There’s always IKEA

BillyWhen you are expecting your first child you want conditions to be as good as possible! Our basement one-room- flat, in Mornington Avenue, London didn’t quite make the ticket in comparison to what Sweden had to offer. Mona’s hometown of Sundsvall with caring future grandparents was there waiting for us.   

I came back to Sweden roughly one year after I had left it. It was a completely new life we were talking about. Sundsvall was limited in almost all aspects but it did have some advantages.

The first one was the one concerning accommodation. A flat was fixed before I arrived. It had two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. The new address was Bruksgatan 4C. It was a council flat and we paid rent for it. The houses were new. The area had this unpronounceable name of Skönsberg and it was at walking distance from the centre of town. But who in their right minds would do this stretch in the freezing and windy conditions of the Swedish autumn?

The second one was that I was provided with a course to learn Swedish. All foreigners were. The procedure was as such: you went to the labour exchange and said you needed a job, which was true. But this labour exchange ( Arbetsförmedling) did not seriously commit itself to getting you work according to your merits. What they could and did do was to offer you this SFI course. This stands for Swedish for foreigners. In those days it was considered a part of the employment system so I actually was meant to get paid while attending. It was also explained to me that I could continue after 9 weeks with a professional course on the same terms. I obviously enrolled even though I thought I could manage with my English abilities.

 The third was that there was an IKEA warehouse where we could buy your Billy bookcases and as matter of fact everything else. The year was 1973.

There were now three things that IKEA couldn’t  fix, the baby, the Swedish course and a job!