Nordic News

Is Ireland going ahead with building that 'white water rapids' project with an outdoor all-weather swimming pool and spa facility? Somewhere down along the docks as I recall, a massive vanity project that had a whole bunch of your money flung at it in the hopes that the doors to the state coffers would be well greased in time for all available chancers to grab a few quid?

Here's an idea: there's an underground space beneath Grafton Street which was developed decades back for a planned metro line in the previous century which was never completed. So currently it simply exists under the ground with no purpose. So how about instead trying something a bit more interesting like the French did with their disused metro stations?

Imagine having a facility like this dead centre in the pricey end of town? No skangers for a start - which is exactly what you would have if it was build over ground along the river. Instead you join as a member and pay a fee for occasional use. Along with a large pool you could also insert a few saunas, some steam rooms, a gymnasium, a cafe and restaurant, maybe even a small cinema. A sort of wellness centre? All underground, no natural light or air (or you could put some port-holed windows above on street level so you get a glimpse of natural light from above while pedestrians above could also see what's below them from their point of view) and rather both air and light are supplied/contained/controllable in how they're designed and for how many people at a time?

It'd be miles off the charts in terms of the lame Irish building sector, so instead of hiring locals who'll fuck it all up and run the basic costs away up into the stars, and then sign off on it knowing it's likely to fall apart. Instead, get outside professional help. Hire in the designers used for the Parisian underground project. Or hire in some Finnish tunnel/building people who know what they're doing. Irish navvies could do the labouring but NO Irish person on the board would have the right to shout down any other points of view or techniques. Leave the contracted specialists to do things up to standard. Because they're on contract, they're answerable. If they fuck up and cheat - boot them out.

That way you wouldn't have to wait forty-three years and six tribunals for the case to make it to court: you write it into the contract.

It'd be something entirely different for Ireland and for Dublin.

Unique, full of potential, and a worthy use of space to relieve the ground level of traffic and footfall.

Like here in Helsinki: you can enter the underground in the city centre three kilometers from central station. You can walk all the way from Kaisanieminkatu across to Kamppi in around ten minutes. Lots of shops, restaurants, outlets of every description, car parking, access to tram and bus depots, and whatever you're having yourself. It's like a second city, a shadow beneath our feet that bustles with footfall all day every day.

Now, nobodies asking Ireland to replicate Finnish tunneling projects - Finland's been dynamiting downward for over a century. Hence all these bomb shelter studios for musicians and artists. The last major state project was actually in my old studio at Katajanokka. It links directly to the Presidential Palace fifty meters away and the council dug down another fifty meters below even my space, which is already twenty-five meters below terra firma. The vast caverns they hollowed out now house the massive servers for Finland's data processing and broadband delivery to the entire southern region of Finland almost up into the wilds. They don't make mistakes: I used to get letters delivered reminding me about periods of particularly busy dynamiting in advance so we could prepare for it if we were in recording mode. We had a few occasions of digital recorders blanking the discs after particularly large explosions. The air pressure expanding so suddenly causes your ears to pop, and it can also cause what's called 'temporal masking' - a debilitating effect on your aural canal where both extreme high and low frequencies can't be heard that takes a while to recover from. You're effectively deaf to the highs and lows for few hours.

Would an Irish project like that work or would it fail?

Are the Irish copped on enough to see the value of these things in terms of tourism and paying down the national debt?

Some images for your imagination:

An underground swimming pool in Itakeskus (north east of Helsinki)

A competition-standard underground swimming pool in the city centre.
An underground kart-racing circuit, all are welcome.

And our beautiful Temppeliaukio church, also underground, with exceptionally awesome acoustics where the choirs and orchestras sound amazing.

The price per square foot of commercial space in Dublin is ridiculous, so why not expand downwards instead of outwards?
This is exactly why Jambo's such a loser.

He has all the imagination of a licked stamp and all the forward thinking of a rabid goat.

And those are his best traits, mind you.

All are welcome?

Nope, not even close Jambo.

'All' as in kids, old folks, regular people who don't have a driving license.

It's part of the lyric (near the end) and I thought of it, popped into my head

It would have been better to have slapped you in the head.

Besides: it's Friday again.

Got your slab in and the two frozen pizzas in the icebox?

Good lad.

I'm always thinking radially, me

Yet your perspective is as twisted and bitter as it gets.

Only six more hours to Miller Dutch Gold time, Jimmy.

Time to brush your teeth and change your shorts.
All are welcome?
Yes - it's in the song (at the end)

I really don't think that you know anything about music 🙄

Nope, not even close Jambo.

