Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Question 25: How happy do you feel on a scale between 1 and 10?

IMG_4907Before I came up with the idea for the Swenglish-project I was down at 3,5 on the happiness scale. I felt confused and didn't know what to do with my life. I still don't know really and I'm still a bit confused, but I've accepted my situation. Nowadays I'm an 8 most of the time. I needed a big change in life, so I changed country, city, social circles, occupation... A bit drastic perhaps, but it was necessary.
How happy do you feel on a scale between 1 and 10? What a stupid question. Only one out of the 30 Swenglish participants answered "I hate that kind of questions" and refused to answer. That person, who lived in England, was very wise, I think. Of course you can't measure happiness or wellness. But I asked anyway.
This how the remaning people in England answered:
5  6  6  7,5  8  8  8  8  8  8  8  8  8,5 and "8 or 9 at happy times, other times 5 or 6"
The people in Sweden answered:
6  6  6  7  7  7  7  7,5  8  8  8  8  9  10  10  
The participants were asked to consider both mental and physical health, but often it goes together. More people than I'd thought had at some point seen a counsellor/therapist/psychologist and/or been on anti-depressants. According to the stats, 1 out of 4 people in both England and Sweden suffer from some kind of anxiety or depression. Even among the people who answered 8 there were people who had been diagnosed with depression. I also asked people what it would take to reach a 10. Some missed being in a relationship, others were unhappy with their career, others felt generally stressed or were anxious about the future.

This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What do you do in your spare time?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Question 24: What's your attitude towards drugs?

I've got no photos of drugs. I'll keep this short as it could be a sensitive subject matter for the people I interviewed.
Almost all the people I stayed with in England had tried drugs. Some took drugs now and again, mostly at parties or smoking a spliff at home. Among the people in Sweden there were many who had never tried drugs and no one used drugs at the moment.
I was very naive when I moved to Brighton as a 19-year old. I thought that people just smoked long roll-ups when they really smoked a joint. Through my own observations it's clear that there are more drugs around in England than in Sweden. But now I'm talking about what it was like ten years ago and I'm aware that not all Swedes are as naive as I was.
Several of the people in the Swenglish project pointed out that alcohol was the worst drug as it's so sociably accepted.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: How happy are you on a scale between 1 and 10?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Question 23: What's your Atittude towards Alcohol?

IMG_6316I drink less alcohol when I'm in Sweden compared to when I'm in England. (And I'm not talking about when just visiting.) If it depends on who I socialise with or if people in Sweden drink less is not that easy to figure out. But in general I've experienced that people in Sweden more often suggest going for a coffee instead of a pint.

When I interviewed the Swenglish participants about their attitude towards alcohol I discovered that a majority had a complicated relationship with drinking, here's a typical answer:
“I really like drinking, the feeling of it, the social side, the taste, but I really don’t like getting too drunk and the way I feel the day after. In this country [UK] heavy drinking has become totally acceptable and that’s bad. It’s a poison. At the end of the day it gives you a lot of damage.”

People in England as well as in Sweden were very aware that alcohol causes misery such as angst-ridden hangovers, fights and rape. There were vey few who thought that alcohol was solely a fun thing, not having any problems with. Even if most people drank in moderation, they still felt anxious, about their health or because they sometimes went over the limit and said and did things they would regret after. People in England had a slightly more positive attitude towards alcohol, emphasising the social aspect.

There was an idea among some of the Swedish participants that people in England had a more healthy attitude towards alcohol, that the English were able to go for a beer after work, being more spontaneous, whereas Swedes always have to drink to get drunk. I agree that the attitude in England is mor relaxed, people can go for a pint in the afternoon without making a big deal of it, but it doesn't mean they drink less in the weekends or that alcohol causes less problems. Nowadays I've also experienced that people in Sweden drink in the week even though the pub culture is far from as big as in England.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards drugs?

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Question 22: What's your Favourite Drink?

