These days, a cramped seat, a meal in a plastic tray and a magazine is the distance between Reykjavík and London or Copenhagen. It can almost seem as if Iceland is just a stone’s throw from the actual bright centre of the universe. It´s only when exploring the more immediate surroundings, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, that you really get to appreciate the ridiculousness of living on this piece of stilted lava in the North Atlantic. And that to most people, 101 Reykjavík seems quite a long way off from the centre of the universe. Or anything at all.
In the past few weeks, I´ve been to both Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and met people to whom Kangerlusuuaq, Gata and yes, Heinesen’s Tórshavn, seemed in their early childhood to be all there was. It´s a shame how few Icelanders ever visit our neighbours, most opting to go to the big cities from where they can come back and impress their friends and relatives with fashions and opinions learnt from big city folk.
One of the most annoying traits of Icelanders is their hunger for earthly goods, for keeping up with the Joneses, of the constant need to impress others. Perhaps this is something we have learnt on our trips to big cities. Or perhaps this is just in the nature of a farming society recently made rich.
“Progress,” said a wise man, “is getting it right.” So in order to progress down the right path, we need to learn the right things from the outside world and let the wrong things be. Sadly, Icelanders have a habit of doing it the other way around.
One good example of progress, however, has been the attitude towards gays in this country. Thirty years ago, when the first high profile gay came out of the closet, his life was made so intolerable he had to leave the country. Today, Gay Pride is becoming one of the biggest family events in the country. Some attitudes still need to change, but a lot has been achieved, and on the 7th of August we will have the opportunity to celebrate it. Icelanders can deal with prejudice effectively. If only they would always do so.
This editition of Grapevine sees it growing to 40 pages. The new and enlarged edition will however be missed out on by our noble protectors on the base. Authorities there have stopped distribution of the paper to its troops. Is this because of criticism of the Bush regime? Of American foreign policy?
No, its because of an ad for a photo exhibition showing a Finnish man’s penis. Apparently our valiant heroes don´t like Finnish dongs dangled in front of their troops.
They also didn´t like a very old picture of Bubbi giving the finger next to the editorial. He´s been trying to get them out of there for years. This may be seen as an escalation.
Our paper has recently secured distribution in the Westman Islands and won´t stop its expansion there, but is moving on to the Faraoes. It has also been decided to continue publication on a monthly basis throughout the winter. I´ve said it before, but we´re always looking for material. If you have none to spare, at least you can do the ad department a favour and take part in the readers survey, to be found on our newly rehashed webpage on www.grapevine.is
The centre of my world began at Sjafnargata, and slowly expanded to the shop on the next corner, the Einar Jónsson Museum, Hallgrímskirkja and one day all the way down to BSÍ bus stop. The expansion went on to incorporate Britain, Norway and would one day reach the far shores of China.