Saturday, September 03, 2005

P.O.P got an email yesterday

Yesterday P.O.P. recieved an email, asking a lot of questions about me. Questions about if I really was living in Sweden, if I'm really on paternity-leave (thank you for that word!) and some other questions about Sweden.

I don't know how interesting all of this is for my (very) few readers but for me it's good training in english to try and describe myself and the country I live in. I'll take it little by little and hopefully every day.

The most important things are in my presentation, but one thing I haven't mentioned is how I grew up. Some people find it just plain fascinating, others judge me, my knowledge, my intelligence and even my honesty by it.

My mother had recently turned 16 and I was born excactly two month's before I was supposed to, on December 1st, 1960. My first 24 hours I spent in an incubator but doctor's found out that my lungs were fully developed and that there was no danger in letting me expierience the world by myself.

(My mother told me later, much later, that I, without doubt, was the ugliest newborn baby that she'd ever seen but she loved me nevertheless. I had long white hair all over my body and looked more like a little pinkish white chimpanzee than a newborn human. Maybe that's why I've always been fascinated by chimps and feel related to them?)

At first, my mother refused to tell anyone my fathers name, but my grandmother eventually found out his name and that he worked at a travelling amusement park. From that point on my mothers life would change from what probably would have been a very ordinary life to a life with almost constant travelling.

(And here's a twist of faith. My grandmother lived in Norway during WWII, fell in love with a german soldier and got pregnant. After the war she had to flee, because she was considered beeing a "german whore". She ended up in Gothenburg, Sweden. The result of that pregnancy was my mother.

And now for the twist. The man that made my mother pregnant was also german. So I have more german blood in my veins than swedish.)

My grandmother wrote a letter to him and let him know that he probably was the father of a little boy.

My father had two choices: acknowledge my existence or just pretend as if it rained. I'm proud to say that he "did the right thing". And I know that he loved me a lot, even if he didn't show it all that much. He just wasn't that kind of a man.

My mother, who was somewhat of a rebel, at first refused to even meet him. She was a beautiful young woman who wished to persue a career as a professional photographer and didn't want to marry just yet, even though she was in love with him. My father persisted and a year later they wrote to the swedish king and asked for permission to marry, since she was only 17. They didn't get that permission, so as soon as she turned 18 they moved to Germany and got married.

That was in the late summer of 1963 and a couple of months later my mother gave birth to my baby brother, exactly two weeks after my third birthday. He was actually supposed to be born on my birthday... 1965 and 1966 the family grew larger with the arrival of our two baby sisters, but that's another story.

My first two years I lived with my mother in Gothenburg and later on, as my parents had married, we moved to Hamburg, Germany for a while and lived in a shed close to the docks where my father took all kinds of work. At one time he even worked in the red light district of Hamburg as a "persuader", ie, he tried to convince tourists that the establishment he worked for was the best there was.

Dad was, more or less, built lika a small tank. The only one I've ever met that could match his strength is my own brother. My father never backed down from a fight, regardless the size of the opponent and,
as far as I know, he never lost. That first winter in Germany ended with my father being banned from most of the bars in downtown Hamburg.

At that time, Germany was rising from the ruins after WWII and my father probably could have gotten just about any job that he applied for, but he was persuing his own dreams. He just couldn't stand working nine to five, even though he tried, something that I inherited.

One of the family stories is about when my father worked as a ditch digger. He was standing in a ditch as his foreman and and a boss approached. The foreman was trying to impress the boss and started to shout at my father to dig faster. Dad already worked as hard as he could but the foreman continued to shout from the top of his lungs. My father did something that since then has been the familys "trademark", since we all react exactly the same way on this kind of behavior from bosses. He took a full shovel of wet dirt, threw it over the foreman and the boss, told them to go to hell and left.

As he came home he told my mother: "I've had enough from stupid bosses, let's move to Sweden for good." And they did.

They went to Gothenburg and lived in my grandmother's apartment while dad applied for jobs. One of the places where he tried his luck was at SKF, a big company that manufactured ball bearings. As he was asked what he had done for a living earlier, he naturally answered "travelling amusement parks". The man behind the desk took a long look at my father and replied: Yes... but what kind of honest work have you been doing? Dad slammed the door so hard on his way out that the glasspane shattered.

Before I continue I must clarify a few things. During the winter we lived i Germany and during summer in Sweden. This because my father worked at a travelling amusemnt park situated in the northern part of Sweden. They couldn't offer him any work during the winter. After getting similar reactions from numerous people like the man at SKF, my father looked elsewhere and was offered a job as foreman on another amusement park in the most southern part of Sweden. And from there on, I start to remember things more clearly.

Dad had earned a reputation among swedish amusement park owners as hard working, fast fisted, clever, resourceful and honest man, so he was much sought for. In this enviroment there was much need for that kind of man since many of the people working at amusement parks were alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals and other outcasts. My father was just the right person to shape them up and get them to work.

Maybe I should explain more about how we were looked at. Actually we were considered to be scum by "ordinary people's" standards and I believe that this is quite important for my own and my siblings development later on. To be considered a thief, without ever having stolen anything, makes it's mark.

I think I'll stop here and continue at a later time. I'm actually rather exhausted by writing in a language that isn't mine from the beginning. :)