Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Santa Santa!

I was serving on the car-park in Church last Sunday. On a normal Sunday we can have several hundred cars coming in, and on this particular Sunday we also had a lot of snow. Snow and cars with summer-tires is never a winner so we had a fair bit to do.

Not long ago I was down in London and stayed with a friend. I had a something like a “three-day-beard” when I arrived and I didn’t bother to shave for the rest of that week. -nor did I when I came home. So by now I have cultivated quite a big beard.

White snow was all around and I was wrapped up well in a big winter-coat, thick scarf, gloves, etc. From under my beanie a flush of blonde hair was hanging down to my shoulders and in my face I had a big beard.

After the service my friend Mike Harvie and his wife came walking past on the way to their car. On his arm he was carrying his little baby-girl. Mike and I exchanged a couple of words and he walked on to the car. But the little girl kept staring at me. She stretched out her hand and pointed in my direction and said “dhantehh, dantahh.” We didn’t really understand what she meant and when Mike placed her in the baby-seat she just kept going. “Dantahh, Dantahh!” “Santa, Santa!” Mike exclaimed. She’s calling you “Santa!”

It takes me back some years when they suggested I’d play Santa in the sports-shop I worked in, in Norway. The shop manager thought I’d just scare the kids, but he should see me now! Ha!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recommended reading!

Some friends of mine are traveling around in Asia and are writing a blog while on the journey. I had a lot of fun reading the last post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate and Lemon Cake

I get the odd question about food recipes. I recently wrote one down for one of my friends and thought I’d publish it here. (This is just ripped right out of the mail). Next time I can be like: “Oooh well, just check my link!”

200 gr. butter
200 gr. sugar
200 gr. flour
1 topped teaspoon of baking soda
3 Eggs.
Stir sugar and butter well together so it looks white-ish and the sugar is starting to dissolve (can also use some honey to substitute sugar.) Keep the butter in room temperature for a while so it’s not rock hard.
Stir in eggs in the mix.
Sprinkle mixed flour and baking soda into the mix while stirring to avoid lumps (you don't have to be very careful, just a little.)
3 to 4 tablespoons of cocoa stirred out in water. I used quite a bit of Cognac last time and it was totally not worth it because the cake had practically no taste of it after it was baked. When you stir out raw cocoa-powder you just add a few tablespoons of water at the time, don't pour in too much. I also had one lemon and I squeezed out all the liquid from this to stir into the cocoa.
Usually you would grater in a bit of the outside of a lemon or similar. I just used up the whole damn thing to get more taste into the cake. Not one yellow spot left. But that was on a doubled recipe though.
(You can also break some whole chocolate pieces and stir into the dough to melt when baked if you'd like. I did not do this the last time.)
The recipe usually says 180 degrees Celsius, 25-30 minutes in the oven. But I sometimes keep it in around an hour. (Especially if you substitute some of the sugar with honey).
If you have a long wooden stick like a bamboo skewer or similar you can do a simple test to check if the cake is finished. Stick the stick into the cake and if there's dough left on it when you pull it out it's not done yet. I usually check it after 25-ish minutes and then subsequently as often as I feel I need to. The form needs a layer of butter to cover the inside, and over this you sprinkle white flour to keep the cake from sticking to the form.
For presentation:
-Whipped cream with a few tablespoons of a decent Cognac (or other Brandy). If you have any home made (or even a pinch of bought) vanilla sugar you can put some of that in the cream.
-A selection of berries
-Some good half dark chocolate. Take a whole plate, melt it very slowly in a saucepan (don't burn it!) and add some milk or single cream. The milk keeps it from going stiff again and turns the chocolate into a smooth cream to top the cake with.
Works well with dark coffee roasts and Cognac.

This is how it looks:

Right out of the oven.

Ready to be served.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Soho, Camden and Some Thoughts

Camden. I remembered it more fondly than I found it! Maybe because two crucial things were missing. This time I was not going to a Lenny Kravitz gig, and I did not have my beautiful little sister with me. It might also have been that Soho, Westminster and Piccadilly Circus made such a nice impression yesterday that Camden seemed rather shabby in comparison.

But Camden Markeds were fun! The feeling of walking through these amazing dungeons with all sorts of individual distinctness around you. The food stalls reminded me about Asia. Indeed, some of the food was the same as home in Singapore. I didn't buy anything, but it was refreshing just walking around there.

It's a mad place. A rough underworld of modern witches, punks, various emos and goths; some disillusioned old-timers that may have seen the first hippie-movement; shops with side-by-side displays of crosses hanging both upside down and the right way; loud, shallow and predictable discussions of religion and spiritualism on the street for every by-passer to listen to; the sensation that the smell of that dude's cigarette was "funny," and just general madness! Still it maintains a creative sphere, because you're different if you're not different.

I guess what bugs me is to see things that are run down and poorly maintained. It's a style they say. It's supposed to have its own charm. The sad thing is that people loose sight of the value of building things up from scratch. Anti-establishment is at the complete and utter mercy of establishment for even the faintest hope of its own existence. Money is needed to expansively and passionately create the houses and structures that a sentimental goth, witch or emo prides itself of possessing the ruins of.

Which brings us to the next topic. All these old houses I notice around the whole city. Mostly the 19th century ones, some older, some newer. The money, initiative, engineering, work and purposes they were built with has all gone to the grave ages ago. A modern firm or café finds itself in a place built with a vision. We have no idea if we still keep the vision going or have created a new one along the way. There's nothing wrong or right about it, but it almost gives me a sense of intruding into someone else's territory! Except that those someones are well dead.

We should take pride in national histories for this reason. In line with the teaching of one of my pastors, Paul Scanlon, I believe that society at large grows when people plant trees they won't have the time to enjoy the shade under. If the coming generations won't cherish that shade, the potential it renders sadly remains unused. The emo, goth or anti-establishment hippie priding himself of ruins, rough edges and poor maintenance has more in common with Hitler's architectural theory of "reduced value" than he wishes to understand. It's not worth going there though. If the future is not positive, the past becomes the most glorious and ruins becomes our sentimental escape. Sociologically, children suffer neglect for the same reason. If we only lived in the days of... (insert as apropriate, e.g. Nelson, Churchill, Richard the 3rd) No, we live in greater days! Future generations must be nurtured more than we cherish the dead and the ruins of the past. Taking pride in past victories inspires for the future. Setting them as ultimate and timeless benchmarks holds back the expectancy of development.

(I'm sorry if you think I am throwing out too many topics in a ranting fashion and too swift progression. I had to read Theodore Adorno in Uni and this is my payback on reality!)

Camden was fun and I found the way back to my old favorite restaurant there. Turkish. I paid 5 Pounds for a full (I mean it in a Norwegian quantity) meal with a drink! I was happy! Let alone, the main ingredient was a whole, slow cooked lamb-shank. I think the place is called 'Just Eat.' You should visit!

But guess what? I went back to Soho afterwards. I think I have fallen in love. I like Soho a lot. I walked into a kiosk the other night to buy a pen, and they had sketching pencils of all regular grades! If your 24/7 kiosk expects people at all times of the day to just bump in to get their Daler-Rowney sketching pencils, it's gotta be a good place! And it's less run down and sentimental, and better maintained than Camden.

There's a new high-raised business complex in Soho, not far from one of my favorite bookshops and an Indonesian restaurant. It would make a great place for a studio...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Headphones and Reality

It’s amazing when you walk into a building or hallway with headphones on and the music has reverb on it that has approximately the same length as the natural room you’re in and it feels like the music is being played in the actual room!

