Hygge is the Danish way of life. The Danes say that it’s hard to translate the concept properly into other languages but I watched a four minute Youtube video and read a short article so I’m pretty sure I’ve got it. Basically, it means being cosy with warm mood lighting and nice treats and also sometimes brunch places that are also launderettes. Denmark is hard. Because Hygge is so hip right now I thought I’d cash in by writing a cool, experimental yet comforting novel that you might curl up with in a launderette cafe and draw admiring glances from fellow Hygge enthusiasts. The finished novel is 1200 pages long and has been turned down by both Tramp Press and Stinging Fly, the only publishers I’ve heard of, so I present to you an abridged, novella version of Cosy Cat’s Big Day Out. It’s kind of got a Dan Brown meets Eimear McBride vibe so if you don’t like it that’s really more about you than me. Here’s my suggested cover for the book:
Cosy Cat’s Big Day Out – An Experimental Hygge Novella
You stretch and stretch and stretch some more. You are on a bed, the thick white duvet rises around you like clouds. You are Hygge in this moment.You hear an acoustic guitar being plucked casually but with great feeling somewhere in the cosy rooms you call home. You smell your human’s morning drink wafting casually from the food room. You pad across a tasteful rug that cost between eighty and one hundred and thirty euro from a store where everybody wears waistcoats, even the dead, and see what your human is up to. Your human drops a bit of fresh croissant on the ground for you, you can see how expertly the croissant was made, the layers flaking and separating as you open it up with your tiny dextrous paws. You are being rubbed slowly down the length of your back while Calum Scott’s version of Dancing On My Own plays in the background. You thought that Robyn’s version would be more Hygge what with the whole Scandinavian connection but Spotify Denmark’s Hygge playlist has other ideas. You wonder where Calum Scott is from actually, you wonder how you, a cat, could check this, but not for long because you have Hygge plans.
You see your human light candles, in the morning? you say to yourself, yes in the morning, your human is crying and lighting candles at 9:30 on a tuesday morning but that is neither Hygge nor any concern of yours. You’re going outside to Hygge. Can Hygge be a verb? you ponder. You leave through the cat flap, you are a cat, the cat flap is also Hygge in the way that sometimes things just Are, no explanation possible or wanted. You have a task. You will find Hygge situations and increase their Hygge just by being a cat in a place.
You see children playing in a pile of leaves. The pile of leaves looks like a giant pixelated cosy fire if pixels were leaf shaped. The children are wrapped up in coordinating hats and scarves even though none of them seem to be related, almost like their parents planned this Hygge moment. Good for them you think, maximising their Hygge. You saunter over, your coat catching the sun in ways that compliment the leaves, you grab at a leaf with your tiny paw and act like you’re hunting it. You assume that the kids and parents are fucking loving this extremely cute and Hygge addition to their day but the parents look suddenly grim and are hurrying their kids away.
You go to the coffee house, the one that doubles as a cobblers and keycutters, it’s very noisy and occasionally sparks fly off the key cutting machine and set fire to customers wearing particularly Hygge jumpers but everybody agrees that it is a very Hygge place indeed. But today, it is empty. You stretch out in the window, batting lazily at dust motes. Anybody walking past would see you and feel the warm glow of Hygge in their chest. But where is everybody?
You remember that earlier you called coffee “human’s morning drink”, you know it’s called coffee, you’re not sure why you called it that, you wanted to be cute and charming you suppose but you promised yourself and Doctor Farbsfeld, the cat psychiatrist, that you’d stop dumbing yourself down just to be popular, you are a smart cat that deserves to be loved on its own terms, like Barb from Stranger Things except unlike Barb from Stranger Things you’re actually good and worth it.
Is Stranger Things Hygge? you muse as you arch your back and settle into a comfortable position on a cushion that cost between eighteen and forty five euro from a shop where everybody pretends they don’t know who Kim Kardashian is. You are half asleep and thinking about Stranger Things in the window seat of this cobbler/keycutting/cafe. You suppose that Stranger Things’s thick stew of familiar cultural references is quite warm and comforting, the child actors are all great and make you feel a warm glow of affection, the Winona Ryder Christmas light memes have been a nice distraction from the unpleasantness of 2016 and it’s just nice to see Winona doing well again. Not to mention the amazing score whose warm synths are both unsettling and like a warm hug from your childhood. You know sometimes when you were small and you’d go to your friend’s house and they had an older brother who wouldn’t let you into the sitting room because he was watching an 18’s film but you’d catch a glimpse through a crack in the door or hear a snatch of music before you went upstairs to play with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Barbies or make comics? that’s the kind of nostalgic Hygge hit Stranger Things provides. You think all this while dozing in the window of the cafe and realise you’ve been hearing a siren for ten? twelve? eight minutes? You look out the window and realise there’s no one else out there. and that’s when the first bomb hits.
Fifteen Years Later
You still remember that day, the day that President Trump bombed Denmark, he never explained why. But that’s what kicked it all off, the apocalypse, this is a post-apocalyptic bit now. It’s been a tough fifteen years Hygge-wise, you’ve had to take it where you can get it, a skull glinting just so at sunset, a coffee pot sticking out of some rubble still smelling a bit like coffee but mostly like loss, a weeping family huddled around a Winter Berries & Spices scented candle that they found in a ditch, all wearing rags that cost between four to seven cans of beans at a store where everybody wears impractical leather apocalypse chic. You are a very old cat now, much older than you ever could have imagined, like, you remember the eighties pretty well so you must be in your late forties by now. You don’t feel old though. Maybe all the radiation gave you special powers. That might explain why you’re twelve feet tall now. that’s almost definitely it, now that you stop and think about it. You haven’t stopped to think for fifteen years, you’ve been running on pure instinct. You wonder if you could use your immense size and power and invisibility and laser eyes to somehow make the world a better place. Make it better, make it cosier, make it…Hygge Again.