Englishman in Nyhavn: Bureaucratic awakenings
First impressions of Denmark are that bureaucracy is kind of a big deal.
In London, everyone sublets, which requires lying to the authorities. And nothing happens, bar the occasional cocked receptionist’s eyebrow that you’ve travelled 100 miles for a dentist appointment.
So I assumed there would a similar indifference here. Indeed, I pictured a kind of welcome pack bursting with bus passes, a bicycle, liquorice and expensive medicines. And, naturally, a job.
Call me Jack the twat
In retrospect, I had the naivety of a newborn wildebeest whose first thought is: “I bet that big, fluffy cat sprinting towards me is my mommy.”
I was informed that to get a job, I needed a CPR number. No dramas, I thought, I’ll apply for that online, whereupon I received an email saying … I paraphrase:
“Dear Jack, you stupid idiot. Congratulations! Your request has been processed and – for no reason – it will take three weeks to tell you when to expect an appointment to tell you whether you can actually have a CPR number. Are you confused? Maybe think about that before moving here, you aforementioned stupid idiot.”
The idea of being unable to work for three weeks was worrying, given how the weakness of the pound has rendered my life savings as valuable as a slightly below average-sized pebble.
Jack! It’s all under wraps
I phoned International House Copenhagen (Sworn Keepers of the CPR Numbers) to ask whether the timeframe was accurate.
The reply … I actually can remember what was said here … was swift: “Yes, three weeks – if you get it any earlier then well done, but that won’t happen.”
This, of course, plunged me into an absolutely appalling mood for slightly over 24 hours, until I received this genuine email:
“Dear English scum, we’re totally ready for you. Why would it take us three weeks to process an email? This is Denmark – this is what we do. This ain’t some third world country like Wales or some shit. Come whenever. Bring an EU residency certificate.”
Jack wants slack
Feeling as relieved, confused and angry as I might if I’d escaped unscathed from an underpass populated by drunk, eminently racist giraffes, I rang the EU residency people, who told me that to get this certificate, I needed a job.
But … in order to … I need … but to get … I need …
After trying to figure out this Moebius conundrum for what seemed an eternity, but what was more likely seven hours, I stormed the EU residency building demanding answers.
Why the hell wasn’t I entitled to residency automatically? What has my country ever done to the EU? Cut me some goddamn slack.
After the nice gentleman calmed me down and offered me tissues, he said that although I wasn’t working, I could still apply, providing I had evidence of savings of 9,000 pounds.
Now. I have worked at a well-paid job in London for three years. Of course I don’t have 9,000 pounds. You try spending half your wages on rent with a 30,000 pound student loan and save 9,000 pounds.
Jack: no going back
And that’s the thing. Despite Denmark’s blatant aversion towards my presence, they forget what I’ve escaped from: the constitutionally-mangled powder-keg of Britain.
My village, Clapham, had only the most basic amenities, which Warlandlords forced us to pay exorbitant prices for. The other villagers didn’t mind, as they lived off resources sent from their tribes in Devon, Surrey or even Hertfordshire, and congregated openly in intimidating bistros, feasting on priceless brunches.
It will take more than Denmark’s bureaucracy to send me back to that hellhole.
Jack escaped Brexit Britain in October 2019 to forge a new life in Copenhagen. In this column, he outlines the challenges expats face when integrating into Danish life. Jack (email@example.com) co-hosts the comedy podcast ‘Butterflies on the Wheel’, which is available on all major podcasting platforms