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Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)



Born Dagny Valborg Carlsson in 1912, at Kristianstad in the Skane region of southwest Sweden. Her father was Victor and her mother was Sigrid. She was the oldest of five siblings but had a difficult childhood, being mistreated by her mother.

However, she idolised her grandmother who, she felt, gave her all the love and support (and courage) that she never got from her mother.

After leaving school she became a seamstress in a shirt factory, before going to Norrkoping to train in a textile institute.

She then got a job in a corset factory in Stockholm. She had never been to the city before and knew nobody. She decided to teach herself the geography of the city, so she walked a different, new street each day.
She met and married trader Ragnar Norling in 1945. But he turned out to be a jealous alcoholic who was abusive. Dagny left him, but he refused to allow her a divorce until 1951.

Meanwhile, Dagny became a team leader in the factory. At a works dance at Grona Lund, she was very impressed with the dancing skills of another employee, Harry Carlsson. “He danced like a God.” Then he asked her to dance. Romance blossomed.

When Dagny was finally granted a divorce, she and Harry got married.

But at dances she noted there were always more women than men, and many of the men who were there could not dance. All the ladies wanted to dance with Harry. “I had to lend him away. He felt like a rooster in a chicken coop and I couldn’t say no, though I wanted to.” She left the factory and for the last 15 years of her working life she was employed by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
Harry and Dagny enjoyed retirement. They travelled a lot through Europe. Dagny even went on Sweden’s most popular quiz show, ‘BingoLotto’ in 1989, when she was 77.

But Harry died of cancer in 2004.

And then, more and more of her friends started to die. She claimed to have lost count of how many funerals she went to.

She gave up dancing aged 99 and consequently had a gap in her life.

Dagny was terrified of the idea of sitting around waiting to die, so she decided to do something entirely different. She signed up to take a computer class in 2011, aged 99. Her teacher was Elena Strom. The two of them were to become inseparable friends.

And Dagny loved the computer. Aged 100, she began her own blog, under the name ‘Bojan’.

Blogging ( courtesy Gerontology)

The blog was racy, funny and thought-provoking. She described herself as being, “Like a tough old Aunt – curious about everything.”

But her blog brought her thousands of social media followers and an unexpected fame. “I do not want to claim that I am the Queen of Blogs, but I have at least become a celebrity in the old days.”

Her opinions could be controversial but were always honest and fair – “I definitely think you have to be true and honest.” She talked about her love of Christmas, rice pudding and imported oranges.

And the new-found fame led to television appearances including on chat shows.

In 2012, aged 101, she acted in the film ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’. She played an elderly lady who moved into the protagonist’s room in the nursing home, once he had jumped out of the window.

She celebrated her film star status by buying herself her first-ever pair of jeans (aged 101) – “Something I always wanted.”

In 2015 there was a Swedish documentary about her entitled ‘Life Starts at 100’. The producer Asa Blanck, who was to become another close friend, called her, “A brusque old lady with a gallows sense of humour.” Blanck was to follow it up with a sequel in 2019 , called ‘If I Sit Down, I Will Die.”

She got a new passport when she was 104.

She wrote her autobiography in 2016 entitled ‘Inside the Head of a 104-Year Old: Life According to Dagny’. In it she said, “Never think you’re too old to do what you want to do… It’s not stupid to get old.”

“Like a cat, I have at least 9 lives – but I do not know what I should use so much life for.”

And she also became a radio presenter.

She was invited to meet King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in 2018.

Dagny remained living independently until she was 108.

On her blog she became a massive supporter of the MeToo movement, saying it was important that the culture of silence be broken. She said she had never been ‘groped’ by a man but, “If someone had done that, I would have given them a slap around the head.”

She got a Covid vaccine in 2020, aged 108. It is believed she was one of the oldest people ever to have had one. She had a photograph of the vaccination put on her website.

She was really looking forward to her 110th birthday, and the party that went with it, but she died a month before it.

She is survived by her younger sister Ingegard, who is 99.

Her last post was on January the 28th 2022. She said, “When I didn’t die at 100, I started living instead.”

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