Once upon a time, Iceland was the land of geysers, hot springs and puffin stew. We yearned to navigate its rugged coastline and traverse its fiery interior. We cared not a jot if the price of vodka in Rekjavik's Ice Bar was exorbitant. Because Rekjavik was the epitome of cool. Damon Albarn had a house there. The city's Sigur Rós soundtrack was a trip without drugs. Even Take That's "Patience" video (filmed on the road to the Blue Lagoon) had a kind of craggy, rustic allure that wasn't limited to Jason Orange's facial features.
Then Icesave happened. 400,000 British and Dutch people found themselves out of pocket and not a little peeved as a result. The domino effect of the Icelandic economic crisis saw cash-strapped UK local authorities turn into cash-starved UK local authorities. Iceland the country suddenly had a greater image problem than Iceland the supermarket (whose public face Kerry Katona was simultaneously dominating the tabloids, enjoying a white substance that didn't resemble freezer frost).
Britain's northern neighbor, while not suffering the expected capitulation in tourism, found itself cast as Public Enemy No.1. And unfortunately we didn't take a basic truth into account: Hell hath no fury like an Iceland scorned.
Last April, the delightfully unpronounceable Eyjafjallajokull leapfrogged crippling debt to become Iceland's most infamous integrant. The greatest level of airline disruption since World War II ensued as the volcano unleashed its ire – and hundreds of millions of cubic meters of ash – into the ether. Billions of dollars in trade, travel and tourism likewise went up in smoke. Even Brad Pitt was grounded - and that isn't something you'd generally say of a guy who names his kids Pax and Zahara.
[I knew that Eyjafjallajokull had it in for me personally when it threatened to stretch my mother's visit to Hong Kong beyond her allotted two weeks. She is very small but so is my apartment. Iceland wanted me to suffer.]
Now, we must all await the impact of the aptly-named Grimsvotn. At this time of ongoing economic turmoil in Europe, another epic ash cloud is decidedly less welcome than a fart in a phone box. It's due to reach Scotland and parts of Ireland by early Tuesday. And its ultimate reach is anyone's guess.
From an unashamedly selfish standpoint, I hope Grimsvotn has belched its last brimstone long before June 17, when I am due to fly to Scotland on vacation. So, in a very possibly vain attempt to appease the volcano, I'm going to say this...
Show Iceland some love. Think of it fondly. Maybe write a nice blog post about it. Or, even better, why not pay a visit? Not now, necessarily. You probably won't get there unless you're on a boat.
But be nice to Iceland and perhaps, just perhaps, Iceland will be nice to us.