The visit of the illustrious Mr Medvedev

April 22, 2009

Finland is an odd country with odd people who do odd things. The best example is the visit of an invited guest, the President of Russia. Why and wherefore was this head-of-state invited?

The first thing to note is that Mr Medvedev is not an imposing figure. I have never met him so I can only surmise from bits and bobs. That he is short is obvious. When he stands next to Russia’s Foreign Minister, Lavrov, it is clear he is a wee man. Standing next to Tarja Halonen, the Finnish President, he is short. Indeed he is shorter. And since I know that Halonen is short, miniscule, wee, elfin, then one can only come to the  conclusion that Medvedev is too. His predecessor is no bigger but not dainty in the same way as the present President. But I digress.

The Russian President is also boring. If one casually looks at an haddock ready to be filleted, one comes to the conclusion that this is a boring fish. Although the Russian President is not an haddock he shares the quality of boring-ness with the fish. I don’t want to carp on this but he is boring. But I digress, once again.

Why was he in Finland? A good question. There are open issues between Russia and Finland although anyone living more than 500 kilometres in any direction from Helsinki would not guess it. This man was invited to celebrate a birthday, of sorts. Finns are celebrating two hundred years of the beginning of their independence – from Sweden.

Odd, you might think. Why would I invite my jailer to celebrate my freedom?

There are matters between Finland and Russia which need airing. The fact that Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister was present at the celebrations indicates that many issues were discussed in the limos, on the way, hither-and-thither, as Alexander Stubb said in a TV interview last night. Surely, these two discussed Russian warplanes intruding into Finnish airspace. Estonia and the other Baltic states. Finno-ugric minorities in the Russian hinterland. NATO and Finnish neutrality. Energy and especially the North Stream pipeline. Cat fights between Finnish firms and the St Petersburg nomenklatura. Wood and timber imports from Russia. Oh yes, and Karelia.

In past, the Finnish Press has been quiet, reticent, to stir the political chamber pot, but this visit by the Russian President was oddly different. Several things happened which made it different. 

One: Finnish journalists were in Medvedev’s face, coldly asking him hard questions. This was clearly evident in two issues which I thought would never see the light of day. The first  issue with which the journalists cudgled Mdevedev was why it is that Russians are allowed to buy land, houses, properties, in Finland, with no encumbrances, while no Finn is allowed to buy anything in Russia and especially not in Karelia? The second issue which threw the pint-sized President off his stride was: Why is the Karelia question not being discussed?

Two: The Finnish President was irritated by the brash attitude of Finnish journalists.

Three: A bad taste was left in the mouth, of many if not all, Finns because this visit was clearly inappropriate.

Four: The Russian President had the good sense to cut his visit short, realizing, albeit belatedly, that his visit was not going down very well. 

My question is: who is the dolt who invited him? Alexander Stubb, Finland’s Foreign Minister? The Finnish President? The Finnish Parliament? The Speaker of the Parliament? Whoever it was, I say shame on you!

—–

A very short history of Finnish Russian relations and background to the visit to Borgå Porvoo by the Russian President

This part of Europe suffers from a very complicated history. Finland had been part of Sweden like a county or départment, since the time of Birger Jarl (1249 – Second Swedish Crusade).

In short it is this. Peter the Great wanted to have a port to the Baltic. In order to get this he had to defeat the existing power holder which was Sweden. He deftly used the Polish-Livonian Commonwealth to tire out the Swedes with war and pounced on Charles XII of Sweden’s demoralized armies, defeating them and occupying the region region that is now St Peterburg. All this bloodletting ended with the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Peter sold Finland back to Sweden (the Russians occupied most of Finland since 1714) for two million Riksdaler. Peter kept some parts of Finland, parts of Karelia and what became the Russian capital, St Petersburg. Since he had claimed it as the Russian capital in 1712, it would have been unseemly to give it back.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, in 1741, the Hats, a party which wanted to revive the old glories of Sweden, came into the ascent, at which poin tthe the Russians occupied Finland years ago. Given that the majority of less than five hundred thousand people were freed yeomen, the task was not difficult. Subsequent wars with Russia lost more of Finland to Russia. In 1809, Sweden and Russia once again went to war and this time Sweden was defeated and finally forced out of Finnish political life. It was in 1809 and in Borgå/Porvoo that the Grand Duchy of Finland was declared, with Tsar Alexander I as the Grand Duke of Finland . The Duchy of Finland was to retain the Gustavian constitution of 1772. This did not change until 1919 when Finland was an independent state.


