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The lame patriots

I’d like to tell you we got all patriotic yesterday for National Day, rose early to be at Austurvöllur square at 10.40 to witness the laying of the wreath at the statue of Jón Sigurðsson, that we then listened to the new Prime Minister give his first Important Speech since taking office, and that we then sat breathlessly and waited to see which fair young actress would have the honour of being the fjallkona [Woman of the Mountains] this year.* I’d like to tell you that we then went and attended the church service at Dómkirkjan, and following that headed up to wherever the parade sets out to parade down to wherever the parade finishes, waving our Icelandic flags, our hearts swelling with nationalistic pride while the marching brass band belted out those glory-glory Icelandic songs up front. That we then went home for a wee rest before returning downtown to take part in all the festivities: concerts all over, performers performing, people carousing, families strolling, kids jumping and playing and teenagers doing whatever it is that teenagers do.

But… we didn’t.

There has been much lamenting of late that the current generation in Iceland attaches no real significance to 17. júní – the day on which Iceland celebrates its independence. EPI says that he can remember being dressed in his very best clothes [matrósarföt – what are they called in English?] and going downtown and buying ice cream on this day. Myself, I have vague memories of marching in the parade in Reykjavík dressed in my little Icelandic national costume and waving a flag, ending up down at Lækjartorg square where there was inevitably lots of stuff going on, including things on a stage, and meeting lots of people we knew. There was palpable excitement and a sense of immense joy and promise in the air. All because Iceland was a free and independent nation.

Later, when I was a teen and came to Iceland only during the summers, there was a whole different kind of excitement surrounding June 17 as it took on new significance as a major party night, almost as major as New Years Eve. Concerts everywhere, kids wandering around in groups, flirting, thrills. June 17 was the night everyone looked forward to.

But yesterday – we did none of that stuff. We just got up just in time to catch some of the 10.40 am festivities on TV. After breakfast I cleaned the floors [yes] while EPI sorted through some of his stuff in anticipation of THE PEOPLE** arriving. We then went to EPI’s sisters’ place for coffee and cake – it was her birthday the previous day and there’s a long standing tradition of the family getting together on June 17, which is very nice. After coffee and cake [and a wee glass of wine] we went home and barbecued a leg of lamb and drank some more wine and I had a nasty argument with AAH over her curfew, which ended with her depositing the laptop in my room before storming out the door [as in: she knows she loses laptop privileges when she breaks the rules, so the message was clear – ‘here is the damn laptop, because I plan to break the rules.’ Audacious, no?]***

So not a single foray downtown all day long, not even in the evening to have a boo at the drunken crowds. Wondering whether we’re getting so unbelievably boring, or so unbelievably old, or so unbelievably unpatriotic. Or whether we’ve just figured out that there really isn’t all that much excitement downtown on June 17 after all.

THE WEATHER IS PATRIOTIC AS EVER
And right now we have… no rain. It has just stopped. It may interest you to know [as it interested me] that June 3 is the only day this month in which there has been no rain. It has rained every single day apart from that. And the Icelandic populace is getting ever-so-slightly-tired of it, as witnessed by the long faces and grim complaining and, most significantly, all trips to southern Europe quickly selling out. It’s overcast and temps at the moment are 10°C, sunrise was at 02.55 while sunset is at 24.03.

* This was the first time ever that there were two fjallkonur – one who read the poem [there’s always a poem] and another to interpret it in sign language.
** These are the people we’re exchanging homes with when we go away. AAH calls them THE OTHERS
*** Please somebody tell me this puberty business will be over soon – please?

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