Water instead of Alcohol
That people in Sweden appreciated water so much is not something I'd thought of. A third of the Swenglish participants in Sweden picked water as their favourite drink. Only four mentioned something alcoholic. But there were even less people, only three, who chose something alcoholic in England. Two people answered water.
IMG_5594Specific Coffee
What struck me when I compared the answers was that people in England were more specific when they talked about their favourite drinks, not only coffee but coffee with honey or chai latte. That coffee was as popular as tea among the English participants was another surprise to me!
Green Tea
The idea of the project was that I should eat and drink the same stuff as the people I stayed with, but already after the first week, I missed green tea so much that I had to cheat and buy a box of jasmine tea. But during the project I also got a taste for hot (soya) chocolate, something I haven't had since I was little! 
Favorite drinks among people in England
rooibos tea
chai latte
Earl Grey tea
Cappella juice
de-caf cappuccino
red wine
pint of Harveys
red wine
black coffee, occasionally with honey
coffee with milk
green tea
good quality water
tea with milk and one sugar

Favorite drinks among people in Sweden
green tea
folköl (week beer, 3,5%) and coffee
hot chocolate
äppelmust (a non-alcoholic apple drink similar to cider)
dry white wine
red wine
red wine
elderberry squash
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards alcohol?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Question 21: What's your Favourite Food?

Influences from Other Countries
Without immigration it wouldn't have been much fun eating in neither Sweden or England. Pasta, Thai food and kebab were some of the favourites among my Swenglish-project participants. Only one person mentioned fish 'n' chips and that was a Swede!

Chocolate is Food too

My own favourite food is dark chocolate. Yes, that's food too! Some people answered "peanut butter" and "cheese", so I think I'm allowed to say chocolate. It surprised me that many of the Swedes I stayed with were so mad about red meat. There seem to be more veggies in England! 
Being Served or Serving Yourself
What I noticed when I stayed with the different people was that people in England often served up food on a plate as if I were in a restaurant while people in Sweden more often put the pots and pans on the table and asked me to help myself.
IMG_9017Favourite Foods in Sweden
Spaghetti and mince sauce (soya or quorn)
Thai food
Pad Thai
Egg, no salads and soups
Indian food, Thai food
Bbq meet or kebab, but then it has to come from Huskvarna or Jönköping
South East Asian food (vegan)
Very good fish 'n' chips and milkshake for dessert
A bloody steak, beef in general
Fläskfilé and potatisgratäng (Pork tenderloin and a potato dish with onion, cheese and cream that you bake in the oven)
Kebab pizza from the Kebab belt (in Småland)
Bbq meet
Pizza and råbiff (steak tartare)
Crispy lövbiff (minute steak) with garlic butter

IMG_8341Favoritmat i England
Peanut butter
Grilled octopus
Greek food
Roast lamb
Japanese Food
Lentil Dahl
Prawn cocktail and avocado vinaigrette
Roast dinner
Fried-up potato with batter and fried egg
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your favourite drink?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Question 20: What's your favourite book/film/band?

Instead of making a list of loads of random books, films and bands, I'm going to present what English books/films/bands people in Sweden liked and what Swedish books/films/bands people in England liked. Quite a few TV series sneaked their way in as well. The star means that several people mentioned something.
People in Sweden liked
The Clash and other old English punk*, Oasis and other Brit pop*, Stone Roses, Monty Pyton*, Time Team, Stephen Fry, Tony Hill, The Midsummer Murders*, Inspector Lewis*, Nick Hornby, The Cure, The Style Council, Agatha Christie, old English war films, Downtown Abbey*, Faulty Towers, John Cleese, English Christmas carols
People in England liked
Let the Right One In*, Fyrtiotalisterna (poetry movement), Lukas Moodyson*, Cardigans*, Wallander, Festen, The Millenium Trilogy*, Roxette, Wannadies, Ingmar Bergman, My life as a dog, Pettson & Findus, The Sounds, Kings of Convenience*, August Strindberg, Abba
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your favourite food?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Question 19: How Much Do You Care About Your Appearance?

IMG_5293Last weekend some friends and I discussed appearance. One person was upset because her partner had said that she looked better with make-up on. Another person was upset because her partner had questioned her wearing make-up ... But how much do people care about their own appearance?
Some thoughts on appearance by people in England:
"It's fairly important, 7 out of 10. I'm not a great person for following fashion. I like to look clean and tidy. Sometimes my hair’s a mess and I don’t care. I'm very aware of how you can change your appearance."
“It's quite important. Before I haven’t cared or been over-the-top-silly as a joke. Now I’m more expressive, fluid. Lately I’ve spent time thinking people are beautiful”.
"I'm so uncool it becomes cool."
"I don’t spend much time on it all. Some days I don’t look in the mirror."
"I have a split personality. One part of me could wear the same old T-shirt and shorts all summer, another part of me is very vain. I enjoy clothes and appearance."
"I don’t dress really well, but I care about appearance. I don’t mind spending money on clothes, but I dress down in everyday life. I notice when someone dresses well, but I don’t judge someone if they don’t."
"It used to be more important. I feel I look ok when I make an effort, but am quite critical of my own appearance. I try not to stick out too much."
"I care less about it now, I used to be obsessive. Not that I thought that I looked good, but I didn’t want to frighten anyone ..."
"Like everybody I’d like to feel attractive but I also want to feel comfortable. I would like to loose weight, but am not a gym fan."
Some thoughts on appearance by people in Sweden:
"I've never liked make-up and stuff; I used make-up in high school because everybody else did that like."

