Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who you gonna call - elfbusters?

Elves have been in the news this past week. And they are up to no good.

A road tunnel is being excavated through Óshlíð in the Icelandic Westfjords. The contractor in charge of the works suspected foul play when two of his excavators broke down, followed by another two the following day. By foul play I am not referring to everyday vandals as here when earthwork equipment breaks down it is a surefire sign of piss off elves. Anyway, on the third day, while blasting in a quarry on the outskirts of Bolungarvík the explosions went awry and large rocks were catapulted into the air, landing on houses and yard in neighboring, residential streets. No one was hurt but property was damaged.

The photo to the left shows why the people of Bolungarvík need a tunnel - the road it will replace is quite trecherous. It is therefore important that all goes well. So the day before the blasting accident, the contractors involved in the project met with seers in an attempt to appease the elves. The minister of the Bolungarvík church also attended, saying a prayer intended to call a truce. It did not work.

I heard an interview on the radio with the blaster who described the explosion using a very strange metaphor. He likened the rock to a loaf of sliced bread with a bomb underneath. When the explosion went off, slices of bread, or rocks, were thrown every which way. This does not have anything to do with the elves but his words just stuck with me as they were so odd and non-descriptive that I had to mention this small tidbit.

Opinions differ as to whether the elves are upset because of the quarry works or because of the tunneling. One person quoted said that he believed an elf was killed during blasting in the tunnel and this was the reason for the elves’ sabotage. No elfish body has yet been found to verify this version of events but seeing that the elves are known as the hidden people because they are invisible, one would not expect a corpse to come to light.

Those in the loop say that the elves are tired and sad because of how the project has treated the hillside where the quarry is situated as well as the area around the tunnel openings. They would have preferred to have been consulted beforehand, maybe offered a seat on the project’s steering committee. It might sound odd that prior knowledge would have made a difference but it should be kept in mind that the elves live inside the rocks. I am sure most of us would appreciate a heads up before a wrecking ball came flying through the air towards our dwellings.

Politicians are no fun. Ever. The town council and the mayor of Boungarvík refused to participate in the dispute mitigation that took place the day before the quarry incident. The mayor has also declined requests to make an apology on behalf of the town to the elves after it happened. Such a public statement, made facing the quarry, is believed to help quell the elves’ anger. But the politician said that he considers that the events have been rationally explained and that no further incidents will take place if correct safety procedures are followed. Come on – only a politician would bring up HSE procedures when discussing an amusing a topic as elves.

So, abandoned by their town leaders the people of Bolungarvík took matters into their own hands. With the help of a man the elves engaged to settle the dispute, today they gathered below the quarry and spoke to the elves, asking their forgiveness and setting up a small concert for their enjoyment. A piece pipe of sorts. The below link shows footage from this gathering from this evening news. The Icelandic might be a bit hard to understand but if you listen carefully who knows?

I for one think that there will be no more accidents or machine breakdown. And I would like to believe that it will not be because of HSE procedures.

I think the University of Iceland would agree. They run a web site where people can ask questions and professors from various departments provide replies. The reply to the question “Do elves exists?” ends off saying: Elves are the embodiment of the uncertainty that surrounds our cosmology. There is more between the sky and the earth than what humans have pinpointed. More questions exist than answers and this particular question is one of the unpaired. Do elves exist? We simply do not know.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Yrsa, recently I posted a piece on Tycho Brahe that you put on this blog last summer. You referenced Brahe's copper nose and his clairvoyant dwarf. If science can support dwarfs, why not elves?

    When the elves were addressed so formally, did they respond or are they of the "actions speak louder than words" philosophy? I hope there is no need for another meeting. Is it expensive to engage an elf/human mediator?

    I don't consider myself superstitious, but if I am traveling on a highway and the traffic is flowing smoothly, I do not allow anyone to comment on how well things are moving. I know from experience that once a positive comment about the lack of gridlock is uttered, the gnomes of the road bring everything to a halt.

  2. I infinitely prefer elves to politicians. But I prefer liver flukes, moray eeels, and the anopheles mosquito to politicians. This is another great report that makes me want to visit Iceland immediately. Get that guest room ready.

  3. Has anyone cracked the 'elf and safety' gag yet? No? You lot...

    Great post Yrsa.

  4. I found the observations of my long lost Icelandic cousin, Sigurdson, on the news interview particularly on point. "Respect the elf on your (geological) shelf" or something like that.

    And I agree with Tim on the guest room thing. You make your land irresistible. Terrific.


  5. Yrsa

    I love your elves. I wonder if they'd like to take a little trip what with all that noise going on. They could come over to Washington, DC - send 100 for the senate and 435 for the house of representatives. Now that's a nice little vacation for 535 elves. All they have to do is a little budget balancing, debt ceiling stuff and the rest of the time they could take off. These are smart elves I can tell, so the whole thing shouldn't take more than a day or two and then they can kick back and listen to soft music. Just until the blasting is over then they can go home to lovely Iceland.

    Thank you Yrsa and all of the MIE gang for wonderful blogging.

    Jacquie from NBIE

  6. Here I go again with my late replies:

    Beth: a week has no passed and all is still quiet on the western front. Guess it worked.

    Jeffery & Tim - the room is just about ready so what are you waiting for?

    Jacquie: I think we have 535 to spare, that would leave us with the 63 we need for our parliament. Thanks for the nice comment.