Editor's Chronicle

Volume 12, Issue 1, 2008

The Story of Ragnar and Sven

Ragnar and Sven were born on the same day in November 1975. People tend to believe that this means something. But Ragnar and Sven were not at all alike.

Ragnar's mum walked to the hospital when Ragnar was to be born. They lived nearby. Sven's dad drove Sven's mum in the run-down Volvo with bad brakes. They had a 45 minute drive to the hospital.

At that point, Sven was running a five times higher risk of dying than Ragnar. And that was before he was even born.

But all went well. As it usually does.

When Ragnar was one year old he fell out of mummy's bed. He fell onto the soft, long-pile rug, so that was alright.

Sven fell out of the kitchen window of their flat, when he was one. But that was alright, too. Sven's mum lived on the bottom floor. Sven howled because he scratched himself on the thorny bushes under the window.

When Ragnar was four his mummy almost over-turned her bicycle. That was scary, thought mummy and Ragnar.

Sven borrowed a bike in the yard when he was five. At that precise moment, he ran a nine times higher risk of having a serious injury, compared to Ragnar.

He got a bump on the head, scraped his elbow, his knees and a hard. He also learnt how to ride a bike.

At school all went well for Ragnar except sports. Sven liked sports and enjoyed fighting.

During the first three years of school, Sven ran a 7.5 times higher risk of meeting with an accident than Ragnar. Ragnar probably ran a higher risk of getting a thrashing from the other boys. But both of them pulled through.

Sven had a girl when he was 14. He also rode a moped - thereby increasing his risk exposure.

Ragnar was not as mature. He was shy with girls and got his moped on his 15th birthday. And the way you drive is also important!

Ragnar was saving up to buy a car. He kept working in his dad's store on Saturdays and summer holidays.

Sven joined the Stockholm Hell's Angels and bought a used Japanese 1000cc on an instalment plan.

If Leasing Finance & Son's - the company that lent Sven money for his wheels - had known that Sven ran a 43 times higher risk of dying than Ragnar, they probably wouldn't have supplied the money.

But all was well this time too. It usually is.

Ragnar and Sven didn't know each other. But they did their military service at the same regiment.

Ragnar once had to punish Sven and his mates for almost injury a guy when firing blanks.

Sven and his mates ran a four times higher risk of getting killed in the military than Ragnar. This changes in wartime. But Sweden has not been to war since 1808.

But when Ragnar and Sven were demobilized they got jogs in the same factory. They operated similar machines.

And for the first time Ragnar and Sven were running equally high risks of having an accident.

And they both HAD an accident, the first month on the job.

They both lost two fingers of the right hand at their machines.

All doesn't always end well.

And that's less strange that the contrary.

Illustrations: Kai Anders Sempler

Tore J Larsson