"It's more important than I wish it was, especially when it comes to myself, it makes me anxious. However I'm not that obsessed when it comes to other people's appearance, not at all."
"It's quite important, a ritual ... I care quite a lot about how I look. It affects my self esteem ... I'm trying not to be a slave to loads of beauty ideals, but I'm sure I am anyway ... It would be completely wrong not to care at all, it wouldn't be me. Not to care about what clothes I wear would be a bit like hanging IKEA pictures on the wall."
"It's important, but it's not important to be good-looking ... It's important to be healthy and be fresh-looking, clean. I prefer no make-up when it comes to both me and other people. Rather clean comfy clothes than cool and trendy ..."

"It's not that important, but if you care about your appearance ... Most people can look good, but some people do not take care of themselves and then you become ugly." 
"I'm quite an aesthetic-minded person ... I experience the world visually and through music. A big part of my identity is to express myself through my appearance."
"I hardly ever look in the mirror, I never stand in front of a mirror. I always put make-up on quickly. Somehow I like to look nice, but I'm not making a fuss."
"You always want to look as good as possible. Show your best with clothes and hair and such."
"I would not change anything with myself. I'm happy with myself as I am. I'm not spending much time on my appearance, my way of dressing is quite boring. I wish I was more obsessed about my appearance."
My thoughts
I care a great deal about my appearance. I'm not trying to be good-looking or using loads of make-up or shaving in every place a woman is expected to shave, but I'm anxious to have some kind of style. To stick out a bit. Because I felt so invisible and ugly when I grew up ... At the same time I find it very boring with people who look perfect. Then I'd rather look like a too old hairy punk industrial hard rocker with attitude ...

Most people in both Sweden and England said similar things. They cared about their appearance, but were not obsessive. The older they were the less important it was. A Swedish person who lived in England said:
"I think guys dress better in Sweden and care more about their appearance. English guys can be quite scruffy. English girls are quite feminine. They often wear dresses and mini skirts, more so than in Sweden. In Sweden you dress very practically. People wear "all covering waterproofs" in Sweden, you don't get that in England."
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your favourite book?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Question 18: What do friends mean to you?

