Monday, October 30
The day started at 7:00 with the cat waking me up as he prowled the house trying to find someone to let him out. I lay there unmoved until 7:30. When I left the house the temperature seemed scarcely above zero. The clocks had gone back yesterday, though, so the wait for the bus, although cold, took place in bright sunlight.
I replied to Stefan when I got to Arcada, and we agreed to meet for lunch on Friday. I also did a few more administrative tasks, including checking the room I had booked on Friday for the CMS catch-up session; changing the room once I had seen the one I had booked; and informing the students about the new room. So far five have asked to attend the session,
At 11:00 I left Arcada to catch a tram, a metro to Kamppi, and a 107 bus to Hanasaari. I got off at the right stop, followed the path under the main road, and now I find myself at the entrance to the Hanaholmen estate. I stand on a small island just inside Espoo about to attend a cultural seminar about press freedom. I do not know why I received the invitation but I look forward to lunch. I have received word that I should not miss it at any cost.
When I arrive at the main building I will receive my badge from a young woman who knows me, although I do not know where from. I ask if anyone else will arrive from Arcada and she points to Nathalie’s badge. I wrote asking if Nathalie could come last week, but never received a reply. I go into a corner and phone her.
I sit on my own at lunch reading through Matteo’s paper about Persona and Parrhesia, because I said that I would look at it before committing myself to proof-reading it. I decide that the errors seem simple enough and I might indeed proof read it. The lunch consists of salads, roast port, roast beetroot, roast potatoes and a variety of sauces. I have too much cheesecake and coffee for dessert and make a note to thank Maria for suggesting that I do not miss it.
The event goes by the title Speaking Is Silver: Europe, the media and us, and Nathalie will arrive by taxi just as it starts. We will sit through an afternoon of speeches from 13.00, beginning with a talk on Sweden, Finland and Our International Obligations by Gunvor Kronman, the CEO of Hanaholmen, the Finnish-Swedish Cultural Centre hosting the event, and a member of the Finnish National Commission for UNESCO.
We will then continue with a talk about Modern Threats Against Our Freedom of Expression, given by Stefan Eklund, the editor in chief of Borås Tidning, a local newspaper in Sweden. Borås, I will discover later, lies halfway between Gothenburg and Jönköping.
After this we will have a keynote speech from a German academic that belongs in an entirely different conference, followed by two talks on the current state of journalistic freedom in Poland and Hungary from Cita Högnabba-Lumikero, the director of FinnAgora Institute in Budapest, and Tom Kankkonen, a Finnish journalist with twenty years’ experience in Turkey.
Finally, after a coffee break during which Nathalie and I will obtain copies of the two available books, we will have a panel discussion in which Reetta Kettunen, the Secretary General of the Committee for Public Information Member, and the Finnish National Commission for UNESCO, will join the three speakers for an oddly under-informed discussion about the effects of digitalisation on the production and distribution of news.
On the metro home, Nathalie will congratulate me on remaining well-behaved the whole afternoon, even after I put my hand up during the discussion – the only person to do so – and got roundly ignored. She will say this because she found herself biting her tongue at several points.
I will learn later, from Maria, that the young woman on the desk has an internship there while studying cultural production at Arcada. That will explain why she knew me. She has no body piercings, visible tattoos, wild haircut or eccentric clothing. That will explain why I failed to recognise her.