When you travel a lot your pets become a bit depressed and start to recognise what the appearance of a suitcase means for the days that follow. I am now in Scotland to attend the Edinburg festival and the evening before my flight I took the above picture of my suitcase and a hopeful yet disheartened wanna-be stow-away.
At the Edinburg festival I will be appearing twice, one on stage with Peter May, a Scottish crime writer and once for Amnesty International in a running program promoting the works of imprisoned authors.
Not having mastered the Kindle experience yet I was in a bookshop in Glasgow today. There I saw a cover that appealed to me and the book turned out to be by the same Peter May that I will meet tomorrow. Needless to say I walked out of the store with it in a bag and look forward to reading it. I hope it has a lot of characters saying „Hey ya“ in it, as this seems to be the greeting of choice here. You feel really good when met by these words somehow.
If you have not heard of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot then you are not from Russia. Nor are you from Iceland. The band‘s current predicament has been quite the topic at home following a vivid protest by Reykjavík‘s mayor, Jón Gnarr at the Gay Pride parade last weekend.
Pussy Riot consists of about 10 women who perform wearing very colorful dresses, tights and balaclavas. They are feminists and their work is provocative, pushing buttons that certainly need to be pushed. In February they entered a cathedral in Moscow and did a number at the altar, asking Mother Mary to please get rid of Putin. In most countries of the west this would have been frowned upon but no more would have come of the incident. In Russia three of these women were arrested and are now on trial, expected to get a 7 year prison term - each. I am not sure of the exact charges but I think they involve blasphemy, something I for one though dropped out of legislation with the Spanish inquisition. But aside from the specifics most commentators agree that the trial is political and a miscarriage of justice. Two of the three women in prison have small children which they have not been allowed to see since the arrest in February.
A lot of artists have jumped on the bandwagon asking Russian authorities to release the women. Madonna is one, protesting the trial at a concert in St. Petersburg only to be publicly branded by one of the top Russian government officials as a hooker. This to me is a bizarre comeback by someone in politics. Usually such people are smoother than the average teenager. Usually.
So here is a photo of Mayor Jon Gnarr’s Gay Pride protest:
In Iceland there are two opposing camps regarding his actions. The one side says it was good that he took a stance and added to awareness of the situation and the other that Gay Pride has zero to do with Pussy Riot and human rights issues in Russia and that he is just a show off. Needless to say the two sides are identical to the sides that are pro Jón Gnarr and the side that opposes him. So Icelander’s are really unable to judge impartially since the mayor’s persona or character gets in the way. Probably because as far as characters go his is XXXL.
On the topic of human rights I should mention the text I am to read for Amnesty on Friday. It is written by Pieere Seel a French author and is an excerpt from his memoirs “I, Pierre Seel, deported homosexual”. Writing and reading crime I have seen some pretty awful stuff spelled out on paper. Despite this, the bit I am supposed to read really managed to get under my skin. It is possibly the most horrific passage I have ever come across. Probably because it is true,
Another brick in the mile high wall of proof that fiction does not hold a candle to the true horrors men are capable of.´
So as not to end on a negative note I have included below a photo of the mayor in his office.