A Night in Oslo1 Comment
They were both really going for it. They were eating each others faces without piercing each others flesh. I was staring with Elsa and we couldn’t work out what their arms were doing. Where they getting each other off in the middle of this bar? Is this how things were done in Oslo? I had heard stories of two lesbians doing this in a club in Belfast. The bouncers all stood around watching and smiling. I heard about two gentleman showing love for each other in a bar in London. They were asked to leave which led to a boycott of the pub. Same sex couples then arranged to go back one afternoon and start kissing. A kissing protest kind of thing. This however was so incredibly aggressive. At one point the woman tried to stop. The guy wasn’t so keen. The woman got back into it before they both stopped and then just sat looking at the floor.
Elsa decided it was time to leave. She was the singer who was sampled by the DJ that was performing in the club tonight. It was 2am. I had been up since 7am and in between I had been carrying a sack of heavy film equipment all over the Norwegian capital. I was staying with Calixte. He was releasing music by DJ Earl through his label, Electropix. Elsa left and I sat and waited for the night to come to an end. At around 3:27am with one eye closed I asked a bar man when this night was going to end. “After this track” he said just as the lights came on and people began to gather their shit. I sat on a sofa and waited as Calixte was congratulated on a great party and Earl was praised for a great mix. Two young Swedish men sat down beside me to finish their drinks. They asked me something and I explained I couldn’t speak Swedish and that I was sorry. This alienated one of the gentlemen as he couldn’t speak English. His drunk friend couldn’t give fuck. He began telling me about problems in Sweden and how a Television persona referred to a mixed race celebrity as a “Cafe-Latte”. He felt that Political correctness had gone too far. He expressed his love of free speech in the West and blamed high levels of crime on immigration. He repeated to me that he wasn’t a racist and then he coherently spat about his dislike for Muslims.
Within half an hour we were in a kebab shop. Earl, the DJ, and Calixte wanted to get something to eat. Since they ordered, I ordered. I got a falafel wrap. I was incredibly angry with the way it was prepared. The idiot filled up the pitta with all the salad and then added the spicy sauce. I hadn’t seen the falafel be added and assumed he had forgotten until he then set the three pieces of falafel on top of the sauce. Perhaps I should mention that when we entered the shop Calixte asked me what I would like. I said,
“Calixte, I will have a falafel wrap.”
“That sounds good. I will get one as well.”
He took the liberty of ordering the same for Earl and so requested three falafel wraps. The man behind the counter then said,
“You know falafel is a vegetarian option?”.
Was it a statement? Was it a question? What a complete dickhead. It reminded me of a job I used to have. Every fortnight there would be a buffet in the office and I would help serve it. The first time I did it I came home and cried. From then on I would dress up as a chef every fortnight in order to feel like it was a theatre production and it wasn’t real. There was always a vegetarian option and being a human that detests assumption I would always ask “Would you like the meat lasagne or the vegetarian lasagne?”. The clients would then smirk or sometimes laugh and reply with something like “None of that vegetarian rubbish. Give me some real food”. The said client would then turn to his (it was never a female that made such statements) side and look at his co-worker who would have a look of complete disbelief that I had even asked. He would then look at me even though it wasn’t his turn and say, “Meat.” On another occasion I was walking through Liverpool Street station in London at around midnight. I was hungry and went over to a baguette shop. I couldn’t decide between an Italian baguette which consisted of mozzarella, tomato and pesto or a BBQ chicken option.
“What would you recommend sir?” I enquired. “Are you a vegetarian?”, “No”. “Then go for meat”. I threw my money on the ground and left the station. At this point in the kebab shop I wanted to throw the meal on the floor and scream. I have tried to work out what could possibly be the benefit of putting the falafel on top of the sauce rather than the sauce over the falafel. I was incredibly angry.
We sat down at a small table and began eating our kebabs. Earl ate his in a traditional fashion. Calixte despite being half asleep ate his with a great deal of dignity and elegance. I ate mine like a pig. I wasn’t hungry but I was so upset with what I was doing that I tried to eat my kebab as fast as possible. It is an undesirable trait of mine. I like to think I got it from my Grandfather. Sometimes he would cut into a pie and it would be solid blue. My loving Grandmother didn’t believe in “Best Before” or “Out of Date” nonsense. Being a man of dignity and respect my Grandfather ate the pie and thanked his wife who he adored and from whose death he never quite recovered. Maybe that’s not a great comparison after all.
It started to snow very gently outside the kebab shop. It was around -3 degrees and the whole city was covered in snow. It was the deepest snow I had ever been in. Around shin height. I said to Calixte that we should go as it was 4:30am and I had to get up in three hours. He had begun to fall asleep and said, “It’s snowing outside man. Let’s just chill for half an hour.” He fell asleep and I sat looking at the table in front of me thinking that no matter what, I would not sleep until I was on the plane home.
