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Time warp

I had the most bizarre experience the other day. There’s a street I frequently drive along called Mýrargata [where this atrocity is located] – not a pretty street by any standards, there’s a shipyard next to it and sort of old, decrepit and sooty industrial buildings and warehouses, mostly.

Suddenly a couple of weeks ago, one of those old and decrepit buildings was sporting two large yellow banners with the word ÚTSALA emblazoned across. And as anyone who has been to Iceland in late summer or winter will know, ÚTSALA stands for SALE.

In between the two banners was a small hole-in-the-wall door that was extremely dirty and sort of blended in with the soot exterior of the building. And somewhere above the door there were a bunch of dirty and dilapidated letters spelling the word ‘netsala’ which looked like it had been there for a donkey’s age and which certainly would no longer apply, since this did not look like the place that would contain a ‘netsala’, i.e. ‘nets for sale’. But might have once.

So I passed that house like I’d done a thousand times before and would not have noticed it [like a thousand times before] except for the fact that it had those two large yellow banners across it. So I drive past and a couple hours later drive past again on my way home. And – whoa! The street was literally packed with cars. Lining the curb on either side, up on the sidewalk on the other, and hoards of people streaming in through the little hole-in-the-wall door and out again.

‘Hm, strange,’ thought I as I drove past, mostly since as there was clearly a major ÚTSALA on in my part of town and I did not know about it.

But – more trips past the ‘netsala’ building ensued over the coming days and there were no hoards so YT forgot about it. Until – whoa! Last weekend, again, the street full of cars and people streaming in and out of the hole-in-the-wall. And YT utterly perplexed that there was a sale and she still did not know about it.

So I went home. I made a decision. Since I had to go out again, I would stop the car on Mýrargata and get out and enter the hole in the wall and find out what was going on.

And I did. And – whoa! Beyond the door there was a narrow hallway, and then another door leading into a rather large room. That room was exceedingly basic – rough floorboards, bare cement walls, untreated wooden rafters… in fact, the only modern convenience in the place was an old sink on one wall with tiles around it from circa 1970 – absolutely bizarre. And it smelled old.

But the strangest thing was that it was filled to the rafters with stuff. Stuff for sale. And there was something very strange about the stuff. It reminded me of both my grandmothers for some reason – couldn’t figure out why. Until it dawned on me. It was like I’d walked into a time warp. It was all old stuff. I mean new – but old. Mostly household goods, like pots and pans and plates and cutlery and kitchenware… but also toys and toiletries [baby powder, for some reason] and various sundry goods. All for sale. And really really cheap.

And YT stood there, thinking ‘… What… the…’

Nobody else seemed particularly puzzled. What was YT not getting?? Just then, someone wearing a bright red sweatshirt and an apron passed by. Looking like he worked there. I grabbed him. ‘Excuse me, but… what is all this?’

And so I got the full story. It seems that it was part of a wholesalers’ stock that for some reason or other was abandoned in a warehouse down by the harbour, 30 years ago. 30 years ago! And now they were tearing down the warehouse and suddenly all this stock appeared. And whoever owned the stock had donated it to this Christian radio station called Lindin, which was selling it off to raise funds. [Which explained why YT hadn’t heard about it.]

People. It’s hard to convey the feeling of enchantment that overtook our YT at that point. The same sort of feeling of enchantment that appeared to have afflicted everyone else in the room. It was a sense of nostalgia, of filling your senses with a slice of life as it was 30 years ago. I just wandered around, looking at the stuff with this huge grin on my face, thinking, ‘I remember this!’ or ‘My God, I haven’t seen one of these in…’ and was totally charmed and delighted. I wanted to take everything home, but being a sensible type I settled on this:

I have grown more and more fond of this little set ever since I brought it home – I mean, isn’t it lovely? Look at the elegant lines of that coffee pot! And would you like to know how much I paid for it? A grand total of 650 kronur – USD 10 / GBP 5.80. I mean, this is the sort of stuff you pay and arm and a leg for in antique stores! And you know what else? EPI and I are going back for the whole set this weekend. And I can’t wait.

THE WEATHER IS…
Remember how I mentioned the windkill yesterday? Thinking it probably couldn’t get any worse? Well, it did. The weather has been gross all day so I don’t even want to talk about it, bleh. Sunrise 08.55, sunset 17.27.

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