There’s an ongoing battle in our home: a titanic struggle of blood and culture.
My wife and I fight over whether our son is more British or Danish. We monitor him closely for signs: a constant state of embarrassment? British. A fundamental inability to queue? Danish.
A major blow for Blighty was struck recently when he decided he prefers white bread to rye. Good job. Rye bread is ghastly. It’s like eating a coaster. This small victory almost makes up for Brexit. It almost compensates for the fact Britain is being run into the ground by a kestrel-faced harpy hell-bent on destroying political diversity with an unwanted snap election she promised wouldn’t happen.
It’s a strange time to be British post-Brexit. I am sad and angry, and I appear to be taking my frustrations out on Denmark’s proud culinary traditions. At a time of division and uncertainty, the victory of bland British white bread over the far healthier Danish rye is all I have to preserve the remains of my cultural identity. Flying the flag for a country on the brink. A glimmer of hope when all hope is gone.
Melodramatic I know. I apologise. I’m tired. I haven’t slept properly for nearly a year and a half. We moved to Denmark to give our then-unborn child a quality of life we could no longer afford in London.
Sure enough, when the time came to deliver, I was blown away by Herlev Hospital’s free post-natal ‘hotel’. There was a PlayStation in every room. Seriously. Where does the Danish taxpayers’ money go? It’s so expectant fathers can play Grand Theft Auto.
The massive hospital was impressively empty: a pristine and spacious warehouse of gleaming, vacant wards. Along vast corridors rows of unused beds, still wrapped in production-line plastic, wait patiently for patients. A stark contrast from the crumbling UK hospitals under the malnourished NHS, where you must fight for the luxury of a bed in which you may accidentally be left in a service lift. For a day.
Okay, that last part is an exaggeration. Sort of. Point is, if this was a sign of what lay ahead for us as new parents in Denmark, we’d moved to the right place.
Fast forward 15 months and our little boy is a beautiful bundle of energy, curiosity and charm. He has his mother’s good looks and his father’s inability to sit still. I love him unconditionally, but there are times when I want to exchange him for a child that just sits quietly staring at a wall during the day and doesn’t wake up at night screaming into the darkness at nothing.
Parenthood is wonderful, but no-one tells you how hard it can be. Not even other parents. As much as I hate to admit it, nursery came as a welcome respite. In London this can cost a stomach-churning £2,000 per month – significantly more than we pay for an excellent nursery in Copenhagen. That they can rein in my son, a tsunami in a nappy, is testament alone to their skill and professionalism.
Of course, because all nurseries are essentially huge petri dishes of bacteria, we’re all ill. All the time. I’ve been reassured this only lasts 18 months, so we’re going to batten down the hatches, embrace hygge and weather the storm of sickness. Time to stock up on the essentials. We just need to agree on what bread to buy …