What a tour schedule! A Slayer show in Oulu (northern Finland); the next night in Oslo; the next in Derbyshire, UK. Now for all you Americans that “do” Europe in a weekend, pay attention. These are huge distances and there is water in between.
Doable by road? Nope. Even a Porsche would be snookered, let alone an eighteen-wheeler; you’d have more success copulating with a grasshopper than driving gear between these three shows. But the Slayer concerts had already been sold. What happens in these situations?
The only solution is to have three sets of equipment: three trucks heading separately to each venue. And to make matters even more expensive, scheduled flights were unavailable, too. Chartered planes; three commercial vehicles; and a nest of hotel rooms for the crew: the bill was adding up.
Of the three concerts, I was lucky enough to choose Oulu – a city that seems to catch fire with alarming regularity; a city home to the world’s northernmost symphony orchestra; a city populated by corseted matrons and thigh-booted minxes. Yes, you know what the Finns are like. The first pub I walk in, I’m faced with ‘I love you,’ and a woman offering up her lips.
Anyway, on the way up there – a five day journey of fruitless cogitation – I was hoping to catch a glimpse of an elk. Or a reindeer. Any idea what the difference is? The latter produces a better steak, perhaps?
‘I don’t know the difference,’ said the girl in the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum. Now bear in mind there’s actually a stuffed reindeer upstairs in this museum, so she ought to have done. ‘Tut tut, rustle me up a blueberry Daiquiri instead then, Poppet,’ I replied dismissively. However, she did have gorgeous nails, so I’m prepared, on this occasion, to let her off.
‘If you drive over an elk, it will probably kill you,’ said a young blond man, stepping in and representing the museum properly. He had a wispy, nascent moustache and seemed a mine of information.
He went on to tell me that walloping elks with car windscreens is a leading cause of fatality in Finland. (People, not elks, that is. I daresay the elk would utter a gauche gasp, swat your written-off Volvo as though a mosquito, and continue with its amble.)
He blinked and stroked one of his three facial hairs. (The blond man, not the elk.) ‘Bet you don’t know the only time a democracy declared war on a democracy,’ he continued unprompted, master of the non sequitur. I didn’t. ‘It was Britain on Finland in World War Two. And how do I know this? QI with Stephen Fry.’
More on these igloo-building, ice-fishing anarchists soon. But to answer my own question in a nutshell, elks are bigger.