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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Palace guards don’t watch football

Oslo during the World Cup

Today, 11th June, on the first day of the World Cup, I arrived in Oslo where I took a stroll wearing a jumper, coat, scarf and hat. It was raining and very dull.

So here I am, a Spanish Englishman passing Norwegians crowding round café TV screens watching South Africa play Mexico. Maybe that's what globalisation is all about!

I saw some quite grand buildings including the University which looked like it could be the Parliament. The theatre was large and impressive too with a fine statue of Ludvig Holberg (who was he?) with two other stone figures hanging about in the side garden.

Just a few hundred yards further along, overlooking the city centre and half a mile from the sea front is the Royal Palace. Now bearing in mind the size and grandeur of the nearby buildings this one was a cuddly size. Some reddish pebbles have been scattered in front to create an elegant approach. There are two sentry posts either side of the main entrance which is not gated. You can almost walk up the six steps to the front double doors. Only a low decorative chain slung across the first step stops you doing so.

One of the sentry posts was occupied by a soldier. The other one was empty. Maybe the recession has hit here really hard...

The nice thing about the sentry is that he talked to anyone who came up to him - not warmly or enthusiastically, mind you. When a teenager waved a stick, the sentry, with his body quite still, moved his head sideways, parted his lips and uttered a few clipped words, whereupon the teenager stopped. When a local man with a dog walked very close to the railings the sentry repeated the same action, keen, I imagine, to avoid the King stepping out straight into dog mess.

Picture the scene: King steps out, only to step in it, his smile now just about hanging onto his face. Well done, sentry, for avoiding that!

I walked all the way round the palace and found the grander gated entrance at the back with smart black cars parked in front, but still only one sentry on duty.

I felt sorry for him, standing all alone at the back with no one to tease him or to talk to. So I doffed my hat, and to my delight he saluted back!

On my way back I passed the same café packed with people of all types and sizes watching the football, shouting and cheering with excitement.

I thought of the guard keeping watch alone at the back of the Palace, staring into the mid-distance, with only the hum of the city below for company.

"I think I'll run back and tell him the score" I thought to myself.

I didn't.

Something stopped me doing so, not quite sure what.

That was my first day in Oslo.

June 2010

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=128 .
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