Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Martin is originally from England - he moved to Wales around 2000. He has studied Swedish on his own for over a year now. A few times a week, we read Muminpappas Memoirs in Swedish. I do not know if it's the best book to start with as it contains a lot of idiomatic expressions that are hard to explain. Still I wanted him to get a taste for the Finnish-Swedish language because the program he uses is Sweden-Swedish. I'm sure everyone knows Swedish is the second official language in Finland, albeit only a scanty minority speak it... Anyhow, it is with certain delight I read the books that I loved so much when I was a child ... they are still worthwhile and in fact it is interesting to read really slowly and savor the nuances. It keeps me in touch with my my own language with all its idiomatic peculiarities ("finlandisms"), which would otherwise fall into oblivion as I live and have lived such a big part of my life in English.

I have loved English ever since I was a child, it's my heart's language, and I am grateful to use it in my everyday life. But I also love Swedish simply because it is a very expressive language, and it is my own. In everyday speech, I usually jokingly translate expressions that there is no direct equivalent for, for example, "there is nothing to hang on the Christmas tree", ie "it's not worth hanging up the Christmas tree." The English expression "all lit up like a Christmas Tree" is not the same. Being able to use sayings in various languages ​​is enriching. Many times there are expressions in Swedish that do not exist in English, and sometimes I wonder whether we may have a richer store of interesting sayings. I arrive at this conclusion because Martin is like an encyclopedia and remembers both modern and old-fashioned British sayings.

My personal, symbolic interpretation:
 my  own moominhouse, perhaps a symbol of the secure life,
 has been flooded already a long time ago ...
 water is a powerful symbol of emotions. 
Moreover, I think that Martin has also fallen for the charm of the Moomin world despite the fact that it takes a long time for us to get through all the expressions that I find difficult to explain. Most Britons know the Moomin books - Martin remembers that he read a less interesting moominbook in school - although it can sometimes be difficult understand their pronounciation. I came across a young Englishman, an artist, at a seminar, and we were supposed to find a phrase or question and give it a melody. He asked me, 'Do you know Tove Jansson? ". It took me a while to understand who he meant... When we then sang the name with the correct pronunciation people looked at us very strangely.

The cultural background I come from is almost identical to that of Tove Jansson - socio-economically, linguistically, culturally, and environmentally. I am also a Finno-Swede from Helsinki who spent my childhood summers far out in the archipelago. It's a little funny to realize how much you actually recognize yourself in the books  in the way of speaking, thinking and perceiving the environment - in many ways, we live a moominlife with Janssonian values. I know it's a real cliche but I think Martin thinks I'm a real Little My (I'm probably more of a Finnish "Little My - archetype" I think) because I am so "tiny" and can become very angry,  stomping my foot on the floor, because of injustice or machines that do not work or stuff that is in my way.

Even when I was really samll did I think the simple black and white drawings in the books were incredibly nice and atmospheric. When I think about it, I already had strong aesthetic views as a child.

The painting in the background of the photo of Martin he bought in Peru. It is one of a series of three which are all copies of angels from Catholic churches and cathedrals.  The guardian angel with the child, I have a little hard to accept, as I think the baby is pretty awful. Her eyes look vacant. I don't feel I have any particular reason to have images of children on the walls (I don't have children myself). But the three form a whole and they are a statement  in our living room. Martin also got rid of almost all of his personal belongings a few years before we met, and he felt that he should at least get to have the art he has bought on the walls. It was hard for me to accept because the choice of art is a private matter, but you have to compromise. Luckily for me, because of Martin's choice there was room for my furniture in the house when I moved in. Martin painted the walls a kind of ochre before we met, he was going to create an Indian style. Unfortunately the colour is not so good in daylight, it tends towards a yellowish green, so maybe we will repaint on one day when the rest of the house has been renovated.

The couch Martin is sitting on is a flea market find, a lovely whimsical design that you probably can only find here in Wales. A sofa that would fit in the Moomin house. It is nice to take morning tea there. It must be refurbished some time later but for now Beatrice uses it as a the scratching board so it's just as well the fabric is not expensive.

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