Last Saturday I had occasion to visit the supermarket.
Hagkaup on Seltjarnarnes, to be exact.
As I stood there, picking out oranges, I noticed a rather shifty-looking individual standing opposite me, picking over the apples. He was wearing a big parka and a hat pulled down around his ears, and looked decidedly furtive.
I did a double take as I realized that it was one of Iceland’s most notorious oligarchs — a guy who, on any occasion I’ve ever seen him, has always positively OOZED confidence and self-respect.
Now he looked like a guilty skateboarder [minus the droopy pants].
Also last weekend, there was a lengthy interview in DV, in which Pálmi Haraldsson, another member of the Group of 30*, bemoans his fate. He says he feels like a person under house arrest — he can’t go out without fear of being accosted, can’t go to the pool, can’t go to the grocery store. He regrets the loss of his reputation as a good and honest citizen, admits to having taken part in unscrupulous business deals, but is adamant that he did not break the law. “Mea culpa” says Pálmi — only not really, because nobody came to bust up the party. [GAG]
Then, a few days ago, someone I know happened to meet a young guy with whom she got talking. During the course of the conversation the subject turned to parents and what they did for a living. She asked what his father did. “You don’t want to know,” was the response.
Turned out he was the son of one of Iceland’s most notorious banksters.
So this is what it’s come to for these former Golden Boys. They’ve fallen so far from their pedestals that even their own children are ashamed of them.
Perhaps this is the greatest punishment they could ever get — being despised and ostracized by their own people.
[* It’s estimated that between 20-30 people managed to bankrupt the entire Icelandic nation.]