Jensens Bøfhus

Living in a country where restaurants are expensive, Jensens Bøfhus is a godsend. The fare is simple and the offering could offend only vegans since it’s all about steak and chips.  Or chicken if you fancy a change.  I usually don’t.  Danes have turned against this place in recent years and I really don’t get why.  Actually, I think I do – it’s the Jantelov.  A man who dared to set up a successful restaurant chain and make some money deserves to be brought back down to earth, ja?  Seriously, one of the few things that can offend a Dane more than mixing up the wrong smørrebrød toppings is a self-made man (or woman).  As the owner of Montana, I feel it myself often enough.  I paid for that place out of my own productivity, no help needed or asked for.  To a Dane, that’s very alien.

The weird thing is that Jensens is now more affordable than ever.  I recently had a conversation with someone at work, when I said I’d been for my birthday and his response was “Oh, that’s expensive for what it is”.  It seems few people have picked up on that one of their responses to the bad publicity has been to cut prices and right now you can get a steak with chips for 59kr, or about £7.  Not only that, but chips ad libitum.  Or should that be ad explodum.  We’ve never managed more than seconds.  It certainly compares well to others offering similar for twice or triple the price.

Oh and did I mention that if it’s your birthday, the desserts for everyone at the table are free?  Review over, or almost, as here again there’s little variety in my mind about what to order.  It has to be Queen’s Delight, but with jordbær instead of chocolate sauce.

Right, review over.

We went to Jensens in Randers yesterday.  That’s the real point of this story.  It’s a nice location, right in the centre of the town and gave us a chance to visit the flea markets in the morning, seeing if there were any bargains around.  There were a few, but nothing compared to the huge art nouveau chandelier I got for the kitchen a few weeks ago.  At the moment one of my little indulgences is to switch it on sometimes, for no reason, just to look at those 8 brass prongs and the art nouveau ceramic patterns it has.  I can’t believe it remained intact, all the glass bowls and ceramic, lying on the bottom shelf of a stall there.  I wonder what it’s past history is.  Ah if only objects could talk.

Lighting aside, by some quirk of fate, we were given a table next to the table I sat at 2 and a half years ago, with all four of my children.  At the time, I was buoyant.  After some troubled times in which my father had died, I had almost lost the house and where my ex-partner had denied me access for 6 months, dinner with all 4 of them seemed like a wonderful opportunity to reopen the account book and get back to being together.  Inviting them to dinner had seemed a great thing to do – their mother had crashed the Chevrolet Aveo I’d given her with all 4 of my children in it at the time.  The story relayed to me was that she’d pulled into the path of an overtaking car and a collision at some speed had occurred, with the children screaming and distressed.  I understand the repairs cost a lot.  It certainly looked bad.

Even despite the awkwardness and outright hate I’d suffered the prior 6 months, I spent an entire work afternoon assisting her with the car insurance and ensuring my children (and her) were OK.  It should have meant something and I wrongly thought it did – my dinner invitation for all 4 children was accepted that following Saturday.

Now, given the importance of this encounter, some agreed planned time and an opportunity to make amends, Jensens seemed the perfect choice.  I even booked the table for peak time and, lest you wonder, there were no recent birthdays for free desserts.  On the face of it, everyone had a good time.  We laughed, we joked, I asked about their lives and got reasonable answers.  Of course, some issues were skirted around and if I was to think about it objectively, my middle daughter (the most introverted one), was quiet and gave away little, always seeming to be staring to the side, thinking deeply.  Or that whenever I tried to discuss the death of my father, their grandfather, they brushed it away and my attempts to talk about something deeper dissipated into nothing.  The others seemed superficially happy and I drove them back home.  I really felt great that night, the evening had gone well, I thought.  Despite nagging doubts in the back of my mind, I was sure they’d missed me and that this was the beginning of healing the wound before it turned gangrenous, into something that could never be repaired.  I was wrong.  To this day, I’ve never seen my eldest daughter ever again, my son blocked me on facebook and gmail some months later and the two youngest, I last saw either at the supermarket or in momentary glimpses at the school while donating the many English books I had bought for my children over the years to it.  In case you’re wondering why I did that, I was told by their mother that they didn’t want them cluttering up the house and I should throw them out.  The school seemed happy enough to receive them.  There were about 5 boxes of them in all and I’m glad if they are being read, even if not by the children they were intended for.