Some voices from England:
"I love my friends and I like collecting new friends and keeping in touch with the ones I got. I have a few long-distance friends. I only lost touch with one friend; it's the only friend I’ve ever dropped, but I thought carefully about it."
"I have a huge amount of friends. A lot of them are different. I can’t express how much of a vital thing they are. Last night all the people who came back I’d never met before. I like meeting new people. I hardly have any friends left from school,they all went in different directions."
"I want to be as self-sufficient as possible. I try not to rely on anyone. I don’t dare to make friends that important. I rather rely on God, it feels at bit safer than relying on a human being. I'm saying that without bitterness, I don’t blame people."
"They’re like my family cause I was never close to my parents and they’re not around. Can’t imagine life without my friends. My sister’s only got her boyfriend, I can’t understand that at all."
"It takes a lot to become my friend. I get on with everybody, but I don’t trust them. I need to hang out with them for a year or two before I consider them friends. My friends is my world, If I didn’t have them, I would have nothing. I don't have many friends from childhood, I lost contact when I moved."
"I value I got friends who don’t reject me cause I have a mental illness, they give me a link to the world of normality. I got quite a few friends, different friends for different things ... Friends to sit in the pub and moan with, friends to watch DVDs with, friends to sometimes have a heart to heart with."
"I mostly see 'mother friends', other people with children on a day to day, week to week basis."
"They are there if I need someone to talk to, I can cry in front of my friends but as you get older you want to burden people les and less ... I like it when I have a lot of my friends around me at the same time ... but when you don’t have a partner you don’t have someone special thinking about you."
"I'm very fortunate to have made friends with some actors I admired and ended up meeting later in life and ended up staying with them."
Some voices from Sweden:
"They're there even if they're not there in person."
"Well, they mean a lot, but it's also such a thing that meant more when you were younger, then you'd say: 'I'd never choose a boyfriend over a friend' as it was then, but in the end you'll always do that anyway ..." 
"I'm in a strange situation right now. I either have my boyfriend's friends or some old friends I'm trying to find my way back to ... I don't have that many close friends because of that. It's a bit like I've forgotten what it's like to have close friends."
"I don't really socialise ... I mostly have very close relationships with a few people, not that many acquaintances."
"The most important friends are from when I was 8-9 year old, we've always followed each other in life. It's a safety to know they're there, I'd do anything for them and I think they'd do anything for me."
"I don't hang out with friends that much. I've moved a lot and lost touch with some, many have kids and it takes up all their time."
"I've got a best friend, can you put it like that now?"
"It changed since I had kids and moved ... It's a bit tricky sometimes. I've had to find new forms for socialising with old friends. I've had a bit of a crisis when it comes to social relationships. Some live very far away; I wish I could see them more, have them in my life on a daily basis."
"I'm part of different crowds, it goes in cycles ... X is my all round friend, we travel together, she's single a lot, a friend I can do most things with. I've also been single a lot, have no kids; I still live the life I did when I was 23, you can do a bit what you want ... Friends come and go."
"I've got 200 friends on Facebook. It's relative. If you want to be a bit harsh you can divide it into female and male friends. The guys I'm with because of a need to hang out, do nice things with because we have the same interest. Perhaps we don't talk that deeply, but we still look out for each other. Female friends don't have the same interests perhaps ... It's more of an emotional relationship. They seem more caring towards me."
"I meet new and different friends every week. Some I've known for ten years, some for a week."
My thoughts
Right now I mostly hang out with people I've only known for a few months. I didn't think you could make new friends after 30 - I'm glad I was wrong. Although it feels as if it went quicker and smoother to meet new people in Brighton compared to Gothenburg. That it's more dramatic to suggest a beer or coffee in Sweden and that it feels more free and easy to do so in England. But it could also be due to the fact that I felt more free and easy in England; I didn't have any old friends to lean on over there and was more in need of making new contacts ...
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: How much do you care about your appearance?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Animation of my Swenglish poem

Adriana Sabau
who is working on the documentary of the Swenglish project has made a cool animation of an extract from my "Swenglish-poem".


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Question 17: Do you Want to have Children?

IMG_5664No biological clock

Thanks to the Swenglish-project I started liking kids for real, but I wasn't really inspired to have my own ... Mostly because my books and poems are my babies, and I've never felt that biological clock ticking. (Perhaps it will change when I'm 40, who knows ... ) Anyway, I enjoyed spending time at playgrounds and reading books for kids, but perhaps not every day ... 
Planned or Not Planned
5 of 15 participants in England had children and the figures were the same in Sweden. But in England 1 person was a bonus parent and 1 parent had thought she wouldn't become a parent because of medical conditions. And 1 of 5 in Sweden had not planned to have children at all.
"Well, it just happened, I didn't even know that I was pregnant ... But now I'd never want to be without having children. If it hadn't happened, I would perhaps never have had children ... I've never had a natural longing for kids. I've never wanted children or a family in that way, the way you should be, like what the norm is. But when I became pregnant, I wanted that kid at all cost."
Artist instead of a Parent
Out of the 10 people in England who did not have children, there were only 3 who wanted kids, 4 were hesitant and 3 said no. In Sweden 10 out of 10, who did not have children, wanted them. This difference is perhaps due to the fact that the ones who were hesitant or didn't want kids in England were engaged in different creative projects and/or didn't feel stable enough in their lives.
One person in England said this about the kid question: "When I was 36 I sat down and thought it through: I'd rather be an artist and put my creative energy into that."
However, 4 of 5 parents in England and 1 of 5 parents in Sweden were both parents and engaged in creative projects.
Unconditional love, but hard work
I also asked the people who had kids what the best and what the most difficult thing was about being a parent. Here are some selected answers:
"The best is that they're funny, we laugh a log, they are both very cuddly, but they are tiring, I suppose it kind of even itself out, they make you understand your parents more." 

