Ode to Fredrik Backman

This morning I wrote the good news that my husband is now officially cancer free (thank you Bowel Screening Programme). I saved my draft fully intending this to be the subject of the blog but at lunchtime I read one of the funniest and coolest pieces of prose I’ve read in ages and changed my mind. Sometimes you just want to go somewhere and meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. So instead of me, I’ve given you a little bit of Fredrik Backman firing on all cylinders.

“The headmaster had tried to calm Granny by telling her the boy who’d given Elsa the black eye that ‘only cowards hit girls,’ but Granny was not in the least bit calmed by that.

‘It’s not bloody cowardly to hit girls!’ she had roared at the headmaster. ‘This kid isn’t a little arswipe for hitting a girl, he’s an arsewipe for hitting anyone!’ And then the boy’s father got upset and started being rude to Granny for calling his son an arsewipe, and then Granny had replied that she was going to teach Elsa how to ‘kick boys on the fuse box’ and then they’d see ‘how much bloody fun it was fighting with girls!’ And then the headmaster had asked everyone to compose themselves a little. And then they all tried that for a bit. But then the headmaser wanted the boy and Elsa to shake hands and apologise to each other, and then Granny sprang out of her chair asking, ‘Why the hell should Elsa apologise?’ The headmaster said that Elsa must take her share of the guilt because she had ‘provoked’ the boy and one had to understand that the boy had experienced difficulties in’controlling himself’. And that was when Granny had tried to throw the globe at the headmaster, but Mum managed to catch hold of Granny’s arm at the very last moment, so that the globe ended up hitting the headmaster’s computer instead and smashing the screen. ‘I WAS PROVOKED!’ Granny had roared at the headmaster while Mum tried to drag her into the corridor. ‘I COULDN’T CONTROL MYSELF!’

That’s why Elsa always tore up the notes she got in her locker. The notes about how she is ugly. That she’s disgusting. That they’re going to kill her. Elsa ripped them into such tiny pieces that they could hardly be seen and then threw them into different waste paper bins all over the school. It was an act of mercy to those who wrote the notes, because Granny would have beaten them to death if she’d found out.”

An excerpt from ‘my grandmother sends her regards and apologises’ by Fredrik Backman.

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