Saturday, November 21
Pine Hills, 16:30
We have driven to the car park opposite the Opera House, the one bordered by Helsinginkatu and Mannerheimintie. We have parked there, about to embark on a mission that I won’t really understand even once we have completed it.
As I get out of the car I notice the café / bar. It has a complex and interesting history. Years ago, when Finnish laws still criminalised gay sex, this operated as a public lavatory. It has has the external signage. It had a reputation as the place in Helsinki where cruising happened. Later, when the lavatory had closed, as part of a wider programme of closures, some entrepreneurs had the bright idea of refurbishing it as a gay bar called Pine Hills, while leaving the exterior as a reminder of its history.
I photograph it in the early afternoon dusk. We then walk to a small building which smells of damp where we will exchange some words with someone I have never met, wearing a gigantic yellow bee hat with over-large antennae. Then we will leave.
I think code words may have passed between us. I will feel as though I have participated in a scene from a spy movie.