Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Small Piece of Norway

Attending the now annual pan-Nordic get-together of publishers, editors, journalists, authors, translators and government cultural project directors held in conjunction with the London Book Fair last night, I was struck by the conviviality of the atmosphere. This year the party was held in the Norwegian ambassador's residence at 10 Palace Green - a fine historic building which really is a small piece of Norway, and where during World War II King Haakon VII held Council meetings with the Norwegian government in exile. Unusually at such receptions, where the only solid sustenance on offer is likely to be a tray or two of canap├ęs, there was a full buffet dinner prepared by the residence's chef, and this was a welcome accompaniment to the champagne.

Only a decade ago events of this kind, hosted by all the Nordic ambassadors, were a rarity - the assumption invariably being that there was too much rivalry between the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland for co-operative ventures, even ephemeral ones, to be possible. It seems that with the accession to the European Union of several of the Nordic countries (only Norway and Iceland remain outside) the impulse towards collaboration has grown stronger. This can only be a good thing.

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