Let’s do this thing… as those nice young men and women in the talking pictures sometimes say.

What I will miss #5: Lactose-free products


Okay, there are lactose-free products in England… in much the same way that there are Cheetahs in sub-Saharan Africa; they are there, but they don’t exactly leap out of the brush and go…

“Hi there! My name is Raoul. My hobbies are chewing gazelle, and running at speeds in excess of 70mph. Would you like to take a picture?”

When I left the United Kingdom, only one supermarket was guaranteed to offer lactose free products in their dairy aisle. I won’t mention the name of it (I’m sure UK readers will see instantly which one it is), but to give my non-uk readers an idea of how much thought this huge supermarket chain gives to such produce, I have highlighted the lactose-free selection in red on the photograph below…


Yes… quite. And try keep in mind that this is the supermarket that does offer lactose-free.

Now, I know there are going to be folks out there who say I’m being unfair. But before they get too worked up and start writing angry lists:

  1. I’m talking about lactose-free dairy, not soya.
  2. As I already stated: I know you can find it, but it isn’t nearly as simple as it is here in Sweden.

I discovered I was lactose intolerant entirely by accident. It’s a long boring story, which I won’t go into too much detail about here, but if I’m being perfectly honest I didn’t lend much weight to “intolerances” as a serious thing until I started feeling much, much better, and after a few days of trying to figure out why, I realised that I had eaten absolutely no dairy for over 2 months.

Now I realise that we in the United Kingdom are much more lactose tolerant than most countries. And you would be well within your rights to suggest that as a reason why lactose-free produce is not more widespread. But you know who has an even higher tolerance for lactose than the UK? That’s right… SWEDEN! And their shelves are full of the stuff.

It’s not only in Swedish supermarkets that this is true either. Almost any coffee-shop or restaurant you visit has the option of lactose-free milk in your drink. There is information on the supermarket cheese shelves about how to tell if a cheese is likely to be high or low in lactose.

20036-algAs long as I’m trying to be completely fair… Sweden does consume more milk produce per person than any other country on the planet with the exception of Finland, so that might account for the widely available information on the stuff. And bear in mind also, that this is the same country that produces fake Moose Warning signs, to accommodate the Germans (who apparently love them), and in order to stop them stealing the real signs from the side of the road.

But still… get a grip, UK!!

Anyway, there are compensations. What follows is one example.

Things I have missed #5: Online Shopping



Poor Sweden. Poor, poor Sweden.

I’m talking here about the really big online shopping places; the Amazons and the eBays. The places where you could find the body of Amelia Earhart so long as you were willing to pay for postage & packing.

I used to think that living in the UK was a bit of a pain when it came to online shopping. I would order a new tool or a particularly hard-to-find wood or metal (I used to build things… a lot!), and discover that it couldn’t be delivered to England, or that it would cost one intact immortal soul for the privilege of doing so. And then… I moved to Sweden.

How on Earth can the country that gave us IKEA and SKYPE have such a hard time with online shopping? Are they being punished? Why is the world so unwilling to send things here?

Sweden does have it’s own repository of hard-to-find things. It’s called Blocket. I have had occasion to use it several times in the past 3 years, and I have only once managed to find what I was looking for. It’s useless by comparison with the giants above, and I just feel sorry for the Swedes.

Now, most Swedes would tell you that if you can’t find it in Sweden you probably don’t need it. But I think that’s true of pretty much anywhere you live, except outer-space. Of course we don’t need online shopping at all. Just like the world didn’t need ABBA, IKEA, Skype, or… dynamite, but I think many people have been happy to have them.

I don’t need the things that I purchase online, but most of the things I have purchased over the years from the warmth and comfort of my own home, have been tremendously helpful in one way or another. Particularly when it comes to filmmaking.

I’m going now, but I’ll be back tomorrow.


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