Looking back, and after consulting material from the period, I can share some data on what happened in the month of September 1972.
When the Interrail adventure, that took Mona and I to Spain ended, I returned to London in order to get a certificate, that we thought we needed, to get married!
As I had nowhere to stay two people gave me a hand. Quim Semião who was trying to save Die Fledermaus from bankruptcy and a Brazilian called Guilherme who lived at 2, Nevern Rd. Flat 1.
Quim and I tried to keep the club afloat. We were hardly earning any money and eventually, within the month, we were both out of there.
As to Guilherme… I believe this guy had some money. His rent was £16 a week. I could not afford to pay half so he agreed I would pay £6 and teach him English for the remaining £4. I really cannot recall, what his line of business was, but at one time I was helping him get a lease for premises in Beauchamp Place, where he would open a Brazilian restaurant!
He wanted to come with me to Sweden, as he was keen to know new places. We decided to go and booked the crossing with the Saga for the 24th September. Once in Stockholm we would meet Mona at the central station. As we arrived all focus was concentrated on each other. I think Guilherme said it was too cold in Stockholm and went back to London! Well, did he? I completely lost track of him.
My Stockholm life could however start. Engaged to get married, sharing student room 119 at Amanuensvägen 14 and with a letter of reference, fixed by my father from a Mr. Oppacher, GM of the Lisbon Sheraton, to the director of the Sheraton in Stockholm a Mr. Schuack should be waiting for me. It was meant they would offer me a position at this fashionable hotel. Things could be worse.
I can only tell you that leaving Nevern Square was not easy. There were bills to pay, no right to the deposit and no new tenants to take over. Pepe was meant to look for new digs, even temporarily, but did not succeed. I finished up in Neil’s apartment near Earl’s Court’s Olympia in a sleeping bag on the floor! Neil was a working colleague from Tramp’s!
This was my situation as I awaited embarkation on Wednesday the July the 5th 1972 on MS Saga with arrival two days later in Gothenburg, Sweden! One of my most valuable possessions was a brown velvet jacket that I had bought from António, a Portuguese from the Porto area! This smart jacket would do fine for my trip and meeting Mona!
Finally the day came. I went on board and we sailed off to the new country. I was impressed to hear the Swedish language being trumpeted off the loud speakers. They were sounds, I already liked, having heard Swedish spoken innumerable times first by Åsa and Mona and later by Jannike and Ulla!
I was also impressed by the blonde kids on board that threw themselves on the pool without any measure of uncertainty! What confidence and well-being did they not express?
After arrival at about 6.30 on the 7th I had to get to the train station! The connection was done by a bus leaving the Skandia harbour at 6.50 and 7.45 to Central Railway station. The fare was 4 Swedish Crowns.
I got on the train and started my trip to Stockholm. The heat was unbearable and I could not for my life get it into my head that Sweden could be warmer than Britain. So I kept my jacket on!
So it was settled. After weeks of unbearable separation and innumerable telephone calls and exchange of letters a decision was taken!
I would travel to Sweden! The means of transportation it was decided, would be taking the boat from Tilbury to Gothenburg on M/S Saga! It was a new adventure as just half a year before Sweden was not on my map, all together!
Our letters should be revealing, but were they? On my mind I was trying to create a picture on my head where the people and the places could become visible! From Mona’s letters I understood that her father got up early (6 o’clock) so I should avoid ringing too late at night. Two things became also evident as they were a big worry for Mona! Drinking alcohol is very bad and only alcoholics drink and it is important not to be perceived as lazy!
Mona’s mother sent greetings and a kitten called Sussie was on every letter being Mona’s company as she wrote her letters!
Our love could not be questioned. It was strong and could not bare separations any longer! Mona worked as a telephone operator, a job she took in the summers. On her free time she went with Åsa to the Marina disco or a place called “Sommarnöje”! She complained that nothing was fun and that was also my state of mind as I wrapped up my time at Tramp’s.
I gathered some of my belongings and booked my trip with Swedish Lloyd for Wednesday the 5th of July 1972 arriving in Sweden on the 7th. From Gothenburg I would take a train to Stockholm where Mona would pick me up by car!
I got a shopping list containing the following items.
1/1 bottle of Whisky “Long John” for uncle Folke! (The reader will now wonder, as I did!)
Nailpolish (Mary Quandt) dark red
Wine gums and one Kit-kat!
That’s’ all folks…next stop Sweden!
Earl’s Court 4/5 1972
I waited until that wretched boat that took you away departed, but I could not catch a last glimpse of you.
My throat went dry and I could not speak properly for about twenty minutes, I hope you cried.
I am very sad and miss you a lot already. I love you and I feel as if I have been left alone in life, again.
Please come back very quickly and don’t ever forget me.
Lots of love
P.S- I will phone Sunday or Monday bet. 5 & 6.
(The boat was the Saga, the place Tillbury docks, the feelings genuine)
The M/S Saga was a Swedish ferry that in 1972 started to sail between Gothemburg and London. It would go a bit up the Thames and anchor at the Tillbury docks. I remember taking the train with Mona to what was my most painful farewell. Mona was leaving and going back to Sweden. We had decided that I would come to see her in Sweden later in the summer. This was the period that I have described on a previous text, where the Portuguese word “Saudade”, gets its deepest meaning. Not being a great writer of letters, I did write many, to the address Box 1209, S- 86023, Ankarsvik, Sweden. And daily awaited Mona’s letters.
But it was this boat that took us away from each other and back together in 1972.
The M/S Saga was built in 1966 for the Stockholm Rederiet AB. She was given the name Svea. Having a length of 141 meters she took 100 cars and 408 passengers.
In 1968 she was sold to Svenska Lloyd in Gothemburg and renamed Hispania. She then did the route Southampton- Bilbao for a few years until she served as a popular means of transport between Sweden and England, now renamed Saga.
She did operate on this London destiny until 1977, when she went off to Greece under the name M/S Knossos where she stayed for 20 years. In 1988 as M/S Captain Zaman II she did central America serving such places as Belize and later Panama with the new name M/S Ancona. Is she still out there, anyone?
Life in a sort of exile is not for everyone… It prompted Mané Fernandes to go back that Christmas in 1971/72. It took him to an army spell in Africa! It was different for Quim Semião. He wanted to make it and one time he even began to be known as Mr. King. He met a Swedish girl called Yvonne around this time and they were a couple for some time. Gilberto had his Swiss girlfriend and eventually they moved to her country on the Alps. I believe that both Gilberto and Quim later moved across the Atlantic to the USA. Quim did, for sure!
It all meant that that very eventful year of my 20th birthday started with the need to get new tenants for Nevern Square. Two school colleagues of Mona’s and Åsa’s needed a place, so they swiftly moved in.
These girls were wild, and I look forward to having them share some of their memories on this blog. One of the first things they did was getting a huge dog that they named Martini! This was an Afghan hound of some sort that spent most of its life hidden under a bed terrified of everything and everyone.
Ulla Hjertstedt and Jannike Beijer were our two new flat mates. Like so many other Swedish girls they came to London for the adventure and who can blame them? I have as a teacher often given advice to my students- Take a year in another country to develop and grow on the personal level.
The way of getting to London for many of the Swedish female army was with arrival at Tillbury with start in Gothenburg aboard the MS Saga.