I lay there in the snow on my back a little bit worse for ware. It is 1am and I have been well and truly Finned, my attempt to walk home has encountered a temporary glitch in that I have made it no further than across the road before having to lie down. This is my second attempt at walking home but the last time I forgot my camera and with great effort had to walk back and get it. ‘Being Finned’ is what the Finnish do to each other on a regular basis, and what they take great delight in doing to foreigners.
As I lay there I began to make a snow angel but then the effort exhausted me. The main culprit of my situation comes over the road to look at me. “Jamie, what are you doing in the snow?” Tero is a delightful chap and the head electrician of the snow castle. He is such a friendly guy and said that I have always a place to stay if ever I want to come here on a vacation, anytime. “Yeeees, Jamie, in Finland we get very nervous when people lie in the snow…. because they die.” Fair point, it was -14. Still, lying in soft snow is a very seductive pleasure when you just want to go to sleep. But as Tero pointed out, in Finland that could be for a very long time.
“Yeees, Jamie, I almost forgot, I brought something to show you.” This was Tero an hour earlier and I am a bit worried as he goes out of the room to fetch what I know to be some instrument of torture. We had all been celebrating the finishing of the snow castle. They had had fireworks galore and a choir opening with “We’re walking in the air” from the snowman, and then somehow merging into “we will rock you” by Queen, and many of their other hits. Slightly bizarre, but everyone was rather merry I think and thoroughly enjoyed it; I for one was singing at the top of my voice which can be rather loud. Tero comes back into the room brandishing a bottle of clear liquid. I was by this stage already feeling a little delicate. I had made a mistake of sitting in amongst a circle of Finns. Even though everyone already had a drink in hand, they proceeded to crack open a bottle of whiskey and then pass it round the circle until it was finished. Peer pressure at its best. The bottle wasn’t finished before it got to me and so I had to have a second round. Taavi, who is the project manager of the snow castle grinned at me broadly and then introduced me to the next seven bottles. So when I saw Tero sat next to me with his clear liquid who’s name I do not remember, I was a little worried. Let’s just call it 80% as it is those innocent numbers that are burned in my mind. Tero beamed as he took the cap off, taking a healthy swig and then offering over to me. Not one to offend I took the bottle knowing too well that this was the end of my night and gulped back what can only be described as acid on fire. I took it the best I could but began to choke, fortunately the 6th bottle of whiskey was making a round and I grabbed the bottle to wash down the fire, gulping at it like water. I have never thought that I would use whiskey to do such a thing. Anti was so impressed that he then did the same pronouncing that “this is very bad” after a gulp of 80%, and then “this is OK” after the whiskey.
So you can forgive me for wanting to go to sleep in the snow. Luckily, Kimmo and Tero got me on my feet and I ambled home to the hotel, only to dance for an hour to some blues band to clear my head.
And today I go to Sweden to see some friends who I haven’t seen for some years. Oh dear.