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Bristol -- London -- Paris -- Bergen -- Oslo -- Paris - Middlesbrough

  Wed 28th November 2018

I got my deposit back from my previous house, The Negative House -- no kitchen, no living room, no heating. Chatting to Helen, my friend in Norway, I rather rashly booked a flight over to see her for a couple of days. She's in a couple of flavours of trouble at the moment, and so I went to hold her hand.

I bought us a 4-bottle box of wine from duty free. Helen is convinced she paid for it, but that would mean my bank statement has been doctored. I had a couple of glasses from it before I went to bed. A few minutes later some friends of hers came round. In Helen's oft-repeated description of them they are "lovely", but I can think of other adjectives for a couple who drank every drop of the wine before leaving.

Next night we went to a bar where I was introduced to the Norwegian cost of drinking. "A glass of red and a pint of bitter? That'll be £21 please sir"; I was later informed by a local that it was an expensive bar even by Norwegian standards. There was an open mic night, a phrase which depresses me in the same way as does "large screen sports" or "rail replacement bus service", and the first act did nothing to disabuse me of that preconception.

Clad in black, failing twice to get her fingers round Fmaj7, (the chord of clunk and thud for the small fingered guitarist) she sang some unintentionally comical dirges of Nordic gloom: "I am a visitor / I stand alone / I am sucked into the fire / I am a visitor / I stand alone." Helen looked at her with understanding and sympathy, but I was wondering if there was a house or techno night going on -- anything where we wouldn't have to look inside ourselves in order to find the cliché within.

It picked up greatly thereafter. I was taken aback by the people who turned to me and said "hej" as an introduction. It's literally just "hej," and then they wait for a response. Once you get used to it, it's a very welcoming feeling, an open-ended question far better than my standard closed opener, of "hello, looby, pleased to meet you," which leads nowhere. I found out about failed marriages, dangerous and well-paid railway jobs, and spoke to someone who was setting up a publishing house who hadn't heard of Knausgård.

We were the last ones in the bar. Me and Helen, and this wide boy who came up to me at the bar and rattled off something in Norwegian. "I'm very sorry," I replied, "I don't speak Norwegian." "Well fuck off then," he said, and I knew we were bound to get on. An hour later, we were being driven at high and possibly drunken speed out to God knows where, to look at his boat. Then we went to his friend's flat where the latter said "you will never have heard guitar played like this before" and played guitar just like I have heard it played a thousand times before; but we will forgive him because he gave us a lift back to Helen's.

This morning, I missed my 6am flight. Helen got in a mood, accusing me of freeloading, forgetting about the box of wine she'd donated to her lovely friends, and flinging a letter I'd written to Wendy's dad onto the floor.

I left her flat, jumped the tram to the airport, and my eldest paid the 277 quid it takes to get to London from Bergen at three hours' notice. "Of course I'll bail you out, you hopeless twat."

8 comments »

8 comments

Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

Helen did not seem to appreciate your willingness to bankrupt your account to assist her in a time of trouble. Clearing out the wine was bad enough, but an OPEN MIC NIGHT?!? She owes you money for that…

Wed 28th November 2018 @ 22:50 You are currently replying to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

She’s under a lot of stress and she’s earning hardly anything at the moment.

And the open mic night was far better than anything I’ve endured in England. They seem to have a bit of quality control in who they let perform, rather than it being a combination of a mental outpatients’ social centre and a place where incompetence on your instrument is no bar to being allowed to inflict your dreary pop covers on other people.

Thu 29th November 2018 @ 10:15 Reply to this comment

Your travel journals are the best. It’d be great if you monitized these. Do you like traveling or do you find it uncomfortable? I like it. My brother has never left the state of Ohio. It’s hard to believe we’re related.

How did you miss your flight?

Thu 29th November 2018 @ 11:56 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I love travelling. I love being in aiports, I love the feeling of being in a suspended time – or rather, out of time. If my numbers came up I’d just keep buying cheap airline tickets, getting past security, and just staying there, eating, drinking, writing and sleeping.

I missed my flight because I can’t work out how to use my posh so-called “smart” phone that I borrowed from work. I thought I’d put an alarm on for 4am but alarm there was none.

Thu 29th November 2018 @ 13:07 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Next time you go to Norway Looby (assuming Helen lets you in/you want to go/the price of drink doesn’t put us both off).. take me with you. I can act as your translator, as I have it on authority of a good friend of mine and native of Chester Le Street that Norwegian is basically very strong Geordie dialect. He didn’t think he spoke a word of it till he got there but then spent a very pleasant weekend conversing in apparently native phrases such as ‘ahm gannin yem noo teh see me bairns’ and ‘a strite five pund for a pint- are yee kiddin noo marra?’. I might have made that second one up- its actually Swedish.

Thu 29th November 2018 @ 22:38 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I can believe you. All English people already know at least a hundred words in Norwegian and what with bits that one picks up from films etc I don’t think it would be that hard tolearn. It’s a pretty language too, friendly and a bit silly sounding.

Helen’s gone worryingly quiet, which I hope doesn’t mean she’s improving her Norwegian in prison.

Fri 30th November 2018 @ 01:19 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Expensive bars are shite!! lol!! somewhere on the lounge i believe there is a tale about our young hero ripping high on lsd while sitting in a posh bar… and oddly enough this reminds me on an old girlfriend who thought she was Kate Pierson from the B-52s and used to drag me around to karaoke bars, where i had a tendency to eat acid and would sit grinning until i couldn’t take it anymore until i’d clandestinely slip out the side door and wander the streets until she found me and drove me home, usually with a quality shag in the back of her car, oh the things we do for lust ;)

and a Norwegian who doesn’t know Knausgaard? that’s akin to a fucking unicorn now innit?

Sun 2nd December 2018 @ 14:50 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Oh I’d love to have sex whilst on acid. I mean sex with someone else :)

Did seem odd, her not knowing about the author K. Perhaps it’s some kind of very specialist house they intend to set up. I had a phone call with her the following day and she was sound and intelligent, which made it even more baffling. There you go. What I will remember most is the fucking 10 quid pints.

Sun 2nd December 2018 @ 18:17 Reply to this comment


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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person


M / 54 / Bristol

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
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Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
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