My Friday Book: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

imageAll my life, I have heard how fantastic the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is, with gorgeous Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. But I was also told that it is a film about a luxury prostitute, which might account for why I have never ever seen the film nor have I read the book, until today. Yes, Audrey Hepburn  was the most beautiful woman of her time. And I have walked around with a black and white bag, covered with her face, wearing the tiara and bling glued to it, and her holding her famous cigarette. But it hardly makes this a good book, because I do not concur with other readers, I honestly do not find this a good novel. Not even a half decent novel.

The woman who wrote the foreword in my Swedish edition, which I bought and read today, claimed that everybody raved about the book when it came out in 1958. Hollyimage was the new woman, who everyone should aspire to be like. A woman who did as she pleased. Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part in the film, but she refused. So the role went to Audrey instead.

But since when do we applaud prostitution? And since when do we applaud promiscuity? Because when it all boils down to it, this is a book about a prostitute, a drug-addict, a party girl like Britain’s Essex girls and Stockhom’s Stureplan girls. But even worse, about pedophilia. And to claim that this is a classic, world literature? I claim that it is a deeply disturbing book, if society suddenly thought that women ought to become Holly Golightlys.

The book does not really have Holly Golightly, as the main character. Instead we have a young man as the protagonist, a young man living above her flat, somewhere in New York. It is not a building of well to do people and the young man is struggling to become an author. Why he is not in service, is never explained. But the book really takes place in 1943 and there is a desperate lack of men in uniform or signs of war, throughout.

For a while, Holly calls the young man “Fred” after her brother, whom he according to her, resembles. So I will call him Fred in this review. Fred is contacted one day, many years after the fact, to come and look at something, at a bar he used to frequent. The bar owner, Joe Bell, has a photo of an African statue to show him. And both agree, the statue looks just like Holly Golightly, whom they have not heard from, for ages, but the statue proves that she must have been in Africa. It is the description of the statue which really describes Holly to us. Too big eyes, a mouth too big for her face, short boy cut hair. Not at all a look that describes Marilyn Monroe, but not really Audrey either.

From then on, we are back in 1943, and Fred describes that he lives in the same house as Holly for a long time, before they actually meet. But he does hear her voice every time people have to let her in to the house at night, her not caring to bring a key and not caring about other people’s sleeping habits. He does not meet her proper until she climbs in through his window one day, trying to avoid a boring “client”. Because clients she have. She informs Fred that you get 50 dollars to go in to the ladies’ room with gentlemen at the clubs and restaurants she frequents, and that is and will always be prostitution.

He is invited for drinks at her flat, but when he arrives, he is not prepared for anything that he encounters. Holly sees herself as a traveller. She is always packed to go at short notice. So nothing in her flat is unpacked. And he is not the only man invited that evening, quite the contrary. All men equally disappointed that they are not the one and only invited. He gets to meet with her fiancée, the overgrown baby, Rutherfurd “Rusty” Trawler, who is too rich for his own good and who refuses to accept that he is homosexual. He gets to meet Holly’s former Hollywood agent, O.J. Berman, who tried to get her in to the film industry, but had to accept that the bird fled to New York, in order to avoid the first screen test. But the flat is full of men in uniform, yes here they are mentioned. Once! And most of them are in their middle age or above, while Holly is only 19 and I assume Fred to be of the same age. They are all hunkering after having sex with Holly and I guess you can say what you will about that.

The party is suddenly interrupted by photo model Mag Wildwood, who at first charms everyone, but when she visits the loo, Holly gets rid of the competition, by spreading around that Mag has a venereal disease. That makes most of the men run and believe it or not, but after a night of drinking, Holly and Mag become best friends and Mag moves in as a paying lodger.

During the weeks to come, in September 1943, Fred goes all over with Holly, trying to get to know her. He finds out that she visits an old man in prison every Thursday, whose name is Salvatore “Sally” Tomato, and she is paid $100 for the effort, by his lawyer. All she has to do is keep Sally happy and bring a coded message back to the lawyer, to prove that she has been to the prison.

But their friendship becomes difficult to uphold when Fred gets an office job and their times do not parallel each other. They do give each other a Christmas present though, and thanks to extra trips to the ladies’ room, Holly buys him a much coveted bird-cage from an antique shop. He on the other hand has splurged at Tiffany’s and bought her a S:t Christopher’s medal, since she travels so much. Tiffany’s being the place she goes to during her frequent panic attacks, since nothing bad ever happens there.

Up till then in the book, things have not been too bad for Holly. She enjoys life, playing with her hair and colouring it in all the shades of the rainbow (hardly sounding like a beauty, like Audrey Hepburn) at the same time, drinking and selling herself to her heart’s content. But one day a Dr. Golightly shows up at the house and informs Fred that Holly, or Lulamae Barnes, is his wife. She and her brother came to his house in Texas as children, trying to steal eggs and milk. He kept them there and raised them with his children. He had lost his wife 4 July 1936 and in December 1938, he married Lulamae alias Holiday (Holly) who had not even turned 14! He had spoiled her rotten so that his own children worked hard on the farm, while she could sit and read ladies’ magazines and take care of her looks. And one day she had just walked away. He had searched for her ever since, to bring her home to her children and husband, where she belonged. When Holly gets back home that day, she goes to bed with her husband and then sends him packing.

The next part of the storyline, tells past tense, how Mag and her Brazilian lover José, who can not be connected with scandal, since he is trying to become President in Brazil one day, went on holiday in the Caribbean with Rusty Trawler and Holly. Rusty  got in to a fight which landed him in hospital and Mag had sun tanned a wee bit too much, so while she and Rusty were bedridden, José and Holly travelled about together. This caused great jealousy in the bedridden people and to pay the others back, the two of them got married. Unfortunately, it did not have the effect they expected, since José and Holly only laughed at the entire thing. But the laughter did not last very long for Holly. She receives a telegram that her beloved brother has been killed in action, and she suddenly becomes a prisoner in her own home, by choice. José becomes her lover and moves in with her and proudly she tells “Fred” that she is six weeks pregnant and that she and José are off to Brazil, where they will get married.

But before that happens, Holly gets arrested. Sally Tomato was not as innocent as she thought him to be. The newspapers have a fun time writing up stories about Holly being an international drug dealer. All the coded messages were pertaining to Tomato’s mafia empire, and while the police soon realize that Holly is innocent, they want to use her to bring down the mafia empire of Tomato. José of course has fled to Brazil and wants no more part in Holly’s life. She miscarries the baby. Tomato dies in prison suddenly. And Holly escapes justice by using her pre-paid ticket to go to Rio. The only thing “Fred” ever hears from her again, is that she is living in Argentina, being the mistress of a married man.

When I read the last page I thought “That was it? What was the point?”. It is a story about a girl, who was sexually abused from the time she was a little girl and for some reason she had accepted that as a normal part of life. It is about a girl who decides who she is going to have sex with for money. And who numbs her pain by fleeing from it with alcohol, drugs and running from place to place. But how long will she be able to run away from herself? Critics can sit and say that this is a fantastic book, written ten years before the sexual revolution, and those men saying that she is a free spirit, can believe this, if it makes them feel good. But the truth is, that this is a deeply disturbing story about something which should not have been allowed to happen and about a girl trapped in prostitution. But noone in the story reacts to that. Nor the critics that raise the storyline to the skies. For that reason, Audrey Hepburn, the goddess, should not have been chosen to play the part. She made it all look normal, no doubt, fascinating and alright.

Apart from the storyline then? Well, I read a translation so I can not say anything about Capote’s language skills. But I enjoy a good storyteller and a storyteller, Capote is NOT. We only get to see flashes out of Holly’s and Fred’s lives. And since Fred is the story’s narrator, it is deeply disappointing to not find out a thing about him, except that he tries to write and finally succeeds. We can guess that he has fallen in love with Holly, like all other men, but why? According to the book, she is no beauty. Skinny and ugly is how she is described. So then it must be the prospect of sex that lures them all in to her nets. Including Fred, who by the sounds of it, never did get lucky. To be honest, after reading the short book, which is read in an hour or two, you feel completely empty. You have wasted your time and your money. And you realize that all you have learned, is nothing.

 

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Am I my mother’s keeper?

During Viking times, the elderly were forced to jump off a cliff or was done away with in some other fashion. During  the Catholic age, the Franciscan monks, looked after  the old and sick  in alms houses. And during the Protestant times, they put the old, who are generally poor and sick, in the poor house or work house. All depending on where you lived of course.

One alternative existed during the 1700s and 1800s, and that was to keep the old at home. Let them do the chores they could do, like babysitting. But the most common thing was for the parents or parent, to move to a less desirable part of the “estate” or house and get the scraps from a son’s or daughter’s table.

We are living in a time, when doctors do everything they can to save pre-mature babies and the elderly, without even considering if the saved ones, will live a worthy and dignified life. People live to a very, very old age, compared to what they lived to, in say the 1800s, when nature ran its course. There was no medicine to pickle them and had there been one, I am sure that the children of those parents, would have opted for not giving it to them. Why? Because in those days, you could not afford a mouth to feed, who was of no use. I know, it sounds like a propaganda statement from the 1930s, something which Goebbels would have said and which he indeed did say.

But it is not easy, to have an ageing parent, in today’s world. Or in my world at least. But I think that I am not the only one, who feel very divided. And more will join me, since people have children late in this country and when you have your children late, you will be old and need care, when your children are not really able to help you yet. Did that make sense? No?

My mother was 30 when she had me. She was never really sick a day in her life. Perhaps a little bit of sniffles, but the only thing she ever kept in her medicine cupboard, was a bottle of aspirin. And I do not know if she ever took one. She thought that good health came to everyone and that everyone who complained of an ailment, like myself, were all hypochondriacs. How can one have empathy when one has never felt any pain or had any problems? Well, some of us can, but she was incapable of it. After my dad had his accident in 1976, all she felt was anger towards him, since she from then on had to be in charge. Him having received aphasia in the fall and epilepsy, when the head injury healed.

My father died in 1979, and after that my mother went through a succession of men, one worse than the next. Alcoholics and men with money problems. Since 1992, there has not really been anyone, and perhaps that is what made here finally deteriorate? In the year 2000 she was forced to retire, having reached the age of 65. I had by then three children and one on its way. My suggestion of her selling her big house in Trollhättan, fell on deaf ears. She could not see any sense in my arguments. That it was rather insane for one person, without a job and without any close friends, to live 380 kilometers from its family. And for the person to live in a huge house with three bedrooms, two living rooms, kitchen, storage room, sewing room, two bathrooms and a laundry room, all alone. On top of that a big garden to take care of. I knew that one day she would need help, one day her health would fail, and there was no telling when that was going to happen. But she was like a teenager. Untouchable. She did not want to sell her house, since she had no loans and felt that she lived cheap in her house. And she has never been a cinnamon roll baking grandmother who have truly enjoyed socializing with her grandchildren. On the contrary she has kept as much away from them as possible, on visits in our home. She always prefered sitting watching TV, going shopping, sitting reading or cross-stitching, when visiting.

In 2010, her visits ceased. It all started with her phoning in June that year and wondering if we had moved. Or if our province had changed area code. She had tried to phone my dad’s sister (and silently I wondered why, since they had not had any contact for years) and ended up at the maternity clinic in Ystad, in our province. In other words, there was nothing wrong with the area code! Just her dialing of the phone number to persons. Obviously she reached us, since I had her on the phone, but that did not dawn on her. During my sister’s visit, from Australia, that summer, the quack doctors in Trollhättan came up with the bizarre idea that she must have had tons of little epilepsy seizures and this scarring her brain, so that she behaved in a strange manner. I did not believe it for a second but suspected Alzheimer’s. Even to this day, I do not know what is wrong with her, thanks to the secrecy act which protects every Swedish citizens’ rights. So much so that you can’t find out a thing about a parent, who has gone potty in the brain.