Twenty years later…

March 7, 2009

I was asked to do the Saturday shopping. Nothing in that, you may be thinking. However. unlike the vast majority of people in the west – I may be exaggerating – I do not go shopping by car. I walked.
Why would we take a car when the shopping precinct is a mere 80 metres away? We (the royal I) have a pair of  good legs – still – and we both enjoy a saunter through the town square. If need be, we can take our bicycles and use it as beast of burden.

Things have changed in the twenty years we have lived in this town. We moved here with very little in the way of baggage and almost nothing in the way of money. I have had the means to rid myself of the R12 which (barely) brought us here from Helsinki hence going by car to do the shopping would have meant nail-biting anxiety due in large part to a car that was as trustworthy as a leaky boat without a bilge pump. Now we do not have to suffer the idignity of ruptured radiators or flat batteries. We are the fortunate few who can luxuriate in the knowledge that if our car breaks down, then so be it.

Anyway, the thing is I get myself off, thinking that this is going to be two birds with one stone – my daily constitutional and a favour to my beloved. The first thing to get my dandruff to fly was the pavement down from our house was icy. If the incline was any steeper I would be careening into the frozen Vähäjoki (Little River) and dieing a horrible death. At least that is what a neighbour and I tut tutted about. He caught me  just as I was turning the crest of our side street. Therein lies one of the dangers of walking in this town (as opposed to driving) – namely – running into neighbours, commiserating, linguistic acrobatics, and finally formulating a timely but civil  adieu. My mind was frisky today, so I said something drôle, he chortled and I got away scott-free, getting into a purposeful stride. As I stood at the lights to cross over to town square, an elderly neighbour came up behind me. I winkled an “huomneta” (good morning) which was a feat worth noting. Getting a grunt from a Finn (in this part of Finland they are called “Real” Finns) is an accomplishment if not a treat.

We still have snow on the ground which is not unusual for this time of year. It is also hovering on zero, this too is not unusual. I say this because when the weather is  like this then certain things are to be expected while others are not. This will be evident soon.

What is different from then and now is the number of cars on the road. What was a zebra crossing is now a five way traffic stop. The number of cars keeps increasing and they run all hours of the day. The noise has lessened though as the gargantuan lorries have another route. Still, town square (tori) is ringed by parked cars on the east and west and zinging cars to the south and north roads. The square itself is nearly empty. There are a fewer than a handful of merchants but oddly it has a busy feel to it. Some people are queuing up for fish, smoked meats and flowers. In the distance I hear accordion music with a saxophone taking the tune. How very odd! I thought. First, it is awfully loud. Indeed, if you were to take a poll of any Finn approaching the town square you would see the same exclamation over their noggins. Loudness, of whatever ilk, is frowned upon especially at any time in the morningside. Loud music has its time and place.

A local Romany girlsalo-fall-fair-090113-3641.jpgAs it turned out, the music was being cranked out by two gypsies (the politically sensitive would prefer Romany – I use the word gypsy because it not not a negative word). But these are not the local gypsies. These are clearly people from eastern Europe, here to cadge a shilling or two from the locals. You may be wondering how it is possible to get sound from a saxophone in this cold weather. That is the thought that came to my mind too. I stuck to my objective and went to cross the bridge in front of the pair when the saxophone player throws a “hello” (in English) at me thinking that it would fool me into parting with my money. How gratifying, I thought, to know that there are people who can play the saxophone, shout out a greeting to someone on the other side of a bridge, and go back to mouthpiece without missing neither a beat nor a note. I mean, did Stan Getz have such dexterity?

[singlepic id=2 w=320 h=240 float=left]
I was taking a snap of the church in the background – when a head pops into the viewfinder explaining why she is not in focus. She is a summer “tourist” from Romania who are intrepidly exploring new begging territories.

Upon hearing the greeting thrown at me, my mind flipped back to last summer when I was taking snaps of local landmarks and in front of the camera jumps a face – a young woman – I immediately thought of the cuckoo clock at aunt’s cottage – coocoo – coocoo. She sidled up to me to me  and started off with German.

I responded but then she went over to French and I responded again affirmatively she then moved over to Romanian but then I could not respond. The lesson I learned from this was that she was not trying to find a language in which we could communicate but rather in which we could NOT communicate. I understand that it can be bothersome to have someone like me interject awkward linguistic hyperbole “I will not give you money but I can surely offer you a warm meal and a bed. Let me call my wife and warn her we are having a guest. OK?”

