I met a Swedish girl in a Dublin pub in 1995

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW - Paddy Kelly

Imet a Swedish girl in a Dublin pub in 1995. What I knew about Swe­den back then you could have scrib­bled on the back of an Abba stamp. Nev­er­the­less, two years later I found my­self step­ping off a plane in Stock­holm, blink­ing in daz­zling sun­light, vaguely sur­prised to find my­self not on a rein­deer-specked tun­dra but in a mod­ern city where I would end up stay­ing for­ever.

I kick this story off with the why and the how be­cause the ques­tion you are most asked by peo­ple here is a hes­i­tant: “But . . . why would you come to Swe­den?” Af­ter two decades in Stock­holm my stan­dard an­swer is: “Well, why wouldn’t you?”

I like Stock­holm. It’s mod­ern and old fash­ioned and gor­geous and odd and func­tional and quirky and hot when it’s hot and freez­ing when it’s cold. Stock­holmers have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing rude, but it’s more that peo­ple here give each other space, a trait I ad­mire. No­body will probe into your busi­ness, but if you want your busi­ness probed into it can def­i­nitely be ar­ranged. Give a Swede a drink, for ex­am­ple, and they’ll talk about any­thing, of­ten for way longer than is nec­es­sary.

I taught English when I ar­rived. Af­ter a cou­ple of years I ended up at a com­pany that made com­puter games for chil­dren. (Thanks, Mum and Dad, for get­ting me that com­puter back in the 1980s.) I’m not at the same com­pany now, but I’m still in com­put-

Paddy Kelly: I met a Swedish girl in a Dublin pub in 1995. Now I live in Stock­holm and have a grown son

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