My older son has always been fond of disaster scenarios, and if anything, this has increased since the move to Finland. Perhaps he sensed something we didn’t know about how close to a catastrophe we skirted. His trains are forever falling off the tracks, getting stuck in mud, crashing into each other, developing mechanical problems and so on. In the last few days we have also been interrogated about other possible issues people could run into. ‘What happens if you don’t have a house?’ ‘What happens if you’re in a car and all the wheels fall off?’…
Weirdly, nothing has gone wrong so far. We’re finding the new flat very comfortable and have been able to sort out some of the bureaucratic stuff. We went to visit the new nursery ahead of the boys starting there on Monday, and were very pleased.
I’ve been thinking about communal services. The flat we are living in is part of a typical Finnish housing association. There are a handful of blocks of flats in it. In the middle there’s a small playground and communal bins. Inside the buildings you have a shared sauna (this one doesn’t, but usually you do), storage lockers for the flats, a shared bike store, a shared outdoor equipment room and a shared laundry and drying room.
So many shared facilities naturally lead to some bad neighbourly spirit – who left the lights on in the bike store again, someone went over their booked time in the laundry room, you’re supposed to lock the door of the bin store… I think of the UK as the country with more community spirit, but because good-quality housing associations are a rarity, this type of sharing doesn’t happen that much. If you live in a house, you obviously have your own everything – then again Britons are probably more likely to associate with their neighbours free-form.