Archive for June, 2013

IngridPitt 

Ingrid Pitt starred in “Where Eagles Dare” (1968) alongside Clint Eastwood, Mary Uhre and Richard Burton, and when I was old enough to see it at the cinemas I thought it was so good that I saw it twice in two days. I was 13 at the time (must have been back in 1974 then) and you were supposed to be 15 to be let in. I recall a teacher of ours spotting us but he looked the other way. In 2001, in May, I told Ingrid Pitt this story (via e-mail) as I contacted her asking if an interview would be possible. Her response was wonderful. Not only did she love that story, but she said I could send over my questions. At the time, she was writing books so I´m sure it must have messed up her day in one way or another, but she was a beautiful lady.

Her life (she died in 2010) was amazing, they could have shot a movie about her. As a child she survived a Nazi concentration camp, making her escape with her mother as they were to be shot in the woods, and they remained with partisans until the end of the war. More drama followed when she later escaped to the west. Still, most people remember her from “Where Eagles Dare” and from the Hammer horror movies that followed, but that was just a small part of her amazing story. She was also an author, a pilot (and a WWII airplane enthusiast), and she had a black belt in Karate. Not your average person, then. This is the interview, I hope you enjoy it.

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 Who in your opinion was the first female character in television or in the movies that had “girl power” (or just a ton of attitude) written all over her? The TV series The Avengers introduced strong female characters in the sixties. Do you remember how it was received back then?

– I guess that would have to be Honor Blackman. The “in yer face” half of the Avengers TV series. Of course there were others before her, Theda Bara, The original Vamp of the Roaring Twenties and Betty Hutton spring to mind although they are probably not good examples. But Honor did enough to have everyone wanting to be “cool” before cool. The Avengers had an interesting provenance. A friend of mine, Ian Hendry was the lead in it originally, when it was a much more serious thing than it became. Background politics and Ian´s fondness for the bottle saw him supplanted by the more amenable Patrick MacNee and a legend was born.

Did you have a role model, somebody that you looked up to and admired?

– That has to be Betty Davis. She was so cool and seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Not everyones cup of cocao now I guess but after the austerities of the Second World War it was wonderful to see TWO whole cigarrettes being lit at the same time. When I finally got to meet her she was very old. I gushed, sycophantically, “so wonderful to meet you”. She looked down her nose at me and said, “Of course it is”. I felt such a twit.

Did you ever work with Honor Blackman or Diana Rigg?

– Never worked with either of them but I´m on friendly terms with both. Well – at least we say “Hi” when our paths cross. My daughter, Steffanie, did a sitcom with Honor a few years ago – forget what it was called.

In your own experience, would you say that you would have welcomed a more female friendly attitude in scripts and so on?

– I´m not sure what that means? I would have preferred a more producer friendly environment. Whatever the script is, if the play is right you can work something out.

Was there ever a moment when you wished you could just hit some director in the head with something very hard?

– Not actually on set but… When I heard that my voice had been dubbed in “Countess Dracula”, Peter Sasdy was lucky to not be in range. I´m still not sure why he did it. I had appeared in half a dozen English speaking films at that point including “Vampire Lovers” and “Where Eagles Dare” without complaint. And when we had run the dailies there had been no complaints. He said that as the Countess was royalty she needed an English cut glass accent. In Hungary? And him with an accent that could explode bananas at fifty paces! I see him occasionally. After a rather tiresome period on a jury at a Spanish film festival, which culminated in me pushing him off the harbour wall, we tend to tread warily around each other.

When you did the Hammer movies, would they listen to opinions? Did you have some input?

– I can´t remember having any barn storming ideas sessions. Colonel Jimmy Carreras was in control and it was fairly relaxed but he was hot on keeping to the budget and could get quite sniffy if he thought time was being wasted.

What script was the best, and the worst, of the many you were offered?

– I think one of the best stories I did was “Nobody Ordered Love”. This was originally released through Rank. An argument with the producer Robert Hartford Davis blew up which resulted in Bob taking his picture and refusing to play anymore. He then went off to America, married a rich widow, died of a heart attack and the film has joined the passengers of the Marie Celeste and Lord Lucan.

