You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy…

This title serves a dual purpose. Country, literally, and countryside. For my fellow urbanites, countryside is where the green stuff grows, animals live and as if by magic things you can eat and drink appear in your local Megatron supermarket or local “top-up shop”

Many find it fascinating and interesting to learn that I was born and raised in Norway. Especially as I am not 6’3’’ and definitely not blond! I guess I look more “European” if there is such a type. Mid country, mountain village boy in a society where the nation carries a joint burden in proving that Norway/Norwegians are the best AT EVERYTHING or is the raison d’etre for someone or something.  There’s a new American president?  Ah well, the great great great great grandmother originally emigrated from a small fishing village in Vestlandet and settled in Minnesota, of course the President was destined to become the President, practically Norwegian!!!  I kid you not: Presidents or soap stars, Oscar winners or literary or scientific geniuses, journalists WILL find a connection to the Motherland. And why not? You need something to put in the newspaper, no? Especially in a country where practically everybody reads a paper and per capita hardly beaten by any other country in the world for readership.  So, where was I, oh yes, mountain village idiot of sorts.  Idiot I guess because I didn’t fit in, didn’t feel I fit in and ultimately DIDN’T want to fit in (That was the Idiot part I guess) The determination to get out was immense and by the age of 12 or so just knew that country life was not going to be for me. I was getting out of the countryside and if for a while before settling in somewhere suitably urban like Oslo, I could live abroad, even better!

The need to leave was very strange in a way, as I had a future of sorts mapped out for me, if I’d wanted it. I was brought up in a family business and learnt very early on that work, and hard work, is the key to most things. This part I didn’t mind at all. Well not too much. From the age of 10-12 I was stocking shelves in the garage or filling petrol and cleaning car windscreens out on the forecourt. As I got older (12-13) I moved on to cleaning holiday chalets and flipping burgers, serving customers, stock control, receipting and rotation and put-away. I remember with great joy the first computerised tills where I got to be trained by the supplier on how to program up to 999 products with a unique code (alas no barcodes or scanners yet). A carton of milk, 211 <ENTER>; 2 kroner or whatever would PING! up on the calculator looking display. It was magic, the excitement palpable!  Now all that was left was to teach and train a bunch of grown-ups how to use the darn thing. A vacant office became “Training Central” with a variety of goods and a stream of people coming in over days and weeks for their chance to “play shop” before we installed the new wonders in the shop and ready to “Go Live”. Of course in those days I didn’t know what “Go Live” really was and how scary THAT could be. These were fun and exciting times. An age later now in an IT career “Go Live” suddenly meant something a bit more serious where a bad one could be career ending NOT something automatically exciting and new and career enhancing.

Anyway I digress. So why the need and urge to move on at such an early age instead of remaining at the heart of a (sometimes) booming family business? Well, if my father were still alive he would probably sue me; let’s just say family life was complicated, my father was complicated and rather than stepping into a ready made job and career I needed to achieve something off my own back. More on that another time.

So what’s the point of the headline do I hear you say?

Well, the other day I was out walking trying to shed those final one or two excessive pounds when I approach (at speed and NOT really paying attention), a skip with a couple of sandbags lying on the pavement next to it, THIS country boy exclaims to himself: “OMG! There’s a dead cow on the road!”


You can take the boy out of the country, but his gut reaction 30 years later is STILL that there COULD be dead cows in the street……


One thought on “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy…

  1. You might like this poem I wrote in honour of all things Nordic!

    I live in the UK, which I’ve no wish to demean,
    We have the BBC, Winston Churchill and the Queen,
    It’s just all of my life, I’ve had the long-standing sensation,
    I should be from elsewhere – I’m coming out as “trans-nation”!
    I’ve always thought that in fact I should have been born,
    In that magical land of Benny and Bjørn,
    I just can’t get the hankering out of my cranium,
    That, oh, I wish that I were born Scandinavian…

    Don’t mind whether I’m a Swede, a Dane or a Finn,
    I’d even be Icelandic too in a pinch,
    I wish I were part of those perfect societies,
    (Anders Breivik’s the only exception that I see),
    But still stats don’t lie, and it’s clear to everyone,
    Their Social Services / public transport are second to none,
    So you can keep the sunny Mediterranean,
    Man, how I wish that I were Scandinavian…

    More Aryan than the Germans, but much more laidback,
    So liberal and enlightened (though 50% tax…),
    They are eco-friendly, all into their biking,
    Peace-loving, though they’re descended from Vikings,
    I’d go to the sauna, beat fellow patrons with twigs,
    Crack open a Carlsberg and then take a swig,
    Whether I lived in Oslo, Stockholm or Copenhagen,
    Boy, how I wish that I were Scandinavian…

    Their brooding Nordic drama noir is a true cut above,
    Borgen, Bridge, The Killing, “Don’t Wipe Tears without Gloves”,
    I’d drink coffee with Birgitte Nyborg (that’s if she had the time),
    Saga Nøren and Martin when they’re not fighting crime,
    Kaspar Juul and Katrine Fønsmark I’d hang out with too,
    Plus Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo),
    No, I don’t want to be French, Italian, or Ukrainian,
    But, oh, how I wish that I were Scandinavian…

    I’d listen to Abba and learn how to ski,
    And visit the real Father Christmas with glee,
    I’d dine on gravlax, reindeer steak, meatballs from Ikea,
    I’d even try lutefisk (though I can’t stand the idea…),
    I’d visit the Norwegian fjords and see the Northern lights,
    I’d even put up with short days and long nights,
    I realise that the darkness would feel quite subterranean,
    Still, damn, how I wish that I were Scandinavian…

    I’d read fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson
    And live by the concept of Swedish lagom,
    I’d learn all their weird symbols, say tak, hej, skol and jo,
    Visit Gothenburg, Helsinksi, Legoland, Malmö,
    I by no means wish my own country to denigrate,
    But I’m sure that being Nordic would be simply great,
    And if Earth was observed by a space ship of aliens,
    They’d also say, man, we wish we were Scandinavian…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s