I digress at this point to describe a most peculiar incident a day before the planned dinner.  The reason I recount it now is that it seems very relevant.  Very relevant indeed if brainwashing, mental manipulation and hateful desire are your thing.  At the time I passed it off as miscommunication.  Misunderstanding during a time of trauma.  The real trauma of course being the one inflicted on my own children, only I didn’t realise it then.  The ex-partner called me and said, “The children are crying because I’m not coming”.  This in itself was strange, we’d split up and my dinner invitation, relayed via her, was always for my 4 children.  Why indeed would I invite someone who’d financially bled me dry and diverted my entire life onto a different stream, in another country?  I made clear again that the invite was for my 4 children only, not her too.  Looking back through the 3-year lens, I can see that that was the wrong answer, if my primary objective had been to rebuild the relationship with my children again at any cost.  I repeated that the invite had always been and would always be for my 4 children only.  Now I can only wonder what mind games played out during those days that I looked forward to this dinner.  If I am to be honest, and as it’s my writing, I will be, I see no way that someone who ensured I never got to see my children for 6 solid months would be someone I invited to a dinner ever again.  Not only that, but I had given them a chance to redeem themselves from prior anger and revert to being fair and reasonable, for the benefit of the children.  They didn’t take it.  I haven’t seen my children for 3 years now and I hold them responsible for it.  I always will and don’t see anything will change that now.

I found the bill in my jacket pocket a while ago.  About 900 krone (£110) I wasted that night.  I chucked the receipt straight out.  I don’t need that reminder of yet again being used and treated as a second-rate human being.  If anything it was a most interesting insight into how people who claim to hate you and never want to see you again, can still be guaranteed to turn up when there’s a good freebie on offer.

I visited the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool recently.  If you’ve never heard of them, then the gist of it is that in the Victorian era, some true Victorian benefactor hired the unemployed to build tunnels for him, for little apparent reason other than to give them work.  He was, it’s said, an eccentric in every way.  One time, he held a dinner for all of the well-to-do of the area.  Upon arrival, the guests were invited into a sparse basement room and offered peas and ham, nothing else.  Many stood up and left in disgust.  After he was satisfied all those had left that wished to, he stood up and said “Now I know who my true friends are!” and led them into a lavish dining room with fine fare on offer.  Now, there’s a lesson in life.  Only use your resources on those who appreciate you.  From now on, I only will.

Pleading Poverty 2

It’s interesting how the virtual world of blog posts coincided with the real world this weekend.  For some time, I’d been fancying visiting Denmark’s last remaining workhouse.  Yes, Denmark had them too.  Not only that, but it only closed in the 1980s.  It’s now a museum.  A museum with an agenda, perhaps, in presenting the modern velfærdsamfund as a pinnacle of human progress, but a very good museum nevertheless.

So, my last post on pleading poverty and young children being packaged down to the dole office was even more insightful that I realised at the time.  The key thing seems to be that you play your role of gratitude as you stand to be judged before the almighty powerful system.  Take Dion, for example.  He apparently spent a whole young life in care homes and spent so many years outstretching his hand asking for welfare that he actually got it tattooed into his hand.  Bistand Tak? translation… Welfare, please?

They even had a desk where a gammeldansker with a pipe, glasses and a pen could sit in judgement, ticking boxes, deciding whether you are worthy or unworthy of help.  Such a man might’ve looked a bit like this…

All in all, my analysis of how the system works was spot on.  By the way, in the above assessment, the claimant was deemed unworthy of assistance.  Why was that, you might wonder?

Fordi du er Engelsk

Yes, like all great Danish systems, I exercised xenophobia and a god-given right to amend the rules wherever I saw fit.  In this case, the claimant was English.  Case closed.  You ain’t getting anything.

I highly recommend the museum as a piece of social history.  They don’t need the agenda though.  No, the modern social welfare system Denmark has is not a pinnacle of progress.  Just the opposite in fact, it encourages indolence and dependence of the type I myself have witnessed first-hand these past 22 years.  Actually, it should make us all question if the ultimate aim of the system IS to encourage those very traits in large sections of the population.  I also didn’t like how in order to obtain examples of a broken, poverty stricken society, they used near-neighbours the UK and Germany.  It may well be hubris, there is an old saying that pride comes before a fall.

Pleading Poverty

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the origin of phrases I use in sentences without even thinking about where they come from.  One stuck in my as being archaic, yet relevant today as it ever was.

Plead Poverty

It’s well used one where I come from, usually casually inserted into sentences to sarcastically describe people who always claim to have no money for A, B or C expenses (food, house repairs…?), but simultaneously have plenty of money for X, Y, Z (cigarettes, foreign holidays…?) expenses.  We are not alone, the media uses it regularly to hammer home the subtly sarcastic point of the rich or large corporations claiming to not have enough money to pay something, as the Collins dictionary helpfully gives examples of.  It seems everyone is in on the word game – Pleading Poverty is a derogatory term, a get out clause for those who Plead it.

