From Iceland — News: The Top Stories, July 14th–July 27th

News: The Top Stories, July 14th–July 27th

Published August 2, 2017

Valur Grettisson

It’s been a dry two weeks here up North, news wise, and for a weekend the weather decided to mirror the country’s peaceful state of affairs with a sunny demeanour and more warmth we’ve seen in months. Those living in Akureyri and in the East saw sunny skies and skyrocketing temperatures that easily hit the 20°C mark, and even Reykjavík got a taste for summer during some unusually warm days. Granted, the Icelandic wind is fickle—it barely gave us a rest at all. But what’s life without a little compromise?

While the weather’s whims never go on holiday, employees of municipal agencies certainly do so. There would be nothing wrong with that if it weren’t for some shift managers’ lack of organisational skills. In July, for instance, 80% of employees working for the Social Housing department of Reykjavík went on holiday en masse, leaving the office unable to cope with inquiries. Therefore, when a mother of three looked for urgent help after losing her apartment and having been on the waiting list since 2015, she was told to contact the women’s shelter and wait until August. Ah, if only problems took a month off, too.

While Reykjavík is in dire need of apartments for regular workers on minimum wage, there’s one thing we definitely have in abundance: giant hogweed. Poisonous hogweed. This annoying plant has been spreading through town and all along the coastline of Seltjarnarnes like wildfire. Its delicate flowers would be a delight to look at it if it weren’t for the corrosive sap which can cause severe damage, from burns and blisters to blindness. Thus, a young crew of workers has been sent on a mission by the municipality to eradicate the plague, fully clad in suits that leave no skin uncovered. Beware hogweed, the Nordic Avengers are here to stay.

As bad as it is, hogweed isn’t the worst thing parents have had to worry about lately. In fact, a seven-month-old baby has been recently diagnosed with whooping cough, a highly contagious disease that causes uncontrollable cough, severe vomiting and can even break ribs. Seven-month-old babies are too young to be vaccinated and they therefore rely on the sense of social responsibility of people around them. By renewing their own vaccination, adults lower exponentially the risk of something similar happening more often to children whose immune system can’t yet fend for itself.

On a more joyous note, Icelanders’ favourite sausage producers co-operative SS Pylsur is once again under the spotlight for a hilarious but highly controversial advertisement that appeared in town last week. “I heart SS” has caused some discomfort among tourists who, unaware of its actual meaning, thought Iceland had turned into Nazi paradise. Nevertheless, Sláturfélag Suðurlands was founded in 1907 and although its initials have often been made fun amicably by Icelanders, they are also impossible for locals to misunderstand. So chill out and enjoy one with everything: they truly are Such Savoury, Scrumptious Sausages, after all. 

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