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Schubert collection

Tumbril for two, please!

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2015-11-24 10:10.

Thursday, 10 December this year could be a little stressful for King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Our hearts go out to him.

At the Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm he will have to sit down with other members of the royal family and VIPs from around the world – 1,400 people in all – and munch his way through many courses of fine food. Four hours of munching and speechifying and dancing. The international guests will have flown in from far afield and the hotels of Stockholm and environs can expect a flourishing business. The magnificent flowers for the banquet are traditionally flown in from the city of Sanremo in Italy.

The King will surely take all this bejewelled frippery in his stride: he's been doing it for more that 40 years now. A long reign, during which, we are told, he has collected his share of fine dining, fine cars and fine women.

Unfortunately for him, however, he had a recent encounter with a bath, a bath he even had to 'run himself'. You just can't get the staff these days. Of this epiphany we are told:

He also suggested that having given up taking baths himself his people should follow where he has led.

'We should ban all baths, imagine that,' he said when asked about his suggestions for everyday energy saving.

The question arose when he confessed he had recently been forced to run himself a bath when staying somewhere that lacked showers. 'That’s when it hit me how much water and energy it used,' he said. 'I thought "I can’t believe I’m having to do this". I felt quite ashamed.'

The comment about a bath ban appeared to be in jest, but he added: 'There’s truth in it though. It’s the small details that have an enormous effect.'

It will be tough for him, the environmentalist King, sitting there among the glittering ones, watching them munch through and glug down the food miles, admire the beautiful, out-of-season Italian flowers and be served by a large number of staff who have had weeks of training for this event. What little imagination he has –  by his own admission it took him 69 years to work out what a bath was  – might set him thinking about all that fine food and drink passing through 1,400 noble digestive tracts to end up flushed with extravagant amounts of water into the sewers of Stockholm. All those guests! All the running of baths, the taxis, the limos, the private jets, the conspicuous consumption, the frocks, the jewels.

The Swedish royal Charlie's nostrum: ban baths. A bit of a surprise, because if there is one thing that is definitely not lacking in Sweden, it is water. There is also plenty of power, about half of it coming from hydroelectricity. Let's not forget either, that Sweden is one of the co-inventors of the sauna, that temple to energy consumption. Since there is no real or threatened shortage of either water or energy in the country, forcibly reducing their consumption can really only be moral preening.

Concerning the violence in Sweden and the apparent imminent collapse of services in the country we hear no opinion from this intellectual Titan.

There will be one comfort for him in this whirl of decadent bling. He will have just arrived back fresh from the Climate Conference in Paris, which will have shown him just what conspicuous consumption and moral preening are really like. In comparison the Nobel Prize bash looks amateur.

Unable to venture out, alas!, into the City of wasteful Light the Swedish royal Charlie will have the comfort of being there with the British royal Charlie and they will have plenty of time to swap plans for curbing the self-destructive habits of the mob, such as soaking in a bath.

It's tough being a crowned head when the head has nothing in it. Tumbril for the two Charlies, please! They can share one to save energy.