Monday, 28 November 2016

I can see the finishing line ...

I'm not sure we thought we would get to the finishing line but the end of the month beckons. There have been times when, through force of habit more than anything else, a drink would have been good. But good sense prevailed and our month is up on Wednesday. That is because we began this dry month on 30th October.

At times like this you consider your habits, and drinking alcohol is certainly a habit and a pleasurable one at that. You feel relaxed and at ease with your fellow man (well, most of them anyway) and a warm glow is always welcome. Part of this is the "holiday mode" that many of us feel when living in Cyprus, which - despite warnings to the contrary - we are still in after four years or so. In the warmer months, a cold beer or a glass or two of wine seems almost as much of outdoor living as wearing shorts and t-shirts.

In any event, we are there and feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Perhaps the most irritating time of the last month came with the radio advertisement on ClassicFM about drinking whisky. This self-satisfied and arrogant prat was extolling the virtues of some whisky or other, and when and where to drink it. Was it beside the fire, or at the club, or ... but it was irritating nevertheless. If he had been on television that would have been another reason to put a boot through the screen.

We are promised rain tomorrow and for the next two or three days, and that will make a pleasant change. In our time here we have always experienced heavy rain in October and November, as well as sunny days. But this year, and after a searingly hot summer, we have had one downpour and that lasted a couple of hours in the middle of the night. So an unusual year for us, and I am sure the garden and the dams will welcome whatever rainfall we have.

The farce that is the current government continues apace and there is no greater figure of fun and foolishness than Boris Johnson. The damage this buffoon is doing to Britain's reputation abroad is beyond belief. I stare and stare into my crystal ball and still cannot believe that the country will go over the cliff edge (the Prime Minister's expression) of Brexit. One of my cats has just climbed onto the sofa and has been reading this blog. She is slowly shaking her head ... and if she is doing that, what are the people with half a brain cell doing?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Who would have thought it?

There are times when events take place and you look back and just cannot believe they have happened. Stoicism is sometimes not enough and you lie back and think of the consequences, which are still outside of your control.

Events around the world beggar belief, whether it is what is happening in Aleppo to the poor civilians there, to political posturing in the USA, Europe, Russia and myriad other countries too numerous to mention. The self-inflicted wound that is Brexit has still not dawned on the unthinking masses in the UK, and the other 27 nations in Europe harden their attitude towards the British as they ponder how to stop any other countries planning to leave the EU.

Life in Cyprus, and the matters reported in the press, seem less important even though they directly affect us. The Cypriot President and the Turks continue to dance around the main issues which may - and only may - lead to a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Too many vested interests, too many stuffed mattresses, too many with too much to lose, all militate against a solution being found. The Cypriot economy continues to teeter on the verge of bankruptcy and the amateurish musings of the politicians have to be seen to be believed.

Of course we could - self-indulgently - smile and say "This is Cyprus" but I am less inclined to do so as we enter our fifth year here. We both want our new country, where we have our home, to flourish and prosper. And I would love to see the democratic process mature and for those in government to consider the people rather than themselves. But, there again, you could say that for many other countries as well. The UK, for example, is the prime example of a democracy served by politicians whose main priority is "me, myself and I". So where does that leave us now? The sun is shining and I may well go and sit by the pool and think about it ...

Monday, 14 November 2016

Day 16 and counting ...

Well here we are - it's the second half of the match - and we have managed well so far. So I think, barring an absolute disaster, we shall get through our "dry month". There have been one or two times when it was a little difficult - none more so when I was sitting down to watch England v South Africa and Ann said "Do you fancy a beer?" All in good fun but it shows that habit is a real bitch sometime.

As we have observed life in the last couple of weeks, and seen the disturbed Trump elected by the American people, it has given us pause for thought. You can cut yourself off from life here in Cyprus, and thus from the rest of the world, but it will intrude from time to time. Whether Trump is the absolute nightmare his opponents suggest he will be will only become apparent in the next year. Certainly if you live in the USA and come from certain minority groups, then you will have many a sleepless night in the future. That cretin Farage has been sticking his nose in. There was a fabulous cartoon in The Times this morning showing Trump with a puppet Farage on his knee. The puppet was shouting "Don't want to get back in the box!" Priceless.

Late summer continues here in Cyprus and it is gloriously warm during the day. Certainly warm enough to potter about in shorts and t-shirts. One warning sign is the fact that Honey and Jaz have the thickest winter coats ever and have had for a few weeks now. Do they know something we don't? If we had holly bushes to check, then I'd be counting the berries on them.

Friends come and go, and it's intriguing that one couple who came to Ann's birthday lunch on May 12th have not been in touch since. Life is too short to worry about these things but it does make you think. What price true friends?

Since we have been in Cyprus, we have had Christmas at home, we have had a family Christmas at home when Becky S. was staying, we have been out to lunch on Christmas Day with people and this year we have been invited to spend Christmas Day (and stay over) by friends. Whether we shall accept their kind offer, I am not sure. Now if only it would snow ...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Mine's a pint ...

