From Touko’s letter to Hely, 4 July 1950

Mariehamn, 4 July

Dear Sofi,

I bought this Flyer pen, and as I have to keep it upright, my writing looks quite odd. Yes, we are here! We had a magnificent journey; this archipelago is beautiful. It was so quick and easy that I hope that I’ll always be able to afford to fly when I travel in the future. It was so nice to see you all at the airport, I’m just sorry that we had so little time. But I might go there on a day off, and I’ll stay a little longer when I get out of here.

It’s absolutely wonderful here, though it has been rainy for a couple of days, but today it is much better, although windy. But they say it’s always windy here. We speak Swedish all the time, and there are hordes of summer guests. I’m staying in the attic room of the sea captain Engmann’s widow’s place in Norragatan, which is a long and idyllic street with small, quaint old wooden houses and lime trees. It’s like living in a novel. There is a huge, wonderful wardrobe in the corner, just perfect for here, and everything else is authentic, too: walls papered with roses, a wash basin and a water pitcher on a marble washstand, even a chamber pot in the closet (I haven’t tried it yet!), an iron bedframe with a spring mattress and a lace cover, and a brass chandelier with coloured stones and glass prisms. The only thing missing is paintings, but this shortcoming is compensated by a coat stand with an inscription that reads ‘Happy New Year’ in Swedish in golden letters.

The violinist just came by to say it’s time for breakfast. He’s staying in this same boarding house with his wife. I guess I’d better go.

An hour later: Well, I’m back and my stomach is full of good food. We work on the other side of the town (about 1 kilometre from here) in the western harbour. It’s a brand new luxury restaurant, super stylish and comfortable, and in a lovely location by the sea. The staff are incredibly friendly and nice, and the food is excellent. I couldn’t wish for more. But of course everything has to have a downside. This club was set up with donations from rich people, and it so happened that someone also donated an old square piano, which is terrible. It looks handsome, but it’s completely useless as an instrument. That’s a real pain, for what could be more enjoyable than to play a perfect instrument in such a perfect place, especially since the audience is super smart. And another pain is this violinist, an old (Russian) geezer who doesn’t play that well, and who plays ancient songs. There is no persuading him to play anything cheerier, lighter or more suitable for the summer holidays. So the job is not going so well. But I won’t let it bother me too much. I may start feeling lonely after a while, too, but I’m sure that can be fixed by writing lots of letters. I’m going out now, to sunbathe in a hole in the rock by the shoreless sea and I’ll take this letter to the post office on the way. Three hours to go until the afternoon gig, so I have enough time to relax…

Address: Ålands Nautical Club, Mariehamn.