Tuesday, March 6

 
 

 
 
 

Kauppatori, 17:46

 
 

At 2:15 I woke up in the middle of a lengthy dream that then kept me awake for an hour. As I woke I found myself trying to explain why I could not justify the John Lennon and Yoko Ono song Woman is the Nigger of the World, from the Sometime in New Yorkalbum. A heated group of feminists insisted that I explain it to them. I answered that the song had always seemed a clumsy and ill-judged piece to me with almost no redeeming features at all.

The title makes no sense even on its own terms; not because of the use of the “n word”, but because of the use of “of the world”. If “A is the B of the world” then what is B “the B of”? In other words, if “Irish are the Gypsies of the World” then “Gypsies are the Gypsies of” … New Zealand? The Arctic? Two Square Miles of Sunderland? It seems to raise one group at the expense of another when the apparent sentiment involved suggests that we should raise both of them. Or it simply shouts, “Look at me, I’m controversial, me!”

I blamed Jutta for this, because we had had a conversation yesterday afternoon about whether referring to female students as girls constituted verbal assault or discrimination, as someone else had suggested. Neither of us thought it did, but the conversation obviously stayed in my mind and resurfaced courtesy of an old single I disliked at the time and had erased from my memory. Or not.

I got up, had breakfast and left for the gas station, where I saw the approaching bus just in time to run and catch it.

I had a quick flurry of emailing and and question-answering and then went with Nathalie to meet Harald Hormoen, Dagny Stuedahl and Susanne Sackl-Sharif at the main entrance. They had come to talk with us for two days about a project that we have developed jointly, along with Auksė Balčytienė from Lithuania. This has gone through two stages of an application process and has just one more to go. Over the next two days we will work out the details of our plans and then write the final application.

We began with a tour of the building and then sat in a room near the coffee lounge where we spent the rest of the day. At 16:00 every except me left, and I caught up with some of the work that I already had scheduled for today.

At 17:20 I left Arcada to go to Käisäniemi. I turns out that this journey can take less time than you imagine if the tram and metro arrive exactly at the moment you need them. I walk from the metro down to Kauppatori and find myself outside Salutorget at 17:45, fifteen minutes early. I take a few moments to photograph the impressive entrance before I go into the lobby to wait for the others.

Nathalie will arrive at 17:55 and we will wait for the others who will turn up at about 18:50. Nathalie had given them directions that had sent them off in exactly the opposite direction. They had walked to the far end of Bulevaardi, walked around looking for the restuarant, asked someone, walked back to their hotel, called a taxi, and finally arrived.

We will look through the menu and then order our food. Harald will ask if anyone would like to share a turbot (only available for 2 or 4 persons). I say that I will. We wait twenty minutes for our food and eventually it arrives, except that our turbot has turned into a roast pigeon. Harald will insist, quite reasonably, that he really does not want to eat pigeon. The waiter will admit his mistake and take it back. He will return to inform us that a turbot will take another thirty minutes.

We will therefore look through the menu again. I will choose the Hake Wallenberg and Harald will work his way through a series of dishes that will all turn out to take half an hour. In the end he will say that, in that case, he will take the lobster. I will therefore have to wait while his lobster gets cooked, because the waiter wants to serve us together. If I had known that this would happen I would have chosen differently.

The hake will taste fine when it eventually arrives and I will eat it with half a glass of white wine; the rest having disappeared while others ate and I waited. We will finish the evening with a confusion over the bill that will take fifteen minutes to sort out.

I will get home about 21:40 to find that Irma has lost her phone and got a nasty bite from Sunshine. She apparently got this while she tried to talk to the ginger cat that Sunshine has taken a pathological dislike to. I will retire swiftly to bed.