Denmark sows seeds of discontent over Brexit
Opinion Brexit Denmark sows seeds of discontent over Brexit Stewart Lee
There has never been a worse time for Britain to be shut out of the sperm loop
It was Andrew Rawnsleyâs column in last weekâs Observer that first made me aware of the danger a no-deal Brexit would pose to British sperm supplies. Up to 50% of our sperm is imported into the United Kingdom from Denmark alone, its cross-border movement currently micro-managed by EU organ and tissue directives, but now red tape may leav e fresh sperm rotting at customs.
The sperm shortage sounds, initially, like a rather silly story, an example of âproject fearâ at its most desperate, and it has been covered in a typically smutty way by the tabloids, who say we must stiffen our resolve, and harden our intentions, to produce more sperm, exactly as one would expect them to.
But the breakdown in supplies of European, and specifically Danish, sperm will have genuine detrimental consequences for British couples trying to conceive artificially, and for scientific research, an area already set to be severely damaged by the withdrawal of EU funding and data sharing. With a national fertility crisis mushrooming, and our status as a global leader in scientific breakthroughs threatened, there has never been a worse time for Britain to be shut out of the sperm loop.
Throughout Scandinavia, the act of solo sexual gratification is still euphemistically known as 'going for a Danish 9;
As a diehard Remoaner, the troubling statistics piqued my interest. Perhaps I could exploit them to criticise Brexit? After a little late-night Googling at my laptop, I realised that, typically of overworked journalists who can no longer afford to cover anything in real depth, the Observerâs Andrew Rawnsley had only scratched the surface of the Danish semen story. The sperm crisis ran far deeper than even Rawnsley imagined and over the last week I have become the Carole Cadwalladr of sperm.
Itâs not a coincidence that, in 1969, liberal Denmark became the first country to legalise pornography, including with animals (nb itâs banned now). The vast proliferation of sexually stimulating material available, from everyday vanilla through to the strongest chocolate and/or strawberry flavoured imagery, soon made the cake- and Lego-loving land the international capital of onanism.
Indeed, throughout Scandinavia, the act of solo sexual grat ification is still euphemistically known as âgoing for a Danishâ (in Swedish, âgÃ¥r till en Danskaâ, in Norwegian âgÃ¥r til en Danskâ and in Finnish âmenee tanskaksiâ).
To give you some idea how deeply the notion of the Danes as lonely self-pleasers is embedded in Scandinavian culture, the popular 1970s Swedish satire show Pappa Olafâs Karneval Av Idioter included a famous sketch, voted the funniest joke of all time in a recent Swedish poll, where a foolish Norwegian visitor to London becomes angry when he is offered a Danish pastry by an effeminate cockney baker.
At first, commercial Danish sperm production was a small-scale affair. In the 70s and 80s, Danish sperm, packed in heavy, thick glass test tubes, was most commonly used as a mildly profitable ballast in the hold of their cargo ships. These Danish âsemen-bÃ¥deâ, as they were known in the shipping industry, mainly carried more profitable Danish products such as bacon and fish bits to Europe, the semen subsequently sold on to collectors and enthusiasts for minimal return once the more commercial products had been disposed of.
But it was inevitable, as even the socialist Scandinavian states fell under the spell of the capitalist doctrines of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, that sooner or later the great national Danish pastime would be monetised. By the end of the 80s, Denmark was the unchallenged world leader in the business of commercial human sperm production. The Danish âsperm-salgâ industry became a major concern, swiftly nationalised under the Dansk Sperm-Salg I Hele Verden banner and employing tens of thousands of men in the manufacturing process.
But joining the dots of the supply chain of Danish sperm to modern Britain throws up a remarkable discovery. Not only is nearly 50% of our sperm sourced from Denmark, but nearly 85% of that sperm is actually sourced from one Dane.
Hans Thrigger Andersen is a wiry 50-year-old who enjoys the life of a comfortable flÃ¢neur and he FaceTimed me from the jazzy countercultural enclave of Aarhus on the Jutland peninsula. It was easy to understand why Hansâs sperm donor directory profile pictures have, over the years, seen millions of British couples clamour for his sperm above that of most other Danish donors.
As a younger man, Hans, who is one of a small handful of full-time sperm-donating Danes, had the hard-rock angel good looks of Chris Hemsworthâs Thor, and heâs aged to sport the same rugged Viking charisma evidenced by the Canadian standup comedian and woodcutter Tony Law. Itâs a ludicrous coincidence that Hansâs parents met in 1968 at an early Aarhus performance by Pekka Airaksinenâs experimental Finnish band Sperm, and conceived him that very night, but he dismisses any idea of envir onmental determinism as deftly as he evades my attempts to inculcate him into the second referendum narrative.
Despite the damage it will do to his livelihood and lifestyle, Hans is an unlikely champion of Brexit. âListen, I have spent my life lying on my back like a lazy hog. Brexit will force me to make something of myself. Same as maybe it will for Britain. The kitten is out of its sack, man. You make nothing and you canât feed yourselves and all your fruit is picked by Latvians. Sure, in the short term, we are both taking a heavy cash hit, but maybe Brexit will make us get our shit together.â
I tried to press Hans further on exactly what he meant but he had a daily quota to meet. In the short time we spoke, the tired Dane had already given me food for thought. If a man whose precarious lifestyle, predicated as it is on an endless cycle of continual self-abuse, can rationalise the destruction Brexit will wreak on his career as an opportunity for self-improveme nt, maybe itâs time for all of us here in Britain too to move on and embrace the no-deal uncertainty as a chance for a new beginning.Topics
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