Because potty in the brain, she went. She was no longer allowed to drive. She could not remember to take her high blood pressure medicine, because suddenly she was afflicted by that as well. From always having had low blood pressure! She was lonelier than lonely up there in the North and there was nothing I could do about it. Having seven children to look after and some of them not all normal. Our oldest having serious problems, which today, would be diagnosed as autism. If he agreed to have himself tested!!! And our son “Kitty” having received an ADHD diagnosis at the age of five in 2009. (More diagnosises were to come, on him and his younger brothers.) When in a squirrel wheel, you can’t just take off and go take care of an ageing parent living 380 kilometers away. She started talking about moving down here, to this native province of hers, already in 2010, because she got angry at all people up there telling her that she needed help. In other words, she refused to see that there was a problem with HER.

And the years have gone by. Communication broke down between us, since the doctor ordered that she was put under the care of a trustee, her not being able to handle her own finances anymore. But my mum refused it and fought through all courts available with the help of a neighbour, since her own mind was not all there of course. I had to step in and write a letter to the court, that she must have a trustee. It was not something I did happily, but the judge ordered me to write the letter to put an end to all her foolery. So I did as ordered and the court sent the letter to my mum, who now saw me as the enemy and said some devilish things to me, which hurt me really badly. I was raised with conditional love and all that love was now gone. What she did not understand was that I did it for her sake and she was appointed a trustee against her will. But the trustee was not someone who was willing to share any information with me. And when I suggested that my mum was moved to a senior citizen flat instead, so she would have company during the days, the trustee refused to listen. She was of the opinion that my mum was fine where she was and had all the help she needed.

Today I know that the loneliness turned my mum in to an alcoholic. She has always been a weirdo and friends have always disappeared out of her life, since they got tired of her ways. But she has never wanted to sit isolated and today I can look in her diaries that most days she angrily wrote “LONELY!!!”. It is shocking to see it but I did try, without any success. The state wants the elderly to stay at home as long as possible since it is cheaper for the state. But I think in the long run it costs them more, since it makes people worse off more quickly.

From August 2013 to August 2015, I did not hear a thing from the trustee. But then suddenly last August, I get the strangest phone call. From a new trustee. My life was an utter mess at the time. We had crashed our car in Germany and life was so hard without a vehicle, living in the countryside where one is dependent on a car. We needed to paint our house desperately and without a car it was difficult to get paint home as well as scaffolding to stand on. Finally church members arrived to help as much as they could, and in the middle of this, I got the phone call. My mum’s old trustee had died, just like that, suddenly out of the blue and she had had this new trustee for over a year, without anyone telling me about it. Now she rang accusingly and asked me why I was against my mum moving to a nursing home. I really got angry and told her that I had tried getting the trustee to agree to it for years. And I told her what had happened years earlier.

On the 23rd December 2013, at 20:00, I received a phone call from the police in Trollhättan. My mum was missing. They wanted to know if we had fetched her to Skåne. I told them no and gave them her trustee’s telephone number. But they had already called her and she knew nothing. I tried to recall all the people she knew in her neighbourhood, but of course she had never mentioned any surnames. There was also the problem of her having come down to Skåne to visit her old classmates at times, without her even telling us, that she was around the corner. Her clearly wanting to avoid us. They could have fetched her as well, me not knowing their surnames either. I could not really help the police. Around 23:00 they phoned again. She was back at home and had been to a neighbour’s house all evening. But they were supposed to have notified the home service people, otherwise the latter call the police and say the person is missing. This was the neighbour who so kindly helped my mum fight the courts, who felt my mum needed no help at all!

At 23:00, sitting wrapping all Christmas presents, the policeman bawled me our for being a bad daughter. That I should have put her in a nursing home a long time ago and not left her living on her own like this. He could care less that I had no right to decide anything. But thanks to his words, I spent a miserable Christmas, once again feeling like the worse person in the world. My mum having raised me with those words, from early childhood. That I am a waste of space. This person who has never said a nice thing about me, is someone who I am supposed to honour and love deeper than anything. I have to say that it is a struggle.

But now it was August 2015, and I told the trustee, “by all means, move her to a nursing home so she will stop drinking and have people around her around the clock”. She said she would look in to it and phone at the end of the week. She never did. August came to a close, so did September and my mum was about to turn 80 years old. I bought her a mindfulness colouring book and pencils in lieu of ideas. What does one give someone who only needs company? Whose mind is gone? But I was worried that there was noone there to fetch the package from the post office. And what about a cake? You can’t sit alone and have noone there and no cake! But we were not able to go up there. The used car we bought at the end of August was basically living at the car mechanics, which is a totally different story, the story of not buying a used car when you know nothing about cars! There was no way we dared to go on a long journey, in the middle of the week, with that death trap!

So I contacted the trustee finally, through the council, since she had only introduced herself to the child who answered the phone in August, and had given no phone number or e-mail address. I wanted to know three questions: 1) What had happened on the nursing home front? 2) Could someone fetch the present? 3) Could someone buy her some cake or pastry? I never received an answer to questions number two and three but she wrote me back that she had not had time to do anything about it. Right, first bawl me out and then do nothing! After my mum’s Birthday she sent an MMS saying that she had bought a sandwich cake, invited some neighbours and included was a photo of my mother looking happy. I did not tell her that my mum is very finicky about sandwich cakes. She only likes her own recipe. But it was nice to know she had not been alone. What angered me was the fact that she did not have the courtesy to tell me if the gift had arrived and had been fetched. Such a small thing to do! It meant a lot to me, since I do not have an income, so all purchases are hard on the wallet and especially when I first have to send for the items, wrap them and then pay postage a second time! So, it was outright rude to not answer my questions. But that seems to be the policy of trustees.

Then nothing happened for a month, till I suddenly one day in November, receive a phone call from the council that I must come for an interview. I thought it was about one of my autistic boys but it turned out to be about my mother. The trustee had taken her to nursing homes in Trollhättan where she has lived since 1955 and she refused to move to any of them, just saying “I am moving to Skåne”. So now I had to persuade the council to let her move to Skåne and to my own council down here. We talked for a long time and then they had to make a decision. They told me that after a decision was made, housing had to be found within three months and after a place was offered, we had to accept and move her in within a week. I started to get scared but thought that nothing would happen before Christmas, so we would probably be fine.

From then on everything happened quickly. They said yes, she was offered a place at the dementia nursing home in our village and I went over there to insepct and felt enormously depressed. Walking in through the doors, I felt like 19 years old again, when I arrived as a substitute cleaner, to clean hospital wards. It looks like a hospital ward, even though the personnel insists on calling the rooms, flats. When you get in, to the room, you have a wooden hospital bed that can be raised and lowered. The alarm is on the wall. The microwaves are not hooked in since you can’t have that going on in a dementia ward. The toilet is big and a handicap one. The rooms totally lack personality and no matter what you do, you can’t make that room cozy. I felt so depressed. It would have been better had she just died suddenly. To have to end your life in such a place, when you have lived in a beautiful cozy home up till then, with your personality all over the place. There is just one word for it all and that is horrible. I could not say, “she will love this”. I tried to get some advice from the trustee but she just said, there was no alternative so finally I had to make the dreaded phone call and say YES. But it was not a happy or relieved yes, at all.

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The trustee refused to answer my e-mails after that, till we got one ordering us to meet the moving lorry on the 14 December, make the room look nice and stand at the home and greet my mum at 14:00, on the 15 December. I really got angry with the horrible woman. I have a family to look after. I had meetings to go to, children to fetch, Christmas presents to buy, Christmas cookies and cakes to bake, concerts, recitals and school events to go to, the list just went on and on. December is crazy in most people’s houses and worse so in our’s, since we have all the added visits to the care system about our three handicapped boys. But I had to drop everything.

Noone phoned me and told me when the lorry showed up and when I took the boys over, I just felt overwhelmed. I had to go home and muster up strength to go back. In the evening, my daughters had to serve themselves and “Kitty” sandwiches while T. and I took the two youngest with us, and tried to unpack things. T. hooked up the TV for her and unpacked all her clothes and put them in the closet. I could not understand the strange packing at all. 30 pairs of shoes and most of them high-heeled stiletto shoes. Was the trustee as insane as my mum? Silver cutlery was the sort of cutlery she had with her, but not dinner such. No, she had silver butter knives with her to eat with and salad forks. And the spoons where for mocha coffee cups. Not that they really need cutlery and plates etc. They eat all meals in the common room, but if there is acute stomach flu on the ward, they have to eat in their rooms, on their own plates etc.

We did our best. I put up the only books she had brought, my dad’s sport books. “Boo” put all the crystal glasses in the book-case and I silently wondered if she thought she would host formal dinner parties? I asked about alcohol and the staff answered that it is up to the relatives to buy that for the patients and I am sorry mum, but you now had to enter the teetotaler zone. I am a Latter-Day Saint and we are forbidden to drink alcohol. NEVER will I enter a liquor shop and buy something for her! So her alcoholism was cured by cold turkey!

To our vexation we discovered that she had billions of pictures with her, needing hooks on the walls. And all lamps arrived with the wrong electrical plugs and without light bulbs. The massive amount of clothes, needed to have name tags sewn in to them, which I had ordered and brought, but for heaven sakes, it was the 14 December and I did not have the time to sit and put name tags in all her clothes, 9 days before Christmas Eve. Instead of decorating my own home for Christmas, I was decorating my mum’s new room. Exhausted, we went home at 22:00, leaving a pretty room, without things on the walls, without lamps functioning, without curtains, and no carpets allowed because of the falling risk. But it looked alright. Not at all like her home, but tolerable.

The next day, I stood at the home with my two youngest sons waiting for her. But they grew anxious. “Gubby” starting to flax about which is a common thing for autistic children to do when bored, tired, confused etc. And “Boo” starting to be loud because nothing was happening. He acts out when bored. We had to go outdoors not to wear out our welcome. And then E. arrived, to play with her brothers. So they ran around like wild dogs, all three of them. Finally the trustee arrived with a friend in the passenger seat and with mum in the back with the trustee’s dog. My mum got out of the car and I could tell she was confused. When she saw us, she ran up to us and started kissing us all. I grew uncomfortable, because this is not her regular kind of behaviour and it felt wrong! If you did not kiss me when you had your brains, do not do it now.

We walked in, and my mum asked me if we live there. I told her no, that it was her new home. “Is it?”. She started to grow upset and I had to reassure her, that she had asked to move to Skåne for years now, and finally she had got her wish fulfilled but that the house still was hers in Trollhättan. Getting to the room, she could not understand how her things got there. Ingeli, the trustee, tried to tell her but it did not go through. I told I. that the electrical plugs needed changing, hooks were needed etc. And she told me that I could take my mum’s VISA card and buy what my mum needed. Then she walked off with the nurse to talk about my mum’s medicines. I found an envelope with the VISA card, but did not take it.Felt weird. And then I. came back having undergone a personality change. She ripped the envelope out of my hand and told me that I can’t have it, that my mum had money in her wallet which would have to be used for things needed and then she left with her friend for another friend’s house in Teckomatorp, some miles away from us. And my mum was upset that they left her behind.

