• Sweden's news in English
 
The Local Interview
'Sweden felt like East Germany in 1983'
Colin Moon in action on the public speaking circuit. Photo: Colin Moon

'Sweden felt like East Germany in 1983'

Published: 14 Feb 2014 08:37 GMT+01:00

Colin Moon is one of a kind. But don't take my word for it, that's what the Londoner says himself about his latest book 'Swedes@meetings.se' which has just hit the shelves. 

"There's nothing else like it out there," Moon tells The Local with a chuckle about his new tome, which reveals Swedes' bizarre obsession with attending meetings.

The 56-year old is engaging company as he gives The Local an exclusive one-to-one about his three decades living the Scandinavian dream... or something like that.

The Local: So Colin, how did you end up in Sweden?

Colin Moon: Well, it was quite a few years ago and, no, I didn't come for love. That came later. When I first arrived I got a job teaching English as a foreign language as those were rough times for teachers back in England. I believe that was back in 1983.

The Local: What was Sweden like then?

Colin Moon: I knew nothing about Sweden and, to me, it felt like a communist country. I'd been to East Germany before and Sweden felt similar as you only had two TV channels. You couldn't do this, you couldn't do that. It's changed... a bit.

The Local: After teaching you branched out to do what?

Colin Moon: I started doing sales training and doing presentation techniques with companies all over the country. After a few years it was suggested to me that I should consider public speaking.

The Local: Which has turned out pretty well I'm told?

Colin Moon: It has indeed. I've done public speaking engagements with most of the big banks and Volvo plus many other companies. In 2012 I was the Årets Talare (Business Speaker of the Year) which was a great achievement considering Swedish isn't my native language. I do the public speeches in English and Swedish, so I was rather proud of myself...especially considering I knocked the spots off the competition!

The Local: After 30 years in Sweden, how has the country changed in your view?

Colin Moon: Back then Sweden was a very arrogant country. There were monopolies on everything. I remember TV ended at 10pm and you couldn't buy beer in the supermarket after 8pm as they thought everybody would go out and get drunk.

Now things have changed, especially since joining the EU (in 1995) so it is more open and the supermarkets are a lot better; they used to be dreadful.

The Local: Sweden is being love-bombed by your native country with Michael Booth's book (The Almost Perfect People) and a television series (Scandimania) generating a lot of interest in the UK. The Brits seem to think Sweden is the greatest place on earth. Do you agree?

Colin Moon: It depends on who you are speaking to. When I was last in England I told a guy in a pub that I lived in Sweden and he was 'RAWR Sweden Wow' acting like a randy teenager. Of course you hear all the old arguments about child care and paternity care which, of course, are great perks.

On the flipside there is a certain schadenfreude from the Brits when things go wrong in Sweden. For instance, the riots in Husby last year and there is a sense 'oh you aren't so perfect after all' sentiment. 

The Local: Just like Booth you have a new book out yourself. Go on, get the plug in!

Colin Moon: I began writing books some years back. My first one 'Sweden - The Secret Files' did well (it sold over 200,000 copies) and I've written several since. The new one 'Swedes@meetings.se' is my take on this Swedish obsession with going to meetings and how come the Swedes continue to outperform most other industrialized nations.

While it's true that I do tease Swedes a bit, it's done in a respectful way and with love in my heart. The Swedes can take a joke. People all like to think they are a bit weird and wonderful.

The Local: So at the age of 56 are you planning to remain in Sweden or are you pining for Blighty?

Colin Moon: Sometimes I get a bit homesick like when the Olympics was in London in 2012. But no, I've got the summer house in Sweden and I'm building a pond so I reckon I'll be relaxing by the pond in the years to come.

Colin Moon's new book 'Swedes@meetings.se' is available to buy now.

