I’m disheartened. The “Helsinki Experiment” – tarrying in bars, hoping to be approached by fruity, Finnish girls – failed miserably.
Yep, that pitch to the editor of FHM, announcing Finland as a manifestly viable destination for sex tourists, might as well be scrapped.
Still, onwards and upwards – I’m not beaten yet. It’s just that Storyville Jazz Club was utterly the wrong place to conduct research. Surely there are gaggles of giggling crumpet in Helsinki, desperate for a fumbling tete-a-tete with an Englishman? Well, where the deuce they were last night is anybody’s guess…but tonight I have a back-up plan.
That Kari chap, the stagehand quoted in Part 1, really seemed to know his onions…so I’m going to give this social try-out another shot. ‘If no girls come to you in the city,’ he had said, ‘go to Kallio. There you have a 400% chance. But the women have been drinking beer for thirty years or something – you’re not going to be happy when you woke up.’
Ah, a splendid district for itinerant truckers then, hell-bent on glossing over all that tiresome wooing and unnecessary chitchat. ‘Just if they’ve got hair, it’s a result,’ chimes Michelin Mat, profoundly discouraging me from joining him on a night out this evening.
Instead, I choose fellow rock and roll trucker, Lewis, an angular youth looking not a little like Superman. But away from his native planet of Crypton, he’s a lost soul, speaking in the manner of a sexually-starved schoolboy.
‘Saturday night snatch?’ he asks, in a strained whimper. ‘Excellent. Walloping muff of any description, however dire, is an art form.’ Well, maybe more of a pervert, then, than a teenager.
Anyway, rather than bruise your senses further with Lewis’s gratuitous, unspeakable talk of ‘stoving in back doors’, let’s kick off at “On the Rocks”, a bar near the train station. Ooh, and a ghastly specimen with a hint of an Adam’s Apple has just begun a conversation with him while I nipped to the toilet.
‘Just one question,’ it says, toying coyly with its whiskers, ‘will you kiss me?’ Oh goody, now that is pretty forward. Lewis blanches, playing for time, wondering how best not to upset this studded creature’s sensibilities. ‘Go on, I haven’t got any diseases,’ it continues, doing shimself (sic) very few favours.
This is when you discover who your friends are. ‘Leave you to it Lewis, old bean,’ I crow, moving over to the other side of the bar to bask in his misfortune.
Now, there are a few other rock dragons knocking about in here, cheeks despoiled with metal, but really we might need to toddle off to a nightclub to secure any real data on the dating scene in Helsinki. But I’ll just watch Superman struggle for another minute or two before I rescue him.
Oh, were you wondering why we hadn’t headed directly to Kallio, by the way? Well, on the plus side, yes, the area is a netherworld riddled with violence and alcoholism. But on the minus, Kallio is uphill on the bicycles.
And also, one can become inadvertently embroiled in conversations with prostitutes up there…and I’m never quite sure how one knows. Do they mention financial transactions at the outset? And are those smokin’ hot, provocative fishnets solely the preserve of hookers?Or is it just that she’s cute and likes the attention? Hmm, tricky one. One doesn’t like to ask.
But I had asked another stagehand – a brutish, bear-like man, known simply as “Animal” – about Kallio. ‘Go to a bar called “Trashbank”,’ he had said. ‘In there, you buy a Finnish girl a Gin &Tonic and her legs open.’
Oh, bloody hell. I know things generally boil down to sex in the end, but this is straying ever further from the purpose of the experiment: to see if Finnish women will take the initiative, drift over and chat to guys in bars.
This is not about whether I can approach a girl, talk bollocks and take her home. And anyway, Animal’s keen advice contrasts sharply with Kari’s promise of free beer into the bargain.
So I’d opted for the city centre again, buoyed on fresh air and naivety, only to have my dreams dashed. Oh, what a long, dejected cycle back to the lorry tonight. But who is floating around the truck park on my return, with a story to tell?
Gentleman Steve, that’s who, and he’s met a girl. Well, more of an aged, mottled cadaver than a girl, but no need to split hairs. ‘Over in the allotment this afternoon, it was,’ he boasts. ‘We had a chat about her beans.’ Ah, good old Steve. That’s cheered me up no end..