Finnish That Drink…

‘That’s why they get this boat,’ said the ship’s barman. ‘So they can behave like arseholes.’

The Viking Line XPRS nudged out of Helsinki – a market town founded in 1550, currently celebrating its 200th year as capital – bound for Tallinn, Estonia. Outside the windows lay rocky, low-lying islets; inside lay karaoke.

‘I don’t even hear it anymore,’ he continued, as the ballyhoo grew louder. An Eastie Beastie, dressed in ripped stonewashed jeans – groovily fastened with a white fabric belt, no less – had taken the microphone. ‘But you’re right, it is terrible.’

He handed me a pint. I reeled when he wanted actually paying; surely alcohol ought to be offered as some sort of recompense for the din? Sitting on a sofa, pondering how social inhibition, pride and moderation have failed to reach this part of the world, I sipped frugally – partly because of the price.

Karaoke Club

A menagerie of middle-aged Finns sat slavering around the bar, bound by a love of hard spirits and misplaced esprit de corps, each awaiting his or her diabolical turn at the microphone. Luckily, I didn’t have long to wait for another corking melody. The next fellow was already stumbling up to the stage, entangling himself beautifully in the PA cable.

I did it my way,’ he crooned, out of tune and smashed off his tits. He canted backwards at a dangerous angle, squinted at the screen and put everything into a ripsnorting finale, blissfully unaware of either intonation or the concept of decorum.

Now, ignore the fact for one moment that whoever invented karaoke ought to have their skull cracked like a brazil nut; what is it about Finnish guys and drinking?

Jazz Story

Last night, I popped my head into Storyville Jazz Club to catch Nat Newborn’s Tribute to the Rat Pack. (It’s worth clicking the Storyville hyperlink; there’s a picture of a Norwegian giant that caught me off-guard and stuck her tongue down my throat last time I was in.) And the second I’d sat down amid this demi-monde of idlers, I was grinned at by a young man with halibut-like eyes and a ponytail. Late twenties, I should say.

‘That’s not my lady,’ he’d slurred, wobbling vehemently and gesturing towards a 53-year-old woman I’d assumed was his mother. Then he fell down the stairs.

Still, Tallinn was jolly nice, thanks for asking. All sixteenth-century walls, erotic massages, and medievally dressed wenches serving hot wine and sugared almonds. Oh, and Skype was invented there, too..

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