If you walk from Trondheimsveien through the old Schous brewery, you may hit the Grünerløkka branch of the Deichman, the municipal library. It’s on the edge of a small park, actually quite a fine little place.
I say actually, because the whole thing lacks just a little finish of conscious presence, a little brush-up to actually show the face of the building. It’s not in bad shape, not the park nor the building, it just lacks the last part of the job to say I’m here.
The building is from the 20-30’s about, passing from classicism to what in Norwegian is called «bollebarokk», clumsy baroque almost. Whitish grey walls, not showy, but not small either, for Oslo, that is.
If you go around the building, at the side of the tram stop at Thorvald Meyers gate first and then towards Toftes gate, and turn right, into the park, you see actually the face of it as it is thought out, maybe, or at least a very attractive view. Nice, but you find it, typically, on the least interesting side of the spot. Just as the Concert House, home of the Oslo Phil, crammed into too little space inbetween insurance companies and other offices. I think today in many people’s minds this conflict, between money and culture, is not there, but old politicians unluckily keep it alive. Yeah, I mean elderly.
Still, both places are actually nice places to be. You just have to be a little selective in what you see.
I suddenly feel I’m in a strange city, never been here before, the smell of tonight’s rain on the asphalt, on the lookout for new things, and there they are. I see the little park with its old building and modern concrete or stone benches and a little statue, a naked girl with a bird in her hands, she is quite beautiful, really.
A picture of ourselves, maybe, Norwegians, being either crushingly modest or talking too loud, sometimes about something we feel no one else understands – we have to tell them, then. Listen, mate, it’s like this, you see.
This is also a thing of the past, almost, but the past lingers on. Let go, for Christ’s sake, let go.
But a park is a world of its own. If it hadn’t been wet after the rain, I’d sit down on one of the concrete constructions and let past be past, and the present tence would linger on in my own way.