God and Religion and Faith and Society and stuff...

I’ve lately found myself frequently in a situation where people ask about my relation to the rules of my faith. I quite like these questions, though I often think they are coming from a sense of misunderstanding of what I believe in. So I thought, why not just make a swift comment here while I’m at it.

I believe in God. Many Christians don’t like to say it that way, they’d rather say they believe in Jesus. I believe in Jesus. I believe Jesus is God. I believe in God.

I have over the last half a decade lived around Asia and Europe away from my native Norway. I have friends of many religions and most of us all agree. We believe in God. I am not a unitarianist and I don’t believe we all believe in the same God. I also believe salvation comes from Jesus Christ and nowhere else. That is what I believe. But confessing we all believe in God creates a bridge of understanding across different religions. Now you’re wondering, what do I want to achieve with this bridge? The answer is simple. We’re supposed to live side by side. When we leave our places of worship we’re all mixed anyway.

I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I believe Jesus brings salvation.

Presented in that order I can have a civilized conversation with friends from any faith. Presented the other way around, although it doesn’t change the statement, I very often find that I can’t. I’d rather try to make the effort of both listening and giving, and presenting it in the most understandable way. I think God appreciates that, cause He made us all to live in peace. I won’t back down on my views, and I’ll allow you the same privilege. But I have no affection (rather a despise) for this post-modern-socialist-or-call-it-what-you-want view that we should all just “shut up” about our faiths. Like that would be a better way to respect others. Bullocks! Some years ago I sat in the lounge of a top-rated Asian hotel with one of the Princes of Saudi-Arabia talking about our faiths. He initiated the topic, and he was the one to first point out the similarities between our faiths. Let me tell you, I have a lot of respect for that! A Muslim Prince can preach to me about our similarities and create a bridge of understanding between us. I love the guy, I must say! And then one comes back home to the West and some schmock who has hardly travelled to the next city tells me that faith is a personal matter best kept to myself, so I can live as peacefully as possible with my Muslim neighbours! If there’s one thing I have discovered that believers of all religions like to hear, it is the sentence “I believe in God!” It creates a bridge between two riverbanks. The only ones who have ever told me to keep silent are prolific non-believers. If you believe that there is nothing to believe in you are in your full right to do so. -And I applaud you for having made the effort to think the matter through and come up with a conclusion you have chosen to believe in! Good! -Don’t let that ever become an excuse to attempt to silence or oppress those who say the opposite: “I believe in God!” That is after all the majority of the world’s population. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist… We all have a concept of God. Not the same concept, but an understanding that there is a Deity beyond us. “I believe in God!”

Very often I get questions about the relationship between religious practices and how I live my life. I’ll try to comment…

A lot of Christians have tag-lines like “I hate religion,” “Christ saves, religion destroys” etc… If you’re a contemporary Christian I’m sure you might have heard something similar, if you’re not a Christian I’m not sure you might have heard it at all. And therein lays the problem. My Mac dictionary says about religion that it is “the belief in and worship of […] a personal God or gods.” With the edit I made, that is very close to the Oxford Dictionary, although I don’t have one at hand as this is being written. Semantically, how can a believer “hate” the belief in God? Linguistics is not at the mercy of Theology, and thank God it won’t be!

However, God is not encapsulated in a set of rules and practices defined over time by a mass of men and women. I love tradition! It is inspiring to learn of the exploits of those generations that walked before me, to worship in their ways and get under their skin. But tradition is not God nether. Following religious rules does not equal to believing in God.

If your uncle is dead, can you philosophize over your current and tangiable relationship to him? No! He’s dead.
If he is alive, can you then? Yes!
Your theory may be:
“I want to make my uncle happy.”
“My uncle loves chocolate.”
“Hence, I will do my best effort to bring my uncle chocolate when I see him, cause I want to make him happy.”

If you lose touch of the underlying appreciation of this close relative you won’t easily commit to the first sentence: “I want to make my uncle happy.” And you wouldn’t care less whether he loves this or that food. Subsequently, you’ll take no steps towards his happiness. If you do chose to increase his happiness while feeling no love for him it will give you nothing and just become an empty action. It could sound something like: “I’ll bring my uncle chocolate cause my mom told me to, but I feel no affection for him.” -He’ll understand what you’re thinking! He’ll get the treat, but your face-expression and everything else you do will give you away and he’ll get no relational joy from your thoughtless gift.

God wants you to put your heart and passion in it! -Whatever it is. He don’t give a rip about gifts and treats if your heart is not in them. He wants dedication, love and worship and not gift to make you feel good so you can go away and pride yourself from having done your duty.

So what is the relation between religious rules and my faith in God? Initially nothing. But because of my faith I may set and adopt a certain set of rules, practices or call them what you like. One such could be: “I believe God has created us all so I’ll try to feed, talk to and generally help this homeless dude I see in town when the opportunity arises.” Whether you make a rule of it is of little importance, but God don’t mind your rules if your hearts in them. “So what if I’m not a believer?” God still loves our generosity, compassion and thoughtfulness non the less!

I believe in God. I believe God is alive. I believe there is no one Greater. I believe He has created us. I believe He is present everywhere. I believe He sees much more than our shortcomings. I believe He is looking for love rather than sin. Sin cannot be used for His will. Love can be used for His will. I believe He is looking out for love instead of sin cause love can benefit all His creation. I believe He won’t generally intervene in creation without us asking Him. I believe that is done because He wants us to have freedom of choice. I don’t believe this is to test us.

I love religion, cause it tells us where we’re coming from. If a personal relationship with God does not exist in a religious mind, religion becomes nothing more important than a recipe in a cookbook. In fact, I’d go for the recipe if it’s yummy! Religion as a field of study is sociological of nature. It is also psychological, philosophical, demographical, political and a whole lot more.

God is not sociological, psychological, philosophical, demographical or political of nature. God is God! My relationship to God is not determined by such factors. And where I discover that I am under influence of such outside factors I will try to get ridd of them!

When you see people getting their lives transformed, getting healed of diseases, shaking off addictions in days or on the spot and starting to live like they one day are gonna die and thus get to shake off the worries of their past, God becomes real. People find gravity and meaning in life. Cause in a fast paced modern consumer culture with endless subcultures with individual forms of social capital Rick Warren says it best of all: “It’s not about you!” Life is not about you. You didn’t create you. So it could never be about you. Hedonism, satanism and selfish consumerism has one thesis in common: “It’s about you!” It’s the total polarity of God!

Don’t get it wrong, God wants you to be happy. He don’t mind you being rich. He don’t mind you owning a company. And you don’t have to drive an old hippie car and wear worn out clothes to make yourself holy for him. He don’t mind you owning things. He created all natural resources. He put you here. He said the world was all for man to administer. He don’t mind you owning things or being in politics. But He does mind how you administer what you have in your possession. Cause remember: “It’s not about you!” If everyone lived according to that principle you’d be well covered in kind generosity from all directions anyway. And if people around you don’t practice this, it is still no excuse to sign out and become self-centered. Not for the sake of the rules of a religion. But God does mind! He is alive. He does mind!

