“You’re Big Smithy’s daughter!” a man in a dusty top hat shouted delightedly at me across a pub last night. I reassured him that my dad is not Big Smithy, but a rather slim Swede, but he was having none of it. “You’re definitely a relative of Big Smithy’s. There’s no mistaking you lot, you all look the same.”

It’s rare that I get mistaken for someone else in England. In Sweden, on the other hand, I frequently spot people who look like me. They’ll have the same kind of body frame and facial features; they’ll dress and even move in a way that seems familiar. There’s something incredibly reassuring about looking like other people, a safety in numbers kind of thing. It’s also undeniably a balm to the self-esteem. I cannot criticise myself without also criticising the strangers who look like me, and that would be rude, even by Swedish standards.

Actually, thinking about it, it does happen that I get confused with someone else in the UK. “Adults only!” a doorman at a venue yelled after me a little while ago. When I turned to face him, revealing that I am not in fact a child, but a very short grown-up, he resorted to the British solution of shouting “sorry!” until, naturally, I was obliged to tell him that the fault was all mine. Because this is what becomes of a person who has lived in the UK for a long time: I might not look like a Brit, but by God can I solve a problem by engaging in a game of endless apology, until everyone forgets what the initial issue actually was. This, to me, is just about the best national look there is.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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