A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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20 September 2017

Rules & Reg's.

Historically, pretty much everything in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) is, in comparison to most of Europe, outrageously expensive – alcohol especially - the government applies punitive taxes to alcohol in a bid to stem a national drink problem.

But there’s also a sort of finger-wagging undertone which manifests itself in various inconveniences, the first of which I encountered last Saturday when I popped into the supermarket to get a well-deserved beer at the end of my 12-hour shift – 8.00pm. ‘Sorry Sir, we can’t sell alcohol after 6 o’clock on Saturdays’. I went back to the hotel and had not much more than a half pint glass of cold frothy stuff - £7.80.

I thought I’d beat the system the following Saturday by buying a couple of bottles on the way to work. ‘Sorry Sir, no alcohol sales before 8 o’clock’ (and you'll be out of luck tomorrow - Sunday - as well chum). On Sunday evening, the hotel bar was closed and I asked the hotel receptionist why. ‘Don’t worry’, she said and with that, she disappeared behind a curtain (?) and came back with a small glass of lager (an eye-watering £8.00).

I’m no great drinker as my friends will attest but, when you’re deprived of a simple pleasure, it suddenly becomes a mission to get what you think you deserve at (almost) any price - which could be the start of a problem?

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I'd taken a couple of panoramas of the dock when it suddenly occurred to me to take a vertical panorama - I nearly fell over backwards but it would be a useful technique when trying to capture a fabulous ceiling in an Italian church - I must remember that when I'm next in Naples.

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During a break, when the cable we were magnetising was being tested on board the Flintstone, I ambled over to the car park to give a hand getting this Ford going (informed sources have since corrected me; it's a Dodge). I'd noticed that it had been a more or less a static fixture over the last couple of weeks and was wondering if it actually ran.

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Anyway, chap had the bonnet up but didn't have any tools to check if he had sparks and fuel. By the time I'd got back with a screwdriver and spanners, the ambulance was hitched to a Transit and was being towed around the yard. That did the trick.

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1943 apparently and in very usable condition - it sounded fine and no smoke from the exhaust as it sped away from the dock.

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In idle moments, there were other activities to watch - these Leviathans trundled up and down the dock throughout the day and I remember them from my first trip to Drammen when we loaded the Olympic Commander. And, other than the cranes, I don't, from that first trip, remember much at all except being huddled in a container on deck for a week of very cold and wet night shifts.

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And when you've read enough books, watched enough films and twiddled your thumbs to a stop, there's always the rain to photograph - that's art, that is.

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At the end of our stint in Drammen, we got the train back to the airport. Scandinavian trains are on time - to the second - and this one, the Airport Express, very comfortable.

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There was some thought-provoking public art at the airport; perhaps a warning to those who circumvent the rules and reg's?




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