So, am I really that holy? Do I really manage to pull it all off and impress God with my efforts? No! Quite on the contrary, I’m full of failures and quirks. But maybe that makes me see even clearer what I’m aiming for. -The standard I sometimes manage to hold, and sometimes fail drastically in achieving! And yes, I listen to very loud music, play rock, smoke cigars, love Cognac, love fast cars, never go to bed in time, got kicked out of a public fountain in Singapore by the security-guard and have never conformed to anyone if they don’t make sense to me. But what did you expect from a music producer?

I believe in God! I’m happy that my brothers of any religion agree on the same! I believe Jesus is the road to salvation. I’m not perfect. I love God cause I chose to, not because I have to. I hate having only Christian friends, the world is not a box catered for my own comfort. I believe “it’s not about me!” I die on the inside if I don’t get adventure. God created adventure. God is adventure!

And last but not least… I have always been strong-minded and aware of my abilities. But in all my human strength I have never ever gone as far as I go when I pray and dig into the word of God. I have also tried the opposite and know the difference. I know my strengths, but am amazed of where it takes me when God is in control instead of me! And this is the final and ultimate answer to the questions I am often asked. Faith kicks in where philosophy has to let go. Your destructive addiction won’t ask what philosophy you subscribe to, but they flee in the face of a greater power! So when people ask what the relationship between my religion and life is, they often expect it to be completely quantifiable. Can you completely quantify your relationship to your mother? I can’t! God is real. I feel Him. I meet Him where my abilities stop, faith kicks in and supernatural things happen. What supernatural things? God’s nearness, doors that suddenly open, people getting healed from illnesses, friends having their lives transformed in a way the human mind cannot achieve alone and the things that happen to my own mind and abilities. A man without a wife but who wants one will restlessly seek till his want is found. A man without God will restlessly seek almost everywhere without knowing what he is looking for. The amazing Swedish songwriter Rebecka Törnqvist said it best of all some years ago: “You’re raging and restless and oh yes, it shows. If it’s not religious it’s pretty damn close.” Some of the people that most prolifically ask questions and most loudly claim that they have the answers are the most “raging and restless” people I ever meet. If that’s “not religious” I would still say “it’s pretty damn close!” I like that they ask about my “religion,” “faith” or whatever you call it, but they often fail to understand that God is real to me and not a concept from a religious book. I love the religious books! But what would you rather do? -Hang out with your friend Tom, or read a book about him? All faith cannot be quantifiable in human terms, and God is real and does not “pop by” just because you read some philosophy about Him. But He opens the door when you knock!

I believe in God! I believe God is real. I believe He is a person. Not a human-person, but a God-person. I believe He knows how it is to be human, because He came to earth as a human infant, was tempted in all things by the devil, was killed and went to hell, rose by His own divine power cause the devil is infinitely much smaller. I believe He broke the power of everything bad, everything that scares you, everything that keeps you bound to ill habits, everything from hell, everything that makes us feel hopeless, everything that makes you sick in body and mind and everything that is trying to hold you back or down or kill you or rob you of joy! God loves you! Why? Why else would He create you?

I said I was gonna make “a swift comment.” Well… I’m not perfect. Only God is!

Soho at night

Heard through an open car-window in Soho, quarter past midnight.
(Angry, fast-paced, assertive voice into a hand phone):

“No cops!
No cops!
No cops!

Come alone!
Come alone!
Come alone!

I’m in Soho!
(More detailed elaboration of address follows.)

Where the #@%$ are you?

I’m in Soho!"

Yes, indeed! And so am I!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


New chill-out music in the air, just made dinner, red sundown makes amazing sky, looking down on wet street that mirror car lights from high house.

Feels like I am home in Singapore...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Solomon Kane

Solomon Kane, the greatest warrior that ever lived according to his own faithful sergeant. Gave up his claim to life for the lack of purpose and did not even live for the legiance to his own men-the men he once trained, the men he once led. Men who could contribute some of their own character and strength to his very own such. Truly the mark of a man who has given up!-Rediscovered his goal and regained his strength by God and was rewarded. Rewarded with the clarity of his purpose, when he regained life.

Remember how it felt to run?

The movie may have been tacky. But do you remember?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Morning... Sadly!

Vikings riding bareback through the snow, the appointment of a new General, a top-camp in the mountains at 7700 metres! Why did I have to wake up?!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Inception is deception!

Saw Inception and got a few thoughts:

1. Your subconsciousness is not controlled by feelings alone. Any part of your brain is connected to the prefrontal cortex. As much as consciousness is not entirely located there, we can (unlike animals) override various instinct-like behaviour with conscious decission-making. (Commenting on the film's statement that sub-consciousness is entirely controlled by emotions.)
2. Feelings are in part learned from tangible experience and the conscious mind can assess such.
3. Feelings and ideas can be controlled and consciously developed.

But they got these two points right:

1. Guilt will hunt you down (break through your concept of reality) until you release it.
2. Projections of people become pale shadows and will eventually centre themselves towards the projector for better, worse or for error.

What can you learn from it?

1. Release guilt for you and others. You've got only one life to live.
2. God dreams, projects and creates people better than any people can. The creator must be higher than the created to maintain abundant creativity in the created.
3. Confess the problem when it arises, or it (in the film: she) will find you and remind you of what you did and have not yet confessed and put behind.
4. Put complex mazes behind! Your life (children signifies broader: family) must be lived in faith and expectation, not in fear!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things I Read at Night

I had just gone to bed one night and my brain started spinning (as always) and I just had to get back up again and pick this book out of the bookshelf. Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations.’ I had some half-quotes playing in my head, and I just had to read them again. I love this stuff so much! It makes me laugh and it fuels me with energy. I really hope it blesses you! Really! -feel my sharp eyes and listen, I’m not having a laugh with you! Lots of people let this pass them by with a laugh knowing that it was written in the 1770’s. But I am telling you, if you get this under your skin you walk away stronger. If you understand it and act it you will be progressive and responsible and people will say: “I didn’t think they made’em this way any more!” It’s needed more than ever, so wipe the laugh off and only laugh again when freedom tickles your chest from within! Then laugh, fearlessly and lovingly! And if freedom tickles you from the inside when you read this: raise up for you are called to responsibility! We’ll all die. What will you do first?

Political economy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects: first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign. (ISBN: 978-0-679-40654-1, pp. 374)


Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people, and of directing towards the employments most suitable to the interest of society. According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain because the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society. (ISBN: 978-0-679-40654-1, pp. 620)

And thus starts and ends Adam Smith’s 4th book in his famous work ‘The Wealth of Nations.’

To those who wonder; when Mr. Smith says the sovereign is “completely discharged” from the duty of “superintending” the industries, he is not advocating a laissez-faire attitude á la extreme liberalism, then he would not consider the marked-corrective function of taxes in other parts of his work; nor would he advocate free and compulsory primary education at the state’s expense 230 years ago! If you see Smith trough the googles of Marx, Smith is made to look like the devil. If you look at Marx through the googles of Smith, Marx makes little applicable sense and appears rather paranoid! “Money will try to keep you down (or up, accordingly)!” he would say. No Baby, it is not that simple I say! You stand up and take responsibility and utilize the diversity of society to create an extremely creative, balanced and responsible breeding ground for activities that “proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.” Not just the sovereign, Charles the 1st! Not just the people, Marx (though I don’t agree that’s what you do! And where diverse business activities should be your progressive source of new income, a uniform grey mass with no new initiatives will slack behind!), for it is like General Douglas MacArthur said: “The lack of skill in the officer directly endangers the lives of followers and comrades, as well as his own… An army without trained leaders is a contradiction in terms.” (ISBN: 0-13-147021-3, pp.150) A people without a sovereign or whatever he would translate to in other systems, is an economic danger to itself! And further: “Training distinguishes an army from an armed mob.” (ISBN: 0-13-147021-3, pp.152) A people that holds its leaders accountable for irrelevant details before actions has been taken in the modern media age, like a mob of share-holders in a stock-exchange traded company, are as faithless an self-destructive as a soldier who tries to argue with his commander on an order on the frontline under fire. You vote! You respect the honourable outcome that represents us all! Then you believe! That is the essence of parliamentarian indirect democracy. And any captain who believes himself a general is as stupid as a politician who thinks himself a King! Respect your culture, respect your Royals, respect your constitution! For from your distinctness you gain value in the marked-place and (only) through the transparency of your society, trade and prosperity can grow. If you find yourself in such a society, think yourself blessed and you are wise!

