Baby John!


I ended my latest text by describing what I saw were my main issues for the next few months. Would my plans develop after my thoughts, on those cold and windy days in Sundsvall, as the year of 1973 drew to a close?

I was going to become a father. It was an exciting thought but at the same time scary. Were we as parents prepared for such a responsibility? I think Mona saw it this way: We had some back up in the shape of her parents Olle and Aime Hillman. They welcomed a grandchild and could help us with the logistical bits.

In our flat in Skönsberg we had what we needed to await the arrival of our first child. If it was a boy the family tradition should be followed. From my great-grandfather and down the name for the first born was João. Now this was tricky because it was a difficult name both to spell and to pronounce for anyone outside a Portuguese speaking country. We settled for the nearest and most international alternative. If it was a male he would be called John. He would have British nationality so an English name would be appropriate.

The parents waited! Maxwell the cat waited! But nothing happened when we were expecting it to happen. The baby just wasn’t in the mood to come out! Eventually they decided to start labour. After a second attempt the Sundsvall’s hospital prepared to help deliver the baby. It was a long drawn process occurring just two floors underneath where I sit on my working days. I was of course present. I had not participated on the labour courses provided. I hairy blond baby did eventually come out. It was a boy and he had a name.

The mixed feelings as I made my way home to our flat walking with my ears and legs frozen by the bitter wind along the Heffners Road were those of an immense pride and at the same time concern for the future of this little human being. The date was the 30th November.

Cliff Richard singing for us


My life chapter on 16, Mornington Avenue does have something to tell. It was the winter, opening 1973. We rented a one room flat for £13 a week where a kitten was acquired and a TV set was our main companion, besides ourselves… Was there a grand plan? I worked for a meager £16 a week as I hoped to get life organized.

Cliff Richards sang on TV one night. It was the British entry for that year’s Eurovision festival. The song was “Power to all our friends”…and for some reason I associate that song with Mona becoming with child. The song was first performed on the BBC on the 10th of January, then on Top of the Pops on the 8th of March. The Eurovision festival proper, was held in Luxembourg on the 7th April, pretty much the date chosen for Mona to go back to Sweden and visit her parents. Already then, we had high suspicions of her being pregnant!

I stayed with Maxwell. He would get out through the window and once he did just this and I ran out to get him. When I came back I discovered that the frying pan was almost on fire. I chose to throw it out of the window, the pan, that is…

Our exchange of letters confirmed that Mona was pregnant and that we were going to become parents. What to do? No panic, Mona had abandoned student life in Stockholm but was coming back to her parents with a grandchild!

Things were leading in one direction only…and that was moving back to Sweden.

Maxwell’s arrival


You might live a whole life and still not understand events that took place in it even if you, yourself, were the main male actor.

I do not pretend to claim that I have been aware of all  things that have happened in my life but I am sure that my actions would have been different if I had the experience I have today. When you are young, say 20 years old, you have your life in front of you and happiness does not need too many analyses. I have been lucky in my life to have known so many interesting people and to have experienced so much together.

When we went back to England Mona and me, as a married couple we were supposed to be a family. But we were not. Looking back I am certain that Mona’s biological clock had been ticking away for some time. Our small room in Mornington Avenue needed a little one.  The solution found, was a kitten.

We took the train to Hounslow to get Maxwell, whose name was inspired by a coffee brand.

He was a little loud and nervous baby of the Siamese race. He came with a pedigree, cost £15 and would be our pet for many years to come.

At this time I was working in the publicity firm of Masius Wynne-Williams and that same year of 1973 they merged to become D’Arcy Masius MacManus. My job was, as I recall, doing errands and dealing with the post to the many sophisticated art workers, of this reputed and pioneering advertising firm.

JP pets