Uppsala will always be a special place for me.
I saw Jane on a couple of occasions after we returned home from our Swedish holiday together in August 2011 – helping her to move into her new student flat in Dundee one Sunday morning in September, and when she stayed over with us in Edinburgh one Saturday night in October just 10 days before she died, but Uppsala was where we spent our last real time together.
I’ve been back on a couple of occasions since to visit Craig, when the pain was still so raw, and things were so very hard. We’d explored so much of the city together on that last holiday, that every time I turned another corner I was faced with another memory. It all seemed so recent and it was difficult to understand how Jane could have been with us just months before, but we were now apart.
This time was different.
We’ve now had to accept what has happened – we simply have no choice.
Uppsala is a beautiful city.
A Scotch mist shrouded the city sky line as we walked towards the University campus.
We were privileged to meet with Professor Jan Lindegren, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts within Uppsala Universitet, together with Gudrun Andersson, Associate Professor and Head of the History Department and Mikael Alm, Associate Professor and Programme Director, Early Modern Studies.
They were very supportive of “Journey for Jane”, and enthused by our aspiration of raising enough funds to start an art student exchange between Scotland and Russia. They have experienced just how enriched the University in Uppsala has been by the presence of international students.
In spite of our plans being unconnected with Sweden the staff within the History Department had themselves raised money to be applied to the Duncan of Jordanstone fund, and we are very grateful to them for that.
For me it was also an opportunity to thank the academic staff within the History Department for the support which they had provided to Craig when he returned to Uppsala some weeks after Jane’s death. It was difficult for him to return to Sweden, remote from family and all that was going on at home, let alone telling people of the appalling tragedy which had occurred. He confided in a few trusted members of staff. Without their support he would not have got through his studies. It is a tribute to their support, that Craig was able not just to complete his studies, but to gain a Masters Degree, with distinction.
One of the benefits which I have gained from our “Journey for Jane” has been to see just how Craig has been able to express himself. It has given him an outlet to express his feelings at the loss of his sister.
We were interviewed for the University magazine, in Swedish of course (not)!
There is a 1960’s song sung in German by a Norwegian singer Kirsty Sarboe, “Ein Student aus Uppsala”.
Check it out on YouTube – I don’t know if it was a Eurovision entry in its day, but it certainly sounds like it should have been. The chorus goes like this:- “Ein Student aus Uppsala, la la la la la la.”
To me it sums up the innocent feel to student life in Uppsala.
The students are just starting back for the new term. Groups of them parade round the streets dressed up in colourful costumes, and when they meet one another each group will sing a song at the other. Now I don’t know any Swedish, but you just get a sense that these are innocent little ditties.
Jane and I had laughed at all of this when we were here in 2011.
Graduates of the University are allowed to wear a special uniform of their own, a hat like a naval officer, with black flowing tails.
Craig is entitled to wear this garb, and I think he should. We saw one chap dressed in this way cycling through town.
I just have a feeling though that if Craig does decide to cycle along the High Street in Dundee dressed in this way, he might just have to peddle fairly fast.