Freedom. Heritage. Love. Future. Greatness. Responsibility.

Freedom tickles inside the chest by the words of Adam Smith and I love it!

…and at last I went to bed.

Autumn's Coming!

We just had the most awesome Rocknations youth conference on in Church ever! …so far! One night some of us boys that were serving went off to get some food down at Nando’s, after our duties were over. I was gonna take the train home to Leeds and had to run to catch it. Good company makes you wanna stay for just a little longer. Long enough to have to run for the train afterwards. It was great! A drizzle of rain in the air and pitch dark! Reminding me of so many nights in the mountains…

It was then I felt it! I think I wrote about this topic last year too. Just for a fraction of a second it was there! The wet and chilly air revealed something distant, something that was not quite there yet. -Something that could be felt from very far away. Autumn!

I got excited! I’m quite tuned to these things after years in the outdoors. -And I love Autumn so much! Everything sounds different, the music is different and I pick out other records from the shelf. -Just intuitively. I was born in the Autumn, my beloved little sister were born in the Autumn, I love Autumn!

Maybe I feel a special expectation this year, since I spent so much time home in Norway earlier this year.

Lately I have found myself waking up in the morning not knowing which country I am in. I see the light and am not even half awake. I turn around in bed and think: that’s my window… mmm, light… there’s my wardrobe in Norw… (old steam engine going by on the train-line down the road) wake! England.

I really want to be here! But I really want to be back home at the same time. I used to say: “Anywhere, as long as something is happening there!” Right now I need to make something happen. But still there’s a sense of future and unachieved potential in both places. It feels like there are mountains of the mind to climb in both places. And new things are happening indeed. The people I meet, the arts-exhibition Haj and I have put on, new perspectives, Church…

I found something I had written in one of my journals a year ago. I was proclaiming that I was gonna stay in the UK and giving reasons for why! It made me happy to see it again. I just need to stick with the programme. Just that the programme seems to be extending to two countries. Not that I mind. Then I can wake up and go: light, window… mmm… morning, in Norway? UK? And I could be wrong and right with different answers every so often.

My first Exhibition. Ever!

Leeds, August 10th 2010, Late at Night

Last night at the arts exhibition is over and we’re packing down tomorrow. We had a nice local chap popping by tonight who was into Nick Drake. And you can just imagine what I’m listening to right now! No particular track was haunting me, I just wanted to hear the sound again!

The exhibition has been going well and we’ve gotten lots of nice feedback. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this with my photographies for a long time and was really blessed when Haj asked me if I wanted to do a joint exhibition with him! It’s the first exhibition I’ve ever taken part in so it was a bit of a new experience.

It was fun seeing the synergy in the room between Haj’s wall and mine. Our pictures look very different, but I think they work really well together. Both conceptually and visually.

It’s almost gonna be sad to pick it all down, but I’ll be a little bit smarter when I do than when we set it up. I’ve learned some new things. And probably more than ever, I’ve lived some new dreams.

Thanks to all the great people that came to the events! You all made it worth it! And thanks to the very nice staff at The Clock Café who gave some much appreciated and unexpected compliments!

Feeling: thankful!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Coming back to the UK

I flew down to London and had never landed at Gatwick Airport before. I was struck by how tidy and relaxed everything was compared to Heathrow and immediately liked it. But the coin had a flipside. We waited for ten minutes or more in the plane because they couldn’t find the dude who was gonna drive the bridge to be attached to the air-craft for us to alight. And then in the passport control they had loads of checkpoint-desks, but less than a handful of positions open so the queues were long to say the least. After a while it picked up though. They saw that there were too many people for the few gates and slowly opened a few more, but then we had been there for a while. Gatwick was nicer and more relaxed than Heathrow both for better and for worse. Modern comfort with Mexican siesta-time efficiency!

I took the train in to St. Pancras and met Shzr Ee outside the national library. We had some food in the sunshine and talked about near and far. She had just come back from fieldwork in East Asia. A hot day in London and I could almost fool myself to feel like I was back in South East Asia for a moment. I had stuffed my hand luggage inside my big backpack and it was warm enough to trek around with! Shzr Ee wondered if I had packed all my survival gear in there, but was excited to hear I had packed some Norwegian breads from mom.

The night before in Norway I had looked online at train tickets from London to Leeds. I was trying to book quite late and I ended up taking a bus instead, since it was more than 70 Pounds difference between the two alternatives. Two and a half hours on a train against four and a half on a bus… I knew which one I thought I would prefer. The swift efficient comfort of the train sounded tempting, but I was in for a treat. Seeing the land from the road is different. I remember taking a bus through the Czech countryside once, on a stretch where I was used to taking the train. We went through villages, on farm-roads and came closer to where people lived. Many modern roads are built on top of several hundred years old foundations. People have walked them for centuries and hence you find the natural demographics of people in those same natural geographical lines. Planes, hills, valleys, woods, rivers… -where people live and have always lived. Railroads are usually cut right through the landscape in the most efficient way and planned to minimize the interference with local settlements and everyday life apart from its stations. Seeing a country from a road and from a railroad teaches you different things. Or at least shows you different impressions. Like an impressionistic painting, fragments of green and yellow fields mixes with blue skies and white clouds, farmhouses, towns, cities, the manmade and the natural and becomes one nice big blur to a tired traveller. Swift, linear, efficient and interrupted lines from the train; softer, calmer, more winded and following society and geography’s natural paintbrush more from the bus. Two different views and I was in no hurry anyway. Never mind we got stuck in the London traffic and spent an extra hour to get out, I enjoyed the trip.

The bus finally stopped just around the corner from my house. I was back and had missed the English winter but gained the Norwegian one instead. Six months since I set my feet here the last time and now it is summer. I took my keys out and held the door opener in front of the sensor. “Bliiip” and the door went up. I checked my mailbox and it wasn’t too full cause Lara had been here emptying it for me not long ago. I went into the lift and found that the “close the door button” had stopped working. Apart from that everything was like before. Or almost… I looked into the big wall-to-wall mirror and thought, “what am I doing here?” Sure, I know I’m off to my friends wedding in a couple of days, but apart from that. Why have I not yet let go of England? I thought I looked different. The mirror looked different as well. We were both the same as ever, but not quite. I left this place as a recently graduated student and came back as a…? Every time I’ve come back before I’ve had an agenda. That’s even why I got this place. “Mind the gap,” cause that’s where I am now.