– The worst was one of my own. But, I plead quickly, it was not my fault. I offered a nice taut story about a woman in an Asylum suffering from schizophrenia. It was bought by a producer who then wanted changes – and changes – and changes. It finished up as a rather grubby offering about Adolf Hitler´s body, preserved in a cryogentic state, being resurrected and paraded before his present day followers. Unfortunately the cryogenic capsule was not working properly and… you don´t want to know.

What was the best part that you did in your opinion?

– The Ghost? Or maybe she wasn´t a ghost, in Mike Figgis´s “The House That Dripped Blood”. All I had to do was walking around very slowly in a variety of wonderful gowns and look soulful. I do soulful very well.

When you portrayed a female vampire it created a very strong image. Could this have been followed up in a TV series back then or would that have been difficult? (in view of the times). Would you have done it if the opportunity had presented itself?

– Don´t think the times had anything to do with it. Nobody came up with a decent basis for a series. Anyway, TV was NOT considered suitable for a young lady of ambition in those days. Even the series I did appear in were considered a retrograde step by most afficinados. But it gave me the chance to work with such greats as Larry Olivier, Alec Guiness, John Mills, Ralph Meeker, Ida Lupino, Raymond Burr and many others. By the time I left Hollywood in 1968 I had crossed the line and would have done anything that dropped through my letterbox. I even had to stop myself acting out scenarios for lingerie catalogues.

You had a part in “Where Eagles Dare”. It is regarded a classic in every way. How do you recall being there today?

– It was wonderful. Lots of money and pampered to the hilt. Burton and Eastwood spent a lot of time ragging me but as both of them were mega stars I considered myself privileged. It also gave me a chance to ask Clint what had happened to Rowdy Yates in the episode where they were all set to hang him. I hadn´t seen the denouement because at the crutial moment Steffanie had decided to put in an appearance and I had tried to get to the hospital. Clint said “Don´t know, Dove”, and that settled it. Stories that circulated about a little extra curricula between Richard and me were disseminated by him to get Elizabeth´s dander up. With remarkable success.

Today movies are marketed with long tours for interviews and so on. How was it back then? What were you asked to do for “Where Eagles Dare”?

– Most stupid thing I did in my life! No, hold it! There was that… and… but we won´t go into that. Sufficent to say that when the promotional tour was on the road I went with it. Naively I thought I had cracked it. It didn´t occur to me as I was travelling the world in my little Heidi dress that Clint and Richard weren´t to be seen. They were off making other movies – leaving me to die the death.

Did you ever visit Sweden for any kind of promotion?

– Nope! Not on the promotional tour but I have visited Sweden for the motor races. There is an “Where Eagles Dare” fan club there which I was talking to about doing all sorts of things but I haven´t heard from them for about six months or so I guess I pissed them off in some way.

Do you still have an income from those movies?

– Another “nope”.

You retired from film and television and are now an author. Do you miss anything from the old days? Would you consider a part today if it came along? What would you be interested in doing if you had your choice?

– Retired? Who said anything about retirement? I usually manage to get two or three appearances in during the year. Last year I did “The Asylum”, “Green Fingers” and “Urban Gothic”. I´m doing another film in June and I have another horror film on the stocks which I hope will be ready for the cameras by the Autumn. I´m not fussy. I usually look at the cheque before looking at the script and if it´s worth getting out of bed for I´m away.

Looking back on your adventurous life, is there anything that you wished you had done differently as far as your career goes?

– I don´t think I can answer that question. I suppose if I had returned to LA after “Where Eagles Dare” it could have been a sensible career move. But living in London while it was being made finished me, I fell in love with the city and wanted my daughter to grow up there. It wasn´t a smart move career-wise – but Steffi grew up to be a smart, uncomplicated woman and I guess that justifies my descision.

In the nineties, the TV show Xena brought down a lot of barriers in Hollywood. Many shows now have very strong female characters. Are you aware that there has been a change and do you watch any shows today?

– It´s not something I think a lot about. Strong females have ruled the world since day one. I´m not familiar with Xena but the couple of times I´ve seen a snatch I didn´t think it was exactly opening up new vistas for women. Unless you are referring to the lesbian angle. And is that necessarily a good role model for women?

You stay in touch with your fans and this is something I respect you a lot for. How much time do you have to set aside to do that for them? Are they approaching you in a way that you feel is positive? Can a few positive mails in the morning make a difference even?

