Postal order democracy


When I came home from work, there it was lying on the mat in the hallway. A little slip of paper, quite innocent. It told me to go to my nearest newsagent and pick up a parcel that they were holding for me.

So, the next day, I trot down to the newsagent, recyclable bottles in one hand, the dog’s leash in the other. After recyling the glassware, I walk into the newsagents and pick up my parcel. Well, actually it is an envelope. A big, white envelope. With a logo on. On closer inspection, I realised that the logo is three crowns and the letter is from the Immigration Office.

I walk over to a neighbouring park and sit down on a bench, my dog lying at my feet. The sun is shining, and a slight breeze comes across the lawn. I open the envelope with bated breath.

Inside the envelope is a certificate.

It says, ‘This certifies that Neil Shipley has been awarded Swedish citizenship.’

So you see, I am now a Swedish citizen! I have double citizenship of Sweden and of the UK. And it feels good.

People ask me why I applied for citizenship after 16 years of living in Sweden. For me the answer is simple – it’s a question of democracy. I have chosen not to vote in the UK since I don’t live there. I have not been allowed to vote in Sweden. I have been in a democratic wasteland. But now, I can vote in the general election that takes place in a couple of weeks. And I think that’s important.

Being Swedish makes everything just more simple. Apart from in one respect. This blog – ‘Watching the Swedes’.

Does my citizenship mean that I have to watch myself too?

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