'All' as in kids, old folks, regular people who don't have a driving license.

It would have been better to have slapped you in the head.

Besides: it's Friday again.

Got your slab in and the two frozen pizzas in the icebox?

Good lad.

Yet your perspective is as twisted and bitter as it gets.

Only six more hours to Miller Dutch Gold time, Jimmy.

Time to brush your teeth and change your shorts.
Hard to believe we had twelve centimeters of fresh snow two days ago.

It's now plus nine and I have every window are door wide open to welcome in the coming May Day.

Outlook isn't great for Wednesday but we'll all spill out onto the streets regardless.

Hell of a winter this year - it was everything I expected and it was wonderful.

Now the sun's blazing in the sky, the sheer blue tones are awesome, and there's a handful of snow piles left on the street corners which is melting so fast it'll be completely gone by later this evening. Roll on, Vappu! This is where I'll be at 1800, Tuesday evening:

Havis Amanda, a water fountain down on Market Square by the sea front. The students union have the honour of selecting some of their students to place the white cap onto her head. Once the hat's on - the city and country is free of winter and we hail the oncoming summer by staying out all night partying and dancing. Kaivopuisto is always a full-on festival but so too this year at Suomenlinna, the island fortress out in the bay. A world heritage site and the scene of many epic Finnish battles, the huge cannons still standing will be lit up and there'll be traditional Finnish cook-outs all over the island.

We take the ferry out. It's a sea bus you can sail on with your regular bus pass. Takes around fifteen minutes to get there and the two ferries dock within minutes of each other at either end to keep the traffic of people steady. Along the coastline of the island facing west, we watch the winter sun go down for the last time while barbecuing and drinking.

How about you guys?

Any plans for May Day?
Hyvää vappua kaikille!

It's nineteen degrees out there, the streets are jam-packed full of people wearing colourful clothes and wigs, face-painted, ribbons and bows all over the place, and singing as loud as they can. The shopping centre was like Christmas eve with people buying their fireworks, drinks, traditional snacks, and of course lots of champagne and wine. Unbelievable weather for May Day, the hottest of the last three decades - not a cloud in the sky and no need for a coat or jacket until the sun goes down.

I gotta head out to for the crowning of Havis Amanda and then down to Kaivopuisto for the craic.

Winter's dead - drained of all snow and ice and washed down into the sea.

Summer's here - and it's going to be a hot one by all accounts.

This is the best feeling, the noise and laughter from outside, people barbecuing down on the beach. Some with families and friends, but lots of groups of younger people dressed in their university colours and caps. Someone's cooking steak, it smells delicious. Must be coming from up above on the rooftop party area.

All tomorrow's hangovers will be worn with a smile.

Last sunset of the winter as seen from Kaivopuisto, Helsinki:

Wonderful night all told. Massive partying at the southern coastline of the city with tens of thousands of mostly younger people dancing and singing the night away. Gallons of skummpa, champagne, and wine. Lovely ladies dancing seductively to some great DJs and live bands.

Finland has left the winter behind and it's now time for serious summer fun.

The snow will be back in around November next, so you gotta make sure every day has some sun and fresh air.

The last of the snowpiles down by the sea:

How about you, Jimmy D?

You spent the night in poring over Keith Woods' tweets, I presume?
Plus twenty and clear blue skies here in Helsinki, the happiest capital city on Earth this beautiful Saturday evening.

Stunning day outside, some nice wines chilling in the fridge, my favourite vegetable pie in the oven, and sauna booked for 90mins of wonderful steam.

I love being so happy it registers internationally.

Globally, in fact.

Poor auld Ireland, but?

I had breakfast here at Heitalahti earlier:

Nice tan on my face and upper body: looking good, feeling great!

Is it raining in Ireland?

PS: we just turned 22 degrees, I'm up on the roof having sauna and cold beers.

Sucks being you, though.
That's called hypothermia Mowl

It's okay to be stuck in Ireland and jealous of me - honestly.

I'm so fucking happy I can barely smile.

Is everyone dead yet?

Sadly for you, we're just entering the party season: for the next six months it's all guns blazing.

Could be worse though: I could be surrounded in the chaos you call life in Dublin.

All those knackers, the filth everywhere, the junkies on your high streets stumbling into everyone, the fat slags in heels hanging around Temple Bar drinking from cans and banging cheap coke speed up their fat chops. The filth, the scabies of the homeless, the wandering nomads of Syria and Ukraine with their rucksacks and wheelie-carriers full of dirty laundry and fleas.