– I don´t set any time aside for fans. If anyone wants me and I have the time – I´m there. I think it´s wonderful. There are not many walks of life where an old bag can be lauded by the younger generation with flattering remarks like “You look the same now as you did twenty years ago”, and have people queue up for an autograph. And they are wonderful to talk to. I have yet to meet anyone who is ruder than me or is looking for trouble. At my annual birthday party it´s great to just float around and chat. I know who´s laying who, who´s having or just had, a baby. Who´s just thrown out their husband, who´s not too well, send postcards on birthdays and get them back a hundredfold. The way I see it, the more friends I have the bigger the Requiem when I´m gone.

You are writing books now. The fantasy genre is getting bigger. Is that a field that you would like to explore as well?

– I have made a bit of a balls up of my literery output. I should have stuck to one genre and developed a following. My first book was a spy adventure story. Then I did a political thriller. Next up was a book about my mother´s time in a concentration camp. Then a children´s book. I then went into all sorts of assorted tales. I´ve got a new agent now and she is trying to steer me along the path of righteousness. But she´s having a problem.

What did you read when you grew up?

– Anything that came to hand and couldn´t be used lavatorrially. The Nazi concentration camps were not renown for their literary output. When the Yanks came I read just about everything I could on the movie business. It was so far removed from my childhood that I had to have it. Later I got into Schiller, Shakespeare, Tolstoi and the rest. I even tried to read Bram Stoker´s “Dracula” but I must admit it defeated me.

What authors do you enjoy personally? Can you mention a book that you read recently that you thought was good.

– My big pash is flying. My big mate is James Herbert. So my reading tends to drift around these two elements. I thought “Others”, by Jimmy, a bit grim but he has assured me that I will love his new book, provisionally entitled, “Faeries”. Recently I read “Spitfire” by Alfred Price, “Lancaster Target” by Jack Currie and “So You Want To Be In Pictures” by director Val Guest. I find it frustrating reading other peoples books. I always think how much better they are than mine. And that´s not good.

How many hours a day do you put in when you write? Do you write when the inspiration comes or do you sit down and get on with it regardless?

– My usual day when I´m writing starts around nine in the morning. I don´t usually bother to get dressed – just hover over the key-board in a smelly old dressing gown until I´ve pounded out a minimum of 5,000 words, then have a shower, something to eat and read through what I´ve written. If for some reason I can´t do that I tend to get very surly and fret. It seems to me if you miss the daily dose of 5,000 (words) you can never catch up – even if you do up the subsequent output to try and make up for it.

What are you writing right now?

– Right now I´m two thirds through “Ingrid Pitt´s Case Book for Deadly Doctors”. I have a book out in September and I am trying to convince my publisher to print a racy novel about a woman racing driver backed by the Mafia. Lots of screwing, gore and double dealing. I´m hopeful.

Do you listen to music when you work or do you prefere silence? What kind of music do you enjoy?

– Sometimes I like a bit of music to shut out extraneous noises. Most of the time I like it quiet. When I listen to music I prefere classical music, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky – the usual suspects. My non-classical favourites tend to be singers like Celine Dion and Dick Haymes. And, of course, The Great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong. He´s my all time favourite. And that reminds me of a little tale – regarding Sweden. I was at a motor race in Kinnekulle in the seventies and arrived at the circuit early on the day of the race. The loud speakers were being tested. Guess what they were playing – “It´s a Wonderful World”. It was a magical moment I hear as clearly today as I did all those years ago in the misty dawn.

What are your plans for the next few years?

– I´m too old for plans. What comes round, goes around. And hopefully, I will go round with it.

Michael Eriksson (2001)

(No part of this interview may be copied without permission)

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This interview has been in print several times, most recently in RETROFUTURE 5 (printed in 2012).

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MickUnderwood 

This interview with Gillan drummer Mick Underwood was conducted at the bands hotel a few hours before the gig in Stockholm on March 25th 1982. They played in a cinema called Draken, which had sold out in a matter of hours. It was to be the only visit (and the only show) in Sweden by this outfit (Gillan), since the split was closing in. I chatted with Mick Underwood for about 45 minutes and I recall him as a decent chap. The interview was published in Deep Purple Magazine 26 that summer, which is where I translated it back into english from. Enjoy!

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You were a member of a band called Strapps…

– Yes…

…and they opened up for Deep Purple on their British tour in March 1976. Can you tell me what the general feeling was backstage with Purple?

