Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday 15 April 2010

Behold the wrath of Hephaestos!

A perceptive and possibly prescient post by Demetrius yesterday warned that, 'Iceland is having one of its bumps and bangs, a largish volcano may or may not be in the process of erupting.[...] Being Iceland if one vent goes up there are many more that could follow. Just like their banks used to be.'

This morning we woke to find flights acrosss the UK grounded by volcanic ash, an interesting mixture of rock, glass and sand which definitely does not agree with jet engines. While this lethal concoction drifts about at the inclination of the wind, thousands of would-be passengers wait on the ground for normal service to be resumed.

It's a salutory reminder that, for all our advanced technology, the forces of Poseidon and Hephaestos can still stop us in our tracks. The only winners in this situation are the airport businesses currently raking in a fortune - after all, once you're through security, there's nothing to do but eat, drink and go shopping.

Or, of course, pray - under the circumstances there will be people who feel that a bit of supernatural intervention wouldn't go amiss if they're about to take their chances in the air. There's a certain irony in the fact that airborne beings of one kind or another feature in almost every main religion you can think of.

From the Olympians to Ezekiel, from Quetzalcoatl to the - rather apposite - Valkyrie, the skies have been crowded for millenia with the various deities and their messengers, while priests acted as a sort of spiritual air traffic control.

These days, even an Easyjet flight allows a mere mortal the chance to enjoy a god's-eye view; should we be surprised that on occasion they choose to assert themselves and punish our hubristic invasion of their sphere?

Update: Just heard from my nephew, due back tomorrow from a geography field trip to a stubbornly inactive Mount Etna (having just missed last week's minor eruption there) and, ironically, stranded in Sicily until further notice. Should have gone to Iceland!

Readers with a robust sense of humour may enjoy the long-running thread 'God Hates Iceland' at the Landover Baptist Church.


  1. Heard on the radio this morning: "The Icelandic government clearly misunderstood - Gordon wants their CASH..."

  2. Interestingly the Landover Baptist Church is in Iowa, farmers corn belt country. Once small farmers now almost wholly owned by the big firms who virutally control the two senators. It has one of the first primary elections and Obama had to leave a few hostages to fortune when he campaigned there. The state is in effect dependent on huge subsidies going to corn etc. for ethanol and fructose laden corn syrup, allegedly at the root of much US and world obesity. Never mind the corn fed cows kept going by antibiotics. And he complains about Iceland?


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