tirsdag 12. august 2008

A lot like leaving Birmingham

Oslo is a big stress factory in a little land. What's ironic is there is no need whatsoever for it to be such.

Like a run away lawn mower with a broken cable there is no hand to make it less noisy and less run away. It just roars on with out intervention.

In principle Oslo should be a place with a very high quality of life and actually be a laid back, low stress city. Compared to places like London or even Amsterdam. But it ain't and I can only point to my own experiences.

Oslo suffers from both big-city-syndrome, despite being a relative pin prick, and at the same time the norwegian nature. As Dawkins postulated positive encounters outweigh negative but if the animal puts their neck out only to be repeatedly burnt or robbed by the stranger then the animal assumes a similar retributional behaviour pattern in new encounters. Oslo people are bloody unfriendly in the younger generations. It is more than just stand offish. It is a culture for punishing the outsider.

Why the problem? My thoughts- On the one side you have a city obsessed with wealth and one that has been through hard times before. Capitalists here are "flinke" to turn a dollar and a dime out of an Øre and a spot of land. Materialism is almost as rife as London. There is a monied snobbism. Couple to this the way norwegians operate in social circles. These are not loose collections with fluid relationships like say a squash ladder in the UK. They are iron rings of relationship forged by commonality which has managed to last. They have common experiences and feel very safe with this. Safe enough to bore each other senseless with Hytte (cabin/cottage) chat and endless confirmations, 17th may etc.

In oslo you feel the rush throug the different pauses in the year more than in most other cities, although first week July in Bergen or easter week is comical for it's lack of norwegians! Like Big Ben the hands of the clock tick methodically and heavily rather than the smooth inexorable motion of a rolex. Suddenly work begins jan 4. Dong goes the clock hand for one. Then it is winter break and the preparation for skiing. DOng again. Then more skis and hytte with a crime novel at easter. Like a starters pistol for that one! Just at the point some work is actually being achieved the clock strikes in succession for 17th of may (national day like july 4th) , confirmation and then wedding. Now it isn't just cabin fever that makes the nordmann scurry around the land like a fechless lemming. The fact is that today the majority of norwegians in Oslo are from long outside Oslo and wandered in themselves. So 17th may etc involve travelling. Internally to Norway they are as nomadic as the Irish, as wanderlust as the kiwis an as lazy as the arabs. Blue eyed arabs them.

And the summer of arabian nights. Almost two months of little if any activity and for lacidasical performance for those of us who cover. I am never doing a bloody mid july stint again which involves trying to get in touch with either norsk suppliers or customers.

The two over riding principles of norwegian psyche both regn and are flagrantly ignored leading to frustration. jantas lov - presbytryism self denial and head-bowing- is deeply ingrained in many but has it's modern expression in " you are getting something I am not" jealousy and this motivates a lot of rigteousness. The other rule is not sticking your head out to look silly before someone else does- wait for a foriegner! this is expressed in flocking behaviour with fashions establishing themselves reapidly and being very even. People break the rules and are exceptions which prove the rule, but they are either the sharks on this reef r

Back to social circles - these are tight and thick but in fact contradictory. It is all about being seen to belong and feeling you are part of it. But in fact all that skiing over the land and sports clubs and sail tours amount to very individual behviour just that it is seen to be conforming and perfoming the norsk thang! There is also the will to make the other guy the loser which is part of "your getting something I'm not" in that it is revenge for all the people who HAVE.

People drive badly here and this means that with much of the sheep behaviour the roads are unnecessarily jammed. The wolves are out too, rushing into the jams. Driving is appalling despite the mass of traffic behaving itself you ae left with a sense of stress without need.

Wolves, sharks you call them what you want. Above all the academics, the offentlig sektor workers and the busy little siviløkonoms, inginør and marketing managers swim the big fish. Like we being ants, it is difficult to percieve them unless you live in west-kant. There the ants are in the minority.

So it's a stress machine of noise, But everyone refers to it's saving graces. The culture, the fjord, the islands and Nordmarka ( the virtual wilderness which begins a stone throw from the centre) Hold on a minute here, for those of us who don't do theatre what is there? Fjords and walks in the woods ? HELLO like this is anything unique in a norway.

I came hear with my head down a bit but leave with my chin up.

fredag 8. august 2008

Moving on...

Moving out ..playing the games again .

I came into Oslo under a cloud and was not impressed with the welcome apart from at the Uncles which was a nice escape from the daily. Most of august was monsoon after my first week of dry evenings on the bikes. It felt good to have some time alone on a bike but I missed my family.

I was reluctant-- I wanted to work out my trial period before we committed. Late october I started to get bored and felt marginalised. I found it hard to get in and was getting BS management and BS cooperation. The expectation for me to sit down, somehow fit in quietly went astray with the Kari K's dislike for me. It was fairly immedieate in my 'meet the boss' interview. I waffled. I struggled a bit with concentration on detail but struggled more with bending myself to work with marianne. I knew it was up in my review which I seem to remember not being such a shock more a confrontation. Oh- you- tea OUT.

Life went on. Spring came late. I did some career coaching and it used up my spirit to break out and move on. In fact the whole thing only confirmed that I could be an inspirational product manager with leadership abilities. Good at delegating, spinning plates, challenging people. I felt more mature than I had for a long time. A relaxation set in and after the very wet summer was survived by me and the kose klump, I had a sweet little autumn out on my bike and then at the syslab- on the wee city bikes.

Time was running out. I needed a local job and they needed me. I bent myself over. Ouch! But the pain is all theirs now with three sales people to feed and my summer hols and risør trips mostly paid for.

I feel nervous now. Having been chilled after the signing of the new lease, i was then panicing with the move. Dreading it all. Dreading giving up the job, or worse keeoping it going.

I feel like I am giving up security again but we are actually moving to a little society and gonna become part of it. In bergen we had the offentlig sector mentality and a town anonymous enough. Moving to Oschloo was a step further into anonymity and distance, we are also pretty good at isolating ourselves.

Now like the disorganised bits of lego on the floor, the pieced get turned in the fingers and then stuck hard on the base board of the gods. They fall into place, click click. Holiday one, delivered. Chilling out, mission successful. Getting house to solve moving twice- jobs a good one. Holiday 2, 40th celebration - done and dusted. All too fast. Working away, not possible- confirmed. Resignation, written. Removal van , booked.

In some ways I feel like it will be the little town at the end of the world with a bleak winter. But I can't let myself go under a cloud. Nerves over jobs just make we the worry rabit. I'm putting my chin out, walking down there, not scurrying around with my tail in my legs or like my last move with my chin down and teeth ready to bite as I lashed out like a dog in a cage.

I need to let the positivity flow and stop hanging on to stress and misery and anger - it's an addition to some form of normality and status quo that has to be torn apart.