At around 4:55am we arrived at the train station. Hoping for a cigarette but out of money we looked up at the train timetable as an alternative. The next train wasn’t until 6:17am. “Why don’t we get a bus?” I asked. “Buses are strange” was the reply. “Let’s just sit and wait it out”. It was a strange situation. There were no buses leaving for anywhere for an hour or two and yet the station was open. It was a kind of shopping centre / train station with pockets of people all around the place intoxicated in varying degrees and on different substances. We went over to the seating area which had around 20 seats per line and about 6 lines. Each row of twenty sat opposite another row of twenty. I sat on the same side as Calixte and Earl lay across three seats opposite us.
As I was sat down in the plastic chair, supplied by the Norwegian government for passing time, I was entering an unusual frame of mind. I was exhausted but the concept of sleeping had left me. My intentions were to stare at the floor for ninety minutes and clear my mind. I had heard stories of Van Morrison having out of body experiences. I had even heard about Liam Gallagher having them. I wouldn’t call this scenario an out of body experience but I started to sense that I was acting in a film. A one shot, ninety minute, avant-garde film based in this seating area in a Norwegian train station. I have therefore decided that it is not totally inappropriate to detail the next part of this story in script form.
Int. Oslo Train Station. Early Morning
I sat down. Calixte was asleep whilst in the process of copying my action. Earl sat opposite me and lay down across three chairs. There was the obligatory passed out gentleman sleeping across a row of chairs on the other side of the sitting area. He was snoring like an Ox.
SFX : A gentle snore that raises and lowers as the story dictates
This noise would continue until we left the area 90 minutes later. He wouldn’t move. It was the same rate and melody throughout my time in his company. Two Norwegian girls sat a few seats up on my left. They were both completely drunk and had been crying. One lay on the others lap and didn’t participate at all until the end when she sat up. Her friend, who she was lying on, possibly had a learning difficulty. In the distance some lady, who was physically fit and between 20 and 30, was holding her mobile phone to her ear but on speaker as some ringtone along the lines of “Crazy Frog” was playing. She used her other arm to hold a can of Blackthorn cider as she performed for people. She was fully clothed and not being outrageous but she was turning to people, bending over a little while shaking her ass. She would thrust her hips forward towards people as well. Her style of performance was strange. She was fully aware of what she was doing and who was watching yet she offered no recognition to their gaze. At this point two fellows came over and sat in the sitting area. One went straight for the Norwegian girl with the friend on her lap.
They started speaking.
“Why have you been crying? I seen you crying.”
His friend started talking to Earl. Earlier Earl had explained to me that due to the area he grew up in he was always aware of who was around him and any potential trouble. The gentleman who we will call “Drunk 1″ was saying to him that if he lay across three seats then he would be thrown out by security. He was saying it so quickly though and in such a long winded way that Earl had no idea what he meant. Still in a phase of contemplation I just listened and looked at the ground. Eventually I threw a look to Earl which he returned. I literally bit my lip as the cloud lifted over me and I accepted my role in whatever was going to develop in this new environment. Seeing me vibrate with inhaled laughter “Drunk 1″ turned his attention to me.
“Where are you from?”
I replied in the strongest Northern Irish accent I could muster,
“Nnnn Iiii……Northern Ireland”.
He actually seemed a little scared or thats how I interpreted it. He looked at the ground for a while. The snoring picked up and I heard “Drunk 2″ ask the Norwegen girl out for a cigarette. She preceded to tell her comatose friend, who may as well have been an alien, that she would be right back. “Drunk 1″ asked me for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t smoke. He came right over into my face and told me where he was from and how he was about “one love” and peace. I was prepared for a smack in the face and felt as if it would have no effect on me and that then I would have no fear in hitting the gentleman. He then joined up with Drunk 2 and the Norwegian girl who maybe had a problem and they went outside. I had a horrible image of a disgusting threesome. For the record, I have never found myself in a fight. I don’t know how or why that is the case. I punched a friend once and the connection was so bad i think he fell on the ground as a gesture.
Snoring reached an unhealthy peak. Earl sat up again and looked around. Calixte neck kept rocking as he continued to sleep. Like one of those dogs in the back of a car. The movements your neck goes through in that scenario is pretty dangerous. I am sure people have started to nod of on the way home before and actually broken their neck.
While those 3 where doing God-knows-what a small plump gentleman from Pakistan came in and gently threw himself into a chair opposite the comatose girl. He was wearing a tie, a hat and had a smile on his face. The three drunk lovers re-entered just in time for him to watch. Instantly I was enjoying the entry of this new character into the seating area. He is one of those older men who are totally comfortable and relaxed. I got the impression that even if someone gave him a beating he would be having a laugh and saying something funny moment after. Albeit with a horrendously swollen eye and ripped shirt.