I moved rapidly towards the shopping precinct, itself a building of boring understatement. Twenty years ago, the street was bounded by old buildings and even a small clump of terraces next the central bus station. It was quaint but in a good way. It had a small town feel to it then. Now we are modern, now we have a faceless box. Salo is still a small town but with metropolitan pretensions.

Before I entered the shopping precinct (we call it Plaza), I was accosted by an earnest young man. Looking deeply into my eyes he asked me if I spoke English, showing me his goods – binoculars with a Made in Russia stamp very visible. “Yes, of course.” I tried to engage him but no, I was wrong again. He did not want to communicate. He moved into Russian but coming back to the word cheap many times making it sound as though it too was a Russian word. Naturally he saw me from afar and like lice spotting a toupé, he attaches himself to me thinking “easy mark”. I am younger than many of my neighbours heading into Plaza ergo I should probably be able to understand words like “cheap” was his reasoning. I threw a question at him. No reply. The earnestness in his eyes shone through. I hastily left him to consider my words, “Is that with VAT or not?”

Plaza is, frankly, a white oversized coffin. On the outside. Inside though, it is a lively small town square, abuzz with pensioners lollygagging about, goggling each other, passing a word or two to friends and strangers and even avoiding each other. It is not unpleasant but I cannot see myself spending endless hours, as I know some do, watching the world go by. Today,  the tannoys are ringing out with news about a circus visiting Plaza and would it not be great to join in so come along we have tons of things to do, prizes and sales of numerous items, including clowns. I did not hear elephants but I imagined elephants. Yes, I am convinced I heard elephants. Who cleans up after them? Where are the pachyderms parked? Surely not in the main foyer? (purposefully I pronounced foyer, foy-err like our yankee cousins – in my head I should add).

The shopping was quick. Remember the loyalty card. In and out.

The jaunt back was easier because the gauntlets had diminished by one – the binocular boy had shuffled off.

We did not have gauntlets twenty years ago. Oh well.

The music was still sprawling itself over town square but this time the “hello” did not come. The tune was the same and thankfully not off key. Then it was time to make a final decision. Flowers or no: a no-brainer, as my yankee cousins would say –  International Women’s Day, ergo tulips. However, found myself queuing up – five deep. The lady after me handed the farmer-florist-grower whom I have known for twenty years – a crispy twenty and said that she wanted to use the whole lot for a collection of his best. No financial crisis then. I bought a nut cake, and haggled 10% off.

What a brilliant way to begin a  day.


Strictly Come Dancing or in Finnish Tanssii Tähtien Kanssa

April 20, 2008

Sometimes the best thing to do is to close ones eyes and sleep. The next best thing is to move to a far away place where the only news you get is that which the lark brings with its song.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Swedes and Finns – so alike yet bizarrely different

November 5, 2007

In a recent article in the Hufvudstadsbladet (a Finnish, Swedish-language quality daily tabloid) I read, with a grin, to be sure, how Finns and Swedes perceive each other and themselves.

The upshot of a report by Thorleif Petterson and Sakari Nurmela(1) , which is the basis for the article, you may well like your neighbour if you know little of of him, and you likely despise him if you know too much of his habits and proclivities. To put it another way, the Swedes like the Finns but they know next to nothing of the object of their admiration, and the Finns despise the Finns, though they know everything about them, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Finns and Swedes share a peninsula in the far north of Europe.

Cutting through the fluff the list looks like this:

Swedes Finns
* Strong defenders of democracy
* Defenders of equality of the sexes
* More politically engaged and self-identity with political party
* 80% objected to the idea that
– "men should be given preference in the job market when unemployment is high"
– "men are better political leaders then women"
"a university education is more important for boys than girls"

—–
* Accept the collective and the idea of best for all
* Accepting of minorities, participate in demonstration and more trusting of strangers
* deviate from the "standardized" European model indicating that the cultural gap has widened between the Finns and Swedes
* More important to help in creating rules but not necessarily to follow them
——————–
* Trust Finnish institutions 
* 75% claim that they have friends in Finland

*do not react to anti-democratic methods
* more chauvinistic attitude on matters of equality of the sexes
* more practical in political matters engaging the style "management by perkele(2)"
* see Swedes as highbrow and self-important
* believe that Swedes look down at their noses at Finns
* 60% objected to the idea that
– "men should be given preference in the job market when unemployment is high"
– "men are better political leaders then women"
"a university education is more important for boys than girls"
—–
* More egotistical and stress personal achievement
* More often than Swedes will hold to the need to respect authority, obedience, law and order, God, struggle against inflation
* Fit the "standardized" European model
* more important to follow rules than to create them

————-
* Do not trust Swedish institutions
* 25% claim they have friends in Sweden

– Bengt Lindroth added a caveat, namely that the questions were biased in such a way as to give the Swedes advantage. He claims, had the issues been about work ethic and the EU, the results might well be different.