As to the origin, when I think about it, I can guess that it comes from debtors appearing in court and quite literally pleading poverty to the judge when it came to assessment of the terms for repayment.   That or from the olden days of local Church alms welfare, when the poor would go to the church and again, plead poverty, throwing themselves upon the mercy of the church to decide if their needs were just and should be met.  In both respects, pleading poverty has a positive financial outcome – either a debt will be cancelled, or money will be received.

That leads nicely onto the hypothetical examples I am about to describe of someone pleading poverty in the modern era.  The story as it was recounted to me is of two young girls being sent down to the local welfare office to ask for extra money on their errant mothers’ behalf, as she lay in bed with a hangover from a night of overindulgence.  Seemingly this sad and humiliating episode occurred more than once in the child’s life.  I can only imagine the trauma it might cause on a young mind.  Surprisingly, to me at least, the welfare office handed out money.  Despite the humiliation, I can guess skills of persuasion were learnt – a doleful sad face at the required moments of scrutiny, the correct tone of sadness in the voice and an outstretched palm at exactly the right moment.  Useful skills for adulthood, definitely.  Sadly, these episodes could also encourage the welfare state mindset described in a prior post.

I must point out again that everything I write here is third party.  I heard about someone else who split up with their partner and they are constantly pleading poverty when it comes to legal cases.  Thus the letters to the court are always of the nature of – single mother, tick.  no money, tick.  hard life, tick.  To the courts, it doesn’t even matter if there’s any proof behind these claims, in fact a small amount of facebook / twitter searching probably tells a very different story with holidays in places like Scotland, London, Sweden and possibly Australia.  Expensive designer trainers for the kids and the finest premium TV package on offer.  Not that any court needs evidence to back up these claims.  Nationality and gender are enough to decide 80% of the verdict.  Pleading Poverty just makes the other 20% easy.

Even worse, the non-Danish man who faces these cases could probably tell you that when they split, she got :-

  • £25,000 cash
  • £40,000 in shares
  • £10,000 car
  • 80% extra child maintenance every month to cover school fees

Now he’s probably wondering where all that has gone.  It was meant for his children.  What was that about being obsessed with money, again?  Ah if only there was a Mrs Birling from An Inspector Calls to assess the claimant next time they Plead Poverty!

Brexit

If you’ve read my previous posts, then you will have some idea as to my views regarding freedom, life and happiness.  It was there even as a four year-old child, kicking and screaming, begging not be placed in the brainwashing institution known as school.  Adulthood has done nothing but confirm that it is nothing but a brainwashing institution, along with other such institutions you may know as college, university and a job.

I worked democracy out rather quickly too.  While other students at the university were gleefully excited about the opportunity to tick their first ever box on a piece of paper with a pencil to change the world, I simply didn’t bother voting.  Something about the whole process stank and again, nothing further on in life has changed my mind.  The only time I ever voted in the UK was 2004, when the place I lived in, Sittingbourne, was a key marginal seat and my gut instinct told me that Tony Blair was a vile, evil man who must be stopped.  Not him alone, but the machinery that had dragged the UK into a foray of death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for what?  It has in fact all been proven to be a lie as to why that invasion event took place and worse, smiley Blair still appears regularly on TV as the expert on matters instead of being arrested as a war criminal.  It should tell you everything you need to know, the system is run by darker powers and they always protect their own.  My vote meant nothing.  The good folk of Sheppey turned up in sufficient numbers to ensure the status quo remained and the murder continued.  Experience now tells me even if “the other side” had won, it would have continued regardless anyway.

So my views on democracy are clear but after that I continued to vote once or twice in Denmark where I could vote in local elections and voted for the most extreme candidate I could find.  In this case, the one who wanted to reduce income tax to 40%.  Yes, that is a revolutionary as it gets there.  I silently mocked and laughed at Danes who took the process seriously, as I stood and waited to be given that sheet of paper to decide what shades of red appealed to me most.  Believe me, there are a lot of boxes.  Which party do you like?  Which candidate do you like?  Have a pat on the head for being a good citizen as you leave.

There was a brief period in 2015-16, when a vote finally came along that I was promised meant something and just briefly, I began to believe.

 Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?

