Kenneth was a friend of mine.
He was four years my senior, and we learned to know each other when we both started our education at an art school here in Gothenburg; to become commercial artists. That was in 1962 and we had a prosperous time here in Sweden. I learned drinking Valpolicella and vodka. I learned smoking John Silver, no filter, and finally, I learned reading books! The first two books I bought were the pocket book versions of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath. Why Steinbeck? I was recommended by the men behind the desk. And that was a good tip. I read the books through bought a bookshelf and bought another book, read it through and so I had started an interest, career in reading. And I realized there was another world outside Uddevalla. And many books to be read.
Kenneth? He was a constant reader. Every time he had a minut over, a short rest for the model and waiting the aquarell to dry, he picked up a book from his pocket, leaned over it, got quite, and so was reading. When he was not reading he tried convince me and Robert the importance of listening to jazz. Bix Beiderbeck Louis Armstrong Eddie Condon and as far as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, we were forced to chew this history through. One day we told him we had heard the Beatles! and we liked it! I had bought the record!! Kenneth got mad, broke that EP into pieces. And put the crumbles in the letter box. Must have been She Loves You, Yeah Yeah. And then he hands over an LP he told us was the best recording ever made by.... someone before Charlie Parker.
Kenneth played clarinet in a group named, I think, Dixie Six.
Among the books Kenneth, now called Haspen, picked up from his pocket was Ulysses, by James Joyce. A thick worn out copy. He read the pages over and over, it is 800 pages to go through. And he loudly gave us extracts from different chapters. And if we did not find his judgement, the text is fantastic! he gave us lessons in litterature. Day after day... and so om my way home from school I passed the bookstore and ordered one copy of Odysseus, the swedish title of the book. You had to order it, there were not many copies in circulation by the time. I started reading it. in some way living with it. If I got stuck I got on with a little help from my friend. I was hooked. I realized I had to visit those places where it all took place, that June 1904. Took my bike and went off to Ireland and Dublin. Walked in the foosteps of Leopold Bloom and had a Guinness at Mulligans. My interest in Ireland was born and I later have visited the island many times. Ulysses is a very good book.
And now, these days we have got a new swedish version of the text. This time the book has its original title Ulysses and is translated by Erik Andersson, a friend I know from my years at the Gothenburg-Post. I have bought the book, and it is such a beautiful book; the cover with the white text on the mediteranian blue-green tone, similar to the first edition I think. Shakespeare and Company. Paris.
So now ... I will have 800 pages pleasure ahead of me, and perhaps I get the idea of going to Dublin again. 35 years after my first visit.Kenneth, Haspen and then Fredrik? We were examined in 1966, and he started his career in the advertising field. He became Art Director, succesfully Copywriter, he commuted to New York for some years, working for Young and Rubicam at Madison Avenue. We bacame strangers, never heard of : lived two different ways of life. He came back to Gothenburg, started an agency, wrote som articles for the Gothenburg-Post, I illustrated. Adventures in the Advertisingfield was the line. Terminally he lived very alone. Got cancer. He called me an early morning, we spoke about old times, when he taught me to play a blues i Bflat on the piano, what had become of our schoolmates and so; said goodbye. Promised to see eachother next week, month year..
Haspen plays West End Blues
And then he died. At the funeral some of his friends from Dixie Six orchestra got together, and while they were playing When the Saints ... I thoughtfully gazed at the black gorilla, a doll. resting tiredly among the colorfull flowers spread on the cold floor. Then followed a blues ... might have been in B flat.