Life and times

The ac­tor and co­me­dian has been learn­ing about pricey ham­sters, tweet­ing dogs – and slut­spurt

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

Ac­tor and co­me­dian Sally Phillips

STOCK­HOLM. TO­DAY I LEARNT six im­prob­a­ble things be­fore my ho­tel break­fast, which in­cluded, un­ex­pect­edly, gaz­pa­cho. 1) Swedish doors open in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. 2) North Korea owes Swe­den €300 mil­lion for 1,000 stolen Volvos, and ev­ery six months Swe­den sends po­lite but point­less re­minders. 3) Swedes love Don­ald Duck so much it is now il­le­gal to vote for him. 4) Stock­holm has con­dom am­bu­lances to de­liver to those caught un­pre­pared. 5) The Swedish for ‘end-of-sea­son sale’ is slut­spurt. 6) Al­though Swe­den is renowned for its pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics and gen­der equal­ity, re­la­tions be­tween the sexes are not good. (Note: No re­la­tion to 5 but with some im­pact on 4.)

I’m here for the Komedi Film Fes­ti­valen with Brit con­tin­gent Jen­nifer Saun­ders, Beattie Ed­mond­son and Tommy Jes­sop, so I am con­fused to be asked over and over in in­ter­views, not about French and Saun­ders or com­edy or films, but about #Metoo. I don’t have any ex­pe­ri­ences be­cause there’s not too much sex-pest­ing in Bri­tish com­edy, thank God. ‘Men don’t make passes at girls who write farces,’ I say to the pre­sen­ter, un­hi­lar­i­ously. She then asks me a lot about Brexit and dis­abil­ity rights, which I prob­a­bly de­serve. Memo to self: Swedish press is too hard, avoid.

I dis­cover later that the en­er­getic Swedish #Metoo cam­paign has had more pub­lic­ity, gone deeper and brought about more pol­icy change than in the UK, but has also been a lot more di­vi­sive. The sui­cide of its most prom­i­nent tar­get, Benny Fredriks­son, artis­tic di­rec­tor of Stock­holm’s Kul­turhuset Stad­steatern, has catal­ysed crit­i­cism from many prom­i­nent Swedish women.

I FLY HOME TO the three badly be­haved boys I live with. Blame the par­ents. My youngest, Tom, turned seven and we bought him a Syr­ian ham­ster. It cy­cles through names: Spi­der­ham, Buddy, Eminem, Chris, Min­ion, Ha­grid and fi­nally Her­bie. It’s hard to know who’s more afraid of who at first, Tom or Her­bie, but grad­u­ally they both ac­cli­ma­tise.

All three kids coo around his cage and spoil him with ro­dent chocs and rasp­berry-flavoured pop­corn. Her­bie does bite and poo a lot, and has al­ready cost more in vet’s fees (£28) than he him­self cost (£10), but it’s still some­how nice to have a furry friend in the house.

I HAVE JUST FIN­ISHED mak­ing a movie with dogs in it, so I asked my Twit­ter fol­low­ers for good dog ac­counts and I am now fol­low­ing as many dogs as I am co­me­di­ans, which I re­gret. Twit­ter is not the best plat­form for dogs I re­alise. They’re bet­ter in a more vis­ual medium like Snapchat. Let a dog on Twit­ter and it does not shut up. Also, dogs tweet in a weird baby lan­guage, which makes me want to sing so high only the dogs of Twit­ter can hear me, ideally some­where crowded like a dog IT con­fer­ence, un­til all the screens of their doggy phones shat­ter and they get glass in their paws. I have no quar­rel with the Dogs of In­sta­gram. Dogs of In­sta­gram, as you were.

RE­CENTLY I HEADED OFF to Los An­ge­les to play the for­mer Fin­nish Prime Minister, Minna Häkki­nen in the fi­nal episode of the HBO se­ries Veep and as a re­sult I missed the pre­miere of my new film, Sur­viv­ing Christ­mas with the Rel­a­tives. I was 90 per cent gut­ted, 10 per cent re­lieved to be re­leased from the stress of the red car­pet. It’s a Christ­mas movie writ­ten and di­rected by James Dear­den [Fa­tal At­trac­tion ]and al­though it’s a small film we’re hop­ing it’s turned out well. And no, the dog in it doesn’t have any lines.

Sur­viv­ing Christ­mas with the Rel­a­tives is in cin­e­mas now

In Stock­holm, I dis­cover, there are con­dom am­bu­lances to de­liver to those caught un­pre­pared

Sally Phillips

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