J ag’s surrounded by the dead. “
Lennart Hellsing laughed, stretched lazily on himself and pointed to the paintings on the living room walls. “That’s made one of my best friends, Jan Wierth, he is dead. That is a different friend, Bertil Öhlund, he is also dead. Tommy Östmar, who have made it there, died recently. Old man on that is Åke Fridell, an actress, is also missing. Which is one of Ake W. Andersson, a great painter. Death. Though there are Olle Bonnier, he was actually still alive! “
Spring 2012. Lennart Hellsing was up to date with the” Lunch at Klara Church “, verses and a picture book for adults which he did together with illustrator Fibben Hald. The idea had come here in his and his wife Yvonne Lombard’s apartment, where you see the cemetery right outside the windows. Surprised, he noticed that the cemetery being used as picknickyta of people who worked around. In “Lunch at Klara Church” he let former Stockholm Profiles – from Wendy Warg Caspar Ehrenborg – rise up out of the tombs, awakened to life by the smell of hamburgers, sushi, pizza and beer.
The idea was that we would discuss over lunch on a blanket in the cemetery grass. But it was a cold April day. Lennart Hellsing wore a gray trench coat over the red velvet suit. It did not help. He froze as he almost shook. Halfway through the interview, we were forced to move in.
He told me about his years as SvD employees (“There were plenty of bottles and all smoked like crazy”), commented Fredrik Reinfeldt’s speech about raising the retirement age to 75 ( “You can work to 90 well”) and offered me some of his salad if I had not been measured. And he smoked, of course. Every time he put out a cigarette, he took up immediately a new, weighed it in his hand for a few minutes, before he lit it and inhaled.
“I could die tomorrow,” he said. “True I am thinking not so much. Or, it is clear that I think about it, but mostly on the practical, what I should do with my things. I have quite a lot of books. “
Lennart Hellsing shied never to death. Already in the 60′s brought his offense with his unsentimental way to end Bagar Bengtsson’s life. Now, in the “Lunch at Klara Church”, he let the story end at the Pearly Gates: “Short breaks are life / and the wear is the human being judged. / Rejoice bowl of alabaster / – too rapidly became exhausted. “
Still, it was not death I wanted to talk to him about. I wanted to talk about life, about his so palpable love for it. The permeating everything he created, which spread to generations of children around the world – and that allowed him to sit here, 92 years old, and advertising their more than a hundred book.
How, I asked little silly, take he could continue? “I think it is fun simply,” said Lennart Hellsing. “But I have actually had the thought that this book is perhaps the last thing I do.”
He poked into the salad and added: “But then I thought about my first book, too.”