‘ORKNEY is coming back to us,” the wide-eyed Viking grinned. It was the first I’d heard. OK, he was really a mild-mannered painter from Oslo who followed up his claim by explaining the plot of Outlander to me.

The phrase I am told, is actually that Orkney is exploring “alternative forms of governance”. And alright, Shetland has been considering something similar since 2020 without anything too drastic happening. But still, Orcadians, if you’re Nor-curious, you’d best be prepared.

Before, I start, I just want to make it clear that I don’t blame you. I’m just back from six months in Norway and, honestly, I’d love to say Scotland’s gone to pieces without me. But, it was in pieces when I left.

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I’m glad to be able to separate my identity from the horrors of our oh-so-United Kingdom, but watching Holyrood I do often wish I could take that one step further.

I can’t. I’m not from a wee island and I don’t even have an Orcadian granny, which I suppose means that should Orkney decide to go it alone, I won’t qualify for the national team. Nor for that matter will my granny.

I’m not from Norway either. But I’ve watched jealously in the streets of Bergen on Norway’s Independence Day (Syttende mai to locals) as they celebrated 209 years of independence from Sweden. And in my time studying there, I’ve eaten more of Bergen’s signature pastries than most self-respecting Norwegians do in a lifetime. That calorific groundwork has got to count for something.

In the 600 years that have passed since Norway relinquished rule, the Vikings haven’t forgotten everything – the ferry services are still brilliant. Modernised too (less pillaging). And imported from Turkey for around half the price we paid.

Norway really does have something to be jealous of. Norwegian nationalism is grounded in pride in the reality of rural life and backed up by policy decisions.

The result is that rural Norway, including many islands, support higher population densities and more thriving economies than most areas of the Highlands and Islands, Shetland and Orkney. But it’s not all oil, ferries and pastries. Norway is also a land of an insidious capitalism, military service, active whaling and it has a king. A monarch’s a monarch for a’ that. Really why bother?

And Norway is no rural idyll. Excluding oil exports (as is the somewhat mental norm) Norway has nearly 50% higher per capita CO2 emissions than even the UK and the armada of oil-funded, speed-limit hugging Teslas to match.

On reflection, Orkney (below) could go the same way. The controversial Highly Protected Marine Areas appear to be a long-overdue precaution which would most likely benefit fishing in the long run.

The National: Orkney is looking to explore alternative forms of governance for the islands

As Scottish nationalism has learned, there’s a tricky line to be walked with populism.

Still with us? I thought so. Ah well, for the Nor-curious Orcadian, here are my ill-informed recommendations. Lykke til.

1) Turn the ferries to port. I know it’s not as simple as sending the ferries to Bergen. But that is my first recommendation. Some ferries in Norway run every 15 minutes. I rest my case.

2) Stop stripping the willow – and start planting them. Orkney has 0.1% woodland cover compared to around 33% in Norway.

3) Get your skis on. Yes, it’s a stereotype but most Norwegians really do have their kids on skis by the time they’re five.

Don’t worry about the Kirkwall’s disappointingly un-Scandic lack of snow, the Norwegians have a bizarre roller-ski solution. Get them ordered in bulk and the pensioners practising.

4) Wipe out the gentry. Apparently, this is what happened when the Black Death rocked up in medieval Norway and has resulted in a more classless society (admittedly that class was essentially peasants until the Norwegians invented oil).

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5) Pretend not to understand mainlanders. Although there is less similarity between English and Scots, all the Scandinavians I met were keen to point out how different Norwegian (in both its forms), Swedish and Danish all are.

So, Orcadians, practise your quizzical looks, and get ready to make it clear you have no idea what mainland politicians are on about. On second thoughts. that might not be so difficult …