I walked into the apartment and felt the sweet smell of home. It’s like Louis in “Interview with the Vampire” returning after centuries to a new age. My work-desk, instruments, loudspeakers, mixer and computer-screen were all covered in light cloth by my best 19th century abilities as to not dust down, and it looked quite nice. Like coming back from holiday when I was a kid or seeing a Victorian period drama where the character returns to his summer-residence. From the look of some of my slightly faded books by the window I should have included my bookshelves in the scheme as well. Anyway, all my life as I knew it was covered by white and light yellow cloth and I liked it so I kept it. –At least for a few days till after I had written this so I wouldn’t forget how it felt. The bigger question is if I will remember how it used to feel, the things I’ll see when I remove the cloth. I need something new to remember!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Memories of conversations in Singapore pt.2

December 2009

The Yin Family took me out eating one of the first days when I was back. We went to this Chinese restaurant that I had never tried before. The restaurant had great food and a good variety of set-menus that could be shared on one table.

We had just told the lady that was serving us what we wanted to order. She then turned to James and said in Chinese that if we couldn’t finish all the food they brought us, the restaurant could provide take-away boxes for the rest. James replied and I couldn’t understand the words, but he shook his head as in “no thank you, that won’t be necessary.” Then he continued and turned towards me. Ah, got it! “Don’t worry with the take-away, the tall blonde chap can finish!” I must say I was quite happy with that! It’s a good compliment on any day, but further taking into consideration that James is an army officer, it was one of the best compliments in a while! (They’re usually not unfamiliar with eating…)

Save plastic boxes! Save the environment! Bring Harald!

Memories of conversations in Singapore pt. 1

December 2009

I was walking around in the Arab quarter of Singapore. The sun was getting low in the sky and the afternoon was drawing to a close in not too long. I was looking for Ishani and Maria. We were going to meet and go to Ambrosia shisha-bar in Baghdad Street. Ishani had text’ed me the name of a street they were currently walking along and I tried to look for it. I thought I knew where it was but couldn’t find it, so I decided to ask someone.

In the 5-foot-walk outside a Persian carpet shop I found two guys sitting and talking. One on a chair with his back towards the street, and one on top of a massive stack of carpets. The one on the carpet-pile nodded towards me to signal to his friend who now turned around and asked how he could help me.

“I’m looking for this street,” I said. “Maybe you can help me?”
Turned out he didn’t know where it was neither. Then the conversation quickly turned.

“Do you need a carpet?”
(Me looking surprised by the sudden topic-change.)
“I have many nice carpets here, we could find one that you’d like.”
I smiled and said I that I was back for holidays and a friends’ wedding and that I didn’t live here anymore. Hence, I would probably not need a carpet at the moment, but thanks!
“Where do you live Sir?”
“Right now I live in the UK.”
“Maybe you’ll need a carpet in the UK? I can fly it for you!”
I was surprised to hear that a small local shop behind a 5-foot-walk by Arab Street in Singapore shipped internationally. But hey! Internet age, bulk ships and big aeroplanes… It didn’t exactly take me three months on a sail-ship to get to this part of the “far orient” neither, so maybe I should have some more faith in his logistics. Curious I asked:
“Do you do international deliveries?”
“Do you fly goods internationally as air-cargo with a freight company or something?”
“No no no no no!” he replied with a big smile and a thick Indian accent.
“I fly it for you!”
He made a hand-move as to hold the tip of the carpet up in font of him while sitting on it.
“Ahh! Like Aladdin’s magic carpet?”
“Yes, yes! My carpets are magic!”
All of us were laughing pretty well by now.
“Well, thank you! I will let you know if I need any carpets in Europe!”

It was sad to leave. Both fellows were really funny and if I had stuck around, who knows, maybe I would have learned the ancient skill so few today master: to fly a Persian carpet! But I had to find Ish' and Maria. Maybe I should come back for a lesson one day. Indian and Arab traders are great on making deals, so maybe I could suggest something like:
“Ok, if I buy these carpets and don’t bargain the price, you give me flying lessons! And if I come back with my friend and he buys carpets I get more lessons! OK?”

Firm eye contact! Don’t give in! Prepare for handshake and you should have it nailed!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Late Night Walk in the Woods

I just came down from the woods. I had been walking for almost three hours. I just picked the tracks or areas that my nose pointed at, and believe it or not, I walked on a little trail I had never set foot on before. Up in the local hills where I've been mocking about since I was a kid!

I had no concept of time and the light doesn't help you out these days neither, which is good! I thought the time might have been half past eleven, maybe a little earlier, or maybe right before midnight. I climbed into the car and looked at the watch. Almost one in the morning! Although we don't have midnight sun this far South it never gets dark during summer nights. I guess the sun sets around half past eleven these days, but it doesn't get far beneath the horizon before it comes right up again.

We had some absolutely dreadful rain today! -which was probably one of the reasons why I went out there tonight, cause I quite enjoyed it. Though it was clearing up while I was walking, the ground was still wet. Wet, like in "Wet!" I walked through marshes and streams and my old khaki field-trousers ended up looking like I hadn't changed them since First World War. I took them off and hung them over the shower cabinet when I came home cause I saw that the washing-machine was full. I told mom that I had hung my trousers there and that I needed to wash them. -just to explain, since they didn't exactly contribute to the interior design of the room. A few minutes later she walked into the bathroom while I was in my room, and I could hear a loud voice go: "Oh my gosh! What horrid trousers!" I thought "Yesss!" There's nothing like making an impression!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Can Happen When You Buy Sound on Sound Magazine in Norway

It’s six months since I left Leeds at Christmas and I’m soon to return. In the meantime I’ve had to resort to buying UK music-production magazines in a Norwegian shop equivalent to WHSmith. However, with import tax and the unavoidable you-can’t-get-it-enywhere-else-around-here-so-we’ll-rip-you-off-as-best-as-we-can-mentality, the quantum of purchases has decreased inverse proportionally with the expenses of a purchased magazine. Therefore I have cut to the essentials like any good private equity firm would and stuck with Sound On Sound Magazine (SOS). While its original price in the city centre of Leeds is £ 4.99, I now have to bleed a full £ 13.00 for the joy! But if you’ve gotta’ have it, you’ve gotta’ have it!

Since I have restricted myself to go to this shop only once a month (for consumption-preventive measures) I take my time while I’m standing by the shelves. And yesterday was no exception, so I looked through several music magazines. As I was browsing through an issue of SOS, a slightly shabby looking kid entered from the street and walked over to my shelf. He nodded and smiled politely as he passed me and started to browse the shelf up and down for what he was looking for. I stepped aside and kept reading. After a while he turned to me and asked if I had seen Rolling Stone Magazine. I said that I hadn’t. He looked at my SOS, and as to excuse me from feeling like I had to know any thing about his request, he said: “Maybe you don’t read American magazines?” I laughed and answered that I happened to like Rolling Stone and I thought it was strange if it could not be found here, so I helped him look. Neither of us could find it and eventually he said with a sigh: “Well, I guess it’s not the 60’s anymore…” To cheer him up I said I thought it still was a pretty relevant magazine today (which I do).

The chap nodded politely and was about to leave. As he had passed behind my back and was on the way out, he turned around and said: “Nice titts on the magazine on the shelf behind you! If you’re interested…?” I laughed out loud! “NO!” I replied, “not the slightest!” “How sad…” he said with a melancholic face and took a last gaze at the other shelf before we said goodbye.

As I walked to the counter I glanced over at the shelf behind me to see if I could spot his eye-candy. Yet another girl in bikini (as one has come to expect in magazine shops like these) looked back at me. My eyes went back to the copy of SOS that I was holding. It depicted a green military field-case, stuffed with microphones, cables and a pair of headphones under the headline: “Guerrilla Recording!” I felt sorry for my brief friend, who clearly had a problem appreciating the finer things in life!

