the original flying finn was paavo nurmi- the long distance runner- as anyone who ever took part in a quiz and used the bournvita book to prepare knows.
not to be confused with the flying dutchman, who's reknown is based on the legend of captain van der decken, who hit a storm near south africa and proclaimed "I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until doomsday!" and apparently, he still is.
but i digress. returning to finland, i suddenly remembered the country because i had a finnish penpal. "ow did 'at 'appen?", you ask in your cockney way.
well, there was an international penpal provider based in suomi, finland. all of us signed up for penpals, listed our hobbies (swimming, reading) and language skills.. everyone asked for correspondents from australia, canada and france. some of us got those, but were generously awarded finnish penpals too.
it used to be such a thrill to get a thick envelope with finnish stamps.. the letter (always in pencil and without the letters joint) would talk about pets, family, occasional photos and how iveforgottenhernamehowcouldisoilljustcallher katrikki's sister had watched the mahabharat.
wonder if kids still have penpals. not with all this emailing about, i suppose.
endnote: a brother who shall remain nameless once wanted a russian penfriend. so he addressed a polite letter asking for one. to mikhail gorbachev, president USSR, kremlin, moscow.
and he got a penpal!