– I am nut sure how the feeling was backstage with Deep Purple, the only one I spoke to was Jon Lord.

The only gentleman around?

– Yes, I think you may be right. I know Ian Paice fairly well but for some reason he was not very friendly. We just said “Hello”. But Jon Lord, who´s always been a gentleman, was OK. I did not see much of Purple´s shows. They played very loud. I catched maybe five minutes all in all because they played far too loud, I just couldn´t stand the volume. In all honesty, they were not that good.

They had perhaps reached the end of the line?

– Yes, that was my impression at the time.

You have had some problems on this European tour?

– Nothing major. The worst was when our passports were stolen and we had to cancel Switzerland.

How did you go down in Norway?

– Very well. Very good crowd. The whole tour has been very good. I hope the public here in Stockholm will be good as well.

I suppose the people in Trondheim are not used to bands coming in, you must have been superstars over there (laughs).

– Yes, nice to be big in Trondheim (laughs).

I think it is a wise move to visit smaller cities as well, and not just the big ones.

– Yes, we have always done that. We played way up north in Finland and it was really good.

You are big in Bankok now?

– Hard to say, we only stayed for one day. We sold out a 5.000-6000 capacity hall. We will go back later this year and play in a bigger hall.

How was Australia?

– We only played smaller places. 2.000 people a night. But we sold out so we hope to return and play to bigger crowds.

It is growing…

– Yes, but we have not really worked much in Australia. Neither did Deep Purple.

Japan must have been the first really good market?

– Japan has always been very good. I have only been there once with the band but we did a good job.

Exactly how big are you in Japan?

– It is hard to say. We sell out our concerts. I suppose we could sell more records. It is good but it could be bigger. “Double Trouble” has just been released in Japan, so we will see how it goes.

Your US tour was a disapointment?

 – Yes. Not that we did not play well or had a bad reaction from the fans that did see us or anything like that, it was the business side that failed. When we arrived, nothing was prepared properly. Some gigs went to hell because there was no advertising at all, so people did not know that we played. On top of this, our records could not be found.

Could you not have toured with a bigger band?

– Yes. Personally, I really don´t feel like going back. There is talk but… I have been in America a few times, it was never that good. To me, there are so many places that are far more interesting.

How about that idea to tour by boat?

– We have talked about it. It would be a massive undertaking. We lack the time right now but I suppose it might happen some day. I´m not sure what to think of it. It could work, but I suppose it could also be a nightmare (laughs).

You record new albums all the time.

– Four albums in three years, that is not that much.

But you also play 200 shows a year…

– Probably more than that now…

How do you find the time to write new material?

– We write some during our tours. This sunday ends this tour, then we will have three weeks off, then we rehearse and record the next album.

Are you OK now since Janick Gers joined the band?

– Yes, he is OK. What the fans think is up to them but we are very happy with him.

All these tours and this way of life, how is possible to keep a family life going when you have this job?

– It is very hard. You must have a very understanding family. Luckily, I have that. I have a daughter that is four months old.

So you have not seen her very much…

– Very little, a week here and a day there…

I saw that Ian has his girlfriend with him. I guess that would be hard for you now that you have a child?

– I would not bring my wife on the road. It´s… too hard. She used to come along for a week now and then but she never really liked it.

She might not like the music of Gillan that much…

– Well, she likes some of it, but mostly she likes ABBA (laughs), that is what she listens to at home.

Well, I guess everybody listens to ABBA now and then…

– They are very good.

I guess they are a group for all ages…

– Exactly. My wife loves them, she has probably got all their albums.

Do you have any idea how many records Gillan have sold?

– No, I have no idea. We sell records all the time so it is hard to tell. We just had a Gold record in Jugoslavia. Hard to keep track of such things.

Jugoslavia? But that is behind the Iron Curtain…

– Yes, on the map. But it is the same.

So the music of the West is well known there?

– Yes. As I said, “Future Shock” went Gold there and by the looks of things “Double Trouble” is going that way too. It´s not like in West Germany, were a double album will cost you a weeks pay. Records are cheap in Jugoslavia. They also have a lot of concerts.

In Gillan, you play hard rock, sometimes with the odd 50´s cover thrown in. What do you listen to at home?

– I don´t listen to music other on the car radio, and if they just talk that is fine by me. You get enough music as it is.

