My dad and I

When I was six years old, my father stayed home for a year and took care of all the housework. We became very close that year.


People around us were probably bewildered by this castling of the gender roles. But for me, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. A monthly magazine for women, Damernas Värld, sent a reporter and a photographer.


I love this photo of my dad – I can feel that we are connected in many different ways.

Three genres I turn to when I want to relax

Words, words, words (that’s actually a Hamlet quote – from Act 2 Scene 2)! As a professional writer, you have to be a professional reader as well. In a way, you’re a text machine where an ingoing feed of text (from latin textus ‘tissue’) is transformed into an outgoing feed.

But when I want to relax and enjoy that the time just slips by, I turn to three genres:

• Thrillers and crime fiction.
• Rock biographies, especially from the surrealistic seventies.
• War memories from foot soldiers.

The last one may seem a bit odd.

A birthday celebration to my brother

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BROTHER! On this your big day, I was very happy to receive this photo from our mother. It shows a sunny summer day in Rydebäck, south of Helsingborg, where we had some bright and formative years in a collective of kids from (as it seemed) happy and optimistic core families.

The reason that I like this photograph is that I think it mirrors our characters and our relation. You’re the serious and target-oriented explorer of the world (in this case a The Famous Five book; probably Five Go Down To The Sea). I am the easy-going spectator of whats going on – more motivated by inspiration and things I stumble over that catch my curiosity.

There’s a nice harmony in the composition. You are deep down in your well of concentration, and you will have finished this book before the evening meal. On the other hand, I will not have achieved anything measurable, but seem to enjoy this afternoon anyway.

The detail you should study is the admiration in my pose. I am fascinated by your reading skills and your focus – which eventually will earn you a Ph.D. and a career where you belong to the industrial elite of our nation.

If I should choose a single memory where I felt empowered by having such an able brother is the day during my high school years when you, the tech student at LTH, sat down to teach me how derivatives work.

I am looking forward to many fun dinners and activities together with our growing families – I am especially happy that we share a passion for music, nature, history and culture.

I think a Swedish SKÅL! is the right way to end this text:

Taking a book shower

A colleague cleaned out his bookshelves and gave me an amazing collection of history books. I decided to take a photo of the entire stack from below. Bad idea. First time I have taken a book shower.


On the empty gun emplacement

A technical failure may be an artistic success. The photo below would be at risk of being discarded if someone decided to sort out failed shots from the image library. But to me, it’s pure poetry.

It was taken in 2011 by my mother Gunilla Bergman. It’s me to the left, Moa at the top and Sigge between us. The peculiar little bump is a cover to a gun emplacement from the cold war; here an unmounted tank turret should assist in the defense of the sandy beaches around Viken, the place where I grew up.
So many stories in the same photo – some full of hope, some full of sorrow.


The splendor of the proto-vikings

The splendor of the proto-vikings: Ogaklev hillfort, Södermanland. This wall, three meters high, lays undisturbed for 500 000 days (which takes us back to approx. 500 AD).

It is becoming more and more obvious that there was a highly organized Swedish Game of Thrones society hundreds of years before the Christian people of Europe made a single margin note about the peculiar Scandinavians. When I was taught history in school, the iron age was just a long gloomy winter between the glory of the bronze age and the fame of the viking age. During the last decades, a totally different picture is emerging from the integrated archaelogical evidence: we see small, warring principalities which were probably heavily influenced by the Roman way of doing things.

Give me 10 000 euros and I will sit down to write a popular history book about the Scandinavian iron age and the wonders of hillforts, bracteates, the Vendel graves, the Salme ships, Eketorp, Skedemosse etc. etc.

My lab coat – a visual examination of an archeological artefact

Cleaning the basement, I realized that the paint spotted garment hanging in the workshop was my old lab coat from tech uni, or to be specific: Faculty of Engineering, Lund University.

I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, it really mirrors who I am and what I’ve always been, being relived from the shackles of social expectation. On the other hand, I kept provoking people in these days by not restraining my playfulness and urge to stand out. There were teaching assistants who directly categorized me as the one they needed to put in his place. There were fellow-students who (rightly) thought I wanted to direct too much attention to myself. During some of these occasions, my tender heart stung, and I shed some tears on the Skåne soil. Eventually, I learned to step into line, keeping my impulses down and my mouth shut, dressing according to social expectations. In the mid-nineties, I became an obedient marketing department clone, wearing a tie and jacket every workday.

Here it is in all its tarnished glory. Unfortunately, it has taken a spin in the washing machine, and some of the textile grafitti is really hard to read.

This is my mascot Målltass Mållekyl (a deliberate misspelling of ”Moltas” – a rare Swedish name – and ”molekyl”). As you can see, he is a water molecule.

There are actually seven of his kind adorning the lab coat. This says ”Always fun!” (also spelled in a funny way).

An angry Målltass.

On one arm, there is a quote by Homeros – the first lines of the Iliad in Lagerlöf’s famous translation. On the other arm, there is a quote from a King Crimson song: ”Knowledge is a deadly friend if no one sets the rules.” (Epitath, 1969).


On the back, there is a big Målltass in native American attire (“Indijan-Målltass”). I have no idea why.

It’s probably only me in the world who can interpret this smudge. The intention is to show what Olle/Indijan-Målltass has on his mind. The person who drew it lives in Australia today.


Cognitive dissonance, as demonstrated in a Stockholm hotel.

Waking up in a hotel (I will not tell you which, but it is the First one that comes to mind), I found this little fellow in my bed, carried it down to the lobby on a paper card and showed it to the clerk.
“I found this in my bed,” I said to her.
She looked at it, made a small disgusted sound, took the card and threw it in the bin. Looking up, smiling and completely ignoring the insect issue, she proceeded with the checkout.
Denial as a maintainer of status quo. Human nature in all its miserable glory.

“The Attackers” (Russian tv series) gets me hooked

I’ve enjoyed the Russian tv-series The Attackers immensely (on Amazon Prime, Sweden).

A bit sentimental, patriotic and over-simplified, of course (and with sometimes cheesy CGI effects). But still a very good reminder about life during The Great Patriotic War and the hardships of the Eastern front. And the actors are top-notch. It illustrates things as the ruthlessness of the Commissar system, the intense and short-lived love relations in the shadow of death, the tension between civilians and combatants and – last but not least – that war chisels out the true character of people. Are you decent or are you an asshole? Life during wartime will tell.

Musical Monday #1: Musical storytelling, part 1

This Monday: songs that tell a sad or dramatic story.

The tragic love between an egyptologist and a mummy

“Love as a game of power, with one loser and one winner, and the entanglement of tenderness and cruelty. But yet: the one forsaken find her happiness in her delusion. Her martyrdom is her pride.”

(Josh Ritter: The Curse)

A modern Bonnie & Clyde or True Romance couple

“It seems so simple – five holdups, romance and fun, retiring to Mexico. But the love game of some people is the PTSD of others.”

(Joe Purdy: Outlaws)

A junkhouse tragedy

“A story that is a riddle. If you understand who the milkman is, you will get it. But then, perhaps, the thrill is gone.”

(The Raconteurs: Carolina Drama).



Musical Monday is a playlist game where Olle Bergman uses some of his favourite music as the pieces. The rules are random and everybody is a winner.