Napoleon did surrender

PORTRAITS22

In the year of 1974 my classes of Swedish got on the way. The course was in Ljustadalen and it was seen as a job. When I arrived I had to punch the card just as it was done in the industrial workplaces. My degree of participation was relevant for my monthly salary. Needless to say I did not miss any lessons.

Naturally I became friends with people from different countries attending the SFI course. One of them was Randolph Richards. Randolph was a musician from Jamaica. He was on to bodybuilding and had a small gymnasium in the Skönsberg area. This was also his residential area so we were neighbours as it turned out.

On Saturday the 6th April my small family was invited to his home where we would eat and watch the Eurovision song festival. Randolph and wife Elisabeth with two small girls were among my first social contacts in Sundsvall.

The show was completely dominated by a new Swedish group composed by two girls and two guys. These Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid were the group Abba and they did succeed in winning everything and became megastars the following years. The song was Waterloo where Napoleon did surrender.

The SFI

cold

I registered myself as a resident in the parish of Skön on the 1 November 1973. After applying for residence and if accepted I would be given the 4 magical numbers that open most doors in Sweden. These numbers complete your personal number. Without the 10 digit personal numbers you practically do not exist. I needed four to add to my 520329.

My permit came on the 23rd December almost as a Christmas present. Now I could apply to the Swedish course. I immediately did that. This does not mean that I did not look for employment meanwhile.

Mona and I went to the ABF. This is a labour movement run school for adults on the national level. At one time it was very important to further educate in the model of study circles. The leader of these circles more or less was one in the democratic group but got some pay. We were interviewed by a Mrs Marie Viking. We spoke English with her and she was in charge of language courses. After the interview Mona was asked if she would like to take on a course.

I went to the labour exchange and eventually met the lady who was in charge of the foreigners. We filled the forms and expected a quick answer so I could start off with the Swedish lessons. I met a Portuguese architect working on the plans for the new hospital. Mr Reis offered to accompany me to the employment agency. Once there he presented himself and said something like- I am architect Reis, when can my friend start the course, as he has waited for a long time for an answer?

The lady behind the desk asked for my personal number and disappeared for a while. When she came back she said.

-He can start on Monday!

The Swedish course I enrolled for was a bit away from town in the Ljustadalen area. It reminded of an industrial work place. There I did my 9 intensive weeks of Swedish in 1974.Besides learning the language we also got some information and guidance to prepare ourselves for work. I had grown a beard as a way to cope with the winter as I did not at the time wear anything on my head! Question of principle! Hejdå!

Hellbergs