My mum did not want us to leave and it felt really bad to do so, but my children were hungry and more children had arrived at home, phoning for me. Plus I felt she needed to get acquainted with the nurses and other care takers. So we said goodbye, but she tried to escape with us through the door, which is kept locked. The next day, she phoned me with the staff’s help and sat and cried and said that I had had her locked up in a prison. I tried to be civil and tell her that she no longer could live by herself, that she had begged to move to Skåne for years, that I was right around the corner, that it is not a prison, that she is not well and needs help. You name it, but she just said “Do not get angry with me, I love you!”. I was not angry and my children can testify that I was civil and did not sound angry, but I was getting upset inside. And I thought the “I love you” words so hypocritical. Why did she not tell me that when I grew up? Now it just sounds so false, when she is weak and helpless. It is too late.

Next time we went over there, she had ruined all our work. She had packed all things in her escritoire. I know! It is a writing desk, but when the lid is closed, it looks like a bureau. All Christmas decorations had been squeezed in there as well as telephone, cords for TV and clothes. I had to talk to the staff because now I felt really depressed and like we had made the wrong decision to move her there, if she did not want to be there. They told me that this often happens and it takes a couple of months for the patient to stop doing it. Also, I told them that I could not sit with her on the phone at all hours, her sitting crying saying that I had locked her up in a prison. They promised to not help her phone again, since they had let her phone from their office. But they understood that I can’t handle those kind of conversations. If my boys hear me upset, they get upset. They read tension like radar!!! So, I spent hours again, unpacking her things, realizing that some things now were broken from the manhandling and being pushed in to drawers.

The next time we went there, she was rude and angry. She once again had packed everything and I gave up. I had just come over with Christmas presents on our way to the cemetery to put a candle on our daughter’s grave. My mum was rude and asked if I would rather have her in the cemetery and I am afraid I lost it. I wheezed at her “I am going over to my beloved dead daughter Serena Rose, whom I miss very much. It is common practice to put a light on one’s loved one’s graves for Christmas!”. She did not apologize or anything, but then got angry when I said she could not come with to the cemetery.

As a family we decided that we could not have her come home to us on Christmas Eve. Her temper is too unpredictable. She scared some of the children the night before and to be honest, Christmas was not about her. It was about months of wait, months of anticipation from the children’s angle. And months of planning from my angle. I wanted to fulfill their dreams and not for my mother to steal the show and ruin the entire festivities. Because she has done that too many times before, during all Christmases she has spent with us in the past. Not one more Christmas, especially since my autistic boys can’t handle expectations not being fulfilled.  So we celebrated the Christmas as we wanted it celebrated and Christmas Day, the stove broke down. Or died might be a better word. We had to run off and buy a new one and the one they handed us, was not the one we had paid for, so for days our life was a nightmare, waiting for the right one to get back in to the shop, after the holidays. No way, we could have my mother over, without a proper stove!

In January, I had to go to a big meeting at the nursing home. A welcome and information meeting, which usually takes place earlier, but since Christmas and New Year’s came in the way, it was held later than usual. Big questions arose. My mum was still sitting without bulbs, hooks, electrical plugs suited for modern housing. But she also was without underwear, socks, hygiene articles. The trustee never checked my mum’s wallet before she left and there was no money in it at all. I can’t shop for my mum with our family’s money. And while one care taker at the nursing home had finally been given permission to go with my mum to the bank and take out money with my mother’s VISA card, my mum had hidden the wallet. So, no money available to buy anything. The care taker in charge of my mum, only had a week left to work at the place and had not had time to put name tags in my mum’s clothes, like she had promised to do, in December, and she had had to beg a friend in the hygiene articles business for freebie samples, for my mum. In other words, nothing was working the way it ought to. Part of the problem being that my mum’s trustee was 380 kilometers away and noone but her was allowed to touch my mum’s money. As for me, I told them, that I am not going to buy a single thing for her. She has money, lots of it, but we could not access it. And it is not fair, that a person without an income, should have to shell out money for a person who has a lot of money, not even knowing if the person will get reimbursed. My mother has never ever helped me out financially, nor have I asked her to.  And it is not my job, in my opinion, to support her now, on a non-existing income, when she has private funds and her pension to live on.

Her room looked insane, everything once again in all the drawers, and when the meeting was over, I unpacked things a third time. I just can’t go on doing this. An old Father Christmas ornament which I grew up with, was broken, and it almost made me cry. I took it home to try to fix it, but one thing was missing, so I think I will just have to photograph the pieces and throw it away. It breaks my heart that she acts this way. No care in the world that she is making her living space look awful and like an empty shell, when all the other patients’ rooms look lovely. The personnel told me that they have to hide the few existing underwear she owns, or she hides them. She hid the alarm they are all supposed to wear on their arms, the first day, and it can not be found anywhere. This just is not my mother anymore. She is totally hyper. Actually she resembles my son “Kitty” before we started medicating him for his ADHD. She is all over the place. “Gubby” finds it hilarious and he thinks he has a very funny nan, but I do not agree at all. Nor does the girls! And “Kitty” I think, is scared of her.

My task coming away from the meeting, was to phone the council and ask why she had not been appointed a new trustee, locally. That it was desperate. It took me two days to get hold of the right person and guess what her answer was? “We are busy with all the migrant children arriving here without parents.” I got furious and told her with tears running down my cheeks: “Is it right that Sweden’s elderly population, who have worked hard their entire lives, paid taxes and everything, have to sit in a room without lamp bulbs, without electrical plugs, without hooks, without soap, shampoo, conditioner, urine leakage pads, toilet paper, tooth paste, socks and  underwear. Is that the thank you they get after a long and hard life full of work? Is it right that my mother should have to inherit an old dead patient’s washed out night-gown? There is noone in Skåne allowed to touch her money, so she has to sit with all these needs in a supposed humane industrialized country! I could not care less about the migrants!”. I think the lady understood, but it took months before a trustee was appointed and I announced to her, that I was not setting my foot at the nursing home until they appointed a trustee for my mum. I could not bear to look at her room and everything she needed, nor could I face the staff’s accusing eyes!

I now that I am a lousy daughter. But I am already bending over backwards for my own children. I have nothing left. My three autistic boys, takes so much energy out of me and I really do not have any energy in the first place, thanks to a non functioning thyroid and no doctor giving me the right treatment for it. I battle the symptoms of hypothyroidism at the same time as I battle the system, to get what my boys are entitled to. I try to be there for my older children as well and help them when they need help. I just can’t be my mother’s keeper as well and fight for her rights. It is too much for anyone to carry, at least when not well oneself. A person I thought was my friend, told me one day that it is my duty to take care of my mother now, since she took care of me when I was a child. It made me so upset hearing that from a person whose children are all grown up with children of their own, almost all of them, and from a person who has never had a single handicapped child. No other human being has the right to judge me, until they live MY life in MY body. I am not saying that I wish my mother dead. I do not! But at the same time, that woman over in the nursing home is just the shell of my mother. Her brain is not there. And for me, every visit with her is traumatic and upsetting. I do not know what to do, but she will continue to make me upset till the day she dies, I think. If it is not the one thing, it is something else. She raised me to hate myself and have zero self-confidence and now people judge me for not sacrificing myself entirely for her. I just have one question: Who is going to take care of my children if I have to devote the rest of her life, to her? WHO?

The post above has taken me five months to write, because of the topic. Just thinking about my mother is exhausting. And nothing makes me more upset. We never got along when she was “well” and now they demand a total sacrifice from my side. It is a sacrifice I am incapable of doing. Noone is perfect, least of all I. So why does everyone demand that I should be perfect?

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Bojkotta Polarn’ och Pyrets kampanj “Lika Olika”

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Idag lanserar Polarn’ och Pyret klädkedjan sin regnbågskampanj “Lika Olika”. Alla T-shirtar i härliga primärfärgsränder och prickar, säljs till förmån för World Childhood foundation. Polarn’ och Pyret vill med kollektionen säga att de kämpar för att barn skall få lov att vara annorlunda och olika. Att man får vara alla sorters färger, religioner och komma med olika funktionshinder osv. Storstilat. Stämmer dåligt i det svenska samhället. Men också enligt Polarn’ och Pyret själva, eftersom barnen bara får vara annorlunda fram tills de börjar förskoleklass, sedan skall de banne mej passa in i samhället och följa skocken.

Var passar Polarn’ och Pyrets kampanj in? Hur kan man vända sig enbart till föräldrar med bebisar och förskolebarn/dagisbarn? Där har problemen oftast inte upptäckts ännu och där finns det resurser för att låta barnet vara lite annorlunda och udda. Så fort barnet skall börja förskoleklass och behöver storlek 122 cl i kläder, DÅ finns inte Lika Olika T-shirten att välja på längre. Då får man inte vara annorlunda! Man får definitivt inte vara den man är enligt Polarn’ och Pyret.

Idag har jag skrivit ett långt brev till dem med mina klagomål. För deras senaste tilltag är inte det enda de gör, för att få barn att rätta sig i ledet. Alla som varit inne och handlat på Polarn’ och Pyret de senaste åren har säkerligen upptäckt att alla roliga motiv, som finns i just denna klädkedja, upphör antingen vid storlek 116 eller 122/128. De är naturligtvis inte de enda som kör med denna trend. Lindex och KappAhl är likadana. Hennes & Mauritz/hm har ibland sträckt sig upp till 134/140 med barntryck. Men över lag så skall barn enligt klädkedjorna sluta att klä sig som barn när de börjar skolan. Då skall det var prostitutionskläder för flickor och killar skall se ut som rappare/gängmedlemmar från downtown Detroit. Man får inte som pojke ha på sig något starkare i färgen än möjligtvis vinrött.

Visst Polarn’ och Pyret tillåter pojkarna att ha lite färger, men där får absolut inte finnas något roligt tryckt på deras tröjor. I många år har jag shoppat åt min yngste son “Gubby”, i just denna klädkedja, eftersom han har autism och är väldigt petig när det gäller material och tryck. Han älskar traktorer, bilar, djur, tårtor, glassar… Och hans äldre bröder har sett på hans T-shirtar med avvund och undrat varför de inte fått något likadant. Och jag har fått svara “Affärer anser att ni inte får tycka om sådana saker längre!”. Hur länge skall svenska föräldrar tillåta att dessa kedjor styr vår smak och hur våra barn skall klä sig? Varför skall vi behöva gå på privata meandi visningar med kläder till oresonabelt pris, för att få riktiga barnkläder? Kläder som inte är bättre kvalitet än något du köper på hm. Vad du betalar för hos meandi, är just roliga tryck! Som ser urtvättade ut, efter enbart en eller två gånger i tvättmaskinen.

Varför löper Polarn’ och Pyret inte hela linan ut? De skryter om att vara miljövänliga, använda snälla material och ge bra arbetsvillkor för producenterna. Men varför vågar de inte gå emot strömmen? Göra barnkläder för barn! Jag har en autistisk son på 7 år som bara vill ha snälla tryck, mjuka material, byxor som inte fladdrar (som sitter tajt så ingen luft finns runt benen, som han säger). Han hade älskat att sätta på sig en lika olika T-shirt med dess starka färger! Men han har pga sin längd, storlek 134 cl. Långt över deras målgrupp med andra ord, fastän han går i förskoleklass.  Jag har en autistisk son på 9 år som pga längd drar 146 cl. Han hade älskat att ha lika olika T-shirten, för att han blir utsatt för smälek pga sitt handikapp. Han fick sluta på sin föregående skola pga mobbing och för att han inte fick något stöd alls på en skola full av outbildad personal som enbart vill undervisa normala barn. Inte heller han kan få en T-shirt som säger att han får lov att vara annorlunda i Sverige! Childhood Foundation, ni har misslyckats så stort att det är pinsamt!!!! Deras storebror på 12 år drar storlek 152 och han hade behövt ha en sådan T-shirt eftersom han inte vill vara annorlunda. “Att vara annorlunda” sa han till kuratorn på habiliteringen för ett par månader sedan “betyder att man inte passar in, och jag vill passa in”. Tyvärr kommer han aldrig göra det eftersom han har autism och ADHD.