Patrick Reilly (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas
There is little chance of snow in Stockholm this Christmas. File photo: TT

Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas

Sweden's weather agency SMHI has warned those living in southern parts of the country to stop dreaming of a white Christmas or risk disappointment. READ  

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report
File photo: TT

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report

Stockholm police have launched an investigation after reports that shots were fired at an EU migrant camp in the south of the city on Saturday. READ  

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'
Photo: TT

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven used his Christmas speech on Saturday to launch his idea of the "Swedish Promise", an equivalent to the more familiar "American Dream". READ  

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message
Princess Estelle pictured in her 2014 Christmas jumper. Photo: Kate Gabor/royalcourt.se

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message

Video: Sweden's little Princess Estelle has got into the spirit of Christmas by recording a special message together with her parents. READ  

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg suffers a linguistic let-down at The White House in 2010. File photo: TT

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert

Swedes enjoy a high level of self-confidence with regard to their English abilities, a new survey has shown, although one expert has questioned whether this belief is misplaced. READ  

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising
File photo: Shutterstock.

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising

Two powerful Swedish lobby groups have turned to the European Commission to try and get a complete ban on alcohol advertising on television, after it emerged some channels were dodging the ban by being registered abroad. READ  

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid
Markus Persson created hit game Minecraft. Photo: TT

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid

UPDATED: Swedish billionaire Markus Persson is reported to have outbid the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce with his half billion kronor offer ($70 million) for a 2,000-square-metre Beverly Hills mansion. READ  

Accelerated for Ice Music
Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes
A scene from a 2014 Ice Music concert in Luleå. Photo: Graeme Richardson/Swedish Lapland

Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes

The world's "coolest concert" is set for a Texas twist in 2015 when Luleå's innovative Ice Music welcomes American musical talent from Austin, home of the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival. READ  

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine
Princess Madeleine at the previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine

UPDATED: Sweden's Royal Court has announced that Princess Madeleine is pregnant with the second child of her financier husband Chris O'Neill. READ  

Video
Video: The best & worst of Swedish Christmas
Tom says he is a big fan of the food. Photo: The Local

Video: The best & worst of Swedish Christmas

What's the best thing about Christmas in Sweden? The worst? And perhaps most importantly, the tastiest? The Local's Paul O'Mahony hits the Old Town's Christmas market as the first snow of the season falls to find out more. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 18th to 25th
National
'Unprecedented' Russian activity: Armed Forces
Society
Interview: The Local chats with Melinda Gates
Society
VIDEO: Stockholmers try out some Swedish tongue twisters
Society
Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå
Blog updates

19 December

-t or no -t? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! There are many things in the Swedish language that can give you a grey hair or two,..." READ »

 

19 December

Editor’s Blog, December 19th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Father Time has taken another week from us, but never fear – good old Father..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Inside Sweden's first 'light therapy' school
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: December 17th
Estelle through the years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Society
Why are there so many 100-year-olds in one Swedish town?
Society
Is it time to better celebrate Sweden's diverse identity?
Gallery
Property of the week: Huddinge
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
CATCH UP: Russian plane in Baltic near-miss drama
Lifestyle
How my compass drew me to Sweden
National
The man whose memory you need to remember
Gallery
People-watching: December 13th - 14th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
Politics
'Our party will stand alone': Stefan Löfven
Society
The Local chats to Ruben Östlund, director of Golden Globe nominated Force Majeure
Lifestyle
Ten things to know before a Swedish party
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 12th to 19th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The 2014 Nobel Banquet
National
The Local's guide to the Nobel Prizes 2014
Education
Introducing... Education in Stockholm
Society
The Swedish Christmas market with a twist
Lifestyle
Why do so many Swedes have tattoos?
Society
Get 20% off Swedish Christmas decorations
National
Dewani family: We only heard half the story
Business & Money
Business in Stockholm: 'efficiency is money'
Gallery
Property of the week: Östermalm
National
Meet the Swedes hosting festive feasts for 'lonely' guests
Gallery
TIMELINE: Swedish honeymoon killing murder trial
Gallery
People-watching: December 7th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: What's it like to fly planes in Sweden?
National
Submarine hunters 'robbed' of reward cash
National
The Local's Countdown to Christmas
National
'Dangerous' USB charger recalled in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King and Queen wrap up France tour
National
Analysis: Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?
National
Swedish schoolboy in female saint role row
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's political crisis unfolds
Gallery
People-watching: December 3rd
National
What happened to Sweden's ice bucket cash?
Lifestyle
Top Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

817
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options