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……