Jag börjar bli aggressiv när jag ser dessa kampanjer som bara är ute efter pengar. Vem kommer de pengarna till nytta för? Mina pojkar tvingas gå i vanliga skolor där personalen inte kan ett “skit” om handikappen de har. Eller så införskaffar de sig kunskapen långsamt och mödosmat, genom trial and error-metoden. Men få skolor tar sig tid till detta! De kan inte gå på fritidsaktiviteter eftersom det betyder kaos, stora grupper och att allt socialt händer för fort. Våra söndagar i kyrkan är enda enda lång pinsam föreställning, med mer eller mindre intoleranta personer där också, eftersom de trots allt är svenskar! Att leva med autism och ADHD i dagens Sverige är pest och kolera. Det är då man som mamma vill peppa barnen lite, med roliga T-shirtar, som sägar att visst du är annorlunda, men det är helt okej. Men hur kan man säga det egentligen, när det är en stor lögn? Det är inte okej att vara annorlunda!

Att säga att Sverige är ett tolerant samhälle är ett stort hyckleri. Jo, vi tolerar tydligen ensamkommande barn och muslimer från Syrien som kräver speciella badtider, så att deras män inte skall våldta svenska flickor, och som kräver att få kasta sten på svenska syndiga kvinnor. Vi tolerarer att romerna sitter och skramlar med sina kaffemugggar utanför varenda affär eller att de sticker dem i ansiktet på oss. Men när det gäller våra funktionshindrade barn, så har vi ingen tolerans alls. Det vanligaste är att man anklagar BUP för att ha ställt för många diagnoser. Det anses alltså att det skulle vara helt okej att sopa problemen under mattan. Barnen finns där med sina problem, men de får inte synas för det är obekvämt för svenskarna och kostar en massa skattepengar, som behöver gå till migranterna och deras psykiska problem. Hur har det blivit så här? Varför skall barn behöva bära en T-shirt som säger att vi måste förstå att det är okej att vara annorlunda? Och varför är det bebisar som skall vara mina barns förespråkare, enligt klädkedjorna?

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I had a dream…

… which I had to give up two weeks ago!

Ever since I was 14, I have had a dream of owning a dollhouse. Not a Lundby house, like the one I grew up with, having modern furniture in it and no people to play with. No, when I was 14, I was utterly in to the Victorian era, loving everything from the literature, clothing to the morals of the day. (Not the morals of the future Edward VII that is!) Of course it helped that I had been running around to castles, palaces and bourgeoise homes converted to museums, seeing the style. Later on, I visited the Museum of Childhood in London and Windsor castle, seeing the gorgeous dollhouses there. I came as far as ordering a pattern to build a Victorian dollhouse, which was going to be my grandfather’s task, and buying a tiny porcelain doll, which I made clothing for.

But my grandfather went senile and passed away from a stroke. Life took over as I always say. Then, on a family outing to Egeskov (on Fyn in Denmark), one summer, visiting one of their castle gift shops, I was once again faced with a dollhouse. It was gorgeous and my heart so much wanted to go home with it and finally start creating a miniature home. It was way out of my budget at the time though, and it would have been an insane purchase, had I given in to the urge. These houses cost so much that you need to know what you are doing, when purchasing one. I went home with a Victorian stove, for a dollhouse. That was all! And a silly purchase at that, since it has a tendency to fall in to several pieces for some reason.

Years went by and then I visited the Imperial War Museum, the exhibition “Family at War” about the Allpress family, and saw the impressive replica house, one of the Allpress’ son-in-laws built, taking 30 years. Or was it 40? I was struck by awe. Took tons of photos. And decided that I must make a Blitz house in miniature!!! Because I love the time period, everything about WWII except the fact that people died and the battles. I left the Victorian era behind, ages ago. It’s lost its charm entirely.

From then on, during certain periods, I have been utterly obsessed with researching the time period and what is available out there. But you only get that far, without money and a dollhouse. Little by little, I have acquired small things for my future dollhouse, but eventually you lose interest, not having a house to put things in. So off and on, I have looked at houses and tried to persuade my husband to buy me a kit.

Very simple front, but a typical Victorian house from East End. Custom made by the seller's husband and was an exact copy of the house the seller grew up in.

The dream house was this one: A house sold on eBay, only for pick up in Britain. Broke my heart to not have this house, since it was no ordinary house from a kit. It was a one-off. The seller’s husband built it and it was an exact replica of the house the seller grew up in! What was fantastic about it, was not just that it was a replica, but the fact that it was untraditional and opened both in the front and on the side. (See an older post.)

When I realized that this house could not be mine, ever, I started looking at the houses built in the 1930s. And this dollhouse is a perfect example of those houses, that still stand out there today! The Doll House Emporium calls their rendition of this house style: imageThe Mountfield. I looked at all sorts of shops, to find the cheapest deal, I looked at how all owners have decorated their Mountfields on the outside, but… I just could not get myself to get this sort of house, even though it has openings on almost all sides of the house. Even though it is perfect in all aspects… EXCEPT TWO. It has an indoor loo, which only a very small minority had in those days. And to me,this house does not represent WWII. This is not how the majority of people lived! Certainly not the ones who had to live in an Anderson shelter every night. Not the Keep Calm and Carry On people. This is more safe suburb, to me. So, sadly I opted out of this second, almost perfect house.

I went to Miniatura in Birmingham’s NEC, to get ideas, 18 months ago. I talked to the experts. Barbara’s Mouldings, suggested that I get her Terraced imagehouse x two. That is, buy two of them, attach them to each other and pretend them to be a one-family house. I have a very vivid imagination, but it will not stretch that far, that a working class family would have two stair cases! The whole idea was just too bizarre. Why two houses? It only has two rooms and an attic room with sloping ceilings. Which rooms would one choose away from doing, in such a small house? A kitchen is a must but what would I have to sacrifice? That is why she suggested two houses.

image I had read on the home page of Margaretha’s Dockskåp, that the mistake all beginners make, is the one of buying a too small house the first time, so that they can not do what they want to do, with their dollhouses. THAT was not a mistake I could afford to make. Barbara also suggested something else, and that was getting a Georgian house. She showed the one she makes and I just could not get around it, not having a hallway nor stairs. Enough rooms yes, but I felt that hallways were essential, since I wanted a coat rack, like in “Foyle’s War”, an umbrella stand, because I love Phoenix Model Developments’ umbrella stand, and I wanted to place buckets, water pump and ARP helmet in the hallway, just like they did in the Imperial War Museum’s Allpress house! So, I said no to Barbara’s suggestion of dragging home a Georgian house kit on the airplane, as a carry on!

I felt that Miniatura was very enlightening, even if I did not come home with a clear view of what house to buy. I did have a clear view of what NOT to buy though. That must count for something, right?

I sat down and looked through all vendors from that fair, and stopped extra long at a place called Bromley Crafts, since I do want to get back to them, when it is time to cover my house in bricks. I did find two houses with them, which were interesting. First of all,image their own room-by-room kits. An excellent idea, since you add on as many levels on your house as you desire and buy the fronts for the boxes, that you wish for. It becomes a costly house if you add on say five floors, but you could buy and decorate one box at a time, and spread the cost over many years. Hoping that they keep the idea and the production going! But my problem was: No hallways and stairs! Barbara suggested that one put false doors on one wall of the house, and pretend that the hallway and stairs are outside the door, BUT that does not help when you want to decorate hallways does it?!

imageFinally, I settled on the Laurels. A Georgian house with all the rooms and the hallways and stairs that I wanted. Albeit a little bit too fancy looking for “my” WWII family, but I did find that kind of house in all parts of London, covered in either red or yellow bricks. Mostly red. And funny coloured doors like green, cornflower blue, red… I found the producer of the house, since I did object to the side windows. Windows steal decorating surfaces! The producer said that they would be happy to re-program their machine, to not cut out the windows on the sides, so I was very pleased and happy. All I needed now, was a lot of money, since the producers are the most expensive, all other shops selling the Laurels far cheaper.

I also had to get my husband on board, since he had promised to build it for me, having no skills for it what so ever, of course. But he got cold feet a year ago when I mentioned it would be a great Birthday present. He also backed out for Christmas and said we have no room for a dollhouse, even though I pointed out the perfect place for it.

Then I went to the miniature fair in Farum, Denmark on the 30th April, this year. And got to see a really cute little house put together by Gunnel at Minimani. She is not going to make any more houses and are getting rid of the ones she still has in her craft’s room. (See post on Farum’s Miniature Fair.) She sent me home with three sheets of paper, picturing the three kinds of houses she had at home. I showed them to my husband that evening and surprisingly he said “go for it”. He thought it was a “no brainer”. I was not as convinced as he was, but then I did not have cold feet about building a house from scratch, or kit scratch. We went there, two days  later, since the house I was mostly interested in, had a family interested in it, already. Friends of hers. I looked again at the two imagesmall French houses, with only three floors. T. was most impressed by them, since they were small and slightly cheaper than my favourite. Even though they had no back door, so everything inside would get dusty. But he is hopeless. I have spent hours on end researching. This is MY thing. MY dream. To just say to me “you don’t need more than three rooms, that is good enough”, was an insult and I wanted to throw him out the door. I just let him stand in a corner and rant on, making a fool of himself, when I got in to a more serious conversation with Gunnel.

I told her that, while the houses were not even close to my dream, maybe I would have to settle for less. What do you do, when postage and price is horrendous? And when your husband goes on strike as soon as you mention building something? She told me how long it takes to build a house, all the frustrations, and all the costs for decorating walls, roofs etc. I did agree with her that at this point, it is better with a dollhouse, than nothing at all. I have nowhere to put all the little items I have bought so far. When I go to fairs, I do not know what colour schemes to look at. I can’t see what I need as far as furniture go, how much will fit in to the rooms and so on. So what happened? I told her, that I would buy the house that she already had a possible buyer for. And she was happy to make a sale and get more room in her craft’s room. Saying that now it was going to a good home. We managed to get the house out to the car, she and I, while T. did his whining about me not settling for the little French house. And whining about my discussions on how to alter the floors etc. with Gunnel. She thought it was amusing that the house is going to be turned in to a WWII house, while T. just went on and on that it is fine the way it is. Even though the colours are all wrong.

I have had to leave my dream behind. Now it is up to my imagination to make this house in to something, which I will still enjoy and have fun with. It is not easy to re-think everything! To give up on the perfect set up. And it will cost to alter. BUT I have a dollhouse standing on my living room floor after all these years. It is physically there. “Gubby” was ecstatic when we got home with it and wanted us to put all furniture in to it. “Oh sweetheart! Mamma doesn’t have any furniture to put in to it yet!”. I showed him some of the small things I have and he said “you need to buy a table so we can put those things somewhere”. Cleverly put my son!!! That is ONE of the things needed.

imageAt the moment, all I am doing is trying to get used to not getting the hallway and stairs I so much wanted in my dollhouse. And to the fact that so many things need to be altered on and inside this house.

A yellow house from Denmark was not at all what I dreamed of. Something will have to be done about it. Some day. When I have figured out what to do with the white parts made out of plaster. They are fragile and can break. If I get to go to Miniatura again, I am walking straight to Bromley Craft’s stall and asking them if one still can use their templates and clay, to make the house covered in red brick. Usually this is done, before windows etc. are put in. Now everything is in place, and both door and windows are very fragile. I would have liked to have replaced all of them. One day, maybe I can?