Grafton Street at night: the tents, the bodies, the puke, the stench of piss, the disinfectant that smells even worse than the dried up shit they're trying to power wash off the busy streets. The oblivious nature of the moneyed classes not letting any of this horror affect their day of shopping for high end handbags and shoes. O'Connell Street at around 2100 - the screaming and yelling, the street fights, the piss, puke, discarded McDonald's wrappers floating on the breeze, broken glass and spit, big green gobs of someone's sinus wobbling in the wind.

The hopelessness.

The misery and sadness everywhere.

The various immigrants from all over Africa getting more and more angry that they haven't been given the house they were promised or the dole they said was guaranteed and copper-fastened. The taste of Dutch Gold becoming more and more repulsive the more of it you neck. The smell of the empty tins on the floor, and the stains on the carpet left by multiple tenants who all slept in and had some sort of sex on that YOU have to lay down on later.

Mowl gets very excited when the Frozen Wasteland thaws for a few weeks..

Better a frozen wasteland full of hot babes and diamond opportunities than the hopelessness you call a life.

maybe one day you'll learn?

maybe it won't even be Keith Woods dragging you along by the nose-ring.

Who knows?

Anything can happen.

And if it doesn't?

Six feet of rope and a decent height above a worn out old three-legged stool.
From 2014:

Just reading the story about Michelle Byrne, an Irish mother of three children fined €150.00 for tearing up a flyer for Labour candidate Gerry Sheridan in frustration when he door-stepped her at her family home in Mullingar. Aside from the fact that Sheridan's an obvious buffoon with no concept of reality and a jumped-up view of his own self-importance, that his likes are allowed to door-step people at all is a disgrace.

Illustrated below is a photo of the standard public board erected by the local council in Helsinki for candidates to advertise themselves for the upcoming 2014 European Parliament elections. This is the only means by which candidates are allowed use materials to advertise themselves and their parties. Fly-posting and hiring privately owned bill-boards are not allowed, thereby cutting down on material waste and general eyesore. Door-stepping is almost unheard of in Helsinki. We all live in apartment blocks. In the countryside, houses are tens of miles apart.

That this poor woman has to pay a fine for essentially dismissing Sheridan gives the lie of the general attitude of Irish candidates: pompous, arrogant, self-inflatable, and absolutely shameless.

Keep that in mind when choosing where your vote goes - even if you choose to personally shove yours down Gerry Sheridan's throat

The Finnish model is crystal clean. Being able to afford more campaign coverage doesn't mean you can. Elections are there for the people to make their own minds up which way they're voting (even if it doesn't matter shit) and every contender has limitations to how much they can throw at their chances of getting elected.

You may set up a speaking/interviewing point in town by applying for a temporary license, and if you get one then you can set up your stall at a designated place where you can address the public about your views. Candidates are NOT allowed to approach people. They can only engage with the public if a citizen wants to talk to them. They set up a stall, a small table usually with a flag to attract attention, and offer flyers to passers by. If there are piles of discarded flyers left without due diligence in cleaning them up for the bin, the candidate will be fined. They won't get a second chance either.

I've stopped to talk to several candidates over the years to discuss their views, and to state my own. The conversation lasts as long as the citizen cares it to, but the candidate may walk away if they choose. The citizen may stand there and continue to speak so long as there's no public disorder rules being flaunted. Like shouting and yelling, threatening, etc. If it's some drunken yob, it's the cops problem to remove them.

You most certainly CANNOT knock on private people's front doors to doorstep them: that'll see you arrested and removed.

You can't fly any posters or otherwise in any place not designated by the law, if you do you will be fined a large fixed penalty.

You can join in television debates, but only by invitation.

You can post videos online at your own expense.

The city erects hundreds of boards/panels like this one at busy points with large footfall, usually around busy junctions for traffic/people. You pay a fee, send in your printed materials, they're either passed or rejected (you cannot include personal views of any sort) and they're maintained by the city until the day of the election, then taken down in the dead of night. If you hang a cardboard poster or two onto a lamppost with cable ties, you will be fined and ordered to remove your materials at your own expense within a fixed time period, failure to do so will result in a larger fine.

The scale of the fines is akin to those issued to graffiti/taggers who are both fined and ordered to clean up the mess they made themselves and at their own expense. Usually hiring a power washer to remove their tags (if they don't know/can't use one, a worker for the city will do it for you but you'll have to pay his fees as well). They'll also likely be given social community service of X number of hours, unpaid. Under age taggers will see their parents take the hit for their misdemeanors. In this light, responsibility goes back to the family unit. If your kids are little bastards, it's your own fault, deal with it.

