So, YT donned rain gear from head to foot and headed down to Austurvöllur square at 3 pm today to join those calling for elections this spring and the immediate resignation of the Central Bank’s board. Also known as “the rabble rousers” in some circles.
There were a couple thousand people there, which I think is excellent considering that the number of demonstrators had dropped substantially in December, plus the fact that it was pissing down with rain. [Remember – if that figure were superimposed onto, say, the United States, it would be equal to nearly two million people showing up to demonstrate in one place. I bet it would make the news.] My prediction is that protesters will get their second wind now that the Yule frenzy is over, and harsh reality begins to set in.
There were three main speakers, who were all very different. The first speech was OK, but it was the second address that really got the crowd going … a little eight-year old girl who got up onto the podium and let rip to the crowd about how children could probably govern better than the people currently in power, and that she was NOT going to pay for the toilets [sic], the petrol and the Range Rovers that the “government riff-raff” drive. I managed to get [some very grainy] footage of her on my little pocket camera, but at least it gives an idea of what her speech was like and the response of the crowd.
Next came an electrifying speech by writer Einar Már Guðmundsson, who is proving to be one of the most exhilarating public speakers around. Not previously known for this, he has shown a completely new side of himself in the wake of the economic implosion as he tirelessly and continuously delivers succinct, articulate and powerful commentaries on our current predicament and critiques on those responsible. He is someone I would very much like to see take a leading role in building up a new society … although I’m also of two minds about it, since it would likely detract from his writing, which would not be good.
[Incidentally, for those of you asking about Icelandic books in translation, he’s an author I would definitely recommend, particularly his novel Angels of the Universe, which is the best-known of all his books and which was translated into English by a colleague and friend, Bernard Scudder, who passed away last year. I haven’t read it myself [I did see the film, though] but my middle stepdaughter informed me the other day that it is her favourite book of all time and she’s read it about five times. There also seems to be general agreement among Icelanders that it’s a fine book – so for those of you looking to read contemporary Icelandic authors, he’d be a good one with which to start. I only wish you could hear/read some of his current speeches in translation – they’re showstoppers.]
Anyway, I for one am glad to see the Saturday demonstrations are on again*. Because as one speaker said today, it’s numbers that this nation’s leaders fear. The greater the number of people that show up every Saturday, the more shaky their ground. So those of you here in Iceland – please come out on Saturdays, if only to show up and be counted.
IT’S STOPPED RAINING
And the air is clean and clear. Went out for a short walk with AAH a little while ago, down to the video store, and it was so refreshing to go outside and take in some of that lovely fresh air. It’s actually past midnight right now but as per IWR law it’s still the same day as when I started writing the post. Anyone who disagrees is free to picket outside my house. Right now 5°C [41F]. The sun came up at 11.16 and went down at 3.48, just as the demo was ending.
* Not to say that they were ever ‘off’ – they were just on hold while some of us got on with the business of having a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s.