Could your amount of touring be bad for your health?

– Yes, we are probably doing the maximum amount of work that can can be done. We may cut down a little. This is a nine week tour, I think that is a bit much.

What would you do if Gillan suddenly broke up?

– Umm… Maybe I would join another band, or maybe I would be a studio musician? Or I might do something else, I don´t think about it right now. I suppose no matter how much you plan things you can never really know where things are going anyway. Time will tell.

What was your opinion of the Ian Gillan Band?

– That was a terrible band, I didn´t like it all. They confused the public. Still today, that band does us harm. If we tour a market for the first time, and Ian Gillan Band has been there, people might not know what to expect.

Deep Purple could get back together some day again I guess…

– Probably. They would make a lot of money, that is for sure. And they would never have to do an honest days work ever again. It´s an interesting thought and I know that Ian has been in touch with people regarding Deep Purple, but I don´t think he is that interested in it. But it is up to him. People would, no matter how good or bad it is, want to see Deep Purple again. They have not worked together for years now, and they are doing things in different directions. I don´t know the members of Deep Purple well enough to know what they are thinking. I have only met Ritchie Blackmore once in the last 10 years.

You worked with him in The Outlaws…

– Yes, we met a while ago when he jammed with us at The Rainbow. We only chatted for five minutes. So I have no idea what he, or Jon or…

Has he changed much since The Outlaws days?

– I have no idea. Ritchie is the kind of person that it takes a while to get to know.

Has Ian changed since the Episode Six days?

– Oh yes, everybody changes. He has gone through a lot.

The “For Gillan Fans Only” thing was a nice surprise. There is more than just music on it…

– Yes, some people in this band are pretty nuts! I don´t know if that record means anything to anybody, but we had a few laughs when we did it. Some of that stuff is hilarious. Some of it is, well… It´s a matter of taste. A gesture to the fans that managed to get it.

Who´s idea was the book cover of “Future Shock”?

– That came from the record company. It worked very well.

It is very decent of you to do these things because the fans feel that you really care…

– Yes, and they are the ones that we aim for when we do things like this. The fans that really care. They always know when a new album is coming out so they will be the first in line to buy it.

What actually happened when you joined Gillan? Did he phone you up?

– Yes, he called me and said that his band would have a new guitarist and a new drummer, and they could not find a good drummer.

What were you doing at that time?

– I was still a member of Strapps, but things was not good. We were writing for another album when Ian called. When he asked I had my doubts because last time I had seen him was with the Ian Gillan Band thing and that music didn´t interest me. So I knew he had a new band but I didn´t know what kind of music they were going to play. But we met and jammed and the next morning we started recording “Mr Universe”! It worked very well.

You live in England. Would you leave if the band suddenly sold a lot of records, Platinum and all that?

– I would not move, certainly not to America. This is a problem that we don´t have at the moment, but it would be a nice one to have. The problem we have now is getting to the bottom of who´s hiding the money we make now!

Are your albums out in America?

– “Glory Road” should be out, but I honestly didn´t see a single copy when we were there. I don´t think that our kind of rock suits their radio very well. They think that Foreigner is tough. We could get big if we, like you said, toured with a major band.

So why did you go over there on your own?

– We didn´t know! Ian might have known.

Who makes these decisions?

– Ian and the office. Ian is in charge.

You never get asked for your opinions on things?

– Not really, things are ready to go when we hear about it.

Is this one of the reasons why Bernie Tormé left?

– Probably, yes.

You are popular in England now.

– Yes, but we can only do one proper tour a year, so we tend to make it count. Last year, we played 43 shows! We may add the odd festival.

Will you be doing Reading this year?

– No, we have done Reading four years now, and last year we headlined. You can´t do that two years straight.

Do you like playing in front of huge masses?

– Yes, the bigger the crowd the more fun it is. I know that some people in the band preferes smaller places but I get energised by large crowds. It´s more adrenaline.

So 12.000 people at The Budokan is the best there is?

– I still have to play The Budokan. The best place is probably England, Reading is 30.000. We played to 20.000 in Athens, Greece. England is our best market.

Will you go back to Greece soon?

– Later this year. I only heard this morning. I think it was August.

I heard that 20.000 couldn´t get in last time…

– Yes, that was a lot of fun. We spent a week there doing only two shows. So we had our families with us, making it a holiday.