"It's much harder and more complicated than I thought it would be. I used to be quite judgmental towards my parents, saying it was the parents fault. Now I've learnt a bit more, it's a lot more unpredictable, it takes lots more emotional intelligence ... Now and again it just hits me I'm this huge figure in someone's life, not in an ego way, but that I'm so important, I'm unconditionally loved. I haven't had that with anyone else, maybe with my mum, but it's complicated. You'll still love each other even if you fuck everything up."

"It feels like it's a real love, it's completely unconditional. You become a better person, you understand what it's like loving someone. You learn a certain amount about human beings. You learn to love human beings a bit more. All human beings started as good, full of love, then they get a bit twisted and changed by society ... The most difficult thing is that it's hard work. You don't have a lot of time. And once you have children you're going to worry about them for the rest of your life. You feel less free even if you understand love better. They're not necessarily gonna love you back though ..."
Different wants
Many of the ones who didn't have kids but wanted kids, felt very emotional about not having them yet. In some cases it was due to their partner (either sex) not wanting children or that they were single and started to feel they were too old. 2 of the parents in England and 2 of the parents in Sweden were single parents, something they had mixed feelings about. 1 person in Sweden had considered getting children on her own, but hadn't really pushed the idea, and another person said she was just as positive to adoption as to having her own kids.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What do your friends mean to you?


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Question 16c - What's your Attitude towards Sex?


What people in England thought about sex:

“I think we should be more free and easy about it, not be so stuck up … We should more readily share each others bodies, not like sharing a bottle of wine, but I think we should enjoy it. I have got no problem with one-night-stands, but a relationship is something much more than that. I’d prefer to stay with a person for a month than sleeping with thirty different people.”
“I feel really bad about sex, at the moment it’s not a positive thing. I last had sex five years ago with a man who said: ‘you’re not really my type but I’m too lonely to say no’. Most people want to be with a woman who is young and beautiful. I had a series of bad experiences.”
“I enjoy sex, I’m very good at it. I like masturbation, I use pornography or I should say erotica, illustrations, bondage, I like pictures. I would like sex with a woman at some point, I’m open for it, but am not looking at the moment … I don’t like sex to be rushed, it might be a woman thing … One night stands are healthy, but I’m not very good at it. I see sex as a bonding thing and it’s more healthy if there’s a connection. I see it as a spiritual connection. The man/woman doesn’t have to be spiritual but at least respect what you’re doing.” 
“I like it. It’s good. I only had one one-night-stand, that wasn’t very good … but one-night-stands are not necessarily bad.”
“It’s good, an individual ting. It’s important in relationships. Christians got a distorted idea and rush into marriage because of it … One-night-stands don’t work for me, but I’m glad I’ve experienced it. It can make women feel bad, it’s hard not to have an emotional charge.” 
“It’s fun, great … It’s important that it’s completely separated from violence and degradation of women. One-night-stands? It depends where you’re at.”
“It’s complicated, I’m not confident, I’m not motivated by sex anymore … I have no problem with one-night stands, there’s nothing wrong with it morally.”
“In general I really liked having sex, and having the conquest, but I have become more thoughtful over the past couple of years. Before that it was an ego thing, conquest … I was looking for it when I was younger. In the past two years, I’ve felt that I don’t want to have sex with just anybody. I want something more special, meaningful. I have a pretty strong sex drive, but no so strong I can’t put it aside.”
“I find it pretty confusing, I lost my virginity when I was 22, I was ridiculously shy … Most sex I’ve had has been one-night-stands.”
“It’s a lot of fun, I have no major hang-ups. One-night-stands can be fun, can be a  fuck-up … sometimes they turn into other things.”
“It’s something that happens on a distant planet. I had odd flings … When it works it’s really healthy for you, I miss it. It helps you feel like a woman; if you don’t have it for a long time you can feel neutral, female sexual energy can be really god … It can be really crap when it’s crap … I find it frustrating, people are obsessed with it. Sex out of long term relationships doesn’t work … I need: a) love, strong attraction b) get to know each other. It’s over-rated. Most people are like obsessed with it … It’s disappointing a lot of the time. There’s pressure to have sex, to be sexy, to have a lot of sex … One part of me find it ridiculous.”
“My sex drive isn’t that strong. When you get older it goes more and more … It’s fun, nice, but not something I’m wrapped up in … One-night-stands? No, I know nothing about that, I've stopped doing that. It’s more fun to know that you could have had a one-night-stand than actually having it, it’s an ego boost, to know that you can get laid, but not doing it.”
“It’s a wonderful thing, people enjoy it, it’s fun. One-night-stands are fine as long as the person you have the one-night-stand with isn’t a “Play misty for me-fan” or a “Fatal attraction-fan.”

