Tuesday, 14 June 2016

You won't BELIEVE this blog post about Oslo!

A couple of months ago, I told you about a trip I made to Cape Town to film a Swiss insurance commercial. A week or two ago, I had the pleasure of going to Oslo, tasked with selling insurance (for a different company) to Norwegians. About ten years ago I went to Rotterdam to make a Dutch insurance commercial. So these days, when I lie awake in bed at night one question rattles around my skull, tormenting me into the early hours - 'What is it about my face that makes mainland Western Europeans want to buy insurance?'.

Is it my bloated cheeks that makes them think of their own inevitable deaths and the need to ensure their families are protected? Is it my greasy nose that puts them in mind of the small time criminal who will burgle their house? Is it my enormous forehead that reminds them of the twin towers and that an unthinkable tragedy can strike at any time? Whatever it is, I am happy to exploit my features in exchange for disappointingly low fees and short trips to cities I am yet to visit.  

Oslo! What is the one thing people say to you before travelling to Norway? Do they mention the beauty of the landscape? The Fjords? The utopian Scandi-socialist society? No. They tell you that it costs £8 for a pint. This is the one piece of information all Brits have to hand about virtually every country in the world. Open your window now and shout at the first passerby you see - 'How much does a pint cost in Prague?' and watch them confidently shout back 'somewhere between 90p and £1.20'. Now ask them to name one Czech President, past or present. They've gone haven't they?

£8 though. £8! My technique was to imagine that each time I bought a drink, I was buying a round for me and a tight mate who never returned the favour. Still. £8! For £8.99 you can buy the complete works of Norway's greatest writer Henrik Ibsen. For £8 you can buy a pint  (actually, thanks to the metric system just under a pint) of pilsner and then half an hour later watch that £8 leave your body in the form of piss. I appreciate that if you're not blessed with the right kind of genitals (penis, balls) this is more difficult but it is my understanding that it is possible.

I expect you're hoping for an insight into Oslo that goes beyond alcohol pricing. Filming the commercial took three full days (Norwegians are nothing if not thorough in their insurance advertising) so I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to explore. I can tell you that Oslo is a pretty city that hints at a far greater beauty once you leave it and head into the rest of Norway. It was like winning a competition to meet a One Direction member and getting Niall. Sure, he's attractive, but he's no Zayn.

Oslo has an impressive opera house, a viking museum, some nice parks and for a city of it's size what seems like a surplus of TGI Fridays. Overlooking the city is a giant ski jump. This is what I chose to visit on my day off. It seemed like something one should do in Scandinavia. Holmenkollbakken (and yes, I did open another tab to check the smelling) can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city and has a capacity of 70,000 spectators. This suggests that sometimes over 10% of the population of Oslo are inclined to go and watch people put themselves at the mercy of gravity in the name of sport. And why not?

It being summer, there was no snow and henceforth no ski jumping. There were plenty of visitors though. Many, like me, chose to have a look around the ski museum there. I wonder if, when looking at glass cabinets stacked with skis from 1871, 1895, 1910, 1922, 1927 and 'oh, look! 1931!', any of them had my overwhelming thought - 'I do not give a fuck about any of this'. What I wanted to do was get in the lift and head straight to the top of the ski jump and after an hour of queueing, that's exactly what I did. I'm pleased to report the view did not disappoint. I did the only thing I could think of to do when looking down over a city I would most likely never visit again - stand there for roughly 2 and a half minutes, take a picture and then get back in the lift downwards. 

So, unfortunately the length of my stay means I'm only able to offer you a snapshot of Oslo. Although if you're depending on this blog for all your information on the world's capitols I'd think about looking into some other sources. I've always been curious about what it is about Scandinavian countries that makes them top all the happiness, health and education rankings but I didn't have the time nor intelligence to work it out. The simple answer we're told is democratic socialism but there has to be more to it than that. Surely? Because if that's true then the rest of the world is missing a trick. I have to say the houses looked lovely and the people looked healthy. There has to be something darker beneath the surface. There just has to be. Look at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's face of late. There's a man who's seen some horror in his life. And I mean, seriously, £8 a pint!


  1. Funny post. Just playing on my mind though, did you intentionally mis-spell 'spelling' as 'smelling' in paragraph 6?

  2. That was not intentional. I am now tempted to leave it at it is.