You have played in a lot of countries, any new ones coming up?

– I would like to play in the Soviet Union, not that I like the politics, but I would like to play there. I think South America is coming up. Brazil has been mentioned.

Are your albums out there?

– Not sure, maybe. Since there is talk about going there I guess they are out there. I would love to go.

I have seen Gillan grow the last two years. It seems like you are building this up at the moment.

– I hope so. We are certainly working very hard for it. Our strength are our concerts, which is why we travel so much.

What if you recorded a new album live?

– We never play songs until we know that our audience knows them. The fans need some time to learn our material before we play it. We have triend new songs on a few occations, but the response is not as good. Everybody plays the well known songs on stage, you can see that on the live albums. People want to hear the hits. If we played everything we would be up there for four hours.

How about a “Best of” album?

– (Laughs) Funny you should mention it, we discussed that just the other day. It would be a record company decision anyway. Personally, I don´t want to see it, because it usually means that a band is going downhill and the record company moves to get the gold while they still can.

Yes, but you are on your way up, clearly…

– Yes.

You could add the odd unreleased track…

– It´s up to Virgin to decide (laughs).

The album covers, what is the working process like? Do you get to see a few and then you pick one you like?

– We figure out a title, then we discuss ideas with the record company. Then there might be three or four covers that we are presented with. Then we might decide on one, but we have also thrown it all in the bin. But it has never been a problem. I think our best yet is “Glory Road”, with the black background. “Double Trouble” is OK. “Future Shock” was amazing, but the end result not quite what we had hoped for. The drawing makes us look slightly… weird… But we didn´t have the time to change it.

I think that images of the members are important.

– Yes, so that people know what we look like. We have always had some pictures on our albums, some good, some less so. But we would never use a band shot on a cover. The book for “Future Shock” was quite nice.

Who´s idea was the “Double Trouble” cover?

– I can´t remember his name.

You have not been attacked by crazy women?

– Not that I know of.

Whitesnake would have been killed if they had used it, but they are more into…

– I know what you mean. We have never had any problems in Gillan but when I was in Strapps we had it all the time. They used to come up to us and say “You can´t continue to view us as sex objects”. And they were right, because the only women that ever complained looked like the door over there…

What is your wives take on this?

– She´s fine with it. She has seen pictures of me with naked women on my lap and kept her cool. I liked that photo shoot! The great looking women never complained. She knows how it is. She has met enough people in this business to know.

When you have time off, do you still hang out with the guys in the band?

– Only Ian, becuase we all live in different places. Ian lives 30-40 miles away, so we may play a game of golf. I will see him now because he has promised to attend our daughters baptism. I live in London, far away from the rest of the band.

Bernie Marsden has said that when he and Cozy Powell play a game of golf, the first to mention Deep Purple loses points…

– (Laughs) If I was in Whitesnake and played a game with Cozy, I guess that could come up. But Ian and I don´t have those sorts of problems. I can sympatise, because I am in the same situation. Ian was in a very famous band called Deep Purple, a band that does not exist any more. But people from all around the world – like yourself who runs a fan club – keeps a big interest going, which is OK. It can be a little annoying for those of us who was never in that band to answer questions about them, because we never had anything to do with them. We never talk about Deep Purple in the band, so we don´t feel a need for any kind of special rules when we play golf!

* * * * *

Michael Eriksson (1982)

(No part of this interview may be copied without permission)

Marby_old_church 

This is a continuation of yesterdays post about Norderön in Jämtland. After that trip we headed on towards mainland by the northern ferry at Håkansta and arrived in Gärdsta. Here, this stone church from the middle ages still stands. It functions as a museum these days, but it is nice to see a church that still stands after 500 years or so. It is called Marby old church.

I am not a religious person, but I love old buildings and history. The many churches around The Great Lake are certainly wonderful to behold.

Norderon 

I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend of mine on Norderön, the second largest island in Lake Storsjön (usually referred to as The Great Lake on this blog). About 150 people lives on the island, but the history goes back to pre-viking days. Few places can be said to be more beautiful in Jämtland (county) and it felt appropriate to actually spend some time here and see some of the sights. This should have been done years ago, I know.

