I don’t like football. I do like boxing. I sat through this year’s Champions League final at a Copenhagen sports bar in order to see Mikkel Kessler fight Allan Green. I like Kessler because he is a good if not great boxer. I also like him because in a country where getting into a fight seems almost as impossible as not getting into a fight in South London, the Danes produce a staggering amount of top-dollar fighters.
During half-time, I found myself in conversation with a genuine English chav. He was an ex-mobile phone salesman from Chelsea who had lived here for five months after meeting the love of his life on a Christmas holiday in Thailand. Her name was ‘Rikke’, ‘Mette’ or ‘Ditte’ – he was unclear on the details, but could quite rightly remember that she had done him wrong.
He had travelled to Denmark on January 5 to, as he put it, “love her forever ‘coz she’s proper magic in bed”, but had discovered to his dismay that Danish women don’t like being called ‘Pet’, ‘Doll’ or ‘Darlin’ and respond very badly to remarks like: “Pick that up or you’ll get a slap”, “What’s for dinner?” and “What, a new pair of underpants every day?”
And now, he was drowning his sorrows bemoaning their unfair split, which had occurred when his new love threw him out on the unreasonable grounds of him having vomited over her “Arne Jacobsen antique collector’s chair” and, I quote: “Expectin’ me to clear it up!”
I expressed incredulity at his ability to remember the name of the chair, but not the name of his ex-girlfriend. He replied with surprise: “But it’s a classic.” However, from hereon in, it was an anti-Danish rant. He showered me with proof of how horrible living in Denmark was. He showed me several articles on his phone. One caught my eye: ‘How to piss off a Dane’. Fascinated, I began to read whilst the second half of the football unwound. The American writer of this ‘How To’ article referred to six tactics bound to piss a Dane off. I am not sure they would piss off a Dane, but they certainly did the trick with me.
Tactic #1 was to ask a Dane: “How are you?” Apparently Danes find the asking of this question insincere and, I quote, “in passing with no intention of stopping and listening to the response”. Is there anybody that finds this level of insincerity not irritating? Not just the Danes methinks.
‘Speak their language’ was tactic #2. The writer proposed that this upsets the Dane. While it is true that Danes speak a level of English that few foreigners can match when speaking Danish, an attempt to speak Danish does not, in my experience, piss them off. When speaking to a waitress, the writer makes the suggestion: “Demand the right to speak the language. She’ll go tight-lipped and speechless.” Yes, this is just what a waitress wants at the end of an eight-hour shift: a foreigner insisting on speaking bad Danish. It is not the speaking of the language that is the piss-off here, but the belligerence of the writer. I would therefore propose that the writer changes this tactic to simply ‘Be rude’.
Tactic #3 was ‘Fail to signal in the bike lane’. My favourite. The author advises that one will piss off a Dane if one fails to signal a move to either the right or to the left in the bike lane. I quote: “Fail to signal and you will trigger a chain reaction of last-minute braking and a string of surprisingly violent hisses from passing bikers.” Surprising? I would like to know in which country selfish, egotistical and dangerous behaviour makes risking others’ health okay.
As for Tactic #4, this confused me somewhat. It was: ‘Wear your sweatpants in public’. Apparently this will drive Danes into wild indignation. Where did this person live while in Denmark? Surely not in Nørrebro, Vesterbro or Amager. I will concede that the sweatpants worn in Frederiksberg and Østerbro are of a higher quality, but they are nevertheless sweatpants.
Tactics #5 and #6 were ‘Smile at their children (or dogs)’ and ‘Act like a human at the grocery store’. Other than the fact that the writer’s definition of human and my own are quite different, I think the psychology has become clear. If the smiling by the author at children and dogs has the same level of ‘sincerity’ as exhibited in
Tactic #1, then perhaps the key to the ‘pissing off’ is not so much the tactics themselves, but the borderline sociopathic indicators exhibited by the writer.
It was now very close to the end of the 90-minute football match as I turned to my mobile phone-selling chav with my conclusion: “Perhaps the Danes were not so much pissed off by the tactics as by the writer herself …” He froze. Captivated. Had my words found a place in his chav consciousness, and had the cognitive gears of self-realisation slid into place? Suddenly, and violently, he jumped and turned to me in pure joy and screamed in my face the word: “DROGBA!”
You need to have seen the match, I guess.