1. Research funded by Kulturfonden, the Finnish Swedish-language culture fund with the World Values Survey (http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/)

2. perkele – a rather offensive word which has the strong flavour of the English f**k

Caveat: As we all know, all generalization are false including this one, but a grain of truth is to be found in all generalizations.

———————————————————————————————-

The study did not consider another important issue when judging Finns and their relationship to Swedes. This is to say that Finns find it hard to focus on Swedes as a target of their love or hate because Finns can get a little mixed up about who is really a Swede or a make-believe Swede. Finns have a Swedish speaking minority in their midst which many group with Swedes. The expletive which Finnish speakers spit at Swedes include their own countrymen.

The first thing to appreciate is that Finns, perhaps more than any other nationality, are flattered that a non-Finn should speak their language. The most flattering is to actually listen to a "native" Swede speaking Finnish… in Sweden. I have a friend from Norrköping who actually has this trick up his sleeve. Had he been interested in Finnish politics, he could have garnered enough votes at national elections to get a seat in Finnish Parliament. Stupidly, he went back to Sweden.

We all like to be flattered, you are saying. Ah yes, flattery suggests a positive attitude by both the receiving and giving parties. Flattery, from a Finnish angle, however, is allowed to be the bad kind – that is to say, negative. To put it another way, it is good even though it is bad. Or to put it yet another way, there is no such thing as bad publicity. It is true that a Finn would prefer to hear nice things about himself and his nation but if not, then by all means say something bad. Anything. It does hurt Finns to be blasted by news from Uruguay and the Argentine that "el diablo Fennico" is building a paper mill (completed and ready to pulp trees into paper as soon as the Ibero-Latin American conference in Lisbon provides the forum for the new Argentine president to bless the project) but the same Finn is proud that it is a Finnish pulp mill and not a Swedish mill being lambasted by very angry Argentines.

Having lived in both countries, one cannot but smile at how true some of notions of national sensibilities really are. The study tangentially alludes to how Swedes simultaneously look down their collective noses at and look up in admiration, with blinking cow eyes, at the Finns. It does not mention that Finns just plainly find Swedes fickle therefore impossible to admire, although it should be said six million Finns visit Sweden every year (Finland’s population is five million).

The two neighbours, the Finns and the Swedes, have a very long common history. Finnish suedo-phobes use their common history to defend their mistrust and, one might even say, hate, of the damned neighbours to the west. Suedo-philes defend the special relationship with their western neighbour, claiming that there is a cultural and spiritual bond, and yes, gulp, a blood, genetic bond. The language bond is slowly disappearing, though. It is sad to note that Swedish in Finland is the language of the walking dead. It will disappear in the next three generations if the history of the Swedish-speakers in Finland in the past 100 years is the measure which we use.

Finns and Swedes are not as different from each other as they like to believe which is to say that more alike than almost any other folk group in the world. The countless number of regions in which I have travelled and lived has shown me that there might be more dissimilarity in the same country than that which might be found between the Finns and Swedes. Take Spain. Galicians speak a dialect of Portuguese, not Castilian. They are very different from the Andalusians, who speak a dialect of Castilian. Both groups will attest that although they live in the same country they are as different as oil and water. Moreover, other Spanish folk groups will attest and swear that, yes, the Andalusians are very different from the Galicians but then add that "more" different" again is their own from everyone else.

If you believe it is the geography that shapes the people then Finns and Swedes should be as different from each other as cherries in a cherry pie. Indeed, if you were to fly over both countries in an hot-air balloon you would clearly see that Finland and Sweden do not look all that different, until you come to southern Skåne (Scania). Even the Swedes would say that the robust citizens of Scania are not really Swedes.

