OK, so Christmas is over, and we’re into the period that everybody was dreading, post-Yule, when the awful kreppa would finally dig in its claws and we’d really start to feel it.
And as a nation, I guess we are. The news are pretty depressing – hospitals are closing, potentially 3,500 companies going bankrupt by the end of this year, hundreds of people lined up at the unemployment offices at the beginning of the month, etc. A number of people I know were laid off last October and November, but it seems this was preemptive by a lot of employers … many have since been hired back, albeit usually at lower wages than before. A few people I know have not been hired back, but all of them seem to have found something else to do.
Chez YT, meanwhile, things are much the same as ever – we get up, EPI goes to work, AAH goes to school, and YT sits down at the computer. I’m still getting assignments in, although I have noticed a change … in the past I was pretty much inundated with translations and copy editing work and people weren’t too concerned about price … these days people ask for quotes and are concerned with budgets. Some of them back out, don’t get in touch again, or look for alternatives – despite the fact that I’ve lowered my rates, as have most freelancers I know [and wage earners in general]. Whether there will be an ongoing reduction in the number of assignments still remains to be seen – there are seasonal trends in my line of work and Christmas and the beginning of January are always a bit slow.
Meanwhile, construction of the new Concert Hall and Conference Centre in downtown Reykjavík, aka Da Big Eyesore, has ground to a halt and may very well stay that way. It is half-finished and construction was stopped at the beginning of this year because the contractor overseeing the job hadn’t been paid for three months. If construction stops, that malformed embryo of a concert hall will remain there for the next several years as a bleak testimony to the megalomania that characterized this society in the past few years – it was supposed to have been largely funded by Landsbanki bank and the Björgólfurs.
I remember shaking my head when I heard about the plans – it was massive, like it was being built in a city of a couple million people, not 170,000 or whatever the Greater Reykjavík Area is today. Their website details all those grandiose plans and clearly once had a webcam, which now appears to be defunct, on which people could follow construction work on the site. Perhaps the most ominous part of the plans was the inclusion of the so-called “Reykjavík World Trade Center” [title in English] on the site. In light of the horrific demise of its namesake on 9/11 I am amazed that anyone could even think to use that name – and in light of recent developments it is downright creepy. *Shudder*
Anyway, if no solution is found in the next few days then apparently it may take ten years to restart the project. Personally I have no emotional investment in that concrete monstrosity, but am not thrilled to have to drive past it for the next ten years, every time I go through downtown. Plus I am sad for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, which has been lobbying relentlessly for years for a proper concert hall in which to play, allowing it to move out of the University Cinema, where it is housed now. It really is a shame, because the Orchestra is a world-class act [it was nominated for a Grammy just a few weeks ago] and really deserves better premises [the University Cinema is not designed for concerts and has crap acousitics]. However, I have my doubts as to whether it could have sustained audience numbers in the 1,800-seat hall that it was meant to move into in the new building.
All things considered, though, most of us Nicelanders are doing OK. Everything is going up up up in price and who knows where it will end, but we still have plenty of food in the stores and warmth in our homes and nobody has died from the kreppa. And with daily news reports about the horror taking place in Gaza, our current predicament seems like the lap of luxury.
IT’S GETTING COLDER
The last few days have felt like springtime, what with the balmy temps and whathaveyou [although the lack of daylight kinda gave away the season], but we’re now back to cool temps and snow. A storm is forecast for the northeast, which will likely mean windy conditions throughout the isle. Right now 3°C [37F] [OK, not that cold – YET- sort of like the kreppa forecast] and sunrise was at 11:07 am, sunset crawled past 4 pm to 16.04.