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December 2019
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Dead Hyperlinks

All of this material you see on my blog archive has been moved from its original place. This means that whilst I have preserved the old blog, many of the links have been broken. In the course of time, these will be repaired. However, you will most likely be able to find articles that are linked by using the search function – since most of the broken links are internal links to Yorkshire Viking. So if you find, for example, that a link to the logo does not work, write “logo” in the search field. That may be a good temporary fix until the old links can be updated.


Merry Christmas

Vestbygd Church

Vestbygd Church also gets filled for once!


Christmas Eve. Full church in Lødingen

I intended to write this post yesterday. We put a lot more into our services on Christmas Eve than we usually do. Yesterday we therefore supplemented them with extra musicians. However, being as I wrote in yesterday’s post completely knackered afterwards, it will have to be today.

That’s not a problem though. In Norway it is Christmas Eve that de facto has become the day; Christmas Day itself has been very much overshadowed by that. I am not sure I very much like this development. How much the festive masses who now fill our churches on the 24th December actually remember and still less listen to what is preached remains a moot question. Today, which should be the most important celebration is something of an anti-climax, with almost empty churches.

It's one time we tend to put a little "more" into the services.

It’s one time we tend to put a little “more” into the services. This is from Vestbygd Church.

Because of that and because having no family I don’t really bother with Christmas myself, I have a little more time to update the blog. I see I’m not alone. Arctic Organist has been doing the same. He has also linked to a very poignant Christmas letter from the Bishop of South Carolina. I recommend reading it.

In about half an hour, I shall be taking my telephone off by putting it into “plane mode” so that I can listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s undisturbed. Internet is an amazing thing. I am able to listen to the same broadcast that used to be a tradition for my family when I was growing up in Doncaster, England. As noted in my previous post, I too have my traditions.


Playing for the Christmas service at Vestbygd Church.

As you can see from the pictures, I have a very special one of my own only on the 24th December and occasionally when we have concerts. The Adwick School tie is in excellent condition, and I wish to keep it that way (it is now completely irreplaceable since the school no longer exists) , so it really is a self-limiting thing that cannot be done too often.


“You know you have to pay to sit up here”, I joke when people start coming to find place on the organ gallery in Lødingen Church

Tomorrow I shall be having my glass of port wine – another speciall tradition from my childhood. Then I shall have to start thinking about the New Year. The bishop will be coming to our parish at the end of January. So that means I must start trying to organise yet more musicians to add some extra seasoning to the services while he is with us.


In Lødingen we had a trumpet solo for the Christmas service.


Phew! I’m knackered! I’ve been at it all day, so I haven’t had time to read the stream of messages reminding me that I have suddenly aged yet another year on Facebook.

So thank you everyone. My post today will be a kind of F.A.Q. Don’t take it too seriously. After playing for one service at 11am, then driving 45 kilometers on very slippy roads to Vestbygd Church for another service at 2pm – and then when that was finished driving all the way back for the last Christmas service in Lødingen Church at 4pm, I’m feeling too tired to post anything more. For those who don’t regularly drive on ice, I can tell you this can be mentally draining in itself.

Anyhow, let’s get started….

Screen shot

A screen shot from my Facebook profile.

  1. Marni Turnill seeing this “selfie” post asks if the tie is the Adwick School tie. There are two answers to this. The first is that Adwick School doesn’t exist anymore, so it can’t be. That would however be a little disingenuous. The second is that you can apply the famous “duck test”. James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916) invented this. He said, “when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”….
  2. Ron Ketley (yes, from Adwick School, Marni) says that I seem to be…. ahem … a little “broader” than I used to be. I’m not sure that I know how to answer that one, except at the very least that I hope I am now less “narrow” minded.
  3. Anita J. Jones thank you very much…. BAH! Humbug!

Yorkshire Viking Norway wishes its readers a Merry Christmas!