The land of the Svea or Svea Rige Svea rike that is to say Sverige, also included the Finnish province until the Russians came in (with a little help from a Salo local hero/traitor – Armfeldt) and swept away the Swedish dominion and became a Russian Duchy in 1809. The common history of the two countries does not melt many Finnish hearts though. I clearly recall one student who became agitated when we discussed the history of Finland. His red face turned a Vatican purple when we came to the Vikings and the colonization of Finland. Our region was settled by Vikings therefore explaining, in some small way, why it has been a Swedish-speaking area of Finland. The  sore point for Finnish speakers is that their forefathers, and some believe even they personally, were and have been on the wrong end of Swedish iron fist of occupying Swedish overlords. In other words, all the Swedes, this includes Finns with Swedish as mother tongue, have money (or land), have always had it, gloated over it and kept it for their own kind, making sure that all Finns, that is non-Swedish speakers, were kept as low down the social totem pole as possible say, mucking out the pig sties. It does not matter that the reality was that ninety nine percent of these colonizers were fisherfolk, artisans and small tenant farmers and indeed their own progenitors. This perspective of history is subtle because like all spurious interpretations of history, it is a mixture of fact and fiction.

I would suggest that this view of Finnish history is so pervasive that even well educated people promote it, subconsciously. People like Jari Tervo, a published author and social critic are prey to this malaise. Some days back in Uutisvuoto, he made a snide comment on the publication of the annual earnings of Finns. (This information is freely available and therefore published by all local papers. I know what my neighbour makes therefore making it possible to look down at nose at him or kowtow like any true blue sycophant to those up the hill). He is himself quite a wealthy man. He added to comic soliloquy by remarking on how bizarre it was that Swedish families – he meant Finns whose mother tongue was Swedish – were making vast sums of money from the robbery their forefathers perpetrated on the lowly Finnish speakers. The irony was surely not lost on the viewers: the fact that the chairman of the game show and two of the panellists were Swedish-speakers who surely had with no visible means of support other than their ability to gab in both tongues and – oh yes, forgot, sorry – their inherited vast tracts of farm and woodlands.  What he was suggesting, of course, is that these people, the landed gentry, remnants of the Swedish Junker over-class, are lazy sods who make their millions because of an historical injustice. This attitude is not uncommon and will never disappear until all Swedish-speakin

g Finns are all dead. Or Finnish speakers like Jari Tervo  think before they speak.

This points to another characteristic of Finns. They are bad imitators of other nations’ proclivities. They are bad at imitating the French, the Americans, anyone really. OK, perhaps the reason may not be that they are not good at imitating others. Perhaps it is because Finns are reflective and prone to keep quiet because they may say something silly or off-colour and thereby injure their own reputation. Jari is a poor example of this rule. Strike that. Jari is a good example: he tries to imitate one of the English clever clogs on the BBC’s News Quiz (say Jeremy Hardy) and comes out as being silly or worse, stupid.

Our town is one of those places which shows how the Swedish connection has been erased from folk memory. Sadly, it will never be brought back. This was obvious to me many years ago when I went to register my family at the police. I learned how ramrod the Finnish-speaking Finn could be. Since I was not (yet) capable of communicating in Finnish, I asked to be served in Swedish, at the police registration office. Since it was an obligation on the part of the authority in charge of the registration of in-coming resident to offer services in Swedish, my request was not unusual. The receptionist, the wife of the registering magistrate,  was not competent in Swedish, she dutifully called her husband. What followed almost made me turn around, pack up the family and leave for warmer climes. The bureaucrat squalled like a storm in a teacup. The short of it was clear: service in Swedish was not available in his office and that Finnish will have to do "Hyvästi!" or ‘Adieu!’ in English. My Finnish skills were non-existent but I realized that since I was on the wrong side of the counter, I was the one to take off my cap and cower.

Now consider a few simple facts. As a higher apparatchik of the Finnish state, this man (a lawyer by training) could only have got his commission if he could prove a thoroughgoing competence in the Swedish language. Secondly, he had taken an oath to promote and protect the laws of Finland which clearly states that Finland is a bilingual country. There is the matter that I was a human being seeking to exercise my obligation to the Finnish state  which is that  a new resident must register in the new town in which he has taken up residence. Oh well, like a coin coin, a Finn has two sides. He is shy. But the other side of shyness is callous arrogance. The study brought this out.

Our town will be the core of the new commune. The "forced" joining of villages and towns into larger agglomerations is now in full swing. Salo will bring into its political sphere Finnish-speaking communes. However one of these is a Swedish-speaking commune – Finnby or Särkisalo. The Swedish-speakers tried to push for Swedish language services before the decision to join Salo was made. The village could have joined the Swedish-speaking commune centering on Kimito but finally chose Salo ostensibly for economic reasons. The Salo town mayor was quizzed by the local paper about Salo offering services in Swedish. There was no hand-wringing in his answer. This is the way Finns like it. There is no money, he said and thereby got full marks from pleased Salo burghers. Oh and total stumpf-ness.

