If you’ve read about Peter Skyllberg, who claims to have survived in his car for two months after it was buried in snow in northern Sweden, a couple of things have probably crossed your mind. Number one being: 'The man's a damn liar.' What the hell does he mean he survived for two months in a car, at 30 degrees below zero? Naturally, this leads you onto a second question: What did he actually do for those two months?
Using my natural affinity for Swedes (full disclosure: I have blond hair) and a couple of pictures of the inside of the car helpfully provided by the internet, I have been able to put together a comprehensive breakdown of what Skyllberg did for all that time – and what you should consider doing if you ever find yourself in the same situation.
Peter Skyllberg looked at his breath in the air.
He tries to make it into a smoke ring. He tries to fill the whole of the car with his breath. He tries to remember why it is your breath can be seen in cold conditions. 'What kind of science is that?' he must be thinking. 'Is it biology? Physics? Surely it’s not chemistry.' He regrets never having studied science properly. Secretly, he hopes his breath will freeze into an icicle. Peter Skyllberg raced himself around his car.
He finds a stopwatch with which to time his efforts. He makes a competition of it. He hits his head on the filthy car windscreen. He blacks out for a while. He is visited in visions by Little Richard, dressed as some snow. The snow then drives away in a classic Saab. Peter Skyllberg marvelled at how thin he’d become.
He remembers watching Christian Bale in The Machinist, and thinks, 'Hey, I probably look a bit like that now.' He tries to look at his stomach in the car mirror. He can't see shit. He strokes his ribs. He comes up with names for each of his ribs. He names them after the four great Saab automobiles of his youth.
Peter Skyllberg drew up a menu for his first meal out.
And then quickly realises that his stomach has shrunk so much he probably won't be able to eat anything more than a slice of bread, and that if he does eat anything more than that, he’ll probably throw up or die. Once again, he is moved to curse the lack of reliable scientific and biological knowledge stored away in his brain. Peter Skyllberg listened to the radio.
The radio breaks. He tries to fix the radio. The radio comes back on, but the tape jammed in the deck plays nothing but Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”. At first, singing the song with the two headrests as backing singers is fun. Then “Tutti Frutti” slowly inhabits Skyllberg. Tutti. Frutti. Tutti Frutti, au rutti; too-tay, too-tay… Has the snow moved? It seems like it’s closing in. I got a gal named Daisy. The radio starts to look like Little Richard. Skyllberg destroys the radio to ward off insanity. Insanity isn't warded off. Peter Skyllberg ate lots of sweets.
An oddly fortuitous number of sweets are found in the car. He slowly eats all the sweets. He spreads the wrappers round the car. The potential for the creation of sweet wrapper art is not overlooked, it's just not taken up. He finds ways of turning the sweets into new meals. Twinkie + fluff = breakfast. Twinkie + car seat padding = lunch. He's too weak to eat dinner.
Peter Skyllberg hibernated.
Wrapped up in a sleeping bag, he drifts into non-time specific sleep. He has endless dreams about waking up in a buried car. He wakes up, and can't distinguish dreams from reality. He wonders how bears do it. He regrets lack of zoological knowledge. He resolves to spend time with bears and learn their ways. Peter Skyllberg planned a gruelling first-person account of his time in the car.
He works on prospective titles: Snow Swede: The Storm Inside My Saab. Snowbound and Down. The Unceasing Mental Torment Raging in My Mind. How to Avoid Going Insane When You’re Trapped in a Car (I Did Not Avoid Going Insane). Peter Skyllberg thought of the popular misconception concerning the Inuit and their many words for snow.
He notes that of course, they do not have as many words for snow as people think they do, and that in fact, they hardly have any more than Europeans. He remembers that it was the Sami people of the Arctic who had hundreds of words for snow. Having spent months bemoaning his lack of knowledge, the discovery of this nugget cheers him and, as he turns his head upwards to acknowledge the gift of memory, the diggers begin and he knows his release is upon him…