One of the great things about being part of a small nation is that when something is going on, you really feel part of it. The spirit of the event permeates everything, everyone gets caught up in it, and an enormous amount of energy is created. It’s sort of like the feeling you get at a rock concert – very energizing.
Such was the spirit of yesterday. Everyone seemed to get into it – young and old, male and female. Even though it had a serious undertone, there was, on the whole, a sense of harmony. There were no militant speeches or hateful declarations or resentful victimization. Nobody felt threatened. Instead there was a sense of a collective effort and agreement that things are not as they should be, and change is needed.
As predicted, most women nation-wide stopped working at 2.08pm and headed downtown, or to some central meeting place in their respective towns. The protest march in Reykjavík was supposed to be from Hallgrímskirkja church down to Ingólfstorg square, but by the time the rally was to begin – and the square was packed full – there was still a throng of people stretching to the place where the march had begun. It is estimated that around 50,000 people were in town – mostly women, but also a lot of men.
The media covered the day’s events in great detail and with panache. Back in the workplaces, men manned the jobs ordinarily held by women with tremendous good humour. The Minister of Social Affairs acted as receptionist at the Ministry; at the main branch of the National Bank – the lone branch left open – men manned all the posts; and in one division of Iceland Telecom, all the women wore suits and ties to work as a symbolic gesture. In the malls, many of the shops closed down, including Debenhams and Zara. What I found striking was that even with the serious undertone, everyone seemed to be in a good mood and to be having a great time.
AAH came home shortly after two; the school had closed. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to come downtown, but she had a good excuse. YT decided to forego the march [regretting it later – but that’s another story] and headed down to Ingólfstorg square on foot around 3.45pm. It was an absolutely bizarre experience – the streets were deserted. The main artery here in the west end of town was practically devoid of cars, and there was no one out walking. No one. [Well, except YT.] Like a ghost town – very very bizarre. As I came closer to the square, I met the odd man on foot, pushing a stroller or leading a toddler – picking up the kids. And then, closer to Ingólfstorg, a flood of people of all ages and both genders.
I found it quite impossible to get to a place where I could see properly, and somehow I was at a place where the sound system made a terrific echo. Not ideal. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world; like the women interviewed who took part 30 years ago said, it’s great to be able to say, ‘I was there’.
In any case, a happy day. Very upbeat and satisfying. For everyone concerned.
The coldest it’s been this season. Gah! This morning it was –4°C and it’s warmed up to a balmy –1° now. But of course we have – you guessed it – windkill, the bane of Icelandic living. Ventured out earlier because I need both oxygen and daylight at this time of year if I’m to avoid a serious malfunction, and it.was.cold. Came in with a face so frozen you’d have thought I’d just had a Botox injection. We’re in for more wind from the north over the coming days. Sunrise today was at 08.49 and sunset set for 17.34.