Captured by a Viking

Viking shipThey say in life we all have to make sacrifices. As a kid I may have taken this advice a little too literally, when I whacked my brother Damon over the head with a hammer. I don’t remember exactly, but I might have been attempting to offer him up as a sacrifice to the Norse god Thor, a character I knew well from his exciting Marvel comic adventures.

Of course it’s equally plausible I was mimicking my Dad, a man of almost legendary carpentry skills, and simply trying to reshape my brother’s head into a more aesthetically pleasing form. Needless to say he was not impressed by my unsanctioned DIY efforts and many tears were shed. Fortunately there were few lasting ill-effects, although during thunderstorms he does develop a lisp and a terrible craving for walnuts.

It’s interesting how the Norse gods and culture popped up again much later in my life. As a traveler in my late twenties, I crossed paths with a young man who told tales of Denmark, his homeland. A land of fine beer, tall blondes and tastefully designed furniture. Its annual music festival at Roskilde was the biggest lure however, and so in the summer of 1987, I set off from England in a long boat, to row across the icy seas in homage to those fearless ancient raiders with funny helmets.*

In truth I took the ferry, it was much quicker and had a reasonably priced bar. But I was thinking of those mighty warriors as I sat nursing a pint of lager and munching a packet of cheese and onion crisps. My experiences of Denmark, the warmth of its people, the quality of its beers and the height of its blondes, made a lasting impression. I returned home tired, hungover and forever smitten by this small but perfectly formed jewel in the Nordic crown.

While I was Denmark-bound, a bold young Dane was making the opposite journey, leaving her home in the suburbs of Copenhagen to face a series of trials that would tax the mighty goddess Freya herself. Working as a community project volunteer with some very challenging people, she faced daily dangers and discomforts that would send lesser mortals scurrying back home in horror. But she was made of sterner stuff and she endured, which is just as well, because three years later she met me. Although neither tall nor blonde, this viking still managed to capture me with her cute smile, sparkling blue-grey eyes, and a large net. She became my soulmate and we have now sailed through twenty five years together, navigating stormy seas and balmy summer days alike.

I was able to enjoy many great trips back to warm and welcoming Scandinavia over the years, before I eventually made Denmark my home. On one of those visits I acquired a piece of silver jewellery, a recreation of an ancient viking find, known as Thor’s hammer. It serves as a reminder of how good fortune can, on occasion, bring some wonderful surprises your way.

On stormy nights I sometimes listen to the thunder shake the ground, watch the lightning flash across the sky and imagine the mighty Thor himself, up there in the halls of Asgard, being all butch and god-like. I also think of my brother, and how fortunate it was that my feeble blow to his cranium all those years ago caused such little lasting damage. I must remember to take him some more walnuts next time I visit.

*The horned Viking helmets are actually a myth, but they still sell well in the tourist gift shops of Copenhagen
Copyright J.Lennick 2015 All rights reserved.

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