Well we have bitten the bullet and decided to go dry for November, which must be better than trying to grow a moustache. It is easy to slip into the "It's six o'clock in the world somewhere" and you decide to have a cold beer or a glass of wine. Living in the sunshine, for the most part, and being in holiday mode as well (even after four years), can give rise to all sorts of things. And so, at least for the moment, we have decided to eschew alcohol until December. We may, or may not, change our minds but it will be interesting to see how we get on.

The world continues to chew at its own entrails, and the news from almost everywhere can be somewhat depressing. The pound continues its inexorable fall and the British Government seems to have not the faintest idea of how to proceed. When the boss of Nissan knows more about the UK's negotiating position than either the House of Commons or the British people, then something somewhere is very wrong.

Something to be cheerful about last night was the thunder and lightning, and RAIN. I cannot remember when it last rained here but it was, I suspect, in April. It needs to rain for the next couple of months before Cyprus can stop holding its collective breath, as the dams are at an all-time low. The dismantling of the Paphos desalination plant (because of licensing issues) is almost as unbelievable as the way the British Government is handling negotiations with the EU.

It's enough to drive a man, and woman, to drink. Only another twenty-eight days to go ...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Customer Service in Cyprus ...

Lots of positive and negative comments about customer service in Cyprus are appearing on the various forums at the moment. Just to state that, by and large, in our corner here we have fabulous customer service from cheerful and happy staff, from small shops to supermarkets, bars, tavernas and restaurants, garages and all the other people we visit.

Of course there are exceptions. There is a little, fat woman in Papantonious in Polis who works behind the "deli" counter there. She has taken a dislike to us, for whatever reason, and is brusque and offhand. That's okay, until the day I am not feeling charitable and then she may well find the manager there breathing down her neck. It's the same wherever we spend our Euros. If you are offhand, or provide poor service, we shall go elsewhere.

Of course, when you are spending money, people tend to be obliging and friendly. One thing we have learned is that a friendly greeting in Greek will often break the ice and you will be greeted with a lovely smile. Who would have thought it?

We are having a gentle week after Becky S. and Jason returned to the UK, although this did not stop us singing "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay" as we went about pruning trees this morning. The weather is just lovely at the moment - about 27°C during the day and cool in the evening. We just love it here. Can't you tell?

Friday, 14 October 2016

A Mexican Standoff?

Well here we are in the middle of what is a Mexican Standoff and everyone is watching to see who will blink first. "Who are you talking about?" you may well ask.

Well I thought it would be obvious but it is the politicians in the UK and the EU, both posturing and making veiled threats and believing that life in Cloud Cuckoo Land is reality. As the UK gets poorer and poorer by the minute, although people in the UK have not yet been hit by higher prices and probably won't until after the New Year, the politicians on both sides of the divide stare into the mirror and look at the dire consequences of what they have unleashed. Will they step back from the brink? Not a chance. The economic consequences of leaving the EU will haunt the UK for generations to come, and I suspect the government know this. Brave words from the unthinking Boris Johnson and the other two clowns supposedly in charge of negotiations with the EU disappear into the ether, which is where all hot air ends up.

And so I try to work out why these people will not admit they are wrong, and change course. There could be a second referendum (and wouldn't that be a bloody affair), or the UK Parliament should do what an elected democratic institution should do and debate and vote on the matter. Or they could call a General Election and people could decide what they wanted their government to do. Will they? Not a chance in hell. And, I hear you cry, "WHY NOT?" And the answer is simple. Government is about politics and economics, and the advancement of self, and to admit they have got it wrong is to lose political face.

And the mad dash to poverty and irrelevance will continue because these nose-in-the-trough politicians will do what they think is best. Not for the country and its people, but for themselves. And so, in the dark hours before dawn, they may get up and look in the mirror. What do they see? The truth and they will ignore it. If they can't get back to sleep, what better thing to do than fill in a few expense claims to ensure that the rising costs in the country do not affect them. After all, what is a decent chap to do?

Friday, 7 October 2016

Old age is ...

After a long search I found that a dear friend, Paul Noon, with whom I lost contact in 2011, (damn ex-directory numbers), died later that year. I have been trying to contact him for years but could never  find out what the situation was.

Paul was one of my two best friends, and we had met in 1976, and been firm friends for years and years. I am the godfather of his son, John-Paul Noon, and was a great friend with his former wife, Viv. When he married Gill, I was there and she became a great friend as well. She died of cancer in the early years of this century at a tragically young age, and Ann and I took Paul back to stay with us after the funeral.

I know that shit happens, but his life over the succeeding years was sad. Always a great visitor to the local pub, he was told by his doctors that drink would kill him and he became something of a recluse. Ann and I moved away from the area, and I could not contact him. When we emigrated to Cyprus, we could not get in touch.

A moment of inspiration led me to the Thanet District Council crematorium service, who offer a free service to find those who have been buried or cremated in Thanet. Today I finally heard that my dear friend had died seven years ago. What a desperate situation. I suspect he gave up on life after the death of his wife, Gill, and ...

Life can be bloody awful sometimes and this is one of those times ...