Danish nun found love in Sweden.
Helene Hägglund spent 14 years as a Carmelite sister in a convent in Denmark. Today she lives with her Swedish husband and their two children in Norrköping. “My relationship with God today is a fuzzy one,” she says. At 36, Hägglund has written a book about her life called “Inte längre nunna” (No longer a nun). She was a young teenager, only 16 years old, when she entered the Carmelite convent bringing nothing but a white shirt, her underwear and her cello. Whatever else she needed, the convent would supply her with. “We repaired houses, we grew vegetables, and I was at the tractor a lot,” Hägglund explains. She felt good at the convent most of the time, but there was an aggressive abbess who ruled with a rod of iron, and beatings occurred. “I spoke with the abbess because I felt it was wrong,” Hägglund says, “but she didn’t see it the same way. And I thought she was probably right about it.” Years passed by, and Helene took cello lessons with a teacher, a man, and slowly they fell in love. “When I realized that, it became very dangerous. He was married and had children. I didn’t want to destroy that.” She discontinued her cello lessons. But felt something had changed. And so she began the process of breaking off her life at the convent in Hillerød, not far from Helsingör. It was a strict convent, and she had to write to the Vatican asking for her vows to be annulled. When she finally left, she left for Göteborg in Sweden and not long after she met Björn, her future husband. They got married in 2004, at the Carmelite convent in Hillerød. “We made sure the sisters had food and wine, and they celebrated inside the convent. The rest of us celebrated elsewhere.” After the wedding ceremony, Helene touched the sisters who she still considers her friends, through the bars, so that they could see and touch her wedding ring. They wished her all the best. “I have a family now,” Hägglund says. “And that’s what I always wanted.”
“God probably doesn’t exist”.
A new ad campaign in Sweden questions the existence of God. Billboards in several of Stockholm’s subway station as well as around town proclaim “Gud finns nog inte” (God probably doesn’t exist). The ads also feature images of three flags with symbols from Judaism, Islam and Christianity, fashioned in the same blue and yellow found on the Swedish flag. The ads are courtesy of Humanisterna (The Swedish Humanist Association) and part of a campaign to further the debate about the impact of religion in public life. Says Christer Sturmark, Chair of the association: “We want to get people to reflect on the fact that religion plays a bigger role than they might think.” The Swedish Humanists claim in the ad that less than 20% of all Swedes are religious, and they mean that it’s worth considering how religion affect the life of the remaining Swedes, those who are not religious, when it comes to issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and religious independent schools (“friskolor”). Continues Sturmark: “It’s not that we want to stop the religious community, but we want to level the playing field. Religious groups get huge sums from the state every year. We’re dependent on our members.” The campaign was paid for by donations from some of the members of the association (it has roughly 5,000 members).
Moonlighting as the Queen.
Do you look like somebody famous? Say, Princess Madeleine? If so, you can moonlight in a glamorous way! Isn’t that Queen Silvia over there, eating a hot dog? No, it’s Marja Leena Kallatsén. She is 59 years old and her job is being the Swedish queen’s look-alike. Already when Silvia married the king, Kallatsén was told she looked like her, and a few years later she became a look-alike extra. Her first job was a huge gala at Berns, arranged by hundreds of Germans. “It was an amazing feeling, people applauded and I really felt like a queen,” Kallatsén says. After that other jobs followed, she played the queen in Roy Andersson’s “Sånger från andra våningen”, she has participated in charity parties in Florida and opened a gala at Stadshuset. Every time it’s the same, Kallatsén is made-up and dressed up just to resemble Queen Silvia, and then she mingles with the rest of the people. Anette Walles, director of Entertainmix (a company that hires look-alikes for private parties and events) says they’re now looking for a king for Kallatsén’s queen, as well as a Carl Philip, a Daniel Westling, and a Madonna. Anyone?
Happily kissing “Borat”.
You might remember him as Göran in Lukas Moodysson’s film “Together” or as Gunnar in the comedy “Skenbart”. But this summer you will discover him in what promises to be an international hit: Gustaf Hammarsten from Stadsteatern has a leading role in the big budget film “Brüno”. “Brüno” is the latest creation from Sacha Baron Cohen, his first was “Borat”. This time Cohen is transforming himself into an Austrian fashion journalist named Brüno, and Hammarsten plays a lover. Hammarsten himself cannot reveal much about the film, or he’d be sued by Sacha Baron Cohen’s lawyers, but one thing he can say: “I’ve never been happier. No other filming beats this, it is so real. It’s all about improvising and it can take almost any kind of turn. It’s great.” The working title of the film was “Brüno. Delicious journeys through America for the purpose of making heterosexual males visibly uncomfortable in the presence of a gay foreigner in a mesh t-shirt”. We await the film with bated breath.
Summer in leather.
Throw on the leather jacket and the boot cut jeans. Make sure your stubble is cool enough. For Tomas Ledin, summer means showtime and this marks his 24th summer tour. The tour will kick of at the beginning of July. Ledin and summer is a combination as Swedish as pickled herring and dancing around the May pole. Armed with a new CD, Ledin is ready – again – to meet his fans. “A friend told me ‘You write about the middle class a friend told me’,” Ledin says. “And that’s right, I am no rocking working class guy, like Springsteen – whose music I love. But I feel very grateful that I can live a well as I do doing what I love. I don’t take it for granted. My roots are in the 1970’s, when it was about what’s right and wrong, about having a conscience… I still take the subway all over town.” Ledin talks about having made a journey through the Swedish class system. “But who today hasn’t?” he asks. “I don’t know what class I belong to anymore. As a musician you are a bit of a chameleon anyway.” He says he looks forward to this year’s summer tour. “Music is still the thing I enjoy the most. I feel good working with music, I feel safe. It’s also probably a need in me to be seen and heard. My band and I joke that we’re ‘commercial travelers dealing in happy evenings’. People are having a difficult time right now, if we can give them a really happy summer evening, then I feel it’s worth it.”
Enström has the most Swedish of jobs.
The company was losing money and Calle Enström lost his job. That proved lucky. Because instead he applied for, and got, the most Swedish of jobs. All summer Enström is going to travel around Sweden as a tourist and blog about his experience. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I will see all of Sweden, not just Stockholm and Sälen.” It’s Svenska Turistföreningen (the Swedish Tourist Association) that’s behind the job, one of the more pleasant ones. Making about $3,262 monthly, Enström will travel through Sweden while blogging about it. There were many applicants for the job, but Calle’s personality stood out and gave him the job. He was sent out on June 6 and will travel for 60 days, the first stop was Trosa and 19 other stops are planned. “It will be an experience traveling to Kebnekaise and all these small towns. I will have a more complete picture of Sweden,” says Enström. To see where in Sweden Enström is and follow his blog visit: www.svenskaturistforeningen.se