I’m in Hove Actually. Not Brighton.
Dorms and cold showers at 7am. That takes me back! 35 years to be precise.
This rude shock was considerable softened by a very civilised vesperial chat last night with the Liberal Democrat legend that is Erlend Watson.
The term “walking encyclopdia” is over-used. But it certainly fits Erlend as far as political matters are concerned. You press his button and he regurgitates the most extraordinary minutiae from by-elections and political personalities stretching back eighty years.
Last night’s featured tale from Erlend was about where he hails from – the Orkneys. Jo Grimond was MP for the Orkneys and Shetlands and was said to have coined the witty remark that Bergen is the nearest railway station to Shetland. In fact, Jo did include this in his auto-biography, but it was in the process of telling the tale of a volunteering soldier on Shetland at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was sent a form to fill in by the army which asked him to state his nearest railway station, so they could send him his call-up papers to it. The soldier replied to say that his nearest railway station (Bergen) was in enemy hands.
In fact, like many of these sorts of stories, the truth behind the story is not as much of a “slam dunk” case as the story would suggest, as move.shetland.org relates:
Is it true that the nearest railway station is in Bergen, Norway?
It’s an appealingly romantic notion, but a modern Norse myth. The railway stations at Thurso and Wick in northern Scotland are both closer to Shetland, though not by very much if you’re in our northernmost islands. Bergen does, however, distinguish itself by having the nearest branch of IKEA – the next closest is in Edinburgh.