Our street appears to be acting as an undercover agent. It has another street’s identity and more than one official name (or number).

We’d lived here for three months before I realised that our house had two different street numbers. The one we are familiar with (8) is on the wall on our street, Tvärgatan. Next to our house is another road and walking up this road I noticed there was a different number on that wall (64). How can we have lived here for months and not noticed?

It turns out our house used to be in this other street (Adolf Hedinsvägen), but when the local council decided, for safety reasons, to stop access to it, our house instead got attached to this street (Tvärgatan) where it was given a different number. So that solves that mystery. But as if that isn’t confusing enough, Tvärgatan is the name of a street that used to be further up the hill, which disappeared with building development. It is, then, the name of a dead street. No wonder people look blank when you mention it.

All this seems appropriate, since ‘tvär’ means ‘contrary’ in Swedish, and is a name given to a street running at a slightly odd or ‘contrary’ angle to the main road. We have a tendency ourselves to be a bit ‘tvär’, so a bit of street subterfuge is in keeping with our own character. It is, after all, a little ‘tvär’ to go north in the winter, and perhaps a little ‘tvär’ to live in snow and not like to ski. Rolf is ‘tvär’ in refusing to eat Swedish herring, or go to a beach, and I am a little ‘tvär’ in being attracted to live near a mine where our house will one day fall into a pit.

Being ‘tvär’ is ok, and living in Tvärgatan is ok too. I wouldn’t mind all the subterfuge and double identities, only we are running a bed and breakfast and if we are so ‘tvär’ that no-one can find us here then that is way, way too ‘tvär’. Tvärgatan, we have belatedly realised, is a street without a street sign. All the people who have struggled through the snow to find us last winter, finally arriving exhausted on our doorstep – did any one of them complain, or mention that it would have helped if our street had its name on a sign? Not one. Don’t ask me how we can have lived here and not noticed ourselves – I have no idea.

On the local council’s website we read that there is an edict that all streets shall be named. So we send off our request for a street sign, and receive back a slightly surprised reply from a council official who has been out to have a look and can confirm for us (in case we were in any doubt) that indeed our street does not appear to have a sign, so he will order one from the sign company, and as there are buildings there on the corner, the street sign will have to go on their wall. So far so good. Only then he says they will be sending us the street sign.

I have a feeling we are about to uncover a bit of street history. There is, no doubt, a reason why this hasn’t happened before. Perhaps the owner of the building at the end doesn’t want to have the sign? After all, he doesn’t need it, as his building is facing another street which already has a (different) street sign.

It makes you wonder though. It’s as if we live in an arctic variation of the Bermuda Triangle, where ships – or in our case, guests – disappear without trace. Or maybe they too are working undercover.