Viking Pledge

The count-down has begun. It’s less than three months until I leave for a study tour of Scandinavia with more than twenty other writing students. Now, contrary to appearances, this is not just a government funded jaunt. This is a full credit subject that counts towards my degree and as such it has assessment and expectations. It has to be taken seriously. With that in mind I’ve decided to grow my beard in honour of the Vikings. Stay with me, there is a logic to this.

An important part of nearly every story is it’s sense of place. How different would Lord Of The Rings be if it were set in New York? What if Winnie the Pooh lived in Sydney? You see, the place or setting of a story makes a big difference. So, as this is a study tour for writing students, we will be expected to write a creative piece set in Scandinavia and it needs to capture the ‘genius loci’. The wha’? Genius loci. See what fancy words we learn at uni?

According to the Oxford dictionary it means

the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place.

What makes your town distinctive from anywhere else? It’s the landscape, the architecture, the weather, the people and much more. If you were blindfolded and tele-ported elsewhere, barring asking someone where you were, how would you find out? You could use the clues of the genius loci. Is it hot or cold? Mountainous or flat? What language are people speaking? What food do they eat? Is it city or country? All these things tell you about the place. They add up to the genius loci.

So, when I’m in Scandinavia I will do as the Scandinavians do… and between now and then I will grow my beard in honour of the Vikings. Or at least our clichéd version of them. With any luck it might end up like this:

Prince Vultan - Brian Blessed
Figure 1: How I might end up looking. Cool!


But I’m genetically semi-Chinese so I’ll probably end up looking more like:


Emperor Ming the Merciless
Figure 2: Hey, still cool.


How long can I grow my beard in under three months? Probably not much. If you take a look at Figure 3 below, you’ll see my facial features in their default state.


Pete with default beard - March 2012
Figure 3: How I look now. (Mar. '12)

As you can see, I’ve got a long way to go to catchup with either of these models of manliness. Check back later and we’ll see how’s it’s going.

Disclaimer: The author reserves the right to cut his beard back to normal in the event that he or his wife dislike it. Or in the case of any other event deemed by the author to require back pedalling.

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