Ironically, this was the same that Finby residents voted to go with Salo and not Kimito. There is NO money in Kimito, full stop, end of story and don’t bring it up again. Ok?  Do we understand each other? Finns are ramrods when money is the issue.

Although the study seemed, on the face of it, a bit jokey, a bit of rib-jabbing over a cold bottle of Koskenkorva/Absolut, there was enough meat on the bone to get me and others to engage in a bit of head scratching. The fact is that Finns and Swedes do get along with each other and, when all is said and done, they are genuinely fond of each other. It is true that Swedes do not like to come second to Finns but Finns are even less keen on falling in behind the Swedes at the podium. Finns like to win at anything, everything. But the sweetest victory is Swede bashing on the ice rink. Beating the Swedes and Russians (in that order) is better than taking the gold. (This contrasts with the Swedes who prefer to beat the Canucks and Russians  – n that order). To the Finns, the nectar of victory is sweeter still it is achieved in the host country, and that country is Sweden, that losing side is the Swedish Tre Kronor National side, it is done with aplomb, cheek, irony and from the position of underdog. The puck glided into the net to the sounds of "Det glider in…"   a rather nice pop melody written for the Finnish national team, with a Swedish language libretto and a Swedish coach at the helm. Sweet. Häftigt! Makea!


An eye for an eye, a truth for a truth

November 4, 2007

Yesterday, in many Swedish-language papers, the actions of a father’s protective love for his daughter was headline news. For a man travelling to the USA for a conference, his trip turned into a bother when he was forced obliged to spend a night in a Floridian clink which, according to him, was smeared with blood and (human?) faeces.

In a pique of distaste for his former son-in-law’s his lack of moral commitment to his daughter and his children, he popped off an email to the authorities claiming his former son-in-law was in cahoots with Al-Qaida. His junket to  Orlando was meet up with his contacts in the clandestine group and not to attend a conference, as he would claim when challenged by US authorities.

According to Säpo (Säkerhetspolisen or Sweden’s Interior Police, something analogous to the RCMP or the FBI) the father-in-law defended his action by stating that the it was the fault of the bureaucrats who took his claim seriously: "After all, can they be so stupid as to believe anything." Obviously the poor man has never to crack wise with an American customs officer. Säpo is now charging the father-in-law with gross slander.

There is a moral to this story. If anyone can suggest a pithy moral, then do.

Mine is: there is no smoke without burning bacon on the grill.

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Quote of the day:
He may be mad, but there’s method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It’s what drives men mad, being methodical. – G. K. Chesterton


An eye for an eye, a truth for a truth

November 4, 2007

Yesterday, in many Swedish-language papers, the actions of a father’s protective love for his daughter was headline news. For a man travelling to the USA for a conference, his trip turned into a bother when he was forced obliged to spend a night in a Floridian clink which, according to him, was smeared with blood and (human?) faeces.

In a pique of distaste for his former son-in-law’s his lack of moral commitment to his daughter and his children, he popped off an email to the authorities claiming his former son-in-law was in cahoots with Al-Qaida. His junket to  Orlando was meet up with his contacts in the clandestine group and not to attend a conference, as he would claim when challenged by US authorities.

According to Säpo (Säkerhetspolisen or Sweden’s Interior Police, something analogous to the RCMP or the FBI) the father-in-law defended his action by stating that the it was the fault of the bureaucrats who took his claim seriously: "After all, can they be so stupid as to believe anything." Obviously the poor man has never to crack wise with an American customs officer. Säpo is now charging the father-in-law with gross slander.

There is a moral to this story. If anyone can suggest a pithy moral, then do.

Mine is: there is no smoke without burning bacon on the grill.

Technorati Tags:

Quote of the day:
He may be mad, but there’s method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It’s what drives men mad, being methodical. – G. K. Chesterton


Meldrew and Finland

May 5, 2007

Meldrew gloated to his wife that this is the first time that they have actually got anything from the insurance company. His car had been stolen three months previously and they were finally going to settle up with the insurance company. The phone rang and Meldrew’s wife answered. Yes the worse had come to pass. His car had been found.

Meldrew: “Fi … Fi … Fii … “ Long pause. “Finland (pause) That car couldn’t even get to Fin…chley.”


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