It matters whether a cargo ship is carrying explosive devices known as Patriot missiles or explosive devices soon to be deployed at a party near you. (Just as it matters what role the Guggenheim franchise should have in our fair city’s future.)
So it’s hardly surprising that Finland’s biggest news story in the run-up to Christmas is the saga of the Thor Liberty. It features not just the longest storm in living memory to batter southern Finland, but also a heroic pilot-boat crew and a cargo-full of misnamed explosives. It appears that the story pivots around the difficulty of translating the Finnish word “räjähde”.
But we here at JHJ are minded to spread cheer, peace and calm. And so we’ll skip the never-ending bad news and note instead the unselfish behaviour of said pilot-boat crew and various other folks minded to help the distressed vessel (sailing, by the way, under a Manx-flag, whatever that might be).
And lest anyone should think that we here at JHJ have gone soppy (or had a bit too much glögi) we’ll share two more quick stories of goodwill from last week.
First, JHJ found herself pressed for time in this busy yet important season of loose-ends-up-tying and found herself in a taxi instead of a tram, on her way to meet aged relatives.
To her distress, after saying her goodbyes, she noticed her woolly hat was nowhere to be found. (And this after losing another one and then finding out about the 4.50€ it costs to track it down via HSL lost property.)
Heading out into the black, wet night of this December, JHJ remembered that unusually, she had taken the credit-card receipt on exiting the cab. Perhaps her dear beanie was on the floor of the taxi! With a quick phone call, she tracked down the owner of the taxi company. Her beanie was alive and no longer on the floor of the taxi.
The owner of the taxi (not the same guy as the driver, interestingly) volunteered to drop off the hat then and there. Alas at this point, JHJ was almost at the tram heading in a not-so-mutually-convenient direction. OK, we agreed, we have each other’s phone numbers, we’ll sort something out within Helsinki’s centre a.k.a. Kantakaupunki over the next few days.
To cut a long story short, the taxi driver – a funny man with a sideline in theatre and a nice wife – sent me a text message with the wife’s phone number and… four days later I got my hat back together with a nice smile and wishes for a good holiday season.
The story had a little bonus too. The couple live in Kallio where, as I am beginning to discover, a Helsinkian can find a number of good things, like garam masala, much more easily than in many other parts of our dear city.
Fast forward to the JHJ not-quite-annual Christmas trip to somewhere with snow almost guaranteed.
This is not that easy when one relies on public transport. But it can be done.
On picking up the keys to our cabin for the week we discover with Mr JHJ that we still, after a long day’s train and coach journey, have 500m to walk up hill. This means pulling heavy suitcases behind us. On wheels.
Now the invention of the wheel obviously did great things for (wo)mankind, but up here in the north the runner must have been just as important. What bliss to pull the cases up on a toboggan!
Until – crash! One bag fell off in the curve just as… a pair of headlights loomed up towards up from up the hill. Yikes!!! And it stopped – no doubt to hurl abuse at us for cluttering the roadway with our bags!
But no. Yet another good-hearted soul. It was driving the “courtesy car” (van) of the small company that runs this cabin. “You the folks who emailed about where the coach stop is?” he asked. And he gave us a lift (it was only another 300m but it was worth it!).
So, while all around is madness, people are still lovely.
Or whatever your tipple might be!