Good morning Stockholm! You’re not half bad to look at first thing in the morning, are you? That’s a pretty nice view to have when you pull aside the curtains. The sun being out means I’m going to head off for a long walk, take the laptop and find a cafe somewhere perhaps.
Irritable Anna and Grouchy B were in full swing this morning – me irritable because he’d got body lotion splattered all over the floor in the shower, him irritable because Clarion’s intense love for everything had confused him when all he wanted was some shower gel. There’s no defence for me, I’m just a grump in the mornings, but in B’s defence the zillion bottles in the shower and bathroom make no sense. Well, the labels do, but where they’ve placed them doesn’t.
By the sinks, fair enough – hand and body wash in one, lotion in the other. Just those two, nice and simple. But then I’m not sure what they’re up to, because both by the bathtub and in the shower cubicle, they have places three – schampoo (logical), conditioner (logical, and thank God because I forgot to get some), but then instead of the third logical step, which would have been hand and body wash, they’ve gone and put body lotion there. It was clearly too much for B’s just-woke-up mind to process. This fiercely intelligent and thoroughly assertive man, who has the fate of hundreds of staff in his hands, came up against something bigger than he is this morning – a designer bottle of organic body lotion with the words “Be a Smooth Operator” written on it.
These three bottles were mounted on the wall, and when I went in to brush my teeth, B had not only failed to identify the bottle that might contain something that might get him clean, but had also managed to get it out of the holder (presumably in a fit of Shower Rage) and somehow not been able to use the pump function, instead taken the whole thing off and as a result got body lotion all over the shower. Me looking at him with an expression that clearly must have conveyed my surprise and dismay, triggered naked B to embark on a frantic defence rant, wildly gesturing at the carnage that was obviously nothing to do with him and something even Einstein wouldn’t have figured out.
“Why didn’t you just use schampoo?” I asked the bewildered (and quite greasy) B.
“To me, that’s something you wash your hair with,” he told me, huffing and puffing, as I stifled a giggle – B has no hair.
“OK, yes, I see how that’s confusing,” I sniggered and tried my best to seem in agreement.
The breakfast buffet here at Clarion is lovely. The whole hotel is lovely, actually. Problem is all the Swedes. As I tried to negotiate my way through the chaos that ensues in a nation where people don’t know how to form an orderly queue, it was more a case of dodgems than civilised breakfast. And each time I had my toes stepped on or got barged into, there was that glorious and magnificently ridiculous “whoops!” from the stepper or barger. This stepee and bargee did NOT enjoy that.
We found ourselves a table by the nicer restaurant area and for a moment I had some hope we’d just have our little morning moment and enjoy each other’s company for a little while before B had to rush off to his meetings. Not only do Swedes not know how to queue, they also have no awareness. It was a table for four, that’s fair enough, but there were also other empty tables nearby. The business man who plonked himself down clearly didn’t see anything wrong with choosing our involuntary company, but perhaps he had the hots for one of us. He was a bit on the metro sexual stylish side, so perhaps it was B he fancied. Then again, a lot of Swedish men are very fashion conscious, so who knows.
Clarion’s love for everything is very in your face, and it’s very un-Swedish to be so gushing about everything. It just doesn’t work in this country of ‘lagom’ (not too much, not too little) and the colour beige. The last time we were here, we were treated to (or punished by) the world’s most cheerful receptionist, who, when she spotted B in the throng of people not queueing at reception, started dancing. Nope, no joke, she went into a full on boogie. I was a bit disappointed not to see her this time as it was brilliantly entertaining in the wrong kind of way, and also because she triggered an urge in me to kill. I suppose I just didn’t know whether it was hers or my own life I wanted to end. No, no Nadya this time, sadly. But! Clarion has made an attempt at getting people to queue!
‘Ordning och reda’ means order and tidiness, roughly. Good luck with that. And sure enough, when we after breakfast dutifully got in line as instructed by the sign, others just cut in from both sides. Ah, those Swedes!