London calling

I’m off to London for a few days to attend the @media 2005 conference. I’m really looking forward to seeing, listening to, and meeting some of the people who have taught me much of what I know. I’ll try not to ask for autographs, I promise.

And I’m nervous as hell. Not about flying. Not so much about meeting a lot of people I don’t know (though it almost feels like I do know some of them). It’s mostly about having to speak English to native English speakers.

I’ll forget words. My mind will go blank. I’ll mix English and Swedish. I’ll mix “international” English with South African English with American English picked up from watching too much TV and reading too many books by American authors. And I’ll probably manage to pronounce “v” as “w” a couple of times. Swedes have a tendency to do that for some reason. Most of us never notice, but I do and I’ll bite my tongue every time it happens.

So please forgive me if you try talking to me and all I can produce is incomprehensible mumbling and stuttering. Give me a moment and I’ll find the words I’m looking for. If I don’t, please help me out. I won’t mind.

Despite being nervous, I still think it will be great fun. I’ll be staying at the Southwark Holiday Inn, and I know several other people attending the conference are staying there as well. Oh, just a tip: I found out a couple of days ago that “Southwark” is pronounced “Suthuk”, not “South-wark”. I suspect I’m not the only one who didn’t know that.

See some of you in London!

Posted on June 8, 2005 in Web Standards


  1. I’d like to come but can’t make it. Shame, because I was looking forwards to meeting the same people. Never mind, I’m sure that you’ll be fine! I find that after a day or so in a foreign coutry the language starts coming back a lot easier.

  2. I could speak to you in Icelandic - that’s a bit like Swedish isn’t it? You should hear me try to say something simple in Reykjavik - everyone laughs at me.

    Seriously though, few of us Brits speak proper English, especially after a beer or ten. If anything, we’re often shown up by the perfect English spoken by our foreign friends. Our education wasn’t so great really…

  3. No worries, just hang out with the non-English crowd a lot (such as myself). We all speak English but not natively, so you won’t have to worry or be nervous with us. ;-)

  4. There’s a whole bunch of Germans coming too and we don’t speak no proper English either…

  5. I really wouldn’t worry about that. Most of us, especially outside of ‘proper’ speaking London don’t speak English anyway (apparently)

    In fact, do what most of we Brits do - Speak Swedish, upon getting puzzling looks from the locals, speak Swedish sloooower and wave your arms around. More puzzled looks, walk off muttering ‘bloody locals’.

  6. June 8, 2005 by Maarten

    Good luck with your Swenglish! I wish i could have been there there too. I’d love to hear about the whole experience afterwards.

  7. June 8, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Colly: Nah, don’t know about Icelandic. I understand the occasional word, but it’s not really like Swedish. Or it’s just me - I have trouble understanding Danish.

    Mark: Maybe I’ll try that ;-)

    Ok, gotta run now. I have a plane to catch.

  8. Hi Roger! Although I’ve lived in the States for a few years I could never get fully rid of my accent and felt bad about it, until someone told me it was cute…now I’m happy with it ;)

    No worries.

  9. I’m just nervous about going down to that London, and especially getting the tube. I always get really nervous that some of them southern sorts are going to pickpocket me, like in that documentary about that kid from London, Oliver Twist.

    See you there Roger. I’m in the same hotel as you so we’ll no doubt bump into eachother.

  10. Don’t worry about it, once everyones in the pub on Friday noone is going to understand what anyone else is saying anyway.

  11. Mark: You’re not seriously suggesting Londoners speak better English than the rest of us??

    Roger - looking forward to meeting you at @media.

  12. It would have been nice to join the @media conference, but when money and time speak you know what might happen.. Anyway, good luck Roger! You will make it perfectly well. ;-)

  13. An in-flight comment from Oslo:

    No worries… Maybe we’ll meet and talk “svorsk”, the very beautiful language that occurs when Swedes and Norwegians try to understand each other :-)

  14. June 8, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Well, I made it to London. I won’t be flying Ryanair again, I can tell you that. It’s cheap, sure, but it’s like flying with an old crappy city bus. Yuck.

    I’m writing this from the hotel room. Had to pay through the nose for wireless access, but what can you do…

  15. Welcome to London, Roger.

    Looking forward to tomorrow!

  16. It’s not “Suthuk”, it’s “suvock”

  17. June 8, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    First sightings: I just met Veerle and Faruk in the hotel lobby :-).

    Peter: Ah, thanks. Suvock, suvock, suvock.

  18. Ahh, you lucky basta… Say hi to all the guys/gals from me.

  19. Hey Roger,

    Have a great time in London - wish I could come along to @media, but alas funds were insufficient. Don’t worry, we all love Swedes in London - we like their cute accents. Particularly the ones who work in Starbucks in Victoria. (Hi Britta!) Apparently there are 50,000 Swedes in London - just so you know.

    Oh, and if you want free wireless access, try the Apple Store on Regent St. Fairly close to the South Bank. Sorry I don’t know anywhere closer. Also lots of pubs/cafes in the Old St area have free wifi, including the marvellous Smallfish records, which has an organic cafe in the basement and sells lots of great music.


  20. Peter: that rather depends on how thick your London accent is. If you actually live in Southwark, it likely is “Suvock”. Otherwise it tends to be closer to “Suthuk”…

  21. London Calling by Clash?

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