As I pulled out the credit card from my wallet I felt like I had struck a bargain. 13 Pounds! I’ll be back again!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#09-56 and 196

Eternal sunshine
When I see, I remember
When I see, I am excited
When I see, I want to get back

Remembering early mornings
Warm, before the sun
Warm, before too warm
Bright, with expectation

A glimpse of the sea between the trees, down the street
The cool from the ocean as it slowly brings its breeze,
through my window and out the other,
through my day to yet another

You like the moment, want to stay forever?
You see just surface, I'll show you better!
If paradise is present, then what is future?
For the dream is ahead, and there's nothing truer!

Sunshine of past
The dream I lived
The dream to live
They are all but steps, to a step yet higher

Though all are loved, one is even more
They make me love the things I have never seen before

Eternal sunshine
I looked out my window
Maybe I'll be making music in an hour?

Before You Bounce and Import to iTunes

I'm thinking... it's incredible how the right master-bus compression can tidy up your whole track!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Space invaders, dooms-day and the galaxy's evil empire descending

I was sitting in the living-room just now, looking at a research-show at the BBC. And suddenly I heard this huge low-freequent noise coming from above my head, like the roof was shaking! Like "wrrroooossjiihhhrrmmm....." And suddenly the windows went dark! Outside it's bright snow and sunshine behind big white clouds. You can probably imagine that I got scared there for a milli-second as the living-room went into gloom in the bright of the day, the low growl from the roof increased and the house was shaking! I had no time to reflect on what was going on as I noticed some horizontal glitches passing by in rapid speed inside the darkness outside the window. It gave the impression of thick and big blankets of clay crashing through the air to surround the foundations our house! After the initial fraction of a second with a light freak-out and combating of short-cutting of the brain to evaluate plausible escape-routes, I realized I was back in Norway again in the mid-winter. -as I haven't been for quite a few years. It was just last weeks snow-fall avalanching off the roof due to the recent mild tweak in the weather. Quite normal, and very entertaining 20 years ago! Brain-functions back to normal.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hårreisende dårlig idrettsledelse!

Så Bjørn Einar Romøren var først utfor den nye Kollen. Anette Sagen er blid og fornøyd og synes ikke det tar glansen fra det første offisielle hoppet. Pappa’n hennes var i Japan og ble kjempesint, men får ett litt mer balansert syn etter en viss pressekonferanse og sa at Romøren ”så ut som en pisket hund.”

I ett interviuv med VG Nett sier hoppsjef Clas Brede Bråthen at ”innimellom har jeg vært i tvil om Romørens dømmekraft” uten å spesifisere, og forteller oss at Romøren (som er lei seg, hadde fått beskjed om at det skulle prøvehoppes først og har ringt Anette Sagen og bedt om unnskyldning) har gjort ett feil valg. Hoppsjef Clas Brede Bråthen drar så med seg sin syndebukk på pressekonferanse, viser ham frem for det Norske folk og forteller at nå blir det disiplinære tiltak mot ham. –mens Romøren selv ser trist og nedbrutt ut og titter i bordplaten.

Som tidligere idretts-trener lurer jeg på hva det er Bråthen tror han holder på med! Om man bedriver idrett eller næringsliv er det utenkelig å refse sine ansatte i full offentlighet om man vil bevare lagånden. Den Romøren som kommer tilbake til hopplandslaget etter utestengelsen kommer ikke til å være den samme som før. Om han ønsker å komme tilbake i det hele tatt da! Han vil enten være nedbrutt, betvile trenerens intensjoner med korrektiv kritikk og føle seg på utsiden av laget, eller være overtent på å ”ta igjen” med idrettsprestasjoner som utklasser resten av laget. Det første bringer tafatthet på trening, det andre bringer unødvendig sjanse-tagning. Ingen av løsningene bringer lag-samarbeid, men begge reduserer lagets samlede prestasjoner.

At bakken skulle prøvehoppes var planlagt. Romøren gjorde nok allikevel ett litt dårlig valg, men er villig til å ta kritikk etterpå og strekker seg langt for å rydde opp i det. Men hvem var ansvarlig i bakken? Hvem ba ham om å være prøvehopper, og hvem gav klarsignalet? Det kan se ut som man begynner i feil ende. Om man på død og liv vil fordele skyld da!

Hoppsjef Bråthen forteller oss også at det er interne regler i laget han støtter seg til når han nå utestenger Romøren. Det er det ikke noe lurt å si til en hel nasjon igjennom media! Om en domstol begynte å dømme etter interne regler hadde vi ikke hatt noen form for transparent rettergang lenger. Om vi skal informeres om dette må vi vite i klar tekst hva reglene eller forskriftene sier, ellers kan Bråthen for alt vi vet ha laget dem for anledningen.

Anette Sagen smiler som solen, Romøren er lei seg, Pappa’n til Sagen var veldig sint men har fått litt mer perspektiv (selv om litt til kunne hjelpe), og det Norske folk har nettopp fått en flott ny hoppbakke og ett fint idrettsarrangement. Den siste som er igjen av de ordentlig sinte er Bråthen som virker relativt strippet for både perspektiv, tilgivelse for en som er lei seg og kanskje viktigst av alt, fundamentale leder-egenskaper! Hvis laget og en av dets sentrale utøvere skal reise seg fra denne kneiken i den nære framtid må det mer integritet inn i ledelsen, og det betyr at Bråthen må ut! Man behandler ikke folk under sin ledelse på en slik måte og forventer framtidige lagresultater!

Romøren gjorde en vurdering som bygget på at det var planlagt prøvehopp som Sagen forøvrig ikke kunne delta på. Det ble det voldsomme reaksjoner av! Romøren har merket det. Romøren tar ansvar og beklager handlingen. Kanskje Sagens pappa hadde helt rett. Her har vi å gjøre med ”noen skikkelige drittsekker!” Eller, i hvert fall en! Gjennom dårlig lag-ledelse og nasjonal utskjelling av sin egen angrende utøver kan vi klart konstatere at Clas Brede Bråthen passer den beskrivelsen som hånd i hanske!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Leave the Crown Prince alone!

I just learned from the news something that upset me ferociously! The Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry had invited our Crown Prince to participate in a comity to advice on the future of Norwegian industry and business. While I usually have nothing good to say about the viewpoints of the mentioned Minister I thought this was an exceptionally healthy idea! It turned out though, that a mass of people from the parliament to the media deemed it un-constitutional and made a shameful fuzz about it. The so-called un-constitutional aspect is that the Monarch (in this case the future Monarch) shall not have any political power apart from the sanctioning of laws. This, however was an advisory body put together of young Norwegian business-leaders and they were going to have no decisive political power what so ever.

Our Crown Prince has His education in Governmental Science, International Trade and Development Studies, and His military- and leadership-education is from the Norwegian Navy. He has partaken in weekly counsels with various Norwegian governments since He was 18 years old, which is now 19 years ago. Since it is the practice that the Norwegian Crown Prince partakes in these weekly meetings from age 18 there are literally no living human being inside or outside the borders of Norway that has anything close to the knowledge of national matters through the years as an old regent. Our Kings have always stayed strictly up to date with all the matters of state, and our current Crown Prince already has both an experience and education most politicians can only dream about. But in addition, the Crown Prince has one last advantage that no politician could ever beat: His advice is based on experience, education and situational understanding, regardless of how He will perform at the next elections!