These rules keep the city clean and fresh. Finland is a very thorough country when it comes to these things. Pro-actively too: the return/deposit scheme has been in effect here since the year dot. You rarely see discarded tins or bottles in public places. Kids or needy people grab them and get the deposit. If you're caught dumping you get fined a fixed penalty. This includes your picnic basket containers and wrappers.

These laws apply to all people equally, especially including political candidates - they have an onus to set a good example.

One time several years back, a local Green party candidate stuck an A3 sized paper flyer with her name, party, picture, and election number on the outer wall of the local supermarket shopping centre. I took a photo of it and posted it to one popular community site, pointing out that the green party member had stuck it to the wall using about two feet of duct-tape. Seriously. I made the point that a green party member being so fucking thick about the environment was hardly to their credit.

The community agreed.

By and large, people were both amused and angry at her explanation when she found out about it.

'I'm a mother of three kids, my husband works abroad and blah, blah, blah..'

So I engaged with her pointing out that not only were her three kids being set a lousy example, that if she was already overburdened with domestic affairs, then she was hardly a good candidate. The community agreed. She then said that she didn't have any regular sellotape or paste handy at the time. I made the point that she shouldn't have hung the flyer there in the first place - the law forbids it. The community agreed. She said she was very sorry things had gone this way and that it would never happen again. Both I and the community agreed.

She went out the same day and took her flyer(s) down.

On election day, she flopped: nobody in the community forgot her name or her bullshit.

Her election/advertising fees were left fully in her name to pay up afterwards.

Even little things like this make a huge difference on the national scale: it keeps the political class on their toes.

Like the state media minister who did a live TV interview in her lounge at home, a massive screen on the wall behind her. One intrepid journalist decided to check her television license fees and saw that she had none. Ever. So when she was busted they made her pay a large fine for all the missed years without a license stretching back to the age when she left the family home. Her party booted her out too, and when you're resigned, you may not enter politics again. You'll instead be reminded of your previous errors and told to fuck off.

Or you could do things the Irish way, right?
And they're off:

Does that Coleman chap suffer from blindness?

Seven copies of the same billboard all within a couple of meters of each other?

It's mind-boggling how stupid Irish people are at times: there's even a rainbow-flagged poster for some jogging event from Easter.

By the time the vote arrives, you'll be looking at millions of filthy cable-ties and piles of piss-stinking wet cardboard around the bottom of your lampposts.

You can't teach the stubborn Irish anything - they're the most self-destructive fuckers anywhere in Europe.

What a shift! Today we have 19 degrees and clear blue skies, and by tomorrow it'll shoot up to a balmy 25 degrees in the direct sun. Maybe even a little higher. This is what I love about the Finnish seasons: they start and end distinctly and abruptly. No piss-assing around, snow piles around the city limits are still slowly melting as they serve as a great reminder of the nature of Nordic extremes.

We've another six months minimum of this ahead of us, so the atmosphere has completely changed for all of us, whether in the city or in the wilds.

It's nice to have wilds.
Twenty-five degrees on the beach but even higher on the balcony - which is a suntrap.

I'm especially happy right now because even with these high temperatures, many types of trees and bushes haven't even budded yet, never mind bloomed. There are still signs of the past winter's snow piles, but they're draining off fast. It'll be another two to three weeks before all the trees are blooming and floating on the breeze.

I love a good winter, a Nordic kick in the skull.

But even more than that I love the end of it where we hop into a brief springtime mode before hitting the summer highs.


The parks are filling up, the newspapers are showing images from a very crowded Hietalahti beach across town, a hot summer favourite for all Helsinki people, but mostly gaggles of nubile girlies and their pals swanning around. I might even take a ride across town to see how things are going. A very exciting time, a very lovely time too. Another winter - quashed.

And they're off:

Does that Coleman chap suffer from blindness?

Seven copies of the same billboard all within a couple of meters of each other?

It's mind-boggling how stupid Irish people are at times: there's even a rainbow-flagged poster for some jogging event from Easter.

By the time the vote arrives, you'll be looking at millions of filthy cable-ties and piles of piss-stinking wet cardboard around the bottom of your lampposts.

You can't teach the stubborn Irish anything - they're the most self-destructive fuckers anywhere in Europe.

I'll tell you one thing for sure. At least one of those candidates needs their home laptop checking by the Gardai.
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