Sunday, 24 February 2013

Tales of a Fashionably Icelandic Nature

Hey kids!

Cultural Hybridity:
I import Hipster glasses, Brennavín and
lava-smoked schnapps to our English tea party,
and Emily brings the Pineapple,
Ireland's native fruit
(thanks to Julia's instagram're
a propa hipster blud)
So, today I realised that it has 
been six months since I first willingly marooned myself on this coffee-obsessed island in the North Atlantic, a hipster-haven dominated by granny cardigans and dodgily drawn-on eyebrows. I think that three months of eternal darkness, howling winds and sporadic snow blizzards have finally cracked me : I am now the owner of hipster glasses and Timberland boots. I look like the sad love-child of Napoleon Dynamite and Indiana Jones. I am not proud, but alas the god of Icelandic fashion finally pointed his finger and declared me, my wellies and spectacles ‘uncool’ . Feeling the wrath of the fashion god as he rampaged against any sense of individuality that my choice of attire may once have possessed, this has actually been to my advantage. Icelanders now automatically assume that, as their fellow clone, I too am Icelandic. 

For example, just yesterday when I rushed over to help what I thought was a lovely old man having a heart-attack outside the liquor-store Vínbúðin (when in fact he was just rat-arsed drunk), I was able to hold a conversation fully in Icelandic without automatically being asked that same sodding question: " aah, Britain , so that means you are from London, yes? " (NO I’M NOT FROM LONDON ENGLAND IS NOT LIKE ICELAND THERE ARE OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRY THAN THE CAPITAL CITY YOU KNOW). To be honest, I’m not sure that humouring the drunken ramblings of an Icelandic hobo really qualifies as a conversation, but still, my new ‘ Icelandic ’ look is a useful disguise which tricks unwitting Icelanders into speaking Icelandic with me and not automatically switching to English like they normally do. Sometimes, if my hipster glasses are being really disguise-y, I am even privy to an Icelandic rolling of the eyes and a sarcastic remark behind a tourist’s back : "uuh, útlendingar" (foreigners). I am even able to have conversations about the weather. It is all very exciting. Now that the sun is returning to the land of fire and ice (as in , I no longer have to carry a flashlight to work) and Iceland is emerging from long, dark, wintery hibernation, I am tempted to push the fashion boundaries here and see how Icelanders react to my bright-orange hareem pants and innumerable flowery scarves.

Riding on Ice:
Jo and I rocking the boiler suit look
One look that I particularly enjoyed rocking out was the fur-lined boiler suit, thermal underwear and man-boots that my friend Jo and I donned on our most recent horsey escapade. We may have looked ridiculous, but I swear that outfit stopped every single one of my toes turning into mini-icicles and dropping off like suicidal cocktail sausages. We were horse riding amidst snow-capped mountains and frozen lava fields in southern Iceland near Hveragerði and , beautiful though it may have been , it was fricking baltic. After six hours of hard-core tölting (the special gait that only Icelandic horses can do) across the wintery Icelandic countryside , however , fashion was the last thing I cared about. Survival and avoiding death-by-snow were more of a priority, to be honest. I was in good hands though as my noble steed, Margeir, was a bolshy litter critter who was more than happy to plunge head-first into oncoming snow drifts and slide down frozen mountain sides. 

Sexy horse, less sexy rider
(I am squinting because of the snow,
and I'm a little bit special)
At one point, he even managed to get me across a partially frozen river in one piece. Testing the ice by pawing at the river with his hoof, Margeir decided to put some weight on the ice and see what happened. He fell through. Now, any British horse that I know would have had some sort of mild seizure by now, and be pining desperately for the comfort of their snazzy stable-rug , some soft meadow hay and a dry martini. Margeir, however, was not a fashion conscious horse and so, head-down arse-up, my four-legged friend proceeded to wade through the water, quite unabashed by the blustery gale and strong undercurrent that was trying desperately to drag him downstream until we made it back to the farm, thermal underwear and all.

Horse riding in Iceland during the depths of winter is certainly not glamorous, although it is fun to get back into Reykjavík and go into a trendy café stinking of horses. I’m not sure that boiler-suits and hard hats will ever really be fashionable in a city dominated by brogues and vintage satchels, but it is nice to know that the country side offers an escape route and brief reprieve from all the trendy-wendys and skinkas (skinka means ‘ ham ’ in Iceland , and is a nickname for Reykjavík chavettes). I think it is totally legit to fuse Icelandic wilderness with Reykjavík urbanity . So from now on, I shall don my farmer jacket, attire myself in floral scarves and wear my wellies with pride.

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