I also decided to give the residents a free copy of my publication “Storsjöodjuret” (“The Great Lake Monster”), so as we checked out the island, we also dropped 100 copies of this off at the same time. It just seemed like a good idea to do this here, were most people can see the lake no matter where you are on the island. And most of the people here have deep roots, they have simply lived here for generations. Meaning – many sightings (trust me on this), perhaps more will be recorded now?

The island can be reached by two ferries in the summer and by ice roads in the winter. We entered Norderön from the south, taking the ferry from Isön.

Norderon_1 

It is a small island. It takes a few minutes to drive across it in any direction by car. The first site of interest was the old church, roughly 800 years old (on the plus side). There has been additions built over the years, but the original stone church is still standing. It was locked, so we couldn´t get a peak inside on this trip, but we got some nice pictures. I love these old churches.

Then we passed the 18 hole golf course (located next to the church), and headed on to take a look at the viking house that a group of enthusiasts has built on the island. It turned out to be hidden in the woods near the shore but we eventually found it thanks to nice locals. And impressive it was too. The viking ship Hrafn, that they own, was not there, but we located that later on elsewhere (and managed to take a few snapshots of it there instead). I love the fact that people feel so strongly about their heritage that they create a place like this.

When we had seen the island (I think we saw most of it), and handed out the magazines (all but 11 copies out of the 100), we ended proceedings with a nice dinner at a place called Tivarsgård (located not far from the northern ferry port). With fantastic scenery, we dined there, avoiding some rain that came along at the same time.

Norderon_2 

I had a couple of Norrlands Guld (light beers) and a nice meal (Limousine burgers). Very good, and the staff was good looking too (they could have been beauty queens all of them, maybe it is something in the water around here?).

I dropped the last 11 copies of the magazine off here (they seemed to be pleased to have them) and then we took the northern ferry and continued our journey. But that´s for another post. Today I wanted to highlight this beautiful island, a place with a long history and an interesting future.

Long may it live.

Book_skansar 

This post is mostly for locals I guess, and it deals with the subject of historic sites and fortresses in my county Jämtland. This book, “Krutrök över Jämtland (translates to “Gunsmoke Over Jämtland) by Erik J. Bergström, published by Jamtli Förlag (2001) in Östersund and for sale basically in my neck of the woods, deals with the subject in great detail.

So if you are a history buff and live in Jämtland, this book is clearly essential for you to own (and use as you explore our past).

I just wanted to slip this one in, after my last post in which I touched on the subject.

AgnesJohansson

This painting was made by my grandmother Agnes Johansson (1907-1986), a woman that lived a quiet life far from any kind of attention. She loved to paint scenes of nature and local demand for her work were high. She used to charge for canvas and paint, never for the actual work. I think her fame peaked with an article or two in magazines and some local newspapers.

I grew up watching her at work and I will track down some of her paintings and present a story about her in a coming issue of RETROFUTURE. I really need to do that before I am done with this hobby of mine.

She should be remembered.

commandofoldout 

Exciting news from Commando headquarters this week. Here is the official press release…

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From the Briefing Room, Commando HQ

Over the last two years we’ve been listening to our readers’ thoughts about Commando and working to make the comic the best we can for them.

We started the Gold and Silver Collections, digging deep into our archive for the very best classic stories – because they asked us to – and these have proved to be winners.

We started our By Special Request series to give all readers, even lapsed ones, a chance to nominate titles they wanted to see again – because they asked us to. Judging by the number of requests we get every week, they like this idea.

We moved to better, cleaner, heavier papers to show off our artwork better – because they asked us to. Okay, they take up more space on the bookshelf but that better quality is worth the extra footage.

Now we’ve managed to go a step further with the first major change to the Commando format since 1961.

The issues released this week (in the UK — sorry, overseas readers, you’ll have to wait a little longer) we’ve added a bit extra to the back covers so that we can display our cover art just as in left the illustrators’ drawing boards. No lettering, no badges, no Commando label. Why? Because all the readers who have attended our recent exhibitions told us they really wanted to see it like that.

There are more changes to come in the near future, ones that we know will go down well (because the readers have already told us that they will) and that will give you more reasons to keep Commando at the top of your reading list.

Don’t worry, though, Commando will be staying the same 68-page pocket-size helping of action and adventure.

So prepare yourself to get down to the newsstand on the 6th of June (Commando’s very own D-Day) and look out for the new issues with their yellow cover flashes. We think you’ll like what you find.

Calum Laird, Editor

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