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An Englishman in Paris

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14/06/2002

We should beware of the deer, »said Pekka, a reporter from a Finnish marketing magazine, who met me at Helsinki airport.« They kill many people at this time of year. »This seemed odd, until Pekka explained to me that in summer the deer gallop across the highway, convinced there will be more food on the other side. Then they get hit by cars, a couple of tons of deer crashing through the windscreen and landing on the driver. This seemed to me to be a metaphor for the human condition : we gallop into the future, convinced things will be better there, only to be squished by something unexpected.

Finland encourages strange thoughts. I was there attending a seminar for my employers, Epica (Europe's premier creative awards), but actually had the feeling that I was stranded in a 1950ssérie B. The fact that the sun never seemed to set contributed to the eerie effect. We sped through misty pine forests to Hanko, a tiny seaside town made of clapboard houses in a rural Gothic style. A police car patrolled the empty streets. At 1 a.m., it was now dusk. When we reached my hotel, Pekka produced the key. Room 13.« Be careful in the shower, »he said, and drove away.

In the morning, the sun had given up trying to set. The clapboard houses looked pretty and I felt better. Over the next 12 hours I met Scandinavia's finest creatives, ate plenty of fish and danced to a Finnish rock band. The following morning, I got a lift back to the airport. The homicidal deer left us alone.

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