Monday, 30 July 2012

Mrs Whojimaflip's Norwegian Escapades 1969: 1. Flight To Bergen; Delays, Lager and Randy Youths

I had a great friend who was 99 when she died and was a pillar of society in the North East. She was a great character and one of the reasons we got on so well, was because of our shared love of travelling to lesser known places around the world. We also shared an interest, some would say verging on the frenetic, in archiving the life and times we both lived in. She had double the number of scrapbooks as I did.

She loved her community and the closeness of it. She loved cleanliness. She loved straight talking and humour. She loved the past, the present and the furure. She believed in wasting nothing. Her garden was full of old jamjars, yoghurt pots and her old nylons, filled with human hair from the local barbers, which were hung on the chain link fence to frighten the deer away (deer don't like the smell of humans, you know and who can blame them). Every inch of her house was made by her. The furniture, the lace tablecloths, the painted china, the curtains. 

It was the antithesis of our modern day, throw-away everything life.

When she died she kindly left me some of her travel scrapbooks. They are a scream. She got into all sorts of scrapes. So I thought I would pass on some of her tales. I have given her the name of Mrs Whojimaflip. It is not her real name, but somehow it is appropriate.

One of her books was about Norway.

I knew little about Norway, having never been there. Like everyone I knew it from the list of stereotypes people used to describe the place - the Land of the Midnight Sun; Roald Amundsen and the South Pole; Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki; Edvard Munch and The Scream; Henrik Ibsen and Hedda Gabler Edvard Grieg and Peer Gynt; Quisling; The Heroes of Telemark; Morten Harket and A-ha; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jo Nesbo ..... er .... and that's about it, apart from the fact that it had a reputation for being expensive.

But Norway was a popular holiday destination from the North East. There had always been close ties between the two places.  Newcastle was twinned with Bergen, Norway donated a Christmas tree every year and King Harald V was the recipient of the Honorary Freedom of Newcastle. Several holidaymakers were  all set for a two week trip to see the fjords. One of them was Mrs Whojimaflip. Her trip started on a misty and drizzly August day . . . . . . . .

'Arrived at the airport. Got there far too early, one hour before the flight. As we sat having a coffee, the speaker announced that the plane hadn't even left Bergen and there was a two hour delay. But  B.K.S gave us a £2 voucher to spend on the aeroplane. It was when I was at the toilet that they called the flight. We stood in a long queue for the customs, but as there was nobody there, we walked straight through, out of the building and onto the plane.

'What are you doing here?' the Steward asked us. 'We are not ready yet.' 

My friend was most embarrassed. 

When we got to Bergen we took the bus to our hotel - the Rosenkrantz. It was a modern hotel but not understanding pipes and showers etc, I turned a switch by mistake which heated the whole bathroom, all night. By morning it was like an oven and the Manager had to come and clear the smoke and sparks which were coming out the bathroom.

Went for walk to the shops but we couldn't understand the concierge's map and it took us three hours to find them. Came back. Watched an American Western called Branded. Had some lager. Felt light, so took it to bed. Start drifting off ... but hear a noise at the door. It is only young boys trying to get into my bedroom ... for drinks I might add. I am in my mid 60's.'  

Those were the days to travel by plane. How easy it was, being able to wander anywhere around the airport and have all the time in the world. The last time I went to an airport, I watched as uniformed staff of a low cost airline chased passengers who were late up the travelator with sticks, prodding them and shouting 'Come on, get a move on,' every so often.

Though it was at the end of the 1960's when the world was going through a time of massive change, there was still a certain innocence to life. Mrs Whojimaflip led the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment