In my childhood, Vesku was the biggest possible idol for me and many of my peers, writes journalist-writer Tuomas Marjamäki.

    Vesa-Matti Loir (pictured) and Tuomas Marjamäki had a relationship of trust for years. INKA SOVERI

    The two-track pétanque ball was almost stuck in the wooden snad. I decided to roll my own single-tracked ball with the two-tracked one further so that the snadi would stay in place. I concentrated, aimed and prepared to release the ball…

    – I know what you’re trying to do. But it won’t work, came a rumble from behind me.

    I broke down. The ball flew out of my hand and flew far from the target, but I just laughed. It was okay to lose at petanque To Vesa-Matti Loir.

    It was June 1998. We spent the movie “Johtaja Uuno Turhapuro, pisnismies” in the yard of the Käpylä työvänehallo. In these shots, Finland’s biggest entertainment trio Spede Pasanen, Vesku Loiri and Simo Salminen had worked together for the last time. In the same context, my own 20-year collaboration with Vesku began.

    I had been involved in the filming as a reporter for Aamulehti and once I was asked by the director Ere Kokkose why a book has not been made about Uuno Turhapuro yet. He asked me to make one. So I hung out interviewing the actors, and got to know the whole crew. The book was completed in a few weeks and announced at the premiere of the film.

    In my childhood, Vesku was the biggest possible idol for me and many of my peers. When I started making my own magazine at the age of 11 and interviewing celebrities for it, my dream was naturally to get to talk to him too. I found out Vesku’s address and wrote a nice letter, to which I did not receive an answer.

    I already thought Vesku was arrogant, but when we finally met, this perception was corrected. He treated the 19-year-old journalist matter-of-factly, and a strong trust developed between us. Over the years, we did 25 big stories for different magazines in many different situations and around many topics.

    In the 1990s, Vesku politely gave out his home number and agreed to interviews if they fit into his schedule and didn’t require a lot of effort. Vesku was not yet standing on such a high pedestal, on which he was later raised. People loved him as a comedian, but for example the more artistic albums didn’t sell, some of the cultural crowd scrunched their noses and the newsrooms were in pain when Veskus had gone to do a story again.

    The situation started to change in the early years of the 21st century, among other things Junnu Vainio -interpretations and the Bad Boys movie. Vesku was declared a living legend at the same time that his health (or rather his illnesses and overweight) began to be observed with a magnifying glass. In the fall of 2007, even certain information about Vesku’s death spread. After that, every scrap of what the legend did was enough for a headline, the artist himself began to withdraw and retreated to his cabin on the shore of Lake Inarijärvi or to Thailand during the winter.

    Vesku’s phone was usually always on, so when I was looking for him, I first sent a text message with the forwarding information, so I could see when the phone opened – and then I called him immediately.

    In March 2006, after much effort, I got Vesku to recall his comedy career for the Laughter book. He invited me to his home at the Cable Factory, where we talked for many hours in the dark of the evening, with only the light of a leg lamp. The artist’s figure darkened, one cigarette after another lit up on his lips, and the cart clung tightly to my clothes.

    The Kaapelitehtaan room was not officially intended for living, but Vesku stayed there for eight years. The floor of one room was full of performance clothes, the other room was full of bottles, in the middle of the living room there was a billiard table without a bag or carom, with a flute and music papers on it, a large sofa and a television in the corner. In that corner, Vesku mostly spent his free time playing Playstation.

    After the interview, Vesku asked me to pick up some “dinner cognacs” for him. There was a fan of fifty euro bills on the table, of which he gave me a few.

    – I’ll call you a taxi, go to Alko in Ruoholahti and ask the driver to wait. Take Reviseur, it has less sugar.

    I drove the shortest taxi ride of my life, got Vesku’s evening snack, returned back to Kaapelitehta, and we took some more small snacks together.

    – I now remember the letter you sent. But it came to me so late that I thought it was already out of date, Vesku said.

    I promised to believe and we clinked glasses.