I knew what the headline would say even before we dropped the bearded stranger off. He was foreign, he was young, he was naïve, he was hitch-hiking in Norway, he was a perfect subject for an article. How about ‘Ambassador for et ungt England’, ‘Ambassador for Young England’?
We had seen him standing by the side of the road, dressed in dirty trousers and a torn jacket. His thumb was raised, above a well-packed rucksack, draped with the Union Jack. An unshaven chin completes the picture…..Yes, that will read well: ‘Han star I velkanten ifort skitne bugser eg en fillete jakke….’
Where we picked him up was a remote road near Voringfossen, a waterfall which falls 600m into a dramatic ravine called Maabodal. He told us he had been given a lift by a woman who had just passed her driving test, drove no faster than 40kph and started hyperventilating whenever they came to a bend in the road. He got out as soon as he could, and was lucky to find us passing.
We opened the car door to let him in, pitying him standing in the rain, and we drove him nearly all the way to Dalen, the town he was aiming for. We asked him lots of questions, we stopped to take a photograph of him. I don’t think he realised what we were doing. It was only when we said goodbye that I asked for his address: if the editor of Bergens Tidende, the newspaper where I work as journalist, agreed to publish the article about him then I’d send him a copy.