I am the Herring King, I can do anything

In Swedish my surname just about translates into Silldunge, literally 'herring-copse', which has provided much amusement to my hosts at the Natural History Museum in Stockholm.

Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

This weekend I went to Uppsala, home of Carl von Linne (aka Carolus Linnaeus), the man who invented the binomial classification of living things. Guided by my friend Linda, who conveniently lives in Uppsala, I chased the great man all over town.

The highlight, however, was a visit to his summer house a few miles out of town. In addition to a house with a grass roof, and a sex garden (all to do with the sexual identities of plants, sadly), I saw his outhouse, probably the equivalent of an Englishman retreating to his shed to read the papers, or fix his bicycle, or watch porn.

Linnaeus' summer house, Hammarby, near Uppsala, Sweden.

Anyway, suspended from the ceiling of the outhouse was a model of a strange fish. Apparently, the original fish was all that was left there of Linne's original collections of plants, rocks and animals, and it was such a strange looking beast, Linne didn't believe it was a real animal.

Well, I'm glad to say it was real. And even better, it was called a sillkung, or herring king. The English name for it is the decidedly less interesting oarfish, and the Linnean name for it is Regalecus glesne Ascanius, 1772, but I'm sticking with sillkung.

It's such a bizarre, wonderful creature, that I feel obliged to modify the Swedish version of my surname. I realize that demanding to be the king of herrings is ridiculous, but from now on, I wish to be known as Wilhelm Sillkung.