The Togviraklippur by Gwilym Williams

The Togviraklippur


Do you remember those glorious Icelandic winters
when our oilskinned menfolk went out in ships
patrolling the seas in search of tresspassing trawlers
and Royal Navy patrol vessels
dashing up from Fleetwood and Hull –
out to steal the last of our codfish fingers?
And do you remember how our womenfolk
normal everyday housewives like Hekla and Birgit
crept under cover of night to their crochet clubs
ordinary fisherman's wives
whose drawers were fit to bursting point
with tangled shanks and hanks
of knotted wool,
And how they were all dressed in their crocheted
puffin jumpsuits – so as not to attract attention –
yes, something more than
an act of iconoclastic desperation. And they
had on their thick woolly socks
to boot.
Do you remember all that?
Well, this winter, we're in for a special TV treat –
a veritable Brunhilda, an icon
from that heroic fishfinger war –
the legendary Hrafnkell herself
the mighty one
who with her trawlerman husband
designed the first togviraklippur
based on the shape of a crocheting needle
and who famously pressed her frozen lips
firmly onto the front
of the outdoor television camera
on the quayside at Reykjavik
for the live broadcast on Reykjavik TV News
when she smooched the entire Icelandic nation
whilst displaying the secret weapon
the togviraklippur
thus gaining Icelandic immortality
will present the 2007 Crocheting Awards
live on your public TV
immediately following the news
and messages from our sponsors.

• Gwilym Williams is a regular contributor to both the IS&T and its comments pages. His new blog can be found at

Gwilym adds “The togviraklippur is the large hooklike gadget the Icelanders invented to sabotage trawler nets and send the nets and the complete catch to the bottom during the Cod Wars. You may recall that the Royal Navy was sent up to Iceland to deter the togviraklippur-ers. Rather than calming things down this move got those stiff Icelandic backs up even more.”

Yes dear readers, we might go to war today over oil and terrorism but back in the 1960s the British faced a far greater threat – to their supply of fish 'n' chips.

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