The Same Procedure As Every Year…

Norwegians insist on watching this “Dinner for One” sketch on the 23rd December every single year.  However, they are not alone: I have German and Dutch friends who inform me that the same sketch appears regularly on their TV stations as well. If you actually do feel the overwhelming desire to watch this, press the play button above. I shan’t be joining you..

Such is the power of tradition that we do the most illogical things. Woe betide anyone who doth not understand this. I shall never forget the year I chose not only not to have the Norwegian hymn “Deilig er jorden” (“Lovely is the Earth”) when I planned a Christmas service, but not to place it in its obligatory place at the very end. No variation is possible, for this hath been handed down even from Jesus’ time…. That foolish mistake was back in 1995, and since I have come back to the same parish I can tell you that it was never forgotten! Needless to say, I have never repeated it either.

Other Traditions

It is easy to scoff at the unreasonableness of such a thing. Yet I have only to consider the way in which Mark Damazer, the newly appointed controller of BBC Radio 4 got rid of a certain long standing tradition in 2006 before I too start feeling “hot under the collar”…

As you know, I grew up in the United Kingdom, and through my childhood (and more importantly in þe goode olde dayes of Adwick!) I would listen to the opening of that station. All through my formative years Radio 4 would open up with Fritz Speigl’s “UK Theme”. Indeed, on Sunday mornings I would wake up extra early at six o’clock to hear this before cycling off to Woodlands All Saints’. This was in those halcyon days of Adwick School, when the service used to be at nine o’clock. I could have laid in for at least an hour too, but such is the power of tradition. Every time I now find myself dragged out of bed at some God forsaken hour of the morning to play for a school service before Christmas, I think about what I put my poor mother and father through then. There is justice in the world….

I was not the only one to like this tradition. When Mark Damazer decided to end opening the station with this theme every day, he quite rightly incurred the wrath of the public. It went all the way to parliament. Sadly, however, it wasn’t enough to save it. Although he has now left the radio station, the “UK Theme” is now history. I shall never forgive him. In my opinion, the only reason it had to go was so that Mr Damazer could prove that he was the man in charge.

My Tradition

So I have to be careful about condemning others for traditions. Indeed I have them myself. Every year, on Boxing Day, I take a glass of port wine. This is now my very special way of remembering my parents. The only times I have not done this have been when my job required me to drive on Boxing Day (in which case I took this traditional glass the day after). The reason I do this also cometh from þe ancient dayes of Advicium.


Every year I toast my mum and dad on Boxing Day.

Here beginneth the story that my dear mother was so fond of that she spoke of it till her dying day. Unlike here in Norway, where there often seems to be a taboo about alcohol, I was brought up with the idea of wine every Sunday dinner. My father made it himself, with varying results (although in the end, I have to say he became quite adept at the art). My parents believed that it were better to introduce children to alcohol at an early age, so they would know how to use and enjoy it properly. They believed that denying it until it were suddenly “legal” was the reason that many young people then went completely mad, and got drunk on it. So from about ten, I was allowed a very little drop of wine when we had our Sunday lunches.

When I was about fourteen (I cannot actually swear that I were either fourteen or thirteen, but it was one of those years, and if the later these events took place in þe olden time of Adwick School, which maketh it far better), my parents decided that I could try some port wine on Boxing Day that year. I was told that I had to sip it, and not to drink it like pop. Needless to say…. that I did what I was told not to do, and then had to spend about three hours on the sofa because I was so dizzy! My silly behaviour was later the subject of much mirth, and my mother would relate this story from year to year thereafter.

Port Wine

Port – My Boxing Day Tradition!

I should perhaps state that I was not drunk, and neither have I ever been drunk (not then, nor later in my life). The amount of alcohol I was allowed was not very large. Neither did the experience scare me off port. Some years later, when Adwick went into decline (during my years at the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield, I should lament seeing the slovenly condition of our once proud uniform when returning home on visits) a certain nostalgia for those bygone times spawned this my own very special tradition. Later, when my father passed away in 2001, this became my way of remembering not just childhood – but the family I no longer have.

