Saturday, 2 October 2010
I was nervous on the train, just because of my slightly off registration form and the subversive literature in my bag, and the stories I had heard of anarchists in Russia. But it was nothing, just a boring journey.
Strange, but as soon as I entered the carriage (actually the platform, thinking about it now), it felt very different to Russia. Finns have very distinctive faces, for a start - several types of face but all very distinct from other countries. (I hope to find a cartoonist who captures them.) And the whispering! Women in Finnish whisper at amazing speed and with no pauses and this created a major sibillant susserance in the carriage, which at first was a very impressive, restrained thing, but then became bloody annoying after a couple of hours because it just never stopped and what on earth could be so exciting to talk about for so long?
Like a chinese water torture, as the saying goes.
As soon as we entered Finland itself the weather changed too, got much colder and with thin lines of hanging white mist 12 foot above the ground, in the leaf layer. Still lakes giving blue deep reflections of the sky and the trees with their leave on the water, and FROST! The first frost I've seen this year (except up in the distance on the mountains of Baikal), it was very exciting.
Arrived knackered in Finland. An extra hour got added to the day, which I'd not anticipated, and this made the journey feel even longer. Last night I was becoming a real pain for Dima because I was so tired, suffering from multiple days of postponed sleep which I never had chance to catch up on. He's so good natured he didn't seem to mind, but if he'd not had that profound russian patience we'd've got narky and ended on tense friendly terms like I used to with my old mate Ben.
I must admit, much as I will miss all the russian things of the last month or more (and looking at peoples' online photos of our time together is really emphasising this), I grinned with pleasure at being back in the western world. Not on principle, but on re-meeting things that I love, and value, and which are REALLY hard to find in Russia. Like comics, and art magazines, and free listings papers and NME-style magazines and gig posters and loads of quasi-bohemian art spaces. Just a border creates this difference, crazy. Political art stickers on lamp posts. People with innocently stupid London-style 'cool' haircuts and new york fashions, but scruffy so there's no stuffiness.
And there are, I have counted so far, 8 different small live music events I could (should) go to tonight. If only I wasn't so tired. And I found out about them by just walking round the streets. You don't find ANYTHING out by just walking around with your eyes open in Russia. And I must say the (customer service type) people I've met have been so much more friendly, chatty, and verbally intelligent than I got used to in Russia. And people stop at traffic lights and zebra crossings, actually they stop with an almost manic obedience, so you feel stressed by all their eyes on you if you walk over a 6foot lane when there's no cars even in sight. A bit repressive.
So I won't follow Kropotkin north, where he went (somewhere, lord knows exactly where) on his escape from Russia. I'll go the sensible, easy, cheap and fast way across the water east to west to Stockholm, and have a happy day bumming about, finding comics, cutting and sticking, and SLEEPING. Oh such a wonder is sleep. If God existed, I would thank him for the blessing. I reckon the odds are 8:1 on me actually making it out to a venue tonight.
Picture of anarchist Russian sailors in Helsinki.