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This article is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.

The Rich Boys of Bygdøy and other fragments of summer Peter Davidson

The snow began to melt as our plane landed at Oslo, although wet snow had still been falling when we passed through Bergen. The next day the sun sailed high into the sky and the northern summer began between one hour and the next. We took the boat from the landing stage behind the Town Hall to Bygdøy, the peninsula of museums and reticent, substantial houses. Restaurant gardens running down to the water. Fresh white paint already on the fences by the landing stage.

The streets were flooded with new sunlight. The grass was dust-brown, just emerged from the snow. Birch trees racing into leaf, Classical villas in painted wood, windows thrown open to the warm air. And at the end of every empty street, the shaking brilliance of the water.

Then the two rich boys passed, running at an easy pace, like a film, like a vision. Absolute privilege in their perfections of haircut and dentistry. Sons of ambassadors, inheritors of forest castles, moving through the world but not of it, moving towards their evenings of showers, cologne, white clothes, dinner at oval tables overlooking the sea, a pale yacht steered through the long dusk to far islands in the archipelago.

And we lumbered on to the Ship Museum: the haunting photographs of the labourers cutting the great keels free from their mounds. The tatters of embroidery, their colour and substance gone to nothing with time, which the Osberg Queen had taken ...


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