I've just watched another episode of BBC1's Wallander, which is a detective series set in Ystad in the very south of Sweden. It's based on or inspired by the books of Henning Mankell. This is not the original series of Swedish-language films with subtitles produced a few years back and recently shown again on TV that star Krister Henrikson as Inspector Kurt Wallander, but the English-language series created specifically for television starring Kenneth Branagh. The style of the two versions is rather different. The Henrikson series portrays a Sweden full of dark undercurrents, secrets, difficult relationships, and emotional lockdown; and the language is crisp even when murmured. The Branagh series is less inhibited emotionally, the characters are easier to relate to, and the storyline is easier to comprehend; but personally I find the anglicised pronunciation irritating. Both series use the rolling Skane countryside, the woods, and the coast, very effectively as an atmospheric backdrop.
On balance I prefer the Henrikson series for 'authenticity', but the Branagh series is still very enjoyable. Branagh manages to create a more likeable character, who reminds me of John Thaw in Inspector Morse, very empathetic towards women, but without Morse's ponderousness.
Wallander (either series) strikes a chord with me. Mum's family came from Sweden, and my family tree is littered with Carlsons and Wallbergs going back to 1791.
In 1973, when in Southampton, I began a Swedish O-level course. It was run by a Swedish lady from Hultsfred called Monika. Her husband was a professor at the University. They had two boys, and in the winter of 1973/74 welcomed me into their home. I learned all about Swedish life in wintertime. Quite magical. I've never forgotten. I wonder where Monika and John are now? And the boys must be in their forties with families of their own. The course folded in 1974 from lack of students, and I threw out my course work in 2005, but I still have my grammar book. Monika was a good teacher. I learned a good vocabulary (though she insisted on not telling us what the swear words were), and I paid attention to pronouncing the language properly, including the way it rises and falls as you speak. I must have forgotten most of it by now, but it wouldn't take too much effort to get it back.
I've always wanted to visit Sweden. Once I've bought the new car, I think I'll take myself off to Sweden by road and just drive around a bit, and see what I find. A 'back to my roots' experience, going where I please.
Talking of cars, I notice that Wallander drives a Volvo XC70. Yes, it'll have to be a Volvo. Fate is pushing me towards them.