When your chief executive takes 3 days holiday in April, where does he go and what does he do?
Is it a private jet to a luxurious hideaway, perhaps in Venice or maybe the South of France? Sadly not. It was a flight to Helsinki to speak at a conference arranged by the Finnish government to help their export drive. They naively thought that the author of ‘Life’s a Pitch…’ might inspire them to present their export offer more persuasively. So your balding hero jetted off to Helsinki, home of herrings and hypothermia, to do his bit.
It was my first time in Finland, and I fell in love. The people are calm and relaxed, the air is crisp and clear, and the landscape is an endless vista of beautiful silver birches, tall and slender, reaching up to a blue and unpolluted sky.
The Finns were charming hosts. They put me up in a nice hotel right by the harbour (definitely the most romantic part of Helsinki), made me welcome, and were even polite about my book and my speech. Caring about design is very much part of Finnish culture (don’t forget that Alvar Aalto was a Finn) so they were fascinated by all things Conran. I felt at home.
I did eat a lot of herrings. And cod. And hake. And halibut. And mussels. But I like fish, so that was no hardship.
As for the weather, it reminded me of Billy Connolly’s quip that “Scotland has two seasons – winter and June.” But the people are warm even if the climate isn’t. If they asked me again I’d go again.