Dom Joly: In my alternative society, they would wear pink cords

Share
Related Topics

I'm in Denmark for a couple of days – the only Scandinavian country I hadn't visited. It often has the "happiest population in the world" in those unfathomable surveys by interested parties. My first encounter with a Dane was my taxi driver and it was not promising – he was a naturalised Egyptian who had been in the country since 1994 and was about to move back to Cairo to be a dentist. "Why would you come here for a holiday?" he asked incredulously. "It's boring, incredibly expensive, the weather is awful and we only eat little potatoes." He was right about the weather and the place is eye-wateringly expensive. The people, however, are ridiculously lovely and almost make me forget that I am holidaying in what appears to be some sort of Aryan super-state - everyone being blond, blue-eyed and very tall.

As with much in Denmark, appearances can be deceptive. This country was the one that perhaps behaved the "best" under German occupation in the Second World War. When the order was given to deport the Jewish community to concentration camps, the resistance organised the escape of over 8,000 of them to neutral Sweden. Over 99 per cent of Danish Jews survived the Holocaust.

Copenhagen is a beautiful, neat capital city and I have been happily zooming around the place on my bicycle listening to music and singing rather too loudly. The most interesting place I've visited so far is Christiania. Described amusingly in a Tweet to me as "Disneyland for Tramps" this is a "free town" that was established by squatters in 1971 on the site of an old military base near the centre of the Danish capital. The residents announced that they had "left" the EU and the place has fallen into a kind of legal limbo where normal Danish law does not seem to apply.

It is easy to spot: the city's clean, tidy streets are abruptly interrupted by a heavily graffitied wall. Beyond, it appears that you have wandered on to the set of Escape From New York with quirky "stoner" architecture and confused references to Eastern religions. Little groups of thickset tattooed men with nasty-looking dogs keep watch at every entrance. I lifted my camera to get a photo and was immediately jumped on by a group who forced me to erase my memory card. It appeared that I had wandered into "Pusher Street" where photography is not allowed because of table after table of men selling every conceivable type of marijuana. The air was thick with the stuff, and the plant grew wild on the side of the street. I wandered nosily past shifty-looking dealers selling to pasty-faced customers.

The open sale of "soft" drugs, although approved by the residents of Christiania, was supposedly made illegal in 2004 but this has clearly had no effect. Still, things are better now than they were in the mid-Eighties when a very violent biker gang, known as Bullshit moved into the town and took over the drug business. The residents forced them out after a body was found cut up underneath some floorboards. Bummer, man.

"Alternative" communities almost invariably involve copious smoking of hash, scuzzy dreadlocks, hardcore techno, dogs on string and the inescapable feel of urban decay. Once, just once, I'd love to chance upon a group who have established an alternative alternative commune. Here, everyone is in pink cords, checked shirts and with a black labrador in tow. The Government is told "where to bloody go" if it interferes in hunting, speed limits or licensing laws and you can hear Dido floating across the perfect thatched rooftops of the community. I'd call it something like... oh, I don't know. How about Cotswoldia?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss