An Actor’s Life: A Viking-in-waiting
I’ve lived here in Denmark since 1 August 1990 and, every four years since then, my mother-in-law has teased me whenever there has been a general election by asking me: “Hvem skal du stemme på?” (who are you going to vote for?).
It is I, Ian the Dane
After a short pause, she would follow with: “Men, du kan ikke stemme fordi du er ikke dansker” (of course, you can’t vote, can you, because you’re not Danish!).
Slightly cruel perhaps, but it became a running gag that we both enjoyed. Well, dear reader, this gag might soon be null and void because at last I have taken the step to try and become a Danish citizen.
Many Brits living here in Denmark have felt the urge to do the same following the self-inflicted disaster that is Brexit, so that we can continue to travel across Europe as Europeans.
On to the next stage
On June 2, I joined 19 other souls in a well-aired classroom to take the first part of the Indfødselsretsprøven (citizenship test).
This took the form of 40 multiple-choice questions – each with three possible answers. These questions were based on 147 pages of information about Danish culture and history, and the last five questions were general knowledge about Denmark today.
I needed to get 32 of these questions correct and have since found out that I only got two wrong. Now I’ll go on to the next stages of this exam: a verbal and a written test.
So, I’m a Viking-in-waiting and will soon, I hope, be able to tell my mother-in-law who I’ll be voting for.
It all starts with education
Education will surely influence my choice, and it’s always impressed me that Denmark has high ambitions for its educational standards that try to ensure that its citizens are able to find employment in a competitive world.
I’m a big believer that schools, together with parents, should aim to give students the skills that prepare them for further education: to encourage them to want to learn more, not only about Danish culture, but to give them an understanding of other cultures and to appreciate the importance of caring for the planet we live on.
I applaud how the Danish education system allows and creates frameworks that stimulate students’ imaginations and their confidence to be able to make decisions. It prepares students who want to engage and participate in a society that prides itself on intellectual freedom and a democracy characterised by equality.
What a load of rubbish
Gavin Williamson, the inept education secretary in the UK, who is himself a pitiful communicator, should try to emulate this Danish example.
But then again, Britain is currently distracted with its bid to become the binman of the universe: the leader and vanguard for the refuse collection of the stars. It’s an ambitious and far-reaching plan indeed, which is sadly necessary as there seems to be no limits to the amount of rubbish humans leave lying about, on earth, as it is in the heavens.
First, though, it might be an idea for ‘global’ Britain to start tidying up its own backyard and to stop sending its plastic to be disposed of in other countries.
Vast amounts of British plastic waste – 7.133 metric tonnes every year in fact – are sent annually to non-OECD countries including Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey.
OECD is an international organization that works to build better policies for better lives. Basically, ‘global’ Britain is sweeping its rubbish under someone else’s rug.
Jolly decent of us eh?
A resident here since 1990, Ian Burns is the artistic director at That Theatre Company and very possibly Copenhagen’s best known English language actor thanks to roles as diverse as Casanova, Shakespeare and Tony Hancock.