From Iceland — Letters


Published October 2, 2005


Dear Bart,
At the risk of sounding like every other reader writing in to The Grapevine, I’d like to begin by congratulating you and the rest of the Grapevine team for producing a fun, varied and opinionated newspaper. It’s just one of the opinions in Issue 14 (7 Oct – 3 Nov) that irritated me to the point where I felt the need to e-mail you. At this point, I’d like to take a peremptory strike: I usually love the sarcastic feedback you deign to give us mortal readers but I get the feeling that if it’s aimed at me, I won’t love it quite so much!
As a Londoner living in Reykjavík since August, I was particularly interested to see the article ‘Forget What You Know: Enjoy London’ and read it, intrigued, as it’s always fascinating to see your native city through someone else’s eyes. What disappointed me, however, was ending your piece with a sinister quote and providing no other Londoner’s opinion on the particular topic of inter-racial relations since the 7 July attacks to counterbalance it. Of course, everyone’s opinion deserves to be voiced. I just wish you hadn’t used such a negative one to conclude a piece that was supposed to be about enjoying London and has only served to cast a shadow over your presentation of that flawed but ultimately beautiful city.
Thanks again for an otherwise brilliant paper,
M Longueira
PS: Before you compose your cutting response, think of this e-mail as a contribution to “the sweet sweet sounds of the exchange of ideas.”
There can’t be a cutting response to this email. You make a key point. I closed the article on the taxi cab driver’s comment because it completely shaped my experience as a visitor, and it is a key aspect of London right now, unfortunately.
I thought about it a lot, using that quote. Would I have liked that quote used in a New York piece when I was living there in 2001, for example? Honestly, I would have been disappointed to see it.
But that’s what was there. To me, it had to be written. Did it hinder the piece-especially for the travel market? Probably.
I decided to publish what I experienced. But I’m glad someone from London complained, if that makes sense.
To whom it may concern,
First, I would like to thank you, for giving us an English newspaper. You all are brilliant! More power to your company. And you all should get promoted. Anyway. I would like to know why the bus system had change in the wrong direction, ill tell you why. First the bus stop now is so far, compared to the old system, people like us that don’t have a car have to walk very far to get to work or even buy groceries.
It is bad enough with 9 months of winter, strong winds, and slippery roads. I feel for the senior citizen people that live here. Walking in summer time is fine, but winter is cruel to the people of Iceland. What is this transportation authority thinking? Life is depressing enough, when you have 9 months of darkness. And they wonder why there’s an increase of cars in this country? Well I thank you in advance for giving people a voice to publish this issue. Have a nice day. You all are the best. Keep up the great job. MJ
The new bus system is extremely problematic—at times comically so. We are working on a story for the December issue, the slight delay coming because our journalists are having trouble meeting deadlines as they are often exhausted at work due to public transportation.
Þórdís E. Þorvaldsdóttir Bachmannn continues to write fantastic pieces concerning Iceland’s many issues involving the government, etc. If only this article about “Are we a nation of inactivists” could reach the front pages of the nation’s large newspapers. This would get the nation going.
In fact, it makes me want to smack the average Icelander across the face and tell them to wake up…it’s called PEOPLE POWER. People shouldn’t have to pay outrageous prices for food and the simple necessities of life anymore…it is pure robbery if you ask me. In many ways I see the Iceland government as a little sibling to the United State’s government…very corrupted and sneaky.
Why the fuck people vote for the idiot David Oddson I cannot understand?! He is manipulative, sly and a total liar…no wonder he resigned. I must say, I am a bit worried as far as Iceland’s government is concerned…and I am more disconcerted as to why nobody is stepping up to this behavior from the Government…it’s like the people are being silenced, but they aren’t! They have the full right to protest, boycott and say whatever they want but nobody is. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
Thank you Þórdís for such a great piece and a wake up call to the average Sigurdur.
Dear Reader,
I agree with the sentiment that Þórdís does excellent work for the Grapevine. On all other statements in this letter, especially the use of punctuation, I disagree. Why use the exclamation mark? Is it because your words don’t convey enough meaning, so you want us to simply imagine somebody gesticulating with them? Or is it because you want them screamed? Is this people power… excuse me, is this PEOPLE POWER? Screaming “I cannot understand?!” and lobbing expletives? How does PEOPLE POWER advance discussion and understanding?
I believe there are many things to fault Davíð Oddsson for, but one should recognize the man’s qualities—he is certainly not an idiot. You refer to “the prices of food and simple necessities of life” and follow with the comment that “it’s like people are being silenced.” If your concern is purchasing power, it is a fact that under Oddsson purchasing power increased.
Oddsson’s conduct relating to Iraq is dubious, and he has made other not-so-palatable decisions, including getting himself appointed director of the central bank. If we’re running around screaming things, we should try to scream things that are accurate.

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