Ihad just arrived in Kemi, Finland, and the first thing they were talking about was getting me into a steam bath. Absolutely the very last thing I want to do is get in a steam bath. I LIVE in one. I have this little character to remind me of one of my most pleasant trips abroad. This is Lempi; she's an award. She is 13 inches tall, is made of solid plaster and weighs around five pounds. She's a character from a successful daily strip, I think. She's an old lady, which you can deduce from the handbag, though why her head is not attached to her neck as yours and mine are, I cannot say. It's difficult to find English language information on the subject, and Google doesn't translate Finnish. But the author is one Jope, and here's a profile of him. And since it occurred to me at the time I lugged Lempi up to my hotel room that I may need to explain it all one day, I picked up a little collection of the strips and here is an example. I haven't a clue what's going on here, I'm afraid, though I daresay someone will explain it before the day is over.
The lovely folks who made the statue and awarded it to me may have already noticed that there are a few chunks knocked out of it. And herein lies my tale. In our house Lempi has come to be associated with amorous attentions, which is not entirely inappropriate as the name apparently means 'love' in Finnish.
The statue has always been kept on top of my bookshelf in our living room. Right in the middle of the top, except I would from time to time need to move it back from the far end. I always presumed that this was because our house must be on a slant, but it turned out that on those special occasions when I and the wife of my bosom would take ourselves off to the bedroom of an evening, with a bottle of Riccadonna and a cd of Billie Holiday, Lempi would become somewhat animated, rocking backwards and forwards and go on a march along the top of the cabinet. Our young 'uns would look up from their televisual entertainments, shake their heads in disapproval and turn up the volume.
Recently Lempi came a cropper alas. The wife of my bosom had purchased a huge big Settee, and the guys who brought it into the house must have learned their trade from 'Charlie and me'.
"Right," said Fred, " Have to take the wall down,
That there wall is gonna have to go."
Took the wall down, even with it all down
We was getting nowhere
And so we had a cuppa tea.
The nitwits rammed the sofa into the bookshelf and down came Lempi. I made light of it of course, but I was broken hearted to see the pieces lying around. I managed to put it mostly back together, but this object carries a lot of symbolism in our house. The sound of Lempi plunging around came to be regarded as a good thing. It meant plentiful crops and a prosperous year, or at the very least a few days less of parental aggravation.
And I think Lempi brought herself to mind because the wife of my bosom is hundreds of miles far away tonight, helping her father move house.
All about Finnish Comics, in English.
Helvetista from Finnish publisher LIKE was our first foreign edition of the mighty work, appearing in five volumes from 1994-'97. I presume that's what the award was for.
And a big hi! to Ilpo who brought me out for that show in Finland way back in 2001. I have a fond recollection of singing Fred Astaire songs with the mayor in the middle of the main street at two in the morning. It was just starting to get dark. Funny place, Finland.