Questions have been raised about the constitutional aspects of the matter. Questions however, voiced chiefly though the media should by no means give direction for common practice inside any framework of laws. In the name of democracy and freedom of speech many chose to attack the decision for a Royal to serve in this particular position in society. It is sad though that where the anti-Monarchics and left-wingers (in this case even some liberals) are used to two hundred years of shouting very-very loud, there have been few voices to match them on this matter. So with a smile on his face and positive words the Crown Prince took the high road and turned down this great opportunity for Him to serve His country in an even more extensive manner. It seems like the more educated and cultivated, the lower the voice and better the manners; and the more ideologically bound and less interested in a distanced view the much much louder the voice. Forcing someone to obey you for society's general freedom is oppressing the general society. There are ways of settling disagreements like these without a big ramble through the media. Most notably inside the parliament. Especially when the arguments in this case were so clearly beneficial for the Nation of Norway.

It is funny how things can bite its own tail. Marx wanted to set us free from the forces of capital, and Royals with it, to make a governmental system that distributed the wealth of the nation evenly to the benefit of everyone. In this case, a Royal has decided to help the nation gain wealth through its industries and business-life, in a nation with an extensive taxation system and high public spending. That is; to the benefit of the common citizen. Then newspapers and other media who are not free from Marx's forces of capital, but needs to sell as many copies as possible criticizes and puts the case in a bad light so that the Crown Prince in the end steps back. Armed with a good portion of Marxist critique and another portion general business and legal knowledge it is still hard to know who the media is serving in this situation. The common good of the people? -or their own treasury?

Some dear to criticize the costs of running a Royal Castle. Some would silence the Royal Family and only let them out on national celebrations to smile at the people and not have a voice. If Royals keep silent they are met with critique that suggests they have become national money out the window. But if they serve in a position (like the one mentioned) where we get more value for the tax-money we sustain the Monarchy with, it is then supposed to be anti-demochratic and un-constitutional. The only solution by such argumentation is to become a republic. But those who want to silence the Royal Family and keep them out of the public eye are forgetting one very important thing: The constitution! For in their own chasing towards democracy and the fulfillment of the constitution they have forgotten that the very constitution they set out to serve tells us that Norway is a Monarchy. A certain level of education and cultivation teaches us to respect such matters. Anything else would be un-constitutional.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Smell of Winter

I came from my Sister's house just now. Her and my Brother-in-law had put together yet another outstanding dinner! Today they served this particular season's traditional Norwegian sea-food, so fresh from the ocean that it was almost alive. They had hinted that after dinner it would be very welcome with a hand with some of the refurbishing they're doing. Having grown up in a family of many skilled crafts-men I've always enjoyed the pleasure of swinging a hammer. And so we did; and we were very happy with the results; both of the eating and the work.

The night was over so I wrapped up, said goodbye, strolled out and rounded the corner. A couple of deep breaths of the cold mid-winter air filled my lungs and it put a smile on my face. I've always loved the winter. Two breaths and I get this funny feeling: "what's up with my nose?" The answer came as quickly as the question. I wouldn't think twice while skiing, but after that warm house in the city... The hairs in my nostrils instantly froze to one bundle after breathing out warm air from my lungs. It feels funny at first. Way up North they can determine the temperature when it's really cold by spitting on the ground. If it freezes before it hits the ground it makes a particular sound. I can't do that yet.

Guess I've been out of the country for a few years already.

Fashion shops, the meaning of life and such...

You know how it's like when you're in an over-crowded shop with too many people?

In Leeds I like to walk by the window of Heaves & Curtis to just marvel at the latest in shirts and the odd Italian suit. Sometimes I walk through Victoria Quarter and pop by Vivienne Westwood or one of the traditional (and way too expensive for a student, read: "me") classic gentlemen's shops. I must admit I have left a decent amount of money for silk ties at Tie Rack in the UK, Robbinson's in Singapore and good old Marks & Spencer's. I think it's kind of a genetically inherited "want a decent tie-collection" passed down through my father's line (though I might have taken it a bit further than anyone before me).

Even H&M on Kirkgate in Leeds springs to mind as a cool clothing shop. Scandinavian clothing in the first place, it has become kind of a mainstay up here. Fashionists never used to look to H&M for quality, but rather for the quantitative aspects of their wardrobe. And if they were not on a particular budget they would easily skip it for something more exclusive. While that might have changed a little bit over the years (with Madonna launching her own H&M collection etc.), the big display windows on Leeds main promenade just down from Harvey Nic's, Zara and oposite M&S makes this old Scandinavian company look suspiciously more up-street than how I used to remember it. Not that Leeds is that much "up-street" in itself, but they've put in the effort.

I walked into one of the local H&Ms here today and I got bored after a few seconds. No clear division between the styles and a bit too generic. Yes, I know it's a smaller city, but with creative front-windows like you can find in Leeds (amongst other places), you are geared up to look for stuff before you enter the shop. It's all there, well presented in the window. When you go inside, suits don't mix with Rock'n Roll, you do that job yourself. The clothes and styles promotes themselves because of the layout of the shop. Here the lines were more blurred. I walked a quick stroll through the shop. I even saw some items I own from the UK, but didn't think they looked exciting here. (To their defense I probably have to point out that there are bigger and better shops in town.)

Then I walked into a suit shop. The staff there are trained to say the same blooming lines when you enter. I have trained myself to reply the same boring rejection of the offer to help me find what I'm looking for. Never mind I seldom do know what I'm looking for, I know what it is when I see it. Never mind I'm out of college not long ago and don't have any money right now. I was just curious anyway. I walked to the end of the shop where the main suit collections hang. I looked at all these glorious items and I thought: "my goodness, how bored I am!"

You know how it's like when you're in an over-crowded shop with too many people? As much as you'd like to kick them all out, maybe they just make it more exciting being there. If it's one dude folding shirts at the entrance and you looking around, the sense of living in a vibrant community is dead. At the heart of it all I dress like I do because of me, and people can take it or leave it. I never really ask for advice and I never care what others think and I never did. But maybe much of the point of dressing up a personality is lost if there's no sense of community to present a personality in. It's never quiet in a fashion shop in Singapore and although it's sometimes more noise and stress than you'd like, today I really missed it.

I'm really sorry about all the tedious reflections. The bottom line is: "I walked into a fashion shop today and got mad!" I'm usually not like that. Maybe it's reflecting the fact that I'm not sure where to go and what to do next and I don't want to be trapped in one country, but are trying to look to the world. Maybe a small fashion shop in a mall in Norway was threatening me with the same spirit as the ghosts in the basement (read: in the mind) when we were kids, saying: "now you'll stay here forever and there'll be no more adventures! HAHAHA!!" I've heard (not really though) that the best way to conquer threats like that is the old tactic of burning down the evil's premisses! Maybe I should burn it all down! "HAHA back at ya'!" Or maybe I should just stay away from there for a while! Like really, that does sound healthy!

Frankly, I could probably have chosen a more busy part of town to judge from. It's not like there's no life here! I might just be missing a new adventure to get occupied with.

Funny thing. I have always loved my country a lot, and I will until death! I was never any keen on leaving, but now I'm not too keen on moving back for too long neither. I guess big moments of your life changes you forever, even fashion-shops in Leeds might (yes, I see the artistic, socioeconomic and other contradictions and I don't care). Even if everything is the same when you return from your adventures, you yourself will never be the same again.