That was the question, along with the promise that “We will Implement what you decide”, or so they told me and 60 million others.  Meanwhile, they made their plans to help you decide…A leaflet, costing 10 million, telling you how bad life would be if you voted to leave, an incessant drone of media stories that were nothing more than conjecture dressed as fact, telling you how toilet paper would run out, your house would be worth 1p and more weirdly, no more sperm for sperm donors.  The stories still don’t stop – one newspaper the other day reported dogging will increase as truck drivers stuck in queues wander off to relieve the boredom.  As the referendum date neared, they even resorted to a murder / fake murder of MP Jo Cox to sway public opinion.  I can’t work it out, but I am sure it didn’t really happen the way it’s explained.  Her husband was on TV within 5 minutes of her death, speaking freely about how hate made it happen.  Every detective I know of normally assumes the partner did it until confirmed otherwise, yet here was this guy on TV immediately to frame the narrative of how the murder happened and why.  One witness said the killer shouted “Britain first”, whereas all the other witnesses said he definitely did not.  What if instead, he misheard him shout “Brendan first”?  Brendan himself was later confirmed as having a less than illustrious past that police should’ve been investigating to confirm his innocence, had the crime been real.  Just look up Anna Lindh, the Swedish politician murdered in an eerily similar way just before their Euro referendum some years earlier.  Such events can cause guilt and change votes.

Despite all of this pressure, the Great British public voted by a city the size of Birmingham to leave.  This included myself, I am proud to say, as I sent in my postal vote.  Remove Scotland (please, remove it..I jest) and the result is even clearer.  Just this once, the people had won.  Not only that, but it was the highest democratic participation ever seen in the UK.  It surely had to be respected, didn’t it?  After all remember, the PM himself said it – We will implement what you decide.  Sadly, the warning signs were there, even amongst the euphoria of victory.  Instead of triggering Britain’s exit from the EU, the PM resigned.  The strategy was to clearly delay, delay, cancel and 3 years later it’s still working.  I have given up expecting the UK to leave, but the support Boris Johnson gets upsets me, people should see by now democracy itself is a fake.

And so it is, now 3 years later, 3 Prime Ministers later, we approach the final endgame.  The EU’s deal is terrible, the UK’s counter-deal is only marginally less terrible.  The promises of ending free movement, leaving the customs union and the single market are not happening.  The UK is probably paying £48 billion for the privilege of this.  I am sure it’s all what darker forces want, I just wanted freedom and one less set of people deciding over my life, especially one as dark and satanic as the true motives of the European Union.  I and the others who ticked that box will not get what they were promised.  I never saw deal on the ballot paper as an option anyway, because it wasn’t there.  The very nature of a deal is that it means you haven’t really left.  Compare it to cancelling a gym membership or magazine subscription – you try to cancel and accepting any deal they offer you means you didn’t end the subscription.  It’s the same here and it proves democracy is a sham.  The quote is true, the only bit in doubt is if Mark Twain actually said it.

If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t allow us to do it

I regret my involvement in the post-referendum euphoria.  My mobile phone rarely left my hand in the time afterwards.  Emotions were high, I felt the need to read and comment on many of the stories and opinions out there.  I wish I hadn’t bothered, my time could’ve been spent more productively in a million other ways.  I am particularly sorry to my own children, if I ever did not devote my full attention to them during this time.

Before you accuse me of hypocrisy for living in Denmark, then  I will say that free movement of self-sufficient people is fine by me.  People with skills, who pay in far more that they take should always be welcome.   You can read pay in, however you wish.  Stories of married couples kept apart because of non-EU citizenships also upset me greatly – yet it’s funny how there are 1,000s of such stories in both the UK and Denmark.  When I came to Denmark, in 2005, they were not even in the free movement part of the EU.  Got to wonder why the UK was and they were not, right?  I had to bring sufficient capital to support me, my non-working Danish partner and 2 Danish children and worse, show it all to some officious pedant at the much-derided Statsforvalting.  I wish I could go back in time and not bother.

So maybe the key lesson of this is to never trust a pencil, a piece of paper marked with names and boxes and to definitely never put your trust in other people you’ve never met, who promise a lot and deliver nothing, or worse, destroy your life.  Perhaps the only true democracy is with the wallet or the feet?  One thing that Brexit probably did back in 2016 was to push my already failing relationship over the edge.  Looking back, it seems as though I suddenly had a voice and something to believe in and the something I had to believe in and voiced my opinions on was not something my then-partner approved of, or understood.  Where I saw a freer world for my children and I, she saw Xenophobia and a lack of control over me.  No surprise, considering xenophobic is the label that anyone who voted Brexit is given by the media to discredit them.  Actually, the most worrying thing probably was that a revitalised me might want to leave Denmark and move back to England!  If even some part of this is true, then great if it did highlight the irreparable differences between us and lift me out of my slumber.  Perhaps then, my own Brexit really did occur back in 2016, I just didn’t realise it at the time.  Now I just need to finalise the terms of the deal.  Actually, just like the real Brexit, I don’t want a deal – I just want the imbalanced relationship where I still contribute a lot more than I’ll ever get back, severed.  It was never in my best interests.