Stockholm, Sweden — Norway, not normally a nation noticed by the rest of Europe, has one claim to fame in the popular mind from Birmingham to Bratislava.
Once a year it gives millions of television viewers a laugh with its entry for a hugely popular TV happening called The Eurovision Song Contest, in which all Europe is hooked up for a mammoth competition to chose the best pop song.
The Norwegian entry is always awaited with bated breath.
It has twice scored zero points in the contest--a record. It has placed last five times (a record) and second from last seven times (another record).
''But this year we are out to win--make no mistake about that,'' says Harald Tusberg, head of light entertainment for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, who is masterminding the 1982 assault on Europe's eardrums.
''Although we have always tried to win, you know,'' he adds sadly.
His ace-in-the-hole this year could be a number that has been chosen with the aid of Prof. Rene Herail, of the French department of Leeds University in England.
Professor Herail took pity on the hapless Norwegians and used computers to pick the number most likely to succeed in 1982.
But nothing is being left to chance.
Five other songs by professional composers are currently being vetted and another four will be selected from thousands of entries being submitted by Norwegians over the entire country in a patriotic bid to escape what has become an annual humiliation.
On March 20, in a mammoth national TV show from Oslo, Norway's ''Song for Europe'' will be chosen.
Europe waits, stifling a fit of the giggles.