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November 14, 2004

It is Father’s Day today, and Yassir Arafat died a few days ago. Hence, this blog post is dedicated to my grandfather.

I wrote about my mother’s father, Sven Adrian Lindberg, in July last year – here is that post. In 1983 he celebrated his 80th birthday with a large gathering of relatives in Skellefteå. Before the party, one of my aunts hosted a reception, and Grandfather was sitting on a chair by the entrance to greet the people who arrived. One of my cousins came running with a false hose and glasses, and suggested that Sven Adrian should wear it to surprise the visitors. “All right; but I need a scarf, too”, he said. I went to get a red-and-black-checked scarf I’d worn, and Grandpa wound it around his head and let it hang down on one site. “My name is Yassir Arafat”, he proclaimed with a delighted chuckle.

So the people who came to visit, dressed in their Sunday best and prepared to celebrate an old man on his birthday, were greeted by the sight of Grandfather on a kitchen chair, with a scarf around his head and a false nose, asking them if they were Jewish. It is a slightly odd and quirky sort of humour that makes you enjoy that sort of thing, I suppose; it was most definitely my grandfather’s kind of humour, and it is mine as well. I wonder if there are any pictures of him anywhere in his Arafat outfit – he didn’t look remotely like Arafat, but none the less seeing the Palestinian president on TV or in the newspapers always made me think for a moment about Sven Adrian, and smile at the memory.

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