The house was, should I say, cut out in Helsingör, Denmark, and was modelled on a Copenhagen house, from the year 1900. How on earth I am going to stretch my imagination, to see a British house here, is beyond me. But I am more and more telling myself, that it is the inside which counts, not what the stupid house looks like on the outside!

But the inside of this house has definite problems. Ever seen ready-made houses? Ever thought about how silly it looks when you
open the door to look inside, and you see all the curtains on the windows just hanging there, on the door that opens the dollhouse. Well, Gunnel hates that. So she has made the opening for the house in the back. I thought that was a great idea, till I got home and thought about it. Especially, since I want a corner copper to stand in the kitchen, this presents a problem. The copper will cover part of the window! Idiotic I know! But that is not the only problem. By opening up the dollhouse in the back, you only have two walls to decorate on, two walls to lean furniture against. So, I am not delighted by that aspect of the house anymore. But I will have to work around that problem as well…

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Like I said, my husband thought the house is just fine as it is. I do not agree. THIS does not look at all, the way a 1930s house looked in Wartime Britain. If we start with the kitchen:

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When I dreamed of my 1930s house, I envisioned black and white tiles on the floors. Like on the front of Jane Harrop’s book about the decade and the furniture one used, back then. But I actually always did like this kind of floor as well, so I had contemplated having the black and white tiles in the hallway, outside the kitchen, and this kind of tile in the kitchen itself. It is so well done, that I will actually not mess with it, but accept it as is. It does look lovely actually and it is not paper bricks, but real miniature ones, which I really do love. What I do not love is the ghastly wallpaper which will have to go. THAT I doubt existed even in 1900 Copenhagen kitchens! I will paint the walls creamy yellow, just like everybody did in the 1930s. I am going to have an authentic looking kitchen with everything in cream and green. Even though it turns out to be a nightmare, trying to find the right green colour paint, in Sweden. I was in town yesterday and my parking ran out, but Panduro, the Danish craft shop, might just have the answer. I need to go back with downloaded pictures on my mobile and compare them to their options.

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The living room is the one I detest the most. Had it been Lily’s room, I would have been delighted. But as it is, THIS does not work for a wartime living room! Completely the wrong colours. Blue wood floors and blue & white wallpapers is very much summer house Scandinavia 1900. This room will have to go through an entire transformation. I have ordered an Art Deco wallpaper from Jennifer of Walsall, but since the sheets were on sale and she only had four left, I have no idea if those four will be enough. Nor do I know if I will receive them, since after I ordered, the site still said she only has four left and I received no order confirmation. I guess I will just have to be surprised. Either they arrive or they do not, and then I will have to spend time finding something else. It is not easy to buy wallpaper over the internet, since you can’t really get a good feeling for what they will look like in real life. I just hope that I will love the ordered ones, IF they show up.

The dark wood flooring, which I am changing over to, has already showed up though, from jandasupplies.co.uk. Excellent company, very helpful, quick with delivery and I have seen several things I like in their shop. Best of all, they are going to start making a 1930s door! If I can’t change the outer door on the house, I might at least put in a false door here and there to get the right feeling.

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What can I say about the master bedroom? Depressing. The wallpaper is depressingly boring. Very modern really and not at all from decades past, in my view. And while the floor is lovely, it was a strange decision to make a master bedroom have a clearly livingroom-looking floor. But that could be helped with carpets, I guess. I do not think I will meddle with the floor, but the wallpaper will have to go. Since the sister staying in this room, is to be named Rose, I have been contemplating pink. But this room is far down on the priority list, not having anything for it at all, except a little book for a nightstand.

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This was supposed to be Rose’s sons’ room, but since there is just one more room, in the attic, it does not feel right to make another daughter of the house, sleep in the attic, when home on leave from the WAAF. It is a room which will probably go to the daughter Lily, whom I already own. I have imagined her room all in blue, so this is completely and utterly the wrong colour. Even if I take this room for Rose’s evacuated boys, I would not like to keep this wallpaper. It is not a wallpaper I am attracted to, and I feel that I must like how the house looks.

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The attic. Would it be right to make poor Lily live up in the attic? When bombs were dropping on London? The first place struck, would be the attic. A tougher place to get down from as well, when the air raid siren went off. I need to do a lot of thinking here. These rooms are very narrow so you can not do a lot with them. Besides, the attic was usually were children were placed, where they had their rooms. I am not even sure what I think about the wallpapers here. Lots of more research is needed!

So, was it right to give up my dream? Forego the dollhouse I had settled on? Just to be able to drive to town, buy the house and bring it straight home. To have a house finally, to do something with. I guess I just gave up, because I started to feel that my dreamhouse would never be mine. I no longer could see myself place the order and carry that box with an un-assembled dollhouse in it, in to our home. And I could NOT see my husband build the house at all! Sense had to rule over sensibility!

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A nice tiny fair in Farum

I won the fight over who was going to have our car on Walpurgis, Saturday 30 April 2016. But it was a long fight, lasting several weeks, where the family thought I could take the train to Farum and me insisting that it was easier for the family, to take the bus to Lomma, in order to celebrate Walpurgis, with church members. An event which takes place every year and is one I never take part in, since parties are not my thing.

I read about the Farum dollhouse festival, months ago, when I was studying Jane Harrop’s kits and realised SHE was coming to my neighbourhood. I missed her at Miniatura, in 2014 when she was at a wedding, and I was mighty disappointed. So this time I just had to go. The more I read about Farum’s fair, the more I wanted to go since it is quite a big one for Scandinavia, with 65 vendors. But I refused to sit on a train for 3 hours there and 3 hours back, not counting the ticket, which would have cost a fortune, while my husband and three of the five children travelled for free to the coastal community of Lomma.

09:20, I set out from home with the GPS, we have nick named Jane (Fairfax), since that is who she sounds like. Being nervous about everything. That the bridge would be  closed down because of too much wind. That Jane would have one of her moments, and lead me astray. Or that our unpredictable VW would break down in a foreign country.

Jane did have one of her moments on the motorway, when it split in two directions and she did not tell me where to go at all. Luckily I had snapped up from my husband that Farum is close to Hilleröd, so I followed those signs. And soon I was in Farum, Jane once again having a moment and not telling me where to go, but I kept my eyes open and parked the car by the bytorv, which houses a long shopping center. I had made it in an hour, which I thought was excellent and after finding a loo and a cash machine, I was ready to head to the Culture house. I had spotted the sign through a door, by a supermarket, so I headed out  that door and over to an entrance, where several other ladies entered.

Strange thing was that we entered straight in to the fair, without anyone selling tickets or 20160502_151813.jpgchecking us. I walked around a little and felt strange, since I had not paid entrance and I eventually walked up to a woman and asked her where she got her program from. She looked at me and answered in Swedish, “at the entrance”. I had to ask where that was and told her where I had got in. She told me that of course I could continue looking without paying, but I told her that if everyone did that, they would not be able to host these sort of events anymore. “Good thing I am Swedish, otherwise I would not have understood your reasoning”, she said and laughed and I walked out one door and joined a very long queue, to get my ticket and a stamp on my hand. Boy were there lots of people. I must say that I appreciated Miniatura better, with their limited tickets. It is not fun at an event like this, with too many people. The things you are to look at are tiny, and in order to see properly, you need to stand right by the table. And there were too many people to get to many of the tables. When I went back to the most crowded ones, the items I would have liked to have purchased, were sold out and most of the sellers do not have internet shops or updated such!

But my trip was by no  means wasted. I managed to spend almost every Danish krona I had taken out from the cash machine. My first stop had to be Jane Harrop of course. It was fun to talk to her and to see all her little things in real life, displayed on a shelf and thumb through all the 1:12th kits. It was funny because this elderly lady beside me, did not feel confident in speaking English to Jane, but she watched what I took and then took the same things. We had a tower of Babel moment when I had taken a WWII first aid kit and she did not understand what it was. She being Danish and me being Swedish, we had to overcome our natural shyness and I had to try to explain in as simple Swedish as possible,      so that she would understand: “The Second Big War. Bombs fell down. People got injured. They needed this to help them!”. She happily nodded and helped herself to that kit as well. So I guess I was standing beside a fellow WWII enthusiast making a Blitz house, or?

I was very, very excited about these three kits since I had not seen them before on Jane’s site. The revolving bookcase, is one I saw in the replica dollhouse, at the Imperial War Museum, so that one I am extra excited about. I have not taken it out of the bag yet, but I hope and pray that I will be able to see what I am doing and be able to put it together. Tweezers will be a must! While standing there, Jane told me that I would need sticky glue and that she had seen that in the big hall, so reluctantly I said farewell to her stall and walked over to the big hall, to see if I could find the necessary glue.

To enter, you had to show your stamped hand, so I avoided an embarrassing moment by having paid for my ticket! The big hall was a nasty place. A gym hall which was hotter than hot and too many people were in there, for comfort. I must mention Truus Kobes, the dutch seller, with his amazing assortment of yarns in the shades of all colours available on this planet. Unfortunately, he speaks no English and I could not understand his German. The only two sentences I understood was “Do you know how to knit?” and “It is good for your love life”. Doubt it. But I can only knit with Swedish patterns, so I had to forego all those lovely yarns that were to die for. Sometimes you see something tempting and lovely, but you really have to rain yourself in and ask yourself “What will I use it for?” I could not come up with an excuse for buying anything from him.

Stall 36, had wonderful suitcase kits, which open, BUT there were too  many people and when I later walked up to an empty stall, at the end of the day, they only had one left in peach. Why make a peach suitcase? Has such ever existed? Not in 1940, that I am dead certain of. The ladies thought I should buy the display case one in black, but I will not pay 175 DKK for a suitcase I could have put together myself for 100 DKK less! Sorry! Stella Que Passa from the Netherlands, did get my business though. She had all sorts of glues and kindly guided me to the right kind. Next to them stood Art of Mini, which was at Miniatura, and do not really have my kind of items. Nice shabby chic things and a well visited stall, but no.

But in a box, over by the Italian ladies selling gorgeous handbags etc., artofmini had put little fabric pieces and I got stuck there for quite a while and more women wanted to see what I had found of course. One of Jane Harrop’s kits, is an Edwardian arm-chair. She has a Utility chair as well, BUT do not make Utility furniture for a 1940 Blitz house. The only ones entitled to Utility furniture were newly weds and bombed out people and those furniture did not come on the market until the second end of the war. No such thing existed in 1940. So Edwardian it will have to be, since Art Deco is too fancy and too costly. Not that many people had Art Deco furniture either, since people were suspicious of this new style. If anything, they would get a lamp or a mirror or a clock. Nothing so costly as furniture, which they would be stuck with for years.

But Jane says on the kit, that fabric is not included. I have not dared to buy fabric since that is something which really has to be 1:12 size. You can’t have the wrong size patterns on the fabrics, but they must be true to scale. And looking at things on the internet is no big hit. But here I had the fabrics in front of me. But not owning a house yet, I was indecisive.  What colours should I buy? Which sort of pattern did exist 1940? I settled for three pieces of fabric from this stall and bought two more fabric pieces from Else Marie Foged, from a basket she had on the floor. Something of what I have bought, must be of some use. At least almost all of them are 1940 colours and patterns.

