There is Easy Listening and then there is even lighter music. We had some of that ‘ultralite’ stuff in the background at one of our monthly Swedish meetings. I know it will sound extremely nerdy if I say it was June 1994, but I happen to remember it. It was the first and only time at the house of the Pharmacist, and the proximity to Midsummer meant she had half a dozen types of pickled herring on offer, instead of the usual sandwiches and cake.
Homemade pickled herring. Naturally. I was going to get the recipes off her. Never did.
Anyway, she had music on, a CD collection of Svensktopp music, which is the Swedish style chart music we used to like back in the 1960s. More easy listening than pop, and always with Swedish lyrics. You can dislike it as much as you want, but I used to quite like it, and hearing the collected best tracks 25 years on in exile felt good.
I knew Mother-of-witch would never be capable of going into a record shop and ask for it and get it right, so I called Pippi and asked her to get the CDs for me. She made disparaging noises about my lack of taste, but promised to have a go.
A little later she called me back and said how she’d told her sister in Norway about my lite request, expecting her to make understanding noises. Instead her sister said that yes, she’d quite like that, too. Clearly something about life in exile makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
Pippi came to visit me in early September that year, so delivered the purchase. She went off to the Lake District for a few days before returning. In that short time we’d had the news that the Pharmacist and her husband had died very dramatically (it was all over the front pages of the Sunday broadsheets). That’s why I remember when it was, and that’s why there never was a pickled herring recipe.
And I listen to those CDs often, and every time I think to myself that the Pharmacist knew what she was doing. It is good music.