That then is the reason that every boxing day, I take a glass of port. Ideally, I like to watch something entertaining on the TV, but these days that is becoming increasingly unlikely with the ever greater amount of garbage one sees there. Nevertheless, I do now sip my port, and I toast to my mother and father each time I sit back to enjoy it every Boxing Day!

For those who can read Norwegian, I wrote about my tradition last year on the Sister Blog. You can find that post at


Apologies for Inactivity!

Dog sledge

Winter has come. Children wait eagerly for rides on the dog sledges.

I’m very glad and relieved when Arctic Organist laments the inclement weather. Not only is it true, but apart from enriching your experience as my blog reader (Jon really does take some lovely shots: I can only recommend you visit his page), quoting him gives ones own excuse credibility!

The fact is that we have had many a day you would not have thanked me for taking a picture. Not only are we in the Polar Night – and we actually are now even if our neck of the woods were completely flat – most of the last two weeks have been miserable and overcast. We have had everything from snow, sleet, rain, hail, gale force winds, cloud and everything nature can throw at you pretty much. When you consider that if it is cloudy, it is actually dark at midday now, that vastly reduces your photography options.

Otherwise, I am going to try starting on the logo. As many of you know, I was forced to remove the logo just over a month ago when Wiki Commons likewise was forced to remove one of the elements that make it up. It had been lying there “in the public domain”. Unfortunately someone disputed that, and for copyright reasons Wiki Commons removed its viking raven and I took down my blog logo.

I wish to assure you that I have not abandoned the logo. I am sticking with it. I do have a photograph, in the public domain, of the raven in question. I must now draw this by hand, and superimpose that drawing on the symbol’s other two elements. When that is done I should theoretically have a derivative work belonging to me alone. The problem has been getting the time to do this. I promise I shall try harder to find some!


Brhhh. Minus 16 under clear skies in parts of Lødingen

After all, tomorrow is my December “day off”. And Jon Blamire is right about those temperatures – it’s a bit too nippy outside for anything else….

Temporary Suspension of Logo

You are probably wondering where the logo has gone. The answer is that I have had to remove it – at least in the form you last saw it – because of copyright reasons.

These are really quite silly. The logo itself was entirely my own, being a hybridization of the former Adwick School logo with a Greek cross and the Viking raven. As such, as a derivative work, the logo was (and is) mine alone.

However the raven was made from a file on the Wiki Commons (a repository of images and media that are in the public domain) that has now been withdrawn. This is itself a derivative work, and as such copyrightable. It is a drawing of the historic emblem of the raven that you can find, amongst other things, on pictures of coins that are in the public domain. However, it seems that someone has disputed the copyright of a picture of this picture. Accordingly it has had to be withdrawn from the commons.

Naturally, since my logo also used this element, I can no longer continue using it now that it is no longer regarded as free. The only way round this nonsense (and it is nonsense for something that is now well over a thousand years old anyway) is to make my own drawing of the public domain picture. I intend to do a good job, so I shall not be doing it today.

For the meantime I have returned my Facebook gravatar to my previous logo. That is what I call “The Violet Cross”, and I began using it in my time at Huddersfield Polytechnic and continued to do so right until the launch of the raven symbol I have been forced to suspend today. For the observant among you, the favicon has changed to a hybrid between the former Adwick School logo – and the logo of its predecessor Percy Jackson Grammar (once again a temporary measure until the problems with the raven logo are resolved).

Once again this has nothing to do with any supposed “Nazi” connotations with it. Only today, just before I took the logo down, I was again attacked for using a swastika (how the letters “A” and “S” can be construed as a modified swastika completely defeats me)…

The older Violet Cross symbol consists of a purple, or violet Greek cross. This denotes Christianity, and is purple to denote repentance or preparation (as in Lent or Advent). Above and below the horizontal arms of the cross are two colour bars. The colour above is green, and the colour below is black. White is “inferred” from the space between – and of course the symbolism is, or rather was, that of the former Adwick School. My older logo went with a Latin text “Dominatur Excelsus In Regno Hominum”, meaning “the Highest has dominion in the kingdom of mankind”.

