I woke up this morning to the news that a wife carrying competition is going to take place in Finland later today. That time already, I thought. This, the 15th Eukonkanto World Championships in Sonkajärvi is an annual bizarre news item on the BBC. Somehow, every year, it fires the news editor’s imagination.
As a Finn, I’m fairly used to being the odd one out in a room, answering questions about strange happenings in my native land; or customs of my countrymen. Take the sauna culture. Hijacked first by Swedes, then Soho massage parlours, as a sexual activity, I’m sick of explaining that in fact it’s an age old tradition to clean oneself and that the nakedness is purely a practical state. I often add that it’s a fairly difficult affair to actually have sex in temperatures above 80C. And that in no way do you have a group of friends of different sexes go into a sauna together. Unless of course you’re sixteen and very drunk. This is usually the point when the person I’m speaking to sees someone they know on the other side of the room.
But over the years it’s occurred to me that the English, far from disapproving of the weird and wonderful activities of us Finns, actually quite envy us. And that the British themselves are quite strange. And that I married one of these eccentrics. Rather than scoff at the naked sauna culture, or the lack of embarrassment in nudity, Husband has embraced it.
So when I ran into the spare bedroom after hearing a loud shot this morning and saw him standing at the window naked, holding a gun, (no jokes please) with a mad look in his eyes, saying, ‘I got it!’ I wasn’t that surprised. When I enquired why he’d felt the need to shoot the squirrel, now lying rigid on the grass next to the half-dead plum tree, he calmly said, ‘He was eating my nuts.’ Again, I just saw the funny side of it.
But after a few minutes I started to worry: shooting squirrels who rob food from bird feeders may be a problem when we’re living in NW3.