Friday, 14 December 2012

The Two Icelands and Balloons

I've just realised that the last blog entry was about completely the wrong subject.  My initial plan today was to write about the Two Icelands.

Here's a map of the first Iceland:

This is actually Thule from Ancient World in the book.  It can't really be called Iceland as it has a balmy climate rather like the South of France, but it is in a sense the same Iceland as the one in this world.  In another one of my peculiar false memories, in 'His Dark Materials', Philip Pullman chose to call Iceland "Fireland", but i have a feeling that never happened.  Maybe i'm wrong and it's the other way round.

The trans-Caledonian big splodge of lava the size of Ireland is quite a bit colder than France in most places and quite a bit hotter in a few.  It also has more fjords, a much smaller population and had a much smaller role in repelling Cipangoan invaders from across the Great Ocean.  Then again, there is no Oxidentaru in this particular timeline either.

This other Iceland is part of an only slightly more realistic flight of fancy made from Luton Airport to Reykjavik and thence to Nuuk to meet my cousin Anne, who lives in British Columbia.  It is in fact a rather unfair route as it's a lot closer to Luton than Vancouver, which is near where she lives.  This will of course never happen.

Another thing which will never happen involves the other Iceland, equally real but a lot smaller and closer.  This is often symbolised thus:

Yeah i know, copyright, but guess what?  I think Iceland might be my happy place.  Bear with me on this one as i'm about to go off on a tangent.

I basically have two dream jobs right now.  One of them is working in the sewers, the other is stacking shelves in Iceland.  Both are unattainable flights of fancy of a nature more like the Ultima Thule mentioned at the start of this entry than even the one via Reykjavik to Nuuk to meet my cousin.  I could no more get a job stacking shelves at Iceland than i could visit the fantasy island mentioned above.  This is what people don't appreciate about me - i am not jobless because i haven't looked for work, but jobless because it's literally impossible for me to find a job.  As a result, my only option is to pursue self-employment.  As it happens, in some ways i'm happy to be self-employed, even when HMRC type a random telephone number on a piece of paper which they claim is how much i owe them, but to be honest i have no other option, and from time to time this worries me a lot, because i'm not even very good at being self-employed, let alone employed.

Therefore in that way Iceland is my happy place.  It's a kind of fantasy i occasionally comfort myself with - maybe i could go and work for them and get as much as the minimum wage one day.  I won't hold my breath though.

All that brings me to the whole issue of big furry animals like this:

Whereas there are people out there who are into this in a frankly sexual way, i am not one of them, though i have nothing against them.  There are probably a whole lot more people out there who are as scared of the kind of things depicted in the image above as many people are of this:

My personal hypothesis about these individuals is that they are a highly toxic species of hominin, or perhaps a mimic of such a species, with warning colouration like the Azureus frog:

or indeed their namesakes:

The reason i think that is that i can't find anyone who thinks clowns are funny.

There are interesting parallels between phobias and paraphilias.

Anyway, this brings me back to the subject of low-status jobs.  Possibly one of the lowest-status jobs of all is the poor guy who has to dress up as a furry animal and hand out leaflets about fast-food chains or some such concern on the High Street.  Most people probably wouldn't want to do this for very long.  But some would.

So here's my short story scenario, which will one day get written:

A man is working in a high-status and also very worthwhile job which is well-paid and rewarding.  For instance, maybe he's a human rights lawyer or a pediatrician.  Something which almost anyone other than my ex-sister in law would see as above reproach and unquestionably worthwhile and respectable.  This job has everything going for it:  he saves people from torture, stops their families from being murdered, and the people he supports in this way are themselves fighting to end oppression in their own countries.  He is most definitely one of the good guys.  Furthermore, inexplicably his job is also well-paid (i did say the story wasn't finished).  He supports his wife and children well in a positive way and they have a high standard of living and are also all generous and nice people.  However, he has a secret:  he's a furry.  (If you don't know what a furry is, look here - i think the mature content filter's on.).  He has always quietly wanted to dress up as a giant furry animal and in fact he does that very thing sometimes when his wife and kids are out.  Every time he walks past someone dressed up like this, he desperately wants a job like that himself.

One day, he walks past just such an individual and it's such a wonderful fursuit that he finally snaps.  He throws in his job as a human rights lawyer (i think that's what he's going to have to be, sorry - lack of imagination) and gets a job giving out leaflets dressed as, i dunno, an anthropomorphic hippo.  He even encounters his family that way, but he never tells them.  He has to play along with his colleagues' complaints about the sweatiness, itchiness and embarrassment plus the poor pay and conditions in various ways, but secretly, this is his perfect job.

Unfortunately, and this bit is much sketchier, his wife finds out and he has to give up and go back to his crappy well-paid job saving people's lives and fighting for justice in totalitarian regimes while being paid a packet.  The story closes as he sits miserably at his desk, looking into a bleak future of socially useful and positive work which is also handsomely paid.

This is partly inspired by the fact that what i consider to be unattainable dream jobs are quite different than what most people might expect:  shelf-stacking in a vast impersonal supermarket chain that spends its whole time screwing its workers and bullying its suppliers while devastating the planet (not Iceland necessarily) or spending my entire working day covered in oomskah.  The "day job", such as it is, is very rewarding and interesting, and i love it, but i also hate it.

So there you go:  that's the blog entry i was about to write before i took off into a strange realm ruled over by Nine Tiles or whatever he calls himself.