What people in Sweden thought about sex:

”It's good if it's good. All enjoyment is positive, it doesn't mean that drugs are good, but sex is a natural enjoyment. It's stupid when people have feelings of guilt. One-night-stands are all okay, as long as you both agree.”
”It can be fantastic and good, but it's absolutely not the most important thing for me or in a relationship ... But the one-night-stands I've had have been quite fun, exciting …”
Positive, important. One-night-stands? Not positive.”
”You have to have it with the one you love and are attracted to. It's a highlight … One-night-stands? I think you should look after yourself, have second thoughts ... I can understand that you do it, but to me, sex is a bit ... you give of yourself, there are so many dimensions to sex ... I don't know if I want to put a value on it ... It's an alternative if your marriage ends and you don't want a new partner, but you could work instead, wear yourself out by work."
”It's very important in a relationship, very intimate. One-night-stands haven't been that good for me personally, but it depends on.”
”It's good kind of, important perhaps, but it doesn't have to be that important ... It's very individual actually. If you have one-night-stands when you're single there's not a problem if you protect yourself ... Sometimes it can feel like sex is about confirmation for many girls, it becomes like a chase, I think.  It's better to get a fuck-buddy than getting a new guy every weekend.”
”I like sex, it's nice. One-night-stands had a function when you were single, it was exciting and releasing, relaxingwhen you were in need of it.”
”What others do I don't care about, but personally I could never have sex with someone I didn't like, that I didn't know, it would never work." 
”It's something very positive to me. I wish it could be more positive and uncomplicated for more people ... To allow yourself to have sex with people who want to have sex with you. You shouldn't have to rationalise or let the intellect steer the choice of sex partners. We should go with the gut feeling. One-night-stands isn't a problem for me, if it feels right, it's right. If we hadn't build up this ideal with relationships where jealousy is a big thing it would be easier ... You should be able to allow that one person wants to be with only one person and that another wants to be with many. But we have to take it easy, we're shaped by our culture, it's hard to step aside from the norm. Personally I'd like an open relationship, as a confirmation of strength and power for the relationship, let each other go, let each other do what we want."
”I like sex and that, but it makes me feel exposed; I can become very uncomfortable from one moment to the other ... That I'm perhaps not good enough and very ugly ... One-night-stands? As long as you feel good and it feels good, absolutely, it can be fun, as long as both know what you're getting yourself into. Then you can't know if a  one-night-stand is a one-night one  … I'm probably the one who has had the most one-night-stands of all people I know, but I've been single so much that I've had the time."
Come on, it's good! It's nice. One-night-stands? It's hard to tell as I've never had one, but if both agree I guess it's okay. It's up to each person what they do, but it's not something that works long-term. At times it could be good."
”It's good, important as well I think, but not the most important, but important ... I've never had one-night-stands, but maybe I've snogged someone down the pub … But really I think that sex is so much better when you'e in love, it's not like I feel like doing it with someone I don't know, I want to feel comfortable with that person."
”Society of today is divided into two worlds: one is sex as in being turned on - for the sake of sex, porn and nakedness, turned on because you get turned on by the thing itself. The other is because you're in love with each other, more than the need, when you love someone it's nice if you take care. Someone you meet down the pub who is super hot and sexy you could have sex with straight away - with someone you fall in love with, it doesn't come first. You don't have one-night-stands with someone you're in love with, it's someone you don't know, I don't want it when I'm in love."
”It goes in phases, how interested you are. I've had a dormant sex life for the past few years, you're doing so many other things. But it has never changed, it's not like you stop thinking about sex because you reach a certain age … One-night-stands are all okay as long as it doesn't make you feel bad, as long as you don't do something you don't want. It's easy to end up in a vicious circle, that you only have one-night-stands. In my twenties, if I'd not managed to pull, it was a disappointment, at the same time you didn't feel that good after all your sexual adventures. As long as it's okay for both of you there's nothing wrong with it.”
”I think about sex as others think about marriage ... Like other women long for weddings and have dreamed about it since they were little, I dream about sex. If there was a heaven, sex would be heaven, you should have it as often and as many times as you like ... One-night-stands are wonderful! Preferably ”three-night-stands”. You can let go more, it's exciting, fun ... I prefer to have lovers, if it's good a one-night-stand doesn't end with a one-night-stand.”
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Two of the people in England weren't able to answer this particular question because their kids/partner were around. Look out for the next question: Do you want children?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Question 16b: What's your Attitude towards Marriage?

