At the end of another ridiculously hot summer, Helsinki and its residents are beginning to return to something akin to normal. It being the second week of August, traffic jams are back and terrace bars/waterside cafes/Helsinki streets are heaving.
Helsinkians also have to learn how to share the city with those other urban residents, the dreaded and well-fed Helsinki seagulls. It is they, by the way, who are behind such high sales of fishing line in contemporary Helsinki.
Apart from the stringing up of anti-sea-gull devices, there are many, many other recurrent events which come with the seasons. We aren’t suggesting anything to do with autumn yet, merely that the summer has reached a new phase. It’s now crayfish season, raspberry season and pull-pea season (anyone who knows where to buy “vetoherne” please let us know), and athletics season.
We are horribly aware that there is something akin to looting season going on in the UK. So-called high-street shops but also independent shops into which individual and collaborative effort has no doubt been poured over years, perhaps decades, is being smashed up in a frenzy of, well, disaffection and despair among other things.
“Get a job”, people are saying about the looters and rioters. Alas, not many jobs around (see our previous post).
Meanwhile, though storm clouds have been seen (and heard! were you here last night?!) here in Helsinki the looting is just on a screen in two (at most) dimensions. In fact, Helsinki’s enterprising types appear to have revved up the energy-levels over the summer. Everywhere you look there’s a new shop being built!
Interestingly, it’s marketing folks who seem to be behind some of this stuff, like the Aitokauppa in Ullanlinna.
Also, rumour has it, public money is involved. Sitra is actually bankrolling this future “chain”. So whereas the delightful Laivurin Valinta at the other end of the street remains a genuine independent, the idea of the good folks of Ullanlinna becoming the beneficiaries of state-supported access to good, real food as some kind of human right. Well …
How much do we care? Not sure. With such schemes at least Helsinki’s often dead streets have some hope of being brought back to a life they had in the 1960s, the glory days of Finnish retail.
The Aitokauppa is a pun. From (m)aitokauppa which people of my generation still remember, “milk shop” or ordinary shop, but Aito means authentic so it’ll be more real, say, than chain store stuff.
It was once a Siwa. Ex-co-op movement they may be, but so ugly are they that I can’t say I’d ever miss one of them. Their branding people want the cheap look and think this is achieved by being seriously ugly. So ugly in fact that I will not have JHJ defaced with an image of them! Instead, a gratuitous if seasonally apt image of a K-shop.
(You ever tried cooking live crayfish?!)