20160502_15164120160502_15165220160502_151608   As I walked out to get my ticket, I had walked by an amazing stall, which I now wanted to revisit properly. Victoria Fasken’s stall was well visited when I went to have a proper look at all her little metal items. One lady asked her if she ever makes the things in glass or porcelain and she said that she used to, but they broke too often so she went over to metal and I wanted to clap my hands, because I loooooove metal miniature things. Nothing feels so lasting and of good value. But of course everything is not suitable to be made in metal. The items I was most drawn to, were though. Alright, they look like they belong in a Jane Austen room or dollhouse, but on the other hand, now when I am back home and have been sitting looking in Jane Harrop’s book “Edwardian Era”, I have spotted exactly the same items I bought from Victoria. So Jane has placed them in an Edwardian setting and if those items were around in 1918, they could still have survived to sit in my 1940 house. In my WAAF girl Lily’s room, which I intend to decorate in blue. Are these items not the most exquisite?

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In the hall which normally is a cinema and theatre, I bought two cheap items from Lena Nobaek, Sweden. I don’t  really like cheap mass-produced things which look cheap, but these two items were  perfectly alright. Cutlery for my little family and a little trolley in the  Kockum look, used by the possibly evacuated  children of the family. Trolleys were used to walk around with and collect old paper and scrap metal, which was used to make spitfires and weapons. How could I resist such a detail?

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From Nestved Miniaturklub I bought a tiny little pillow to cross stitch this summer, for one of the arm chairs in the sitting room and from Daniela Nielsen, I bought the tiniest crochet needle and some  drole yarn that looked sooooo warlike. I could not even capture the colour properly on the photo I took, for this post, but it is a dark brown/olive-green with strands of black. I want to crochet a carpet from the yarn, since if there is something which is really expensive in the miniature world, it is bedding, quilts, carpets, pillows etc. Everything which has taken hours to make from yarn and fabric.

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I will never find exactly what I am looking for in a shop, so I hope I will be able to see and make these things myself. Maybe I will have to go and get new glasses after all, but I don’t  want to. Last time was such a fiasco, when after 6 months I finally had to return both the glasses I had purchased and this after having them back and forth to the shop more times, than I could count.

In the gallery, I did not buy a thing, even though there were plenty of pretty things. The most vexing thing was K.J. Design. They sell the gorgeous paints Vintage Paint Jeanne d’Arc. But of course the colours I need and wanted, had sold out right away. I took their information and I guess they are connected with a miniature museum, which would be fun to visit. But it is over on Fyn, which means two bridge fees! And I can’t order them on-line from them, since now I don’t remember the names of the colours. I have actually been sitting googling the paints all day, the paint and the colours, but I am none the wiser. It ended with me ordering the colour chart from an interior decorating shop here in Sweden, but they are sold out on it now, so it will not be shipped to me, until  they get it back in stock. No date for when that will happen though, so in a way I am back to square one. K.J. Design had some nice wood furniture as well, but to be honest, their entire stall was in such a mess that it was uninspiring looking at things. I think I would rather visit their real shop. To look at boxes where you can’t see what is inside and the quality of things, is not my thing.

Frustrated, I walked out of the gallery, only to discover that the cafeteria no longer had any sandwiches to sell nor anything else funny. I had  to leave the fair to go and buy myself an ice cream, since I was close to fainting from not having eaten anything. But I was soon back and ready to get my arm-chair kit from Jane Harrop’s stall, now when I had five different fabric pieces to use on them!

TWO-ARTS--CRAFTS-RECLINING-ARMCHAIRS-KIT This time I was served by the husband and he was very friendly and said he was convinced I would be able to put the chairs together, that they test the kits out on their students first. How does one become one of their students? That sounded fun! Well, here is hoping that I will do well. From there I walked in to the theatre again, to look at a doll house, which was on sale at Minimani’s stall. To my chock, Gunnel, was packing down everything. But we started to talk about that doll house, about doll houses in general, how difficult it is to put a kit together, how  much it cost to decorate one etc. She was taking the house home and not bringing anything for the Sunday fair, except what she could fit in a suit case, since she was going by train that day. I said that I could not buy the house without consulting my husband and she asked where I live. The world really is a small place! She lives in our council, in the town where my children go to school. Actually, just a throw away from where “Kitty” and “Cookie” go to school, but since the other two go to school out here in the countryside, in our neighbour villages, I don’t go in to town anymore except for meetings with habilitation (for autism), child psychiatric care (for ADHD) and the hospital (“Gubby’s” kidney).

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But she gave me a picture of the doll house to show T. and also of two others she has for sale at home. And I am welcome to go and look at them in her home! We stood and talked for 40 minutes and after that, I decided to go and use up my last coins, foolishly it turned out. I bought this pretty cauliflower and cabbage, instead of walking on to the last stall, which was now empty of people, so I could see all they had. I am so angry. I could not run and get more money, because the fair was closing. At the last stall, they had a beautiful little balloon whip with wood handle and a dish washing brush with wood handle. They said they have them in their internet shop but I looked and the latter is not there. So I have to be content with my vegetables:

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So some real nice finds, some frustration  over sold out items, and perhaps a foolish last buy! But they were so well made and the lady who had made them, was delighted to make a sale. Gunnel from Minimani was not so happy, when the organizer lady walked around collecting the stall fees, because she had not sold well at all.

When I got out, I headed for the three supermarkets that were all pathetic. But T. did not want me to go to Lomma and fetch them too  early. The Walpurgis thing started at 16:00 and I was done at 17:00. So I wasted 40 minutes in the supermarkets and then sat down in the car to drive back to Sweden, having nothing else to do. When I got over on the Swedish side, I phoned him and he ordered me to go to Macdonald’s to eat and kill time, so that is what I did and got upset of course, since I told the young man three times, that I don’t want cheese on my filet-o-fish and of course it came out with cheese on it! So tiresome! I hate orange cheese or whatever it is. It does not taste cheese, so I suspect that it is orange coloured glue!

At 19:10, I felt I had nothing else to do than to go and fetch the gaggle, and I guess they were pretty much ready to go when I arrived. “Gubby” had played “brännboll”, which is a game resembling I don’t know what? Baseball? Cricket? You take a bat, hit the ball and run around in a square to get a home run or you can stop and wait for the next batters’ shots, at one of the three out cones, and then run for it. The out team tries to catch your ball and burn everyone running, by throwing it to a “burner”, located by the batter. Poor “Gubby” was  allowed to hit with a tennis racket and then he just ran around flaxing in circles, since my autistic boy doesn’t really understand games like this. But I think he had fun anyway. People know he is autistic, so I hope they did not scream at him.

All in all, a good day for us all. I had a nice day, getting away from home but perhaps spending a little bit too much. And the family had fun celebrating Walpurgis and I guess they had a fun bus ride as well. “Gubby” just loves going on buses but rarely get to do so. And seeing him excited always make us all happy!

 

 

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My Friday Book: “Arons bok”/”The book of Aron” by Aron Neuman

imageA very thin memoir, which I picked up among the leftovers, at the religious book shop in Lund, one week after the hordes of sale shoppers, had raided the shop. They turned their noses up at this book, and I am sad to say, that I think I know why. I really, really should have taken my reading glasses out of my bag and looked the book up on google, or read a little bit here and there in it, before purchase. When it said on the back, that this 93-year-old man, had finally written his memoirs, I should have read this as a warning light.

When you are 93 years old, you might have a clear mind still, but what is important for you to record, might not be so interesting for the reader to take part in. Nor is your memory going to be totally reliable, sometimes 70-80 years after the events described. The years will have tainted the events. And that is the problem I have with this book.

Let me translate the back side of the book for you: ” For me personally, 1938, became a turning point in my life. During my 1000 days in the military, I learned how difficult it is to live like a Jew in Sweden. I was thrown from a protected environment, in to one of anti-Semitism, hatred and bitterness. But the propaganda of hate towards the Jews, also strengthened my Jewish identity. Aron Neuman was born in Lund 1919. In this book, he relates memories from his very long 93-year-old life, where the Jewish heritage and involvement in the Jewish community, has played a big part. Aron Neuman was educated at the Business school in Stockholm. During 30 years, he worked as an accountant and as a volunteer in several Jewish organisations. After retirement he studied art history and together with his wife Viola, he founded the Jewish Museum in Stockholm, 1987.”

To me, it sounded like an interesting book because 1. I live in the council of Lund 2. I thought he would bring to life, the Jewish community in Lund, that more or less, probably don’t exist anymore 3. I thought he would describe exactly how the Jews in Sweden felt in the 1930s and during the war, but also how they reacted to what they heard from Europe.

The book lacks all sorts of feelings. It is basically what I call a “shopping list”. I did this, I did this… I met this important person, I met this important person. I’m afraid I would classify the book as the worse kind of memoir, because afterwards you have not got to learn to know the person who wrote the book at all. You don’t know what Aron is about at all, except that the he moved in circles with celebrities. In many ways, Jewish celebrities, which I have never heard of. But even worse, I have learned nothing at all about what it is like to live in Sweden as a Jew, not now, not in the 1930s or during the war. Aron does not bring in any feelings in the book, but it is just a cold observation of his life.

My observations:

Aron’s father, was called Selman Neijman, who was born in Pikkale. He says the village was situated on the border of Lithuania and Latvia. But when I googled it, to see where the village is and what it looks like, google came up with nothing. On the other hand, he did say that it was very small, but still, no records of it at all? Selman, which I guess, is Eastern European for Solomon (but I could be wrong), was thrown out of his home, when his mother re-married. There is no mentioning of how many children were thrown out and Aron does not know anything about his uncles and aunts. But his father came to Sweden, to Lund, like many other Jews at the time. No mentioning of the date of his arrival, why he chose Sweden or anything else of the sort.  I suspect he moved in to Nöden, which was the slum back then, and a very posh place to live in, today. Gorgeous little streets and houses, but was hardly considered so, at the turn of the century 1900.

Reading the short paragraph about his father’s background, made my mind start wandering. My dad worked for a Nejman, in the town I grew up in. My dad had nothing good to say about the man, since my dad in his spare time, had worked on some sort of invention, and showing it to Nejman, was a big mistake. Nejman stole the idea as his own and my dad got nothing for it. It made my dad bitter and I do not think he ever tried to do anything like it again. I remember all the old drawings and measurements on papers my dad had at home. I was too young to know what the invention was, I just know that my dad was angry about the entire thing, and disappointed. He was forced to quit school early, because he came from a poor family, but he had the drive to learn new things, his entire life. Unfortunately, he was never able to do anything about his intelligent brain. He could not lift himself out of the working class. You stayed where you were born. Unless you were Jewish, I guess. My mum told me later on, that Nejman’s father started out as a peddler in metals, but the family ended up millionaires.

I started googling the family, to see if they are related to Aron Neuman, but I could not find out anything. Not about my dad’s employer nor about his sons. Amazing in this day and age. I went to school with the youngest son and my neighbour dated the older son, for years. I almost thought she was going to end up marrying him. I never knew they were Jewish, until my mum mentioned it one time, when I was a teenager, and my former classmate started to spread rumours about me. No, what he did was give the girl bullies in my high school, ammunition. Telling them things I did back when I was 6 years old, which to a teenager is very sensitive and not something one wants to be bullied for, 8 years after the fact. Like me wearing knitted pantaloons, under my snowsuit, as a 6-year-old, to prevent urinary tract infection. And those pantaloons being knitted in all the leftover yarns my mum could find, which made them look like Joseph’s multi-coloured coat in stripes of all colours and width! Why did Thomas have to do that to me? We had been friends back then, as 6 year-olds, but also in first and second grade, till I moved to the other part of town.

So, my research about Nejman, gave nothing. Perhaps Neijman was a very common name among Eastern European Jews? Aron’s father changed his name to Neuman, since it sounded more German and “less negative sounding”. This after he had married a Polish Jew from Raigrod. Eva Fridman and her family had left Poland because of pogroms. Why Selman left his country of origin, is unknown, but Aron thought it was to avoid the tsar’s military service, of 25-40 years. A thing the tsar created to get Jews to cut their strings with Judaism. To avoid getting stuck in the military, people chopped off fingers and Aron’s father lacked three fingers.