IMG_5542A majority of the Swenglish participants were positive towards marriage even the ones who were divorced. As many as 10 of 15 people in England wanted to marry, re-marry or were married already; 3 were hesitant; 2 totally uninterested. In Sweden the figures were surprisingly similar: 9 of 15 Swedes wanted to marry, re-marry or were married already; 4 were hesitant and 2 were against marriage. Here's a typical answer: 
”It was something I was totally against when I was younger, but I've softened a bit ... It feels good kind of: inheritance, legal stuff. But then I suppose I find it quite romantic with marriage ... And if you have children it's good to marry, in case you get cancer ..." 
In short: most people saw marriage as a mix between legal stuff and romance. But there were some people who only saw it as a legal arrangement and a few who wanted to marry just to have a wedding party. One of the same sex couples who took part in the project thought it was important to marry as a statement for their rights, but that essentially marriage was a patriarchal institution that they disliked.
Two of the participants stood out in a different way: one of the participants in England was married to the sea and one of the Swedish participants was married to herself! 
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards sex?

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Question 16a: What's your Attitude Towards Relationships?

IMG_4532Your relationship status is 87 % complete.
This is the message I'm greeted by when I log into Facebook. Thank you Facebook, thank you very much. It's good that you know what you're doing. And you're actually right. I'd like to claim that I'm 87 % happy being single, but I don't think that's what Facebook are after. They just want me to make up my mind: "single" or "in a relationship". But you also got the choice of ticking "it's complicated" ... 
The Relationship Norm
Most of the singles I stayed with during the Swenglish project really wanted to meet someone. People often take it for granted; when you're single you do want to meet someone. As if the normal status would be to be in a relationship. My normal status is single. I've had three more or less good relationships and I'm open for meeting someone again, but it's not one of my priorities or something that I'm looking for. If it happens it happens. One of the project participants, who lived with her parter, but sometimes had an open relationship, said something I found interesting:
”I'm critical to the relationship norm and what it does with peoples' lives, the way people adjust, the way your relationship becomes more important than anything else. Many couples who live together disappear into the distance and have stopped being close friends. I wish that people would question the ideals a bit more, instead of making those claims and giving up your independence./.../I think it depends, different relationships suit different people/.../each person needs to find out what's true for oneself."
Separate Bedrooms
Two of the twelve couples I stayed with had separate bedrooms. One couple in England and one couple in Sweden. Partly to avoid going on each other's nerves and partly because they had different working hours and didn't want to disturb each other. Me and my ex in England had the same arrangement and had to take a lot of abuse because of it, so I wrote a poem about it a few years ago. Click here to read Same roof - different ceiling.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards marriage?

Monday, 6 January 2014

And then it was 2014

Fireworks and champagne, dinners and parties. I don’t think there’s a massive difference between Swedish and English New Year celebrations. In the past people fired a canon, something that took place in both Sweden and England.

Vegan bread cake

Many people make up their own traditions. For the past few years my friends and I have made a vegan bread cake and this year I got the honour to decorate the cake with seaweed caviar. We had neither fireworks nor champagne, but the neighbours - in the middle of nowhere - did a lot of shooting and we used Asti Cinzano for toasting. Some elderly people, at least my grans, used to have the same food for New Year’s Eve as they did for Christmas.

Man or woman, apple or pomelo

I’ve read a bit about Swedish folklore and found out that the first visitor of the year was important. If it was a woman it meant bad luck and if it was a man it meant good luck … And it was good to be up early and eat an apple on New Year’s Day. We raised late and had pomelo. A fruit I’ve never heard about before. My dad thought it was a melon and I thought it was a grapefruit before my more cultivated friend told us it was a pomelo.

That’s it. New year, new beginnings. I’ll carry on answering the 30 questions here on the blog while I’m waiting for the Swenglish book to get published. Happy New Year all readers!