Though I'm half-Swedish and living in Sweden, I don't like to admit to being typically Swedish. In the Eighties, Sweden was a trying place to grow up in (the endless moralising, the smugness, the pride in "the Swedish model", the craze for doing just about everything "in a group"). I used to be thankful for my German passport - not that I knew much about German culture and society, but Germany (West Germany in those bad old days) had the advantage of not being Sweden.
But the fall of the wall changed things here too, and I have made peace with my mother country. After all, in some ways I AM rather Swedish. I would never carelessly leave half a glass of alcohol undrunk. I don't particularly long for angry debates at work around coffee-time - I'd much rather find a subject where everyone is more or less in agreement. And I'm hooked on the Eurovision Song Contest - even more on the Swedish part of the competition than on the European one.
The Swedish contest is tellingly called "The Melody Festival". Swedes love it. For weeks, the runners-up are selected in competitions all around the country, and they finally meet in a grand finale in Stockholm. The winner becomes the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. It is all very slickly and professionally organised. The voting system seems to get more inventive for every year, though in the end The Swedish People (or rather those TV viewers who vote like mad and more than once) tend to get their way. I don't always agree with the outcome, though when the time comes to watch the other countries' efforts I mostly end up thinking that the Swedish contribution is jolly nice after all and ought to do well. Except it doesn't - in fact, it's been ages since Sweden was anywhere near winning Eurovision. You have to hand it to the Swedes, though, they don't let that depress them for long. They're good sports - in this instance, more so than the nation who came up with the "good sport" concept.
The time has now come for a series of programmes where all the entries for the Eurovision Song Contest are shown and commented on by an "expert panel". It used to be a Nordic panel, but somewhere along the way our Nordic neighbours gave up on us, and now the only one left of the old gang is a charming and knowledgeable Finn - the rest of the panel are all Swedes with connections to the pop scene. They're pretty sensible on the whole, but I must say the songs so far are not much to write home about, which admittedly is part of the fun. Unusually, though, I don't like the Swedish winning song at all (it's the vibrato - it gets on my nerves, but apparently no-one else's) so there must be something better on offer. Moldova's sounded quite good.