Historically, pretty much everything in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) is, in comparison to most of Europe, outrageously expensive – alcohol especially – the government applies punitive taxes to alcohol in a bid to stem a national drink problem.
But there’s also a sort of finger-wagging undertone which manifests itself in various inconveniences, the first of which I encountered last Saturday when I popped into the supermarket to get a well-deserved beer at the end of my 12-hour shift – 8.00pm. ‘Sorry Sir, we can’t sell alcohol after 6 o’clock on Saturdays’. I went back to the hotel and had not much more than a half pint glass of cold frothy stuff – £7.80.
I thought I’d beat the system the following Saturday by buying a couple of bottles on the way to work. ‘Sorry Sir, no alcohol sales before 8 o’clock’ (and you’ll be out of luck tomorrow – Sunday – as well chum). On Sunday evening, the hotel bar was closed and I asked the hotel receptionist why. ‘Don’t worry’, she said and with that, she disappeared behind a curtain (?) and came back with a small glass of lager (an eye-watering £8.00).
I’m no great drinker as my friends will attest but, when you’re deprived of a simple pleasure, it suddenly becomes a mission to get what you think you deserve at (almost) any price – which could be the start of a problem?
I’d taken a couple of panoramas of the dock when it suddenly occurred to me to take a vertical panorama – I nearly fell over backwards but it would be a useful technique when trying to capture a fabulous ceiling in an Italian church – I must remember that when I’m next in Naples.
During a break, when the cable we were magnetising was being tested on board the Flintstone, I ambled over to the car park to give a hand getting this Ford going (informed sources have since corrected me; it’s a Dodge). I’d noticed that it had been a more or less a static fixture over the last couple of weeks and was wondering if it actually ran.
Anyway, chap had the bonnet up but didn’t have any tools to check if he had sparks and fuel. By the time I’d got back with a screwdriver and spanners, the ambulance was hitched to a Transit and was being towed around the yard. That did the trick.
1943 apparently and in very usable condition – it sounded fine and no smoke from the exhaust as it sped away from the dock.
In idle moments, there were other activities to watch – these Leviathans trundled up and down the dock throughout the day and I remember them from my first trip to Drammen when we loaded the Olympic Commander. And, other than the cranes, I don’t, from that first trip, remember much at all except being huddled in a container on deck for a week of very cold and wet night shifts.
And when you’ve read enough books, watched enough films and twiddled your thumbs to a stop, there’s always the rain to photograph – that’s art, that is.
At the end of our stint in Drammen, we got the train back to the airport. Scandinavian trains are on time – to the second – and this one, the Airport Express, very comfortable.
There was some thought-provoking public art at the airport; perhaps a warning to those who circumvent the rules and reg’s?