Friday, August 27, 1999 12:06 PM
part 18

More icecreams arrived at work. They could be part of a secret trial of mind-controlling icecream-flavoured experimental chemicals designed to turn us into zombies, for all I know. Of course, the point is that I don't know. If I did, then it wouldn't be much of a secret.

One of the guys here described Iceland as a desert - rocks, sand, and rocks. While it is true - vast flat plains of ice, lava, volcanic ash, and, as he said, rocks, sand, and rocks - I didn't consider it at the time. Later, however, I went for a walk and realised that he has a point: I imagined that the cobblestones in the road could be large grains of sand, the buildings could be rocks, and in that world, I would be the size of an ant... and I think my bread was mouldy. Or maybe it was the icecream. :-)

After that slight deviation, I decided that Reykjavík is more like a ghost town. Certainly, it was during this weekend - the first weekend of August, when most of the population of Reykjavík leaves the city for the country and parties and drunken debauchery. I don't mean to make that sound like a bad thing - I'd rather that they are there than here.

Anyway, newspapers blew in the wind, nothing else moved, silence reigned. I expected to see tumbleweeds rolling past, but sadly there were none to be found. It could have been a scene out of "Westworld", though, requiring only the addition of Yul Brenner as a homicidal robot hunting some people in a theme park that resembled the old west... except that Yul is probably a bit too old to be doing that sort of thing. Oh, and he's dead, of course.

The local Kentucky Fried Chicken has free packets of chocolate raisins beside the straws and napkins, perhaps to stem the hunger while one waits to be served. I don't actually eat in these places, I simply like to have a look. No-one seems to mind.

The solar eclipse began, and the people at work grabbed a couple of computer disks each - if you pull the disk from the casing, two disks held together filter enough light that you can see without damage. We looked like the dog with eyes like saucers, but less scary. It looks silly, but when everyone is doing it, everyone looks equally silly, so it's okay. It was working very well, and we watched the moon moving... approaching... sliding across the sky... almost reaching its meeting point with the sun... the tension was high, the crowd on the edge of its seat, a hush descended... thieves could have walked into the office and carried out furniture and no-one would have noticed. It was just before the complete eclipse that we watched the clouds appear, race across the sky, and position themselves right in front of the eclipse. It was like being in the cinema behind an empty seat and a tall person comes to sit in front of you, except that you can ask a person to move and, failing that, kick the seat, or talk about unsavoury things in a loud voice, or... indeed. Not so with clouds. Therefore, the clouds remained in place for long enough that the eclipse passed unseen. Then, exactly as one would expect in such a situation, the clouds moved. If they weren't so far away, I'm sure that we'd have heard them laughing. I hope it rained in France. That would be only fair.

I could take this opportunity to make fun of those who believe that Nostradamus had something to say about this eclipse. For example, I could say that most, if not all, of the prophecies of Nostradamus were sufficiently vague that they could be applied at any time. When an event coincides with a prediction, one can say "Look, he predicted that!"; when the event does not coincide with a prediction, one can say "That wasn't the event to which he referred"... Yes, I *could* take this opportunity to make fun of those who believe in Nostradamus, but I won't. :-)

As for those cult members sitting in the middle of a football field, having sold all of their possessions and renounced the world... I expect that they are feeling a bit silly right now.

They were audible from six blocks away, and visible from three - a group of Irish football fans wearing blue and white striped face paint, blue and white striped shirts, and blue and white striped socks. Fortunately, this is as much as I could see. They were singing one of the many football songs that sounds like "Here we go, here we go, here we go". I actually prefer the song that sounds like "Here we go, here we go, here we go", because I know the words to that one. :-) I have no idea why there were in Iceland. Possibly, they had no idea, either.

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