Notes from Nowhere

laugardagur, september 17, 2005


I travelled through the night, after yesterday's epiphany of a journey. I couldn't sleep. There's a major problem with sleeper trains - they're far too exciting. Having passed up and down the train, to know it, beaming like a kid at all the strangers, I stayed up late rewriting and re- rewriting a piece of work that my editors suggested needed it. Having ditched most of it the first time, the process allowed me to see what the piece was actually about, and I went back, keeping all the main ideas, but slashing away over half the content. Such was my excitement, I had to tell someone. The surly Scandinavian woman serving the buffet did just fine, if she was a little nonplussed.

I used to take the sleeper North with my Mum, to see Auntie Joan in Port Appin, Argylleshire. Maybe it was then that the connection between travel, dream and the North was forged in my imagination. Joan died this year, and I couldn't make it to the funeral, but if I had, I would have liked to have rejoiced in her qualities as a woman, her bracing wildness and yet extremely kind and civilised nature. One thinks of her out in the windy highlands, with her loved and ever faithful dogs Jock and Croachan one moment; back with them by a roaring fire with cream scones, homemade jam and imaginative blends of the most delicate tasting exotic teas the next.

However the connection was forged, it persists. Taking a night train is a Big Dream, you enter a journey in unconsciousness, and awake in a new world, changed and refreshed.

I'm sitting in the bus station, Bodø. I saw it on the map, the end of the line, the first city in the Norwegian Arctic. This is where the plan ends - I haven't thought further than this except to dream. Part of what got me out of the rut of home was Bob egging me on, 'Like, totally Bo-do, dude!', as if the city had been named by Californian surfers. Of course it hadn't, and in fact there's a a slight lilt in the pronunciation, like 'border' (stress on the first syllable) but with a bit more 'oo'. The 'dø' - read 'der' - is almost a neglected afterthought.
I spent the last few hours poring over timetables, asking the tom- boyish girl (amazingly actually caled 'Lasse') at Bodø information office questions of the class 'where- to- go' and 'how-' and 'when- to- get- there', and passing the time with a young Swiss lad ironically wearing a t-shirt emblazoned 'enjoy Capitalism' in the style of the Çóca- čøla logo, a punk and aspiring physicist named Philipp. Maybe there was no irony involved, as he proceeded to raise a 1½ litre bottle of the sticky black liquid to his lips and slug it back.
It was good to compare notes with another Northern pilgrim, though. He's going to head for Narvik, and South through Sweden and Finland, a land route I have been considering myself. For a few minutes I thought I should go to a hamlet I noticed, impressively called 'Å', because it's there, but manage to exercise some self- discipline. Philipp and I laughed about whether it was really that tiny (think Ångstromm).

As we parted, I offered myself as crew, should he ever set sail beyond Lake Constanz, in the Right Direction. We agreed to meet, one day at Nordcapp, Spitzbergen or the Pole itself, or in a hometown, however distant it seems right now.


At 12:54 f.h., Blogger Olivia said...

Sounds lovely, buddy, but there's some concern in the ranks. Do you actually intend to come home? Give us an EAT, there's a love.


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