My daughter‘s closet has been a bone of discontent in my home ever since she became a teenager, just over a year ago. It is the closet‘s fault that her room is a mess, and the closet‘s fault that she is late for gym and it is the closet‘s fault that she stays up too late. Now strange and erratic behaviour was to be expected, she is our younger of two children so the proverbial been there done that applies in our dealing with teenage oddities. However, it came as a complete surprise when we realised that the closet was not an innocent scapegoat at all but 100% guilty of all charges, the first criminal piece of furniture ever to cross my path. This enlightenment took place when I decided to help my daughter go through her clothes and sort out the ones that she had outgrown from those that she was likely to use. After hours of excruciating effort, now standing in front of two towering heaps of each sort, it became evident that no manner of organising, folding, ironing, sorting or anything else ladylike would ever manage to fit but the topmost layer of one trove into the meagre storage space the closet provided. The ankle-deep clothing stratum covering the floor, the missing gym clothes avalanched underneath and the ghostly effect of the open closet door jammed by the flow from inside, respectively caused: the mess, the tardiness and the insomnia.
Our house was built in 1978 - the photo is not taken inside it, Praise the Lord. At the time Iceland was very different from what it is today. For one, everyone from babies to senior citizens had a lot less clothes than today. There were only a handful of stores to buy them in and someone had yet to come up with the idea for shopping trips to other countries that actually had a selection. People had evolved somewhat from basically dressing so as not to be naked or cold, but just barely. At the time of construction there was thus no reason to erect closets wider than 2 feet as the dark empty space besides the three hangers in use only served to decrease the wall space otherwise available for gaudy, far-out, patterned wallpaper.
Now we have numerous stores aimed at keeping consumers of all ages, shapes and sizes from going around naked or unfashionable and the distinction as to which alternative is more embarrassing has blurred. Other things have evolved as well; one of the most marked evolutions regards TV. When I was growing up there was one government-run station, established in 1966. At first it only broadcasted on Wednesday and Friday evenings but soon expanded its programming and added almost all of the other missing evenings of the week. This was with the exception of Thursdays as the station could only afford one crew, which needed a weekly break. In addition, to meet the crew’s vacationing needs, there was also no TV in July. It was probably no coincidence that we were good at chess during this period. It was only in 1983 that the station had accrued enough money to bring in interim personnel to carry them through the full summer, and in 1987 to man the full week.
The other most noticeable change has to do with beer. This dangerous mead was illegal from 1915 until 1989 for reasons related to public health. I guess those in charge at the time believed it less hazardous to drink vodka, or the dreaded brennivín. There was supposedly a great worry that if everyone could get their hands on beer, everyone would be drunk, always, with the exception of those who meted out the regulations of course. They probably shuddered at the idea of being the only sober citizens, destined to assume the positions of designated drivers for the riff raff for all eternity. Although we now have beer, this and anything alcoholic is still only allowed for sale in government liquor stores (aside from bars and restraunts) and this is unlikely to change any time soon. At least we now have a selection and can walk around and look at the merchandise, before the late 80’s you would walk up to a counter (see photo) and for example ask for red wine and be handed what they had in stock, quite often a bottle of vintage Chinese production. I recall throwing up a lot more frequently when drinking than I do today. Another thing that is now a thing of the past were "surprise closing events" when these stores would be shut without notice in an effort to decrease drinking. This always happened the day before a big holiday so it did not take much genius to figure out a counteraction - i.e. buy the day before the day before.
There are limitless other things that have taken a leap forward but it seems as if most are accompanied with a decline elsewhere – similar to the: more TV, less chess relationship. Social evolution is an isostatic process. The exception to the rule: Better wine, less vomiting.
In other news – the first polar bear sighting this year took place today. So did the first polar bear shooting unfortunately.
Yrsa - Wednesday