Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Not-Reykjavik: Nice Cathedral, Unfortunate Twin Town

I've been chuntering on about Iceland on this blog since early October, when I quoted from the then current Wikipedia article on the Icelandic economy. The same article, you perhaps won't be surprised to hear, has been subject to some revision and now ends with the words, " The IMF predicts the GDP of Iceland will contract by 10% for year 2009". Looking at the 'discussion page' - the bit where the people who lovingly update Wiki argue out their differences - I am struck by this plaintive note:

"Merger of Nordic Tiger

I propose that Nordic Tiger be merged to this article. There's not much need for a separate article on a short-lived nickname. Fg2 (talk) 07:21, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

But I tend to agree only so much can be generalised from the experience of such a small nation - talk of a possible Reykjavik on Thames is undoubtedly over-blown. Iceland, we are reminded on all sides, is only the size of Coventry in population terms.

So I now plan to keep an eye on reports of the effects of the credit crunch on Coventry, a city I lived in thirty years ago. As of today, Wiki tells me,

"Coventry's main industries include: cars, electronic equipment, machine tools, agricultural machinery, man-made fibres, aerospace components and telecommunications equipment. In recent years, the city has moved away from manufacturing industries towards business services, finance, research, design and development, creative industries as well as logistics and leisure."

According to the local paper all is quiet - the Coventry Evening Telgraph - admittedly, never exactly a keen barometer of political or economic change - seems to be leading on stories around a arsonist who set fire to himself, a hike in the cost of meals on wheels and "hearing-impaired patients in Coventry and Warwickshire wasted £75,000 of hospital cash by not turning up for appointments last year." Yup, it's that gripping.

But Wiki also reminds me the town is twinned with Volgograd. But it wasn't always called that of course, it used to have another, more famous name

Let's hope Coventry isn't facing a new economic Stalingrad.

P.S. AVPS carries a report saying the Icelandic Green Left Party stands at 32.6% in the polls, a staggering jump in popularity. He'll no doubt recall that he has a comrade in Coventry famous for almost sharing an office with Tony Blair. But I'm not betting on Mr.Nellist jumping quite so far in the popularity stakes.

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