We really do live in a silly age!

Going through Hell


I’ve been through Hell!

Two weeks ago I literally went through Hell. A lot of people got quite worried. Being a conscientious user of Facebook, I had updated my status so everybody knew that I was going through Hell.

It isn’t the first time. That was when I first came to Norway in 1991. I had just got off the plane, and no sooner had I left the airport than I was in Hell. The vicar where I was then working (on Hitra) told me that a tourist had once asked someone at the airport the directions to the nearest hotel. Apparently they told him to go to Hell!

As you will hopefully have now gathered, Hell is just outside one of Norway’s airports. There is indeed a hotel there, one of the largest in the Rica Hotel Chain. So if you like, you can not only go to hell, but you can stay at Hell Hotel as well.

Hell Station

Photo of sign in Hell, Norway, taken by Matthew Mayer in 2001 and released under GFDL.

Hell has a very interesting train station too. There is a cargo terminal there. The Norwegian word for “cargo” is “gods”, and the word for terminal is “expedition”, so if you go to the train station in Hell you will find Gods Expedition….

However, perhaps this is all a little too much for those worried by my status updates two weeks ago. I am pleased to say that there is also a church in Hell. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise though….

If you get married there, your marriage will be made in  Hell! Most people are like me, and just go through Hell every time we take the plane.

At least we know that whatever modern theology might say, Hell really does exist. What is more they speak Norwegian there.

And I bet Hell’s a place Arctic Organist has never been to either:) Welcome to Norway, and go to Hell! If you’re interested, it’s just outside Værnes Airport.

Mental Wormholes


Unfortunately the video that inspired this post has been withdrawn. This picture is modified from Bachhaus Eisenach’s picture on the creative commons. You can reuse it according to the license you can find there.

The choir of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig is one I definitely want to hear. I’ve almost decided now – whether or not I think my budget is where it should be – that next year I really am going to have to go there before I turn fifty.

A week or so ago I found this wonderful YouTube clip. There’s a whole concert indeed (a rarity on YouTube), and given that Google has sold out to the Performing Rights’ people, and YouTube videos will shortly be going behind paywalls and those uploading them will have to “clear” them automatically before the upload (“clear” being these people’s euphemism for “pay”) I think you had better enjoy this while you can.

The Wachet Auf Cantata by J.S Bach BWV 140 has a special significance for me. I have one of those memories that is in the “read only” section of my brain. On Monday 10th December 1979, I was transferred to the former Adwick School, just before my fifteenth birthday. My first music lesson began at 1.20 pm and lasted until school ended at 3.20 pm. I even remember that this lesson was in the school’s “periods” five, six and seven. This was the work our teacher, Mr Ketley was teaching. Every single time I now hear Wachet Auf my mind goes through a mental wormhole – and I find myself transported back in time to his class that very day!

It is an association that hasn’t just appeared this year now that our poor school has been razed to the ground. When I went to the former Polytechnic in Huddersfield, I would make references to it in my compositions. In 1989, at the end of my first year, we had to write string quartets, and the Music Department brought in professional players to have them performed. I placed my Wachet Auf reference bang in the middle of mine; or more accurately, I put my Adwick reference there, since that is what it has become for me.

This is a lovely video, but I do fear that the new rules will mean we shall get less of them. So enjoy it while you can!

Successful Concert

School Tie

Our concert on the 17th went well. Look carefully at this picture

In accordance with the blog guidelines, pictures are usually black and white. However, sometimes it is possible to use colour for effect:) Click on the picture to study it in more detail…

I am rather busy at the moment, but intend posting something new this week – so stay tuned!