Scandi noir has a lot to answer for. My hometown used to get limited hours of daylight in the winter. We stumbled to and from school through black winter forests, yet I have no particular memory of it being dark. How did we find our way? I’ve no idea. But I don’t recall being afraid. Yes, there was the vague notion that something mythical might appear, like a troll or something, but that was more excitement than dread.

Now it’s a different story. I’m not sure if it’s a natural part of growing up, or maybe it’s all that Scandi Noir, but the blackness of Swedish winter feels different now. Those looming shapes in the gloom among the trees? Perhaps they aren’t kindly elves, perhaps they are creepy murderers?! “It’s the lack of snow,” my sister assures me. “When it’s snowing, it’s actually really bright.” I know what she means, but at the same time, it’s really not very bright at all. Maybe I’ve become too English? With fewer trolls about, perhaps all you’re left with are murderers?

In any case, I’d never been so happy to be back in the bright orange glare of busy Gatwick airport, as I was after my most recent trip to the Swedish countryside. There was a brief moment of darkness when the taxi driver was given my destination and declared: “no idea where that is – I’m from Leeds”. But as with all darkness, you can always find a chink of light if you try hard enough. In this case, it was the comforting glow of his smartphone satnav.

Maria Smedstad bio Scan Magazine

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