Friday, 19 February 2010


So now Norway has three gold medals from the Winter Olympics, two of them won by women, it is time to consider the Toughness of The Norwegian Woman. For now, let’s call her Eva-Tone.

Eva-Tone is born a perfectly normal little girl with the standard Scandinavian white hair and deep-set piercing blue eyes. She spends her childhood at the foot of a mountain beside a fjord. In the summer she learns to fish, swim, sail, canoe, plumb in a lavatory and operate an outboard engine. In the winter she learns to shoot for meat and drill holes in the ice for fish. In summer she climbs several miles uphill to school, in winter she skis several miles uphill to school. Upon finishing school, she chooses to embark upon a spell of military service (not compulsory for women). After this she starts her electrical-engineering studies in the far north of Norway, with a view to working off-shore in the oil industry. While she is a student, she becomes a competitive biathlete and is selected for the Norwegian Olympic Team. We haven’t heard how she has got on so far.

My point is, Eva-Tone is an All-Norwegian-Girl, tough, strong and independent. I have often heard that Norwegian women are so tough they don’t really need men. Apart from the inconvenience of having to procreate, men seem to be more or less incidental.

Luckily for the Norwegian population, this turns out to be a false rumour, and the women can’t resist the men. Are we surprised? Nope. It would take the toughest of the tough to resist the temptations of the average Norwegian male, and that kind of challenge is not an Olympic event, so far. It just so happens the men are also as fit as you like, with fabulous hair and that very special Scandinavian tan that people wear around here. It’s enough to make any girl weak at the knees.

So when I see a Norwegian woman winning the Biathlon in Vancouver, skiing like a demented bat out of hell and shooting at her targets with stylish accuracy, I am not surprised. There are many other tough women of different nationalities out there on the course, and they are also astoundingly fit. But somehow Tore Berger, whether skiing or shooting (she only missed one out of 20 shots), looked utterly at home, as though this kind of life was completely natural.

Of course I am not saying women in Scotland are not tough. Far from it. There are thousands upon thousands who push themselves hard, who deal with arduous conditions, difficult situations, if not unrelenting drudgery with admirable physical and mental strength. But somehow the level of expectation is different, as though we are surprised that women are able to draw on their inner resources so powerfully. So are we capable of more than we know?

The 19 year old Eve Muirhead, bag-pipe-playing, golfing, captain of the British curling team in Vancouver is a splendid example of Scottish womanhood. Apart from the fact that she could not be more Scottish if you painted her tartan, she has admirable determination. And who could forget Rhona Martin’s gold winning curling team of the 2002 Winter Olympics? We don't all need to be Olympic medalists, but we should remember to have faith in ourselves.
Women know how tough they can be, and they should never be persuaded otherwise. Back in Norway, I can just imagine Eva-Tone once she is married. ‘Hi, Honey, I’m home....made it up to the mountain peak and back in 43.7 and 4 hundredths of a second.... managed to hit 19 out of 20 reindeer. Bit of a drag hauling them home, but they’ll keep us going for a while.’


  1. I am supposed to do some important work in the oil business, building the nation and all - in stead I find my self reading a blog! I didn't like the way it was going after paragraph three above, but after paragraph four I feel all right again! Thanks.....

  2. Tor,
    Now you're making me nervous. Relieved your feeling ok again.

  3. Dear Returning Scot,

    only having discovered your blog this evening, I just read seven entries in a row - I'm not sure what I like most, your astute observations on Norwegian life and habits, or your very Scottish humour. It's been a fabulous read so far.

    Busy weekend ahead, meaning I'll have to find my history students some interesting text to read on their own in class on Monday so I can continue reading your blog.

  4. Wim
    Now you, like Tor, are making me nervous. It's Tuesday now...hope the week's going well.