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Pole to Pole

Day 23: Helsinki

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWell, they certainly know none of us is Madonna. Lasse waxes lyrical as Nigel tries to frame shots which will be acceptable to BBC Television.

'It's meditative, contemplative, reflective . . . not a place for angst or anxiety or argument . . . that's why you have settled
so many disputes in the sauna in Finland - political ones, economic ones . . . whatever. Because who wants to argue when they are naked, you know . . . '

'What are those twigs for?' I ask, meditatively.

'They're birch twigs. They must be picked about midsummer when the leaves are soft . . . '

Lasse picks up the bundle and proceeds to whack himself about the face and upper body, before offering it to me.

I begin to apply them gently. Neil looks unimpressed.

'No, you've got to get the circulation going . . . '

He grabs the twigs and lays into me. Lasse looks on with approval.

'Try it on the face, very nice on the face . . . you get a nice sort of scent from it . . . '

The flagellation does produce a pleasantly aromatic tingling sensation and I feel it's only polite to offer to scourge someone else. Lasse accepts and I go to work.

'Say when . . . '

This all seems very energetic and I'm still waiting for the contemplative and reflective bit when Neil suggests we go and jump in the lake.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 23
  • Country/sea: Finland
  • Place: Helsinki
  • Book page no: 48

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