My visitors today

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Carolling in Hamar

"Two Norfolkmen meet", 16th December 2008

So much has been happening these past few days that I have had no time to write about it all.

Not just more bits in between, and lots of fun and joy in the group, but also the more serious stuff like writing reports, consultations with parents and lovely “mentoring” chats with Nice Angels Lill and Marthe. There have also been more “bits in between for conductors”, lots of invitations to meet people and get a taste of Norwegian life.

I have fallen more and more in love with the place each day I am here, the wonderful darkness that turns to wonderful colours, and a few hours of daylight each day. Rime frost and deep snow. I am very reluctant to leave, especially the more interesting my life here becomes.

Yesterday I was treated to a saxophone concert by 11-year-old boy and witnessed a paper-boat-making marathon by his younger brother, all this while eating waffles with the most peculiar-looking goats cheese and bringebaer syltetöy (raspberry jam). The goats cheese looks like Caramac chocolate and does actually taste a little bit like it. I have no idea how it is made but it is certainly an acquired taste that I seem to have acquired.

Here we go a-carolling

This evening was the absolute highlight of my short stay in Norway. I rushed off after work for a meal with another new Norwegian acquaintance and then collected from the restaurant by the waffle-making mum of yesterday's saxophonist and the boat-builder.. We set off to meet more acquaintances at the Storhamar kirke (church), to attend an English Carol concert. This concert is quite famous in Hamar and today was the 29th occasion that English teacher Ian Watering has organised pre-Christmas carolling in Hamar. What was especially surprising was that this English teacher actually comes from Norwich, my home town.

I was introduced to him by two of his students of 30 and 15 years ago and we immediately lapsed into Norfolk dialect, which was like a foreign language to the Norwegians! With this immediate rapport this very tall English gentleman asked me if I would take part in his carol service and read some verses of the Christmas story from the Bible. Of course I did it. It was such an honour for me and a great pleasure to stand in front of this friendly crowd of people and take part in traditional English Christmas celebrations for the first time in many years.

I spent a few minutes thinking about my mum who would have loved to have been standing there with me, singing at the top of her voice, and of my sister with whom, as a school girl, I had learnt all the words to the carols: no carol sheet for me!

Sneak advert!

Below I have reproduced part of an article in the local paper a few days before the concert. Words written by Ian Watering the English caroller to a melody written by Alf Pröysen.

“Yea, sure you’ve washed the floorboards and carried in the logs,
You’re feeling kinda cool, man, dressed in yer casual togs.
You’ve done the kitchen stuff, like
Bought in the Christmas hog,
It’s time to put your feet up ‘nd ‘ave a glas of glog.

But there’s still a naggin’ feelin’ that
Somefink’s not quite right.
There’s still a place you shoulda been on this cold Advent night.
You ponder an’ you wonder , yer mind begins to search,
“Eureka, now I’ve got it it’s carols in the church.

For those who been there earlier,
You know what it’s about,
You’ve sung with heart and soul
And might, of that there is no doubt,
But if you’ve never been before, just
Join the mighty queue,
You’re welcome to the motley gang,
The Christmas carol crew!

Alas the local papers won't admit
this ad for free,
They won’t give time or place or date
Without the usual fee.
So’s usual we’ll have to do it veree secret-lee,
And hope that all our carollers will dee-cipher the key.

The place, as always, is the great Big Hammer Church.
And if you know not where that is
Just ask or pray or search.
The hour again as always is the opposite of “hell”,
And if you don’t know what that is,
gGive Ian Watering a bell.

You’ve got the time, you’ve got the
place, but still don’t know the day.
It’s always on a Tuesday, and this
Year too, oh yea!
It’s twixt fifteen and seventeen my
Teacher used to say,
If you can find a rhyme for sixteen,
Please let me know, I pray.

Apologies to Sir Alf.”


Alf Pröysen -
Hamar Arbeiderblad, 12 December 2008.

Caramac chocolate -


Anonymous said...

Dear Susie,
It was hard to let you go today, Susie - I just want to let you know by leaving a comment on you blog which will wait for you when you come home to Nürnberg this evening.

I want to give you some information about Alf Prøysen, who you mention in your blog and who actually was from this part of Norway, the neighbouring community to Hamar:

Alf Prøysen (1914-1970), was a writer and musician. He was one of the most important Norwegian cultural personalities in the second half of the twentieth century, and he made significant contributions to literature, music, TV and radio.

His childhood was typical for those of the husmann class, the landless lower class of rural Norway. This reflects in his songs and short stories, painting realistic, satirical and harsh pictures of class relations and life in rural Norway.

Though an underdog and outsider, Prøysen made outstanding contributions in many artistic fields: children's radio, short stories, theatre, singer-songwriter. His sole novel Trost i taklampa was a great success both as a book and as a play, depicting the Norwegian 1950's increasing urbanization and its effect on rural life.

His work includes the stories about Mrs. Pepperpot, a delightful little lady who never knows when she is going to shrink to pepperpot size. In the Norwegian original, she is known as "Teskjekjerringa"; the teaspoon lady.
Ok, that was some cultural information for you!

Going carolling with you was a pleasure, Susie! In all these years I have wanted to go, but I never really found the time. I had a good excuse to make some time this year - wanting to introduce you to another "Norwicher"... Even though I had no chance of understanding what you said to each other!

I really hope you have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Susie, and I hope to see you in Norway again. I am sorry that the weather changed so drastically these last days - leaving everything (everyfing!) very dark and wet and slippery. But you got to see Norway at it's most beatiful!

All the best, Susie, from the waffle-making mum of the saxophonist and paperboat-builder

Susie Mallett said...

Thanks Wenche for this comment. I have replied to you in a blog posting!