Well the BBC's loss is my readership's gain I suppose!
Personally I think this is one of the tightest pieces I have done. Enjoy
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AAA Rating Sketch
Justin: The major economic news this week was of course the downgrading of the UK’s credit rating from the blue chip AAA rating to the lesser AA1 rating, which probably translates to tea and biscuits in Cabinet meetings being bought from the essentials range rather than the luxury selection at Harrod’s. But on a more serious note, how does the UK get back to the top level of credit rating? Especially with a country like Sweden with a sixth of our population and natural resources that seem to be based around pine forests and elk farming holding the top rating. To help me answer these questions I have with me the economist Professor Anna Svensson of the University of Uppsala. Professor Svensson, welcome.
Anna: (In well-spoken but ever so slightly exaggerated Swedish accent) Justin (pause) Please call me Anna.
Justin: Thank you Anna. Now tell me on such limited natural resources, how does Sweden sustain one of the best standards of living in the Western world, and manage to fund full state pensions for all and allow for a full years maternity and paternity leave for new parents.
Anna: Well. (pause) Justin. (pause) You mention my country’s natural resources but omitted our supplies of iron ore, much of which is used to build those big, square cars which seem to be so enamoured of your middle classes. Our pine forests we use to supply much of Europe with self-assembly furniture named after Astrid Lindgren characters. And the elk; (pause) yes it is used in the food chain. Where do you think those Swedish meatballs come from?
Justin: Well at least it isn’t horse meat. But those are all based on sales. What about when the markets contract. You do have to import most of your fresh fruit and vegetables because of your poor soils and short growing seasons.
Anna: Ah! The English education system’s obsession with the Vikings. They didn’t wear horned helmets as you all think, but did come for food supplies. There may have been some accidental slaughtering and pillaging, but that was all securely invested. Can you imagine the compound interest since the eighth century?
Justin: So the strength of the Swedish economy is based upon the wealth stolen from Anglo-Saxon monasteries.
Anna: No! (pause) There is much more! (pause) For example, have you seen the cost of a pint of your English beer in a bar in Stockholm?
Justin: £12! £12! The most expensive Stag party I have ever attended!
Anna: Also the many millions of pounds that you spent on Sven-Goran Erikkson taking your English football team to a succession of quarter finals were invested immediately into our herring industry.
Justin: But surely one person’s cultural impact doesn’t secure an entire nation’s economic well-being.
Anna: Think again Justin! Have you read the Millennium Trilogy!
Justin: I have. Along with twenty million other people.
Anna: And no doubt you have heard the rumours of a fourth book on Stieg Larsson’s laptop which his girlfriend has in a safe.
Justin: I have. (pause) Where is this leading?
Anna: There are in fact another seventeen volumes in safe storage in the vaults of the Royal Bank. To be released at six monthly in times of dire economic need. The Girl Who Licked the Wombat’s Armpit. The Girl Who Played With Her Food. Not the most inspiring of titles and not his best work I am sure but the franchise effect will pay dividends. I myself am composing a book entitled Fifty Shades of Sven, in which a young girl is compelled to construct a Smorgasbord for every home game played by the national football team.
Justin: And if Mr Larsson’s work has lost its appeal?
Anna: Justin. I can imagine your younger self dancing to the music of our greatest cultural export, Abba!
Justin: I may in my youth have gyrated to Dancing Queen.
Anna: Like many people you probably believe that Agnetha Fältskog has been in self-imposed seclusion for the last thirty years. Whereas in fact she and the Norwegian one have been recording songs in secret for decades, in case our nation needs to bail out some lesser economies. (pause) Such as your own.
Justin: I feel you have more to reveal to me.
Anna: Yes! If the world is on the brink of financial meltdown, we can call upon our brave dwarves and elves who have been mining under the Skanderna Mountains for two millennia, and have a supply of gold, rubies, emeralds and diamonds guarded by a fearsome dragon.
Justin: Now you are just being silly!
Anna: Justin (pause) that was just our famous Swedish sense of humour. We do have one other secret weapon though; known and loved by millions who has been securing our financial stability for nearly forty years.
Justin: And that would be?
Swedish Chef: Bir-de-bir-de-birr-de-bir-de-birr-bup-bup-bup!
Justin: Professor Anna Svensson; thank you!