The lovers sat down in the same place each of them sat before. The Pakistani man eyes lit up when he saw the women. He began asking me to look at the women. Drunk 1 was basically finished with his cameo and was just waiting for Drunk 2. The drunk in question had his arm around the back of the Norwegian woman. Her friend was’t welcomed back onto her lap and was now resting her head on a plastic chair. The girl turned to the drunk that was trying his luck and said,
“I like you but not in that way….You understand…Are you alright with that?…I like you but not like that….please take your arm off me.”
Drunk 2 surprisingly then stood up and walked off. ”What about their friendship?” I thought.
Drunk 1 fucked off with him. I was so happy with how this was all going. The morons were gone and had been replaced by a pleasantly drunk and plump Pakistani man. As I looked at this new character a horrible noise began creeping closer and closer towards my ear. It started to form some kind of beat and then a can of blackthorn came into my vision.
He said it with much pleasure and plenty of sexual undertone. It was the dancing lady, still with her phone to her ear. She bent over and thrust her ass back and forth opposite me.
“Oh Jesus Christ”
I took a quick glance then looked at the floor.
“Look at her man. Jesus Christ…”
The man was speaking to me but the direction of his gaze was never in doubt.
“The Female body is a blessing from God”.
I started laughing loudly at how absurd the whole situation was. Calixte woke up, Earl removed the hood that was covering face, took note and then returned to his previous position. Calixte was chuckling and basically back to sleep before even attempting it. My laughter blanked out the ringtone as the lady straightened up and began watching herself in the reflection of a glass door as she shook her ass
“Look at yourself…you like that….Yeah….Jesus”
As he watched he finally unlocked his hands that had sit so nicely interlinked on his lap. He now leant forward with one hand one his knee and looked at her.
“You like looking at yourself”. ”Look at her man”.
He directed towards me.
“Your married? Once a man marries he is wasted.Your not married man? How long have you been married?”
“If you had said 1 year I believe you. 1 year is fun but if you married 3 years I would see it in your face. Your not married man.”
He turned his attention back to the dancer,
“Jesus Christ girl.”
The girl stopped and sat down beside the Pakistani gentleman as she looked at her phone. The ringtone was finally gone. Maybe that is what she was trying to fix?
When was the last time you had sex?
The lady seemed oblivious to the question and the man but his smile didn’t pause for a moment.
When was the last time you had sex? Dont be embarrassed. This is a modern society. You are a modern woman. You know what I am saying.
The drunk Norwegian woman looked at me and asked how long I was married. When I kept up the lie she said that she was happy for me. Although I had said it to a few different people in her company she still didn’t know where I was from. I dropped the Northern and just said Ireland. She still looked at me as if I had two heads. Maybe there really was something wrong with her or maybe my accent was the problem. “Beside England” I clarified. She smiled and it seemed true that not all people look better when they smile. That is very harsh. Anyway she told me how she would like to like to live in England for a year just to see what it was like. I started to feel depressed as I thought that she never would leave Norway. What do I know about it though?
Thinking back now my memory of what happened next seems to have faded. I don’t how long past before Calixte woke from his slumber, Earl pulled back his hood and we decided to go to the platform and wait for the train in the hope it would arrive early. Before that happened the Pakistani Man asked me what I was holding. I checked what he was referring to and told him it was a tripod. He asked to see it. This man was responsible for taking me from a dark place to a contented and lighter place so I obliged and took it over to him. I pulled the legs out and replied that it was a tripod. He asked the Drunk Norwegian to wake her alien friend pose for a photograph. I’ll be honest and admit I felt uncomfortable. What the hell did this guy want with a photograph of slightly wrong drunk girl and her alien friend who hadn’t opened her eyes for hours. Bizarrely the alien was woken up and Pakistani man started looking in his bag. He pulled out a tiny digital camera. He started trying to balance it on the tripod which required a clip even bigger than his camera. I was smiling at how silly the mans attempt was. He then looked at me with a knowing smile and laughed. He moved on his chair and revealed that he had his own tripod. We both laughed. My two allies where ready to go and walked to the platform.
I picked up my bags and started to follow them. As I was leaving I decided then man needed to know the truth. I told him that I wasn’t married and that he was right. He smiled and what ever he was saying was blanked out by his simultaneous laughter. He tried to stop me and say something else but the moment had gone and I left and caught up with the other guys out on the platform. It was freezing and the train wasn’t there. We couldn’t have been on the platform anymore than 90 seconds when we decided to go back to the seating area. Eveyone of that characters had vanished. Not one of them remained. The snoring sound track had gone. The whole station seemed to accept it was a new day and shops started opening. We sat for five minutes, heard the train coming in and walked back down the steps. As we approached the platform the Pakistani Man was chatting to a worker from the station. They were standing close together. The Lady had her back to us and it wasn’t until we had nearly passed her that I noticed she was talking to the man of the evening. He was smiling and had his tripod in his hand.
We got on the train. It left. My blinks become longer and more heavy. I drifted off and dreamt of arriving home to my girlfriend.