Life in the big smoke

Autumn at the summerhouse

In between all the interviews and madness of last week’s book tour I was able to travel up to Jakobstad to see my parents and dig my boots into the soil at the summerhouse. My brother and I travelled up together and only really stayed for one day. That was all I had time for. The train takes about four hours each way, but going back home was very calming after a couple of exciting days, it was worth the long journey.


It was chilly and autumnal. The first snow had already fallen and disappeared.



The summerhouse was cold and shut for the winter.



Plenty of leaves to deal with in the spring, as the snow thaws.


A tiny rowan tree. According to some Norse pagan beliefs the first woman was created out of a rowan tree. It’s also said to have been used to make protective amulets. Going back to the summerhouse makes me think about these things.







Phew what a day – talk shows & talks & wait a minute, is this my life?

This entry comes with a slight babble-warning

So here I am. Back in Peter’s flat, studio make-up on and I’m almost ready to place a dram of Highland Park in front of me and go “aaaah”. What a day.

I woke up early this morning. Rehearsed my talk one last time and went off to Magma, a think-tank that had invited me to speak about my book in a restaurant.

The guests are arriving. The owner of this place, Cafe Esplanad, had lived in the UK in 1948 and had lots of great stories to tell. She was still working in the cafe, pouring water and making sure everyone was OK. Quite a cool lady.

I’d been slightly nervous about this because it’s been a while since I’ve actually stood up in front of people and talked. Here I was going to do it for fifteen minutes without any power points or anything else that could distract the people from… me. At least it was a topic I knew well, Britishness and immigration.

The nervousness lifted as soon as I met all the lovely people at Magma, who were really friendly and welcoming. The audience was really nice too. A lot of familiar faces from the past. People I’d interviewed, people I’d worked for, a professor from my university, people who were excited about the book.

After that I came back to my brother’s place. Brainstormed a book idea. Changed into something ladylike and travelled up to YLE. It was strange taking the tram from the exact same tram stop where I used to wait every morning six years ago in order to go to work.

I took the same route. Got off as soon as I could see the YLE tower (also known as the tower of Sauron) and walked to the place where I worked for about two years. I walked and thought about how things can change, how my life is so different now to what it was then and how strange it is that I’m going back to that confusing mess of buildings to be interviewed on a talk-show.

First I met up with some old friends, jumped into a radio show and talked a bit about the book.

The very sweet Eva Frantz who interviewed me for Radiohuset. I felt like I babbled a lot, but she just kept smiling.

Then I was off to get my make-up done for Bettina S. I sort of knew you had to wear lots of make-up because of the studio lights, but didn’t really know how much. I don’t think I’ve ever worn this much make-up before in my life.


I had a very nice make-up artist, Oona, who kindly agreed to pose for a photo.

I also had a dressing room with a star on the door. This was almost too awesome for words.

Again everyone was super friendly and sweet and made me feel really comfortable. The show will be aired on Monday so watch it if you can. Not just to see me of course, but to see the super-cute rapping granny who was on before me.

Everyone getting ready for the show.

I have to say it’s all been slightly overwhelming. Little did I know this would happen when I was typing away in the British Library two years ago. Suddenly I’m back in Finland, talking about my book to all of these different people, at all of these amazing and interesting places. It’s well nice (as my old flat-made used to say).


Back in Helsinki for the book tour

So I’ve landed in chilly and autumn-pretty Helsinki for a snappy book tour for Det finns inga britter. Tomorrow I’ll be doing a talk at a lunch-meeting for Fenno-Swedish think-tank Magma, in the evening I’m a guest in Bettina S, a Fenno-Swedish talk show, and on Friday I’m doing a Q&A at the Helsinki book fair.

I’m still not exactly sure all of this is really happening and am feeling inclined to pinch myself every two minutes to make sure I’m not sleeping (about as often as I check up on mine and Gerry’s Kickstarter campaign).

I’m tired from the flight, but buzzed, happy and excited about everything that’s going on. I’m hoping I’ll be able to sleep at least a little bit on my brother’s awesome blow up mattress (oh the glamour of being a travelling author).

It’s quite strange coming back to Helsinki now. Five years (or so) after I moved away. It doesn’t feel like home anymore. It doesn’t even feel that familiar, yet there are curious, little things that remind me of what it was like living here. The way the apartments smell is one of these things, sort of dry and dusty and old.

Life is a bit different to my normal everyday reality in London at the moment. It’s slightly hyped up, like someone’s turned on the warp speed. The adrenalin is pumping. I’m not used to this, but I think I’m enjoying it. The Kickstarter campaign is making me a nervous wreck, so please support us or share the project around if you like it. Thanks! x