Finland, Finland, Finland…

18 03 2012

So it’s almost a year since I last visited Finland. It’s a curious country. Very West European and Scandinavian in many obvious ways… but a bit Russian, and then again itself in others. The buildings in the Helsinki suburb we were staying in felt like communist tenements… but with more pleasant pastel colours. As with every country I visit, I learnt how to say “thank-you”, and in Finland it is Kiitos (or “key toss” if you prefer).

That, plus knowing how to ask for beer (which at least phonetically tends to conveniently be a close variant of “beer” – this alone shows to me the true brotherhood of Man) is pretty much all one typically needs to get through a business trip in most foreign countries – or even Canada actually.

So anyway, the slightly-out-of-focus reason for this particular posting is the Moomintrolls.

Wikipedia: The Moomins

Apart from the whole WWII/Russia thing, Finland isn’t particularly well known internationally beyond Nokia and the Moomins. It’s been overshadowed by its neighbour’s better colour scheme and wooden furniture (that’d be IKEA for the hard of thinking), and the export of its better ice hockey players to places like Canada and, well, no, just Canada.

The Moomins were presented to the world in the books by Tove Jansson from the late 40’s onwards, and made familiar to me as a kid in the UK via TV adaptations some decades later. I think the look of quiet surprise, like they’ve just been goosed in public, is one of their most endearing qualities… That plus Little My‘s “don’t mess with me or mine” glower.

Wikipedia: The Moomins. From left to right, Sniff, Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Moomintroll (Moomin) and Little My.

Oh – and for finishers (sorry – it slipped out) here’s Monty Python‘s take on Finland, as sung by Michael Palin (who is from Yorkshire. Just sayin’.)