Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Would you buy a second-hand car from ...

Would you buy a second-hand car from any of the self-serving, venal politicians who are now free to strut upon the stage for the next few weeks? I think I would prefer to walk. I don't know whether distance lends disenchantment to the view but the whole sordid mess of UK politics leaves me feeling distinctly nauseous. I wonder whether some of the principled politicians of old, on both sides of the political spectrum, are metaphorically turning in their graves.

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband all seem cast out of the same, loathsome mould - and as far as Farage and that b****y woman in Scotland are concerned, words fail me. They rant and backstab, and threaten and promise and lie ... whatever happened to principles and judgement? And as for the neutral, unbiased coverage from the BBC, it leans so far to the left that I wonder whether the emperor was wearing clothes.

A sorry mess, especially seen from afar. Cyprus, and we are once again removed from the politics of the island as we cannot vote, is