I couldn’t stop laughing. It wasn’t even that funny but for some reason there I was, stifling my laughter in the corner of a Norwegian supermarket in the sweet aisle.
I was deliberately on the lookout for products that had unusual or silly names because I’m that kind of person. I take a look at the beautiful scenery, soak in the culture, sample the local delicacies and then push everyone out the way in the hope of finding a t*tbar or a c*ck pellet for a cheap laugh. You can judge me all you want.
We had already gazed longingly at the huge waterfall at the top of the hill and taken a multitude of photographs so it was time to see what other delights were available in this tiny village. The bank had been turned into a tourist shop, one of about half a dozen within the vicinity, and you could tell this because the store clerk kept disappearing behind the door of a massive safe for further stock. It was the only time it rained whilst we were away so the local swimming area was mostly abandoned apart from a couple of thrill-seeking nutters who had bothered to bring their swimwear.
The food shops and convenience stores were a bit of an eye-opener. With one product it explained just how wide the gap is between the UK’s pound and Norway’s Krone. A box of Pound shop, Christmas-only, I’ve-never-seen-anyone- eating-these-before-in-my-life ‘Toffifee’ was 73.90 Krone or £5.53. Imagine being so desperate for ‘Toffifee’ and having to spend over a fiver for the privilege; let’s hope it never happens to you. Further into the aisle I went and there I found a box of sweets with a friendly bear on the front.
The Bjornar Sota (sweet bear) is a loving, caring kind of bear and you can tell this in the way he gently caresses the sweets in his furry bear hands. Is he planning on eating them? Probably not, he’s too lovely for that. He’ll be tucking them up in bed and popping on a night light before quietly placing mugs of hot cocoa on the bedside tables for them.
The Bjornar sura though (sour bear) is a tired, grouchy old Grinch-esque character who doesn’t want to share his sweets with you or anyone you know, so don’t even think about it, sunshine. He’s clinging onto that confectionary for dear life (the expression on the bear’s face is priceless) and no matter how nice you are to him, he will not let go. He’s sour about you, me and everyone else in the world.
Are the sweet bear and the sour bear the same bear? Does he lose his rag and transform into his nemesis, his Mr Hyde? Are the two bears part of the balancing act the universe carries out so gracefully to ensure life can exist? You’re asking the wrong person so don’t even bother. All I know is that, more than ever, we all should be a bit more bjornar sota than bjornar sura.