To balance this madness; I had a great "cake-lunch" with my friend Hilde on one of the nicer hotels in town with a view to the sunlight from up the river. Later I walked into a big music gear shop with an in-house studio. They had stacks of amazing studio speakers, instruments and general yum-yum! They even had two classic Universal Audio pre-amps casually stuffed away on a shelf. I know from my retail experience that you don't stock more than you think you'll sell. If they think keeping more than one 1000 GBP pre-amp in their shop at anyone time is a good idea, maybe I'm over-looking some of the life that's going on here. Maybe this city has grown in ways I haven't seen while I've been gone. I'm hoping on it, cause it all looked damn nice in the mid-winter light earlier today!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Surreal sleigh rides in Singapore, hotness rated in Starbucks and theories on meat.

Singapore, December 2009

I remember the first time I walked out of the airport. The sun had gone down, but the air was still as hot as always. Strong smells of spices, distant sea and high humidity flung in my face in a blend I had never felt before. I quite enjoyed it and I sensed the excitement of a new chapter of my life. I was moving to Singapore! Setting foot outside Europe for the very first time. Attending a College I had never seen. Never mind the fact that I was following an airport-worker who would take me to the Air France’s service staff because I had left my wallet with my phone, international students card, international drivers licence, Master-card and Visa-card in the seat pocket in front of me on the gigantic jumbo jet. I wasn’t bothered. I was happy. Nothing was gonna tip my mood. And quite right; great air-crew, effective air-port staff and, voilá, I received my belongings a moment later from a member of Changi Airport’s technical staff. I never-ever do blunders like that! But you’d have to shoot me with a 24 pound cannon to break the tide; freedom and exploration here I come!

I was returning again and looked at the rebuilding of the immigrations section of the airport with the curiosity, references and memories of a local. I was greeted by two of my smiling friends, Vienna Mei and Math Faust. We took the MRT-tram and at Tana Merah Interchange the same smells and humidity I had felt the first time pressed against my face again when we left the train. But this time was different. It was expected and I greeted it a warm welcome! I had waited for this moment.

I wasn’t travelling in and out on frequent basis any more. Neither could I queue up in the “locals” queue at the immigrations, since I no longer had a green card. When the winter is extra long, summer is extra welcome. When summer is long, skiers get excited over the very first flake of snow in the air. I hadn’t been back for over two years and intended to enjoy every smell of cassia, jungle and tropical sea that could make its blessed way to my nose!


Math and I went to Jurong Point to get food. We talked about going to their house first with my luggage, but after all the travelling I was simply too hungry. I needed food desperately. Meat to be specific! After a major logistical operation of getting a table, at the fully set food court, we went to order. My beef curry disappeared fast and I had to get another plate of chicken rice. Two meals and I was starting to feel more alive again.

We took a taxi home through the long streets packed with well kept housing blocks from Singapore’s Housing Development Board. You may think I’m a geek, but I loved seeing them again. I was back in my second home of Nations. Norway first, then here!

I had left a cold and dark Europe, enveloping itself in long nights and Christmas preparations. It was to become one of the coldest early winters recorded over the last hundred years. And here I was on a tropical island in Asia Pacific. On the stereo the taxi driver had tuned in to a show that was playing big-band Christmas music. How surreal it was! Less than a day earlier I was in cold and dark Europe, and the music would have fit like a hand in a glove. Then I travelled half way around the world to a climate so different, and I’m greeted by Diana Krall singing she wants to go sleigh-riding. –Subsequently followed by the likes of Count Basie. My ears tells me that I’m in Chicago or NYC on a snowy December night, my eyes and nose tells me that I’m on a highly urbanized tropical island. It is such a bizarre feeling that maybe you have to be a musician to understand it, or simply be a citizen of both these worlds at the same time; East and West.

Later when Wei comes home she informs me that it’s my turn to do the dishes, wash and hang the laundry, and clean the toilet and all the floors. Such a staggering amount of work that the only thing I can make out of the order is that she’s trying in her own way to say: “hello, it’s nice to see you again!” –or at least, that’s what I bargain on.


Breakfast. I need breakfast! Hungry Europeans used to dark bread and heavy meat needs more than rice and noodles. As much as I love both rice and noodles I crave bread for breakfast as almost always. I had found a Starbucks one of the first days and kept coming back for my daily infusion of bagels and sandwiches accompanied by sparkling water and cappuccinos.

As I had the previous mornings I line up again to order a big package of various yum-yum I need to get through the first hours of the day. The list is extensive to say the least. –At least by East Asian standards... maybe even by European standards. A cute little Malay girl in her late teens or early twenties, who’s got a big smile with shiny braces on, serves me in the counter that day. My order is placed and while various items are roasted, heated and manufactured I hunt for a table with a deep comfortable chair and a view. When it is found I return to the counter to wait for my items. The smiley little lady looks curious and since she’s got nothing else to do she strikes up a conversation.

“Soooo, are you working around here?”

“No, I’m not. I used to study here some years ago. But now I am back for my friends’ wedding actually.”
(Polite smile follows as to pass the conversation back to her in an informal way and to acknowledge her nice conversational initiative.)

“Soooo, are you single?”

(What the heck!?)
“What? Yes, I am!”
(Short answer and stern formal face-expression as to let the topic drop as fast as possible!)

(Big smile, direct eyes.)
“You’re hot!”

(I’m what!?)
“Well, thank you!”
(Looking at the air to spot for Santa Clause or third world war…)

(She keeps smiling.)


(Signal bell on the toaster.)

Thank God, my food is finished in the roaster and she gets other things to do. I take the tray, say a polite and pseudo-militant “thank you” while she keeps smiling like the sun and returns the courtesy.

I just wanted breakfast, no wife.


The taxi driver asks what I’m working with. I tell him I just finished my Masters Degree in Music Production. He says I look very young! I laugh, thank him, say I’m thirty and wait for the reaction. “Wuah? You look younger lah!” He says he thinks I look like I’m in my early twenties, maybe twenty-five at the most. He goes on saying that many Western men gets an “old” look fast. He doesn’t know that we, the same Western men, are sometimes amazed of how young some Asian men can look for their age. The taxi driver philosophies over why many Western men looks so old without realizing that he is calibrating “normal” by men that are not from the West. The conversation amuses me. I think he hasn’t driven around on many skiers, mountaineers and surfers, but rather over worked business-men. He says he is pretty sure the cold and climate of Europe is an important factor. I say I’m a Norwegian skier and mountain-guide and that my skin never looks as fresh and clean as when I’m cruising down hills at high speed in -10°C on a frequent basis. We have to find another solution. I propose my theory that stress and worries is an important factor. After all, many Western men in this community are business-men and working professionals for over-seas companies. We agree that is one of several likely possibilities. Then he says he thinks that eating a lot of meat makes men look older. If they ate more veggies and less animals they would most certainly look younger! I see a number of religious items on his dashboard and knowing what they are I know that he probably subscribe to a more vegetarian diet than my Nordic one. I’m a blonde blood-type zero, primeval dude and the obvious just has to be said: “I eat a lot of meat.” “Oh!? No, really…?” “Yes!” (Laughter). Some confusion seems to follow and we go silent for a while. It seems I didn’t fit into the theories and some thought is required to solve this riddle! We are approaching our target within visual range so any further conversation will have to wait for another time. I pay, thank him for the journey and we say goodbye.