Big Magnus and Baby Magnus

Months ago, I said I would do a person per post. So, now I feel like doing something like that.

Backtrack two months and a bit. I’m in Iceland with a group of international volunteers. We’re sleeping on camping beds in an empty school, painting a beach on a wall and eating vegetable curry soup for lunch (not at the same time). If you move in closer you may hear a conversation go something like this:

Person A: Who’s seen the big hammer?

Person B: I think Magnus had it.

Person A: [with fear] Which Magnus?

Person B: Big Magnus.

[sigh of relief]

That’s because we had two Magnuses in the Summer: Big Magnus and Baby (or Little) Magnus.

Big Magnus is a prison guard in the only prison in Iceland, a handyman (that’s why he probably has the hammer in the above scenario), a dad, Anna’s brother-in-law, and a fan of riddles. He’s bald-ish and has a laid-back grin on his face. In the summer, he was one of my favourite Icelanders because he is not only friendly, but also patient and actually spent hours with me telling me about Iceland, Icelandic and letting me help him build tables and whatever, even though I was obviously not very good at it. He recognised that I was interested in Iceland and he let me take part, which I can’t appreciate enough.

Baby Magnus is pretty much the opposite. He’s blonde, blue-eyed, short, the size of a rucksack, can only say ‘brrrrrrrr’ and ‘mamma!’ and has a pouty little mouth which can be teased to an adorable smile if you pull faces at him. He is Anna’s grandson, and to be honest at first I didn’t get why everyone cooed at him. Now, needless to say, I have been enchanted. I wuv that wittle pumpkin pie!

To avoid confusion, most people call Big Magnus ‘Vignir’, which is his middle name. Icelandic people, as is well known, don’t really have surnames… they use patronymics. That would make the boy who lived ‘Harry Jamesson’, and me ‘Fiona Wilhelmsdottir’. But ‘Wilhelmsdottir’ wouldn’t be my name, just a descriptive. So to distinguish me from all the other Fionas in Iceland (not that many, I checked), I have a middle name… Let’s say it’s Kirsten (it’s not Kirsten). In the phone directory, I would be listed like this: Fiona Kirsten Wilhelmsdottir. That’s what the Icelandic phone directory looks like! Jon Arni Daviddson, Jon Aron Magnusson, Jon Bjorn Haakonsson.

Anyway, where am I going with this? Well, most people call Big Magnus ‘Vignir’ because that’s his middle name. And I shall do the same, so from now on ‘Vignir’ = Big Magnus, and Magnus = Baby Magnus.

Today Vignir turned up suddenly here at Loa’s house (Magnus’ mother) and asked if I wanted to go with him to feed his horse. Now, I love horses. There was no question, so I grabbed coat, scarf, hat, shoes, cardigan, second pair of gloves and jumped in the car. On the way he teased me by speaking only Icelandic to me (fair enough) and then told me about how he grew up on this farm with his grandparents, and how his father was the oldest of ten children. We fed his horse and the other ones in the field, he praised me for ‘not being scared’ when they whinnied (but really, how scary is horses neighing at each other?), and then we drove back.

As I mentioned above, Vignir is a fan of riddles and so in the summer, he, Melanie (one of my best camp-friends, a German girl my age) and I challenged each other with riddles. He even wrote down a long old one in Icelandic which we had to translate (even though really we largely just got his wife to translate it for us :D). Then we wrote ones for him… and left them for him to solve. Today he told me he’d solved mine…… and he hadn’t! It being the first riddle I’ve ever written, I’m quite proud of myself 🙂 The shame is I can’t quite remember how it goes… but I think it starts “Burns more than dragon’s fire”. When I find it, I’ll write it out here and see if you can solve it.

Now I’m back at Loa’s watching Daniel and Aron kick a ball around (of course), while Baby Magnus is asleep.

It’s a good day today.

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