Monday, 25 November 2013
Although there wasn't any snow on the rooftops, the ski slope was still covered with the white goods, and when you put your nose in the wind, you could be sure that an icicle would be formed within a couple of minutes. Hundreds of little Swedes were gathered around us, looking nervously at the top of the hill, automatically stumping on the frozen ground to keep their feet warm, their blonde little heads tucked away in gigantic turtleneck sweaters and ski helmets. To all those little boy and girl athletes this was the event of the year. Because indeed, it doesn't happen very often that your ski association is being sponsored by the most famous group in the world: ABBA! And now all those little Nils', Per's, Anni's and Kirsten's were waiting nervously for the highlight of the day. Because in just a minute, when the starting shot would sound from up the hill, their Agnetha would show ABBA's Agnetha and Björn Ulvaeus just what is happening with all those Swedish kronor that ABBA had donated to their ski association Djurgärden! In just a minute the pride of the ski slope would come sliding down like a cannonball, and obviously their favourite club member would beat all the other competition!
The children of 'Djurgärden' weren't disappointed, that Saturday. Right before the eyes of her world famous singing namesake and supported by her fiery "Heya! Heya Agnetha!", the 7-year-old Agnetha Hjort was racing to and absolute victory in the slalom competition and later on she obviously received her well-deserved reward, a beautiful silver trophy, a kiss from Agnetha, and a wonderful ABBA poster to put above her bed! The 9-year-old Anders Wiggeryd received kisses and a wonderful souvenir for his victory in the slalom for boys. And when all the seremonial grantings and speeches had been completed, the little Swedish athletes stormed into the only little tent in the ski resort Tabi, where they were selling delicious, sweet anise milk! We waited until even the smallest athlete was sitting behind his steamy mug of sweetness, and then said goodbye, glad that we could return to our own, just a little warmer, home country.
"It's hard to imagine, but if you have never known that your father was still alive, let alone who he was, then a first meeting with your own father is a complete shock. A tremendously enjoyable event too of course, but still... You don't know each other, you have both lived a completely different life," Anni-Frid told us while we were having a stimulating cup of coffee with her, Benny and her father Alfred Haase. Earlier on, in the luxurious limousine that took us to the expensive hotel in the city centre, Anni-Frid and her father had already been squabbling. And now, with Benny and a couple of 'trendy' pop journalists, as Anni-Frid called them, as extra referees, it all had to be figured out.
"Tell us what's on your mind, dad," Anni-Frid said jokingly to her 'old man' and after clearing his throat and a couple of coughs he commenced in a shy way: "Well... for example, the way you wear your hair with all these crazy little curls, I don't like that half as much as the straight hair that you were wearing a couple of months ago when I met you for the first time (see Pop Foto December '77)!" He looked a little insecure at his daughter, who sniffed in an offended way. "And then," he continued, "you are wearing these wild clothes, I mean, you are not eighteen anymore! You are a grown woman, not a young girl!"
"Now wait a minute, mister Haase," we objected. "But Anni-Frid is an artist as well and artists always look a little extraordinary. That's the way it should be!" Anni-Frid looked at us in pleased way and nudged Benny who had been following the conversation with a smile on his face, apparently glad that he didn't have to share his opinion. "Well, tell us what you think about it," Anni-Frid hissed. "Well yes, I completely agree with that," Benny replied. "And you, dad," Anni-Frid continued, "for you I will buy a couple of cool baseball shirts and some trendy jeans, something modern! And when you come back to Sweden, we are going to buy you some other hip clothes!" Dad Haase paled visibly and we, poor auditors, burst into laughter because of his anxious face, an example that was swiftly followed by Benny and Anni-Frid herself. During the course of the conversation it became clear that Anni-Frid and her father don't agree about a lot of things yet and sometimes this even turned into a heated debate! But still, at the end of the afternoon, when Anni-Frid and her 59-year-old dad had been able to speak their minds, all differences were put aside. Although Anni-Frid obviously had to have the last say in the matter. "But still I think you should get a little trendier, dad! Just wait until I have you with me again in Sweden!"