"We don't all live in igloos and wrestle polar bears"

Paul Connolly lost his fight with a polar bear.
Paul Connolly lost his fight with a polar bear.

Paul Connolly loves living in Skellefteå but didn't enjoy last week's low temperatures. Not just because of the bitter cold, but because they'll give the UK's least intelligent newspapers another excuse to lie about life in Norrland.

Engelska 8 januari 2024 09:00

We non-northern Swedes are really not built for such low temperatures.  

Maybe if I had some Siberian DNA to fall back on, I'd be OK, but I'm of 100 percent Irish genetic material. 

Not just Irish, but western Irish. So, I'm built for the extremely damp conditions of Connemara, which explains why I have partially webbed feet, and can scare the girls with my shark impression in the summer in the lake at the bottom of our garden. 

That dorsal fin is of absolutely no use otherwise.

We can hack -10c to -20c in the winter. But it was -37c for three days last week, and our home's heating system just couldn't cope. The internal temperature rarely reached higher than 15c.

The news of northern Sweden's Siberian cold snap went global, and overseas newspapers made the most of it, writing about Sweden's six months of darkness with polar bears on ice floes. The usual rubbish.

It reminded me of a few years ago, when The Sun newspaper, the UK’s idiot king of tabloids, ran a story about Facebook’s new data center in Luleå. 

The story started like this: “In this remote Swedish community the pale sun rises at 10am, sets at 2pm and the midday temperature is a perishing -30C.” 

It made Luleå sound like a settlement of igloos, where everyone ice-fished in complete darkness.

The piece didn’t mention that these gloomy, freezing circumstances were very infrequent and, even then, only in the very deep mid-winter.

The newspaper then babbled on about how “biting cold and darkness dominate in Luleå, a town perched at the top of the world.” 

This is, of course, almost total hogwash.

The story gave the impression that Luleå, and by extension the rest of Norrland, was a dark, icy place all year round, with the natives being chased around by hungry polar bears. If they haven't already died from hypothermia. 

It was a cartoon image of northern Sweden, one that bore little resemblance to reality.

Instead, the truth is that by mid-to-late March, our days already stretch out longer than in London and Stockholm.

The vårvinter (early spring) days here are glorious – dazzling sunshine reflecting off snow, with temperatures of around 5c. And then there’s the midnight sun and our often sun-soaked summers.

Northern Sweden is an incredibly bright place to live. Even the deep winters are illuminated by the snow.

But these -35c January temperatures? They really can get in the bin. 

This is a column and the views are the author's own.

This column was originally published at norran.se/english, the English part of norran.se. 

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