During his time in Lund, Selman tried all sorts of occupations, till he started a cap factory in Eslöv and a cinema. Funny, since my dad lived in Eslöv and worked there, when he met my mum at a dance. He actually met her at lots of dances, before he spoke to her. But the night when he first talked to her, he walked her home and then walked to Eslöv. Quite a walk! Anyway, it is fun when people in memoirs, mention places connected to yourself and your family, even if my family did not move in the same circles.

Like I said above, Nöden in Lund, was a place of poverty and 600 Jews lived there according to the book. Shocking Selman, since

Nöden in Lund

Nöden in Lund

they were orthodox, which he was not. The only thing Aron says about the group, is that it was very poor, religious and kept to itself. They mostly worked as peddlers, which you had to have a permit for, which hardly anyone of them had. Too expensive I’m sure. What they did not understand either, was that as they celebrated THEIR sabbath on Saturdays, the Swedish people celebrated its Sabbath on Sundays. The church was very strict on this in those days and Aron thinks this is one thing which created anti-Semitism. That the Jews dealt with money on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath day.

Things has changed a lot since I grew up. Nowadays, Swedish shops are open for business all days of the week, but when I grew up, Sunday was a really dead day, if you grew up in a non-religious family. No shops open and if you had forgotten to buy enough milk or something, then you had to go without till Monday. For us children it meant that there was no point in going anywhere, because the entire town was dead. You could not see a single person out, except now and then, someone walking their dogs. When I worked as an au-pair for the Lawrence family in London, a Jewish family owning a furniture shop, they actually kept their shop open on the Jewish Sabbath and kept it close on the Christian Sabbath. To be like everybody else no doubt. Easier to get people to work for them as well, I guess. And my day off was Sunday. I wonder if they still do that or if they have their shop open 7 days a week?

The 600 Jews in Lund, had large families and Aron’s mother gave birth to eleven children. Her firstborn, Isidor, wanted to become an officer, but as such he could not live like an orthodox Jew, so he gave up his dream. Most of his siblings actually went in to antiques or art. Except his brother Martin, who married a “Gentile” and became a doctor. At least his mother shunned him for this, but he did not seem to have regretted turning away from Judaism. He even asked to be cremated when he died. A thing Jews do not do!

1919, Aron was born and they moved to Stockholm. So, so much for learning more about Jewish Lund and what life was like for the orthodox there. Aron does not really say much about religion at all, except that his mother was deeply religious, so much so, that she did not really foster them, but let the siblings foster each other, while she prayed. To be honest, reading the book is like squeezing blood out of a stone. One is so desperate for any knowledge of value, any new learning and information. But there is SO little of it.

In the chapter about the between-the-war-years, there is precious little of worth. I found one thing interesting and that was the property market. How difficult it was for owners to let their flats, so they often had to let people rent three months for free. I do not know if this ever effected my grandparents, who did not move around like the Neuman family did. My grandparents lived in a flat among many, in a villa-looking house, outside Lund. They did not have indoor plumbing at all and my grandparents were always working while my mum and her sister basically had to raise themselves, during the days. A neighbour, they didn’t like at all, kept an eye on them. For the Neumans, who were Jewish, the moves had to do with religion, since the synagogue always have to be in walking distance, and also because of their money situation. When business was good, it was really good, and they could live in a fancy part of Stockholm and when business was bad, they had to move to more modest lodgings.

He does say that the radio was constantly on during the 1930s, so they could hear what was happening in Europe. On the other hand, what was reported? He doesn’t say. He does say that the children did military excercises in the courtyard and a classmate joined he nazi movement in Sweden. But when does not children play soldiers, especially at the threat of war? They did all over Britain, even during the Blitz! I would have liked to have found out more. He was after all a teenager at the time, so he must have paid attention! The only anti-Semitism he mentions, is the time when he went to a football match and someone screamed “Death to the bloody Jew”, when a Jewish player tackled another player. When he started Gymnasium he and other Jewish boys asked to not have to have a certain teacher, who was known to not like Jews. I am sure there was anti-Semitism in Sweden, like in all other countries at the time, but he does not really say anything about what it did to him and how he felt about it. Nor if his family discussed it between themselves and with others. He says that he did not like school because of the anti-Semitism in Europe and that he had a teacher who wanted to show off his knowledge about Judaism. But it really did not explain the situation to me or anyone else wanting to know what Sweden was like back then.

The political climate in Europe made Aron more and more aware of his Jewishness, so after Gymnasium, he spent most of his free time at Jewish clubs, when not studying at the business school. A Jewish restaurant opened with Kosher food and a third synagogue was founded during the 1930s. The entire interior decoration was smuggled out from Germany, from the Hamburg synagogue, being described to Gestapo, that it was old wood and furniture.

During the war, the climate was definitely pro-German. Of course, the newspapers did not dare to be anything but. It was that or be invaded, since everything was reported back to Germany. Only two newspapers dared to say what they thought and they were censored heavily. Since it was said in Europe, that Jews are cowards, greedy, stingy with money and lack patriotism, Aron signed up for the military a year early, in 1938. He started out in a machine gun company, till his poor eyesight became a problem. In the Army he met with anti-Semitism, like someone not wanting to sleep in the same room as a Jew and someone saying that the Germans had made Norway free of Jews and that they soon would be in Sweden doing the same thing. That is all Aron says about the Army! In the Navy, the commanding officer did not want alcohol served in the mess, if Aron was there, since he did not want to toast with a Jew. The only service totally free of anti-Semitism, was the Air Force, since it was brand new and not based on German principles, but looked to Great Britain instead.

The refugees arriving to Sweden, were mainly orthodox, according to Aron, which really surprised me. I would have thought it would have been easier for assimilated Jews, to get entrance visas. Aron told about the refugees his family took in, like a book shop owner from Denmark and a Norwegian relative. And a little girl who arrived on the white buses. In other words, when the war was basically over and the Germans letting women leave Ravensbrück. All in all, half a page. But he says nothing ABOUT them really, nor how the family dealt with what they told them and how they felt about it all. Instead he tells about the rivalry between the Jewish congregation and the volunteer organisation, of which Aron was president. The Jewish congregation had an entire program set up for receiving the refugees and did not like the amateurs. They were also very eager to do the politically correct thing and were petrified of too many Jews arriving so they would all get in to trouble.

Aron also got involved in the Jewish help organisation B’nai B’rith. I would have liked to have known more about it and not just that it helps Jews and fight anti-Semitism. Aron says that the Jewish leader of it, in Germany, was a man who saw no problems at all between the orthodox, conservative and liberals. That all three should be strengthened so they will survive, that it is only good with variety as long as there is also unity. Thing is, is there really? In a book I read about the ultra-orthodox in Israel, they count themselves as the only Jews in the world. That everyone else are gentiles and unrighteous. In their world, conservative, orthodox and liberal Jews are not Jews at all and they are absolutely not counted as righteous.

After the war, Aron spent most of his time, trying to help the fledgling Israel. Working as an accountant for organisations like the one planting trees in Israel, the one helping Polish Jews and many others. He doesn’t say anything about them and what they really did and why, only listed them. He never seriously thought about emigrating there though, even though he was bitter about how some people had treated him in the military, during the war, with snide remarks.

In 1987 he helped founding the Jewish museum in Stockholm, a museum I actually visited the year after that. I had no idea it was that new. And I am sure that it has grown a lot since then, with more items, but also with more high-tech, which seems to be the thing at most museums nowadays. Having studied museum science at the University, I do concur though. Noone is interested in watching ten combs, ten mugs… in glass stands anymore. It is plain boring. To make a museum worth visiting, there needs to be hands on experiences, films to watch, scenes showing how things were used etc. London in particular, is a master in this. That is why I avoid British Museum and love going to places like Imperial War Museum and others like it. British Museum is still stuck in the 1800s, except when they have a special exhibition.

In a way, that second to last chapter, was the most interesting, since it brought up books which have been published and exhibitions which have been shown at the museum. Exhibitions always mean books! And in other books, I might find the information which Aron’s book lacks. I have already created a modest wish list and am sending my husband to pick up two books in particular, when he goes to the capital for a conference. (On computers, not Judaism!) An exhibition I would have loved to have gone to, was the one called “Jesus the Jew”. THAT would have been SO interesting! And another one I would have loved to have attended, was the one about peddlers. Here Sweden met with a new kind of Jew, one who was orthodox, one who knew no Swedish, one who did not understand Swedish traditions and who desperately tried to eat kosher and teach their children to stay orthodox, by teaching them to read and write Hebrew. I doubt they succeeded particularly well, since we do not have any odd-looking Jews in Sweden anymore, with side curls and religious garments. The Ultra Orthodox as we call them today, are not present at all in Swedish society, like they are in other countries.

Selman Neijman & Eva Fridman, married in 1900

Selman Neijman & Eva Fridman, married in 1900

I would like to end this post with saying, that “Aron’s Bok” was not worth even the sale price I paid for it. It lacked everything I had anticipated and proved to me, that not everyone is a writer and not everyone should attempt to write their own memoirs but should leave it to a proper biographer, who can give people and dates, some meat on the bones.

At the same time, the book did something for me and that was strengthen the determination to continue my research. And also, to return to my own family and my genealogy. Even if it is more than frustrating at this point when the archives have less good opening times and ancestry.com/ancestry.se charges an arm and a leg, for you to look at “their” records, which should be open to the public for nothing, in my view. Those are public records and the micro films posted to the internet, were made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and given to Sweden for free. So why is there a fee to look at them?

The photo of Selman Neijman and his beautiful young bride, makes me sad. Because according to Aron, they were poor immigrants who lived in the slum of Nöden in Lund,yet they could afford beautiful clothes, a big wedding and more over, to be photographed. My grandfather’s parents, married that same year, and there are no photos of that poor couple. The church where they married in 1900, in Hardeberga, outside Lund, doesn’t even look like it did back then. It seems like all Jews writing their memoirs, have a lot of photos, and that is something I have always felt saddened by. The lack of everything in my family. Photos, diaries… I guess they were too busy trying to stay alive?

So, I should say thank you to Aron, for showing me once again, how important our family history is. I have started trying to find out the truth about my mother’s mother’s father’s father’s parentage. Ancestry.se will not let me get in to the records even though I have signed up for a trial subscription, and the days keep ticking by, when it is for free. In 1987, a priest, said some awful things about this man’s mother’s morals, so that family name was sure talked of still, 134 years after the fact! Will I ever find out what the priest wrote in the records 1853? The priest who kept the records at home, in 1987, sure did not want to read them off to me. I need to know the truth, to get a peace of mind. I do not want to have the serious big gaps in my family history, which Aron has. Till I can fill them, I will never write a book on my family!

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Farmville 2: Country Escape or How to get really angry!

9th of May, to be precise, I had to sign up for a new mobile since D.’s mobile was dead to the world. I handed my beloved iPhone to him, while I myself had to learn the Samsung A5’s way of doing things. I decided that since Android phones offer free games, I was going to install something to have fun with, when bored. I had enjoyed “Tap the Frog” on the children’s tablet, hating it on this iPad, for the cost it entailed but also for its chewing gum reactions. I tried a lot of games on my Samsung but nothing was really funny. I want to play when I want to play, not when the game allows me to. This thing with so many minutes till you have another life, is not my thing.

