loppemarkedUp until this moment, North has been divided into four categories: “Norway,” which gives general information about the country I’m living in; “Norwegian art,” which informs you about Norway’s art traditions; “Norwegian music,” which describes some of the great music this country has produced; and “life experiences,” which is directed at that section of the reading public who once knew the author and wonder to themselves whatever happened to that vile unseemly idiot if he didn’t end up drowned in a swamp, as would have been appropriate.
Now a new category is instigated! “Street level” involves observations of everyday life in Norway, particularly Oslo, and attempts to find the interesting in the quotidian. This week, I get down with the bargain-hunters and look at an example of the flea market (loppemarked) phenomenon.

Every weekend, another primary school hosts a flea market, selling books, furniture, electrical goods, clothes etc., and today, I took the train with two friends out to Grorud to check out the flea market there. I was hoping to find some trousers and maybe some shoes, but I was quite disappointed. In fact, the clothes room smelled of old socks, even though there weren’t any for sale. See my sad photograph of horrible shoes above. Everything was a bit crappy. But the book room was ok. Music counted as “bøker” and there was some intriguing vinyl for sale. For 5kr I bought an album of Esther Ofarim, on which she sings folk songs from all over the world, in the respective languages involved. I knew I’d enjoy it because I’d heard her sing “Long About Now” on Scott Walker’s ‘Til the Band Comes In. Can’t go wrong there.
Later tonight, as I was trying to recover from a cold by drinking several beers, someone told me that I shouldn’t have bothered going to a flea market in Grorud because it is east Oslo. I was told I need to go west, where all the rich people live. They have the best flea markets because they chuck away more quality goods, because of their wasteful decadent lives in which they don’t know the value of anything. I think this is a good strategy and I will go west in future.
That’s the “word” on the “street.” That’s enough now: goodnight.

Barry Kavanagh writes fiction, and has made music, formerly with Dacianos.

Contact him here.