From Touko’s letter to Kaija, 21 June 1961

Madrid, 21 June

Dear Kaija,

At first I complained because the weather was too cold, but now I’d like to complain about the heat. I won’t bother, though, as the heat won’t kill me. And in a week’s time I’ll miss it, when it’s nothing but a memory.

It’s terrible how time flies even though I’m doing nothing, really. I don’t think I’ll be going to the Mediterranean, which is a pity. I’m enjoying myself so much here, too. I’ve spent all day today swimming in a piscina, or an outdoor swimming pool, called El Lago, which is an incredibly nice place. It’s a huge pool that isn’t too busy, except for a couple of hours in the afternoon. There’s a cosy restaurant and café in the shade of some trees, and you can have lunch and drinks in your swimming trunks. I went there first thing in the morning after I’d had a cup of coffee, and some friends came over at noon. We had lunch at two (which took us about two hours), then swam and had a few drinks, and we didn’t leave until seven in the evening. Then we sat in a café on Gran Via, i.e. José Antonio, watching people pass by, like they do here. It’s good fun. Then I had dinner at the hotel. I had soup, which can’t beat the soup they make in Italy, grilled fish, which was excellent, cold cuts with vegetable salad and the best ice cream in the world. And now I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, I’m so tired that I can’t be bothered to go for an evening walk, even though it’s only eleven. My skin is quite red but I don’t think it’s burnt, as I used the spray all the time. When I come back I’m sure my skin will be a different colour compared to what it was when I left. I’m thinking of going to El Escorial and the mountains tomorrow. I’ve been meaning to go for more than a week, but every morning I either wake up too late or I’m too lazy to go. I don’t want to go on my own, but I go on sightseeing tours because it’s so easy; they pick you up, there are guided tours, lunch, etc., and it’s cheap. You also get to talk to funny people. When I went to Toledo, I met some nice English ladies and a Greek chap, who felt like an old friend as soon as we started to talk.

I’ve been to a bull fight and if the opportunity arises, I’ll go again. This Sunday will be my last chance. I also spent a night watching genuine flamenco, not something shown to tourists. I’m not sure if I told you, but there is a wonderful new airport in Copenhagen. You wouldn’t recognise Kastrup.

And what else? Nipa left, I think he went to Paris. He was mysterious and terse, as he always is in similar situations. I was surprised because he enjoyed himself here, but I guess he has even better things to look forward to. He promised to tell me all about it when we’re back home. I’m sure he’ll giggle to himself for a couple of weeks. He has this enviable ability to enjoy himself and get the most out of his holidays. He sees and understands things that Joe Public doesn’t even notice. And his language skills are absolutely amazing. He doesn’t know many words, yet he knows all the necessary ones. And he keeps talking like there’s no tomorrow, and what’s equally important is that he seems to understand what the locals are saying. Amazing. So I’m not worried about him, and wouldn’t be even if he travelled to Timbuktu.

I won’t be going to Málaga. I can’t afford to fly there, and it’s too hot to travel on the train. It would take ages and, besides, it wouldn’t be that much cheaper. And Vuokko would be working all the time. I wrote a letter to her because I thought that Eine would tell her that I’d been here. Of course she’s annoyed (perhaps I think too much of myself), at least I would be if I was her.

I went to an amazing nightclub the other night, or a summer garden, as they call it. I was really surprised when the host introduced the next performer: Patachou! (A French singer and actress, b. 1918). She was absolutely charming and so very French. I didn’t think the audience appreciated the show as much as they should have. I, for one, loved her performance.