Then I found Farmville 2: Country Escape and since it had so many stars and people liking it, I decided to give it a go. This was my sort of game, I thought. Getting to play when you want. Noone stressing you with so many seconds to think or act. Planning actions hours ahead, saving money to purchase things and adding to a farm, making it more and more complete looking. At least it was fun from the start. Till all the problems started to arise and I started to read the reviews, which told the backside of the game.

Many people complain that they hate the game, but can not leave, because they have invested too much money in it. No, you do not uninstall a game where you have spent real hard cash. But you play it less and less, when you encounter problems every time you play it.

As you can tell, I am in need of expanding my barn but for two weeks now, I have waited for another nail. Soon need for throwing away things. Champagne takes 8 hours to make, but perhaps it will have to go. Noone buying my Ocean things in road shop.

As you can tell, I am in need of expanding my barn but for two weeks now, I have waited for another nail. Soon I will need to throw away things. Champagne takes 8 hours to make, but perhaps it will have to go. Noone buying my Ocean things in road shop lika anchors, canvas etc.

I decided on an early stage that I was not going to spend any cash. But one day, when I went in to look at how many more items I needed in order to expand my barn, “Gubby” sitting breathing down my neck, wanting to push something and anything on the screen, I did a thing which brought me to tears. To expand one’s barn takes months or weeks of work. You have to have so and so many nails, so and so many locks and so and so many shovels to do so. You can pay game money every day and make a shovel in your tool shed. Takes a day. But locks and nails are pure luck acquisitions. Those you get only now and then, when you fish in the pond, work in the mine, go to grandmother’s glen, fish in the ocean or go to mallard mill,  but with a reservation. You have to buy yourself in to the mine, mallard mill and the ocean first, by buying all the surrounding land at set levels.By mistake, because I was distracted by “Gubby”, I accidentally expanded the silo instead of the barn. Gone were all my nails and locks.

Why do you need to expand your barn or silo? Well, the more production things you get on your farm, in the shape of animals, planting fields and buildings/work stations, the more items you will produce. And you will have to put them somewhere. To feed your cow, you have to harvest a field of wheat and there has to be room in the silo, for it to go in there first, before you give it to the cow. Well, what is the point of producing things, you might ask. Just for the fun of it? Hardly! First of all there is the farm order board. There will come in orders, for all sorts of things. The problem is that, the higher you get up in the levels, the less you imagecan use the board, for dumping your items. Look at me for example. I am on level 44 and one order can be for 6 peach yoghurts. The only problem is that I only have four peach trees. So make four first and then two more, you will tell yourself. Not that easy. First of all, I would not mind having six peach trees, because they ripen so slowly, in other words, hours and hours of wait, but the peaches also sell expensively. The fruit themselves but also when you have made them in to peach yoghurts. But you can only buy so many trees with game money. Same goes for the planting fields and the animals. Then you have to start using your keys. But back to the barn problem. It is always full. At all levels. Because you produce more and more. I can never store four peach yoghurts for hours till I can produce two more, when the new peaches have ripened.

I who had sworn to never ever spend real cash in a game, sat there and wept like a baby, because I had wasted all my hard to get items, and now could under no condition expand that barn. And it meant not being able to play anymore. So what did I do? I spent real cash and bought the keys needed to expand my barn, but my hatred for the game started, since it was too easy to press the button to use the keys. It should have asked, are you sure, like in the shop.

This is a major problem with the game. The keys. Early on in the game, I read the reviews and lots of people complained about

It is like this with everything, you have to buy with keys, keys I do not have.

It is like this with everything, you have to buy with keys, keys I do not have. I am not getting rid of my 247 ones lightly!

not being able to purchase things for their farms, unless they did so with keys. Keys are hard to get, unless you buy them with real cash. And yet, you need them for everything. To buy more plots to cultivate, to add extra animals and even worse, at every event, they try to make you spend a fortune in keys, on getting temporary animals or farm hands, who are supposed to help you find rare items. After the event, they leave your farm for good, and your keys/cash is gone.

I have told my children that I am a multi millionaire.  Which is true. I own over 9 million game coins. (Actually I was just allowed to purchase a plot on the other side of the river. Nothing to put there though!) But there is nothing to spend it on. At certain levels, you can buy plots of land, but when that is done, you have nothing more to use the money on. You can’t buy any machines, animals, cultivating plots, trees etc. beyond a certain low level. This makes the game really, really boring at level 44. You are not motivated to play at all. You have nothing to gain from playing.

Yes, you can sell things you produce, at the road side shop, but mine never works when an event is taking place. Which makes it impossible to play, because the barn gets full and when you can’t sell items, you have to throw them away. So why create the items in the first place? Also, when you put up items you have made in that road side shop, they can sit there for days till the game finally buys them. Because people are not really that interested in buying certain things. If you have grapes, throw them away. If you have blackberries, throw them away. Right now, there is an event on, where you get coffee beans every time you harvest wheat. Throw them away. Noone wants coffee beans. Throw away pears, noone wants them. Actually, do not water your pear tree at all, unless a quest asks for pear products, which almost never happens. Do not try to sell peppers, noone wants them. I could go on like this forever. There are more things people do not want to buy, than they want to buy.

So, what can you use your money on? Well, you can buy things from other people around the globe. But the good things, they have reserved for their co-ops. Which is another thing which does not really have any function. There is no communication between members. There is no way to see which co-ops are active. To me, its been pointless to belong to a co-op. The only purpose being that you sell items exclusively to members.

The crime scene where yo mostly get just eggs or points.

The crime scene where you mostly get just eggs or points.

The worse thing of the entire game, I think, is the events. There is only a couple of days between events. What is an event? How about I tell you about the ongoing event. It is a mystery event. In the corner of your farm, a crime scene has been set up. You are supposed to send anything from 1-4 farm hands in to this place, to get special event items. In phase 3, you are supposed to receive a two  tea-cups. To go in to the crime scene, you have to create a special item on the stovetop. A strange strawberry drink. I have received items in the crime scene area, at this phase. Believe it or not! (I did not in phase 1 and 2.) Pink tea cups. In the previous phases, all I got, every single time, were points or points and eggs. If this does not make you angry, what will? When you have your tea-cup, you are supposed to make coffee. You get the coffee beans every time you harvest the wheat, but too many beans! And you make the coffee. But then you are stumped. I sit with ten cups of coffee, presently, because I can not go on to the next item you are supposed to make. With the coffee and sugar and two special items, donut dough, you are supposed to make a detective’s breakfast. I sent farm hands in to grandmother’s glen ten times, and never received any dough. I sent them to the mill, the mine, the pond and the ocean, but only now and then have I received the dough. So far I have been able to make five breakfasts and what happens when you have made that? Well, most of us think that after all that frustrating “hard work”, you would automatically get the detective item, which is the goal to get in this phase. Like spy camera, disguise etc. But I have received money, money and money or rolling fog boosts, which is useless since it does not make you find the dough. You do not FIND anything, the game gives you, and it does not give me a diddly squat. Except frustrated feelings. But you got up to phase 3 girl, says someone out there. So something must be working. Not so. I BOUGHT the items needed, from people selling them off, who had just left the phase I am on. And that happens about once a day, if you’re lucky.

During the wedding event months ago, I made so many red dresses that I could have puked, and I never left the phase. Other players accused Zynga for cheating, that they do not want people to reach the goal and I totally agree. Zynga is a terrible game group, who are out to do only one thing. Earn real money on their games. When you complain to them, like I have done all summer, about my road shop not working during events, they just answer me “you have to sell what people want”. Well, I was selling things I knew people were dying to have, like event items and things which it takes hours to make. I had learned by then what items sell, but if noone sees what you have, then it doesn’t  matter what you sell.

This game is over when you have bought all your production machines. There is no more pleasure in the game after that. The only reason why I play it now and then, is to kill time when I am waiting for things to get done on Hay Day. My children saw my frustration with Farmville and told me to come over to Hay Day instead. And I did, in August 2015. First I wanted to catch up to

Part of my HayDay farm which is huge.

Part of my HayDay farm which is huge.

them and now I am a level 55 farmer. Every week there is the challenge to win the Derby with our neighbourhood. Boats arrive daily that ask for lots of items to be made. And when you can’t make them yourself, you can ask for help. And there is ALWAYS someone out there helping you! You can go in to look at the helper’s farm, buy things from the farmer, follow that farmer, help them with their boats or liven up their trees and bushes. When you help, you get rewards in the way of plants, decorations, diamonds, saws and axes. Plus the money and the points of course. In other words, there is interaction with not just your neighbourhood friends but also with other players. In the town, visitors arrive all the time, and want items. Visitors arrive to your farm and want items as well as the farm board asking for things. There is no way to get bored with this game. At every other level or so, you can buy animals, decorations and production buildings, with money, tickets or diamonds. And you can expand your farm as soon as you have the required items. But best of all, you can sell everything in your road shop. It always works! And your things usually sells within the hour if not at once. Set the right price on items not so very popular, like wheat and corn, and that get sold as well. You are never stuck but can always play.

The only complaints I have about Hay Day, are the long production times that are unreasonable, like making pop corn taking 30 minutes, chocolate bar taking 20 hours etc. A second complaint is that trees and bushes die after four harvests and then they have

Bad image from internet but I would quit the game if I had this many dead trees. It is ghastly looking!

Bad image from internet but I would quit the game if I had this many dead trees. It is ghastly looking!

to be sawed or chopped down. Only problem being, that if you do not have any more axes or saws, you get stuck with ugly dead trees and bushes on your farm, which you have tried to make pretty. The OCD in me, can not live with dead things on my farm, so I keep as few trees and bushes, as I can, in order to keep up with the supply of destruction tools. You getting the tools sporadically as rewards when feeding pets, harvesting and when you have fully served people in the town. My third complaint is about the so-called randomness of items given to you and also who gets to watch commercials for free diamonds and tools. I NEVER get to watch commercials, which I find unfair. So when I have used up my diamonds by accident, I have had to buy new ones with real cash. THAT is not fair. I play my “Boo’s” farm during the week, so we get more points in the derby, and he gets to see up to five commercials a day. Same goes with E. and F. who also play the game, so I am the only one in the family who do not get to earn free things like this. And things are not given as random as the owners of the game think. To expand your barn, you need bolts, planks and duct tape. I have to buy planks off “Boo” and E., since I do not receive them. And E. has to buy bolts from me since she does not get them. To expand the silo you need nails, screws and wood panel. I do not get screws, but “Boo” and E. do, so they have to supply me with them. This is not right and a major complaint from ALL players. I do not get maps in town, to expand my town. And for the most part, “Boo’s” newspaper has better things for sale, than mine, which usually just have wheat, eggs and corn. So I buy things to his farm and sell them on to myself. But what about people who can not do this? They feel very frustrated with the game!

All in all, I doubt any game is perfect and without major complaints. But if you want an honest opinion, do  not bother with Farmville. It is not even funny to kill time with, when you wait your 20 minutes on Hay Day to fetch eggs or the hour it takes for the cows to produce milk. The game should be closed down because it could lead to insanity. You don’t want to spend an entire day creating one event item, only to get 5000 game coins out of it! Personally I am going to sit down and work on my points on Hay Day. On Hay Day you get points when you buy things, you get points when you harvest things, you get points when you have produced things and when you sell it to anyone but the road shop. There are so many ways of earning points that you are never stuck on one level for long, like in Farmville, where you hardly ever get any points to bring you to a new level. Next level on  Hay Day,  I can buy a little Calico kitten, which gives 40 points at every feed and I can buy a Sushi bar, grow rice and make Sushi rolls. That will be fun! And FUN is what a phone/computer game is supposed to be!!!

Just had to show off my town. Simple but cute!

Just had to show off my town. Simple but cute!

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