The biggest news item on TV and the various plasma screens in trams and the metro last Sunday in Finland was the arrival of Mr Beckham to Turku for an operation on his Achille’s tendon. The retired Finnish surgeon, Sakari Orava, a world-leading expert in the field, seemed baffled by the media attention. ‘I’m retired and don’t really work much. But I happened to be free so I said yes when AC Milan contacted me,’ he said. And added, ‘I hope it goes well.’
A small and eager crowd of fans, mostly young girls, waited in the freezing cold Turku airport and were rewarded with a glimpse of Beckham’s face, his expression revealing that he was in some considerable pain. Screaming teenagers was probably the last thing he needed right then.
On the following day, Monday, there was more: in the morning when Daughter and I got onto the tram on Bulevardi, the plasma screen showed the news that Lady Beckham too was arriving in Turku. ‘Why Turku,’ Daughter said, exasperated, ‘why not Helsinki!’
It hadn’t escaped my notice either that the events were taking place in one of my least favourite cities in Finland. There’s a bit a national feud going on between Turku and my home town, Tampere. I’m not really sure why it is, it’s just always been our ambition to beat Turku in anything: ice-hockey, babies birthrate, most number of R-kiosks. You get the idea.
But more than the old rivalry between the cities, I was much more intrigued by another question. What was Mrs Beckham going to wear on her feet? A brief drop in the temperature the previous week, followed by an immediate cold snap had made the pavements at least in Helsinki more suitable for ice-hockey then walking. I’d been negotiating the streets with difficulty for four days now, and I wore flat winter boots. Her ten inch heels would surely prove challenging?
What I hadn’t realised that naturally she’d be driven straight to an underground entrance at the Mehiläinen hospital. From these pictures it seems clear she never even set foot outside on the icy pavements in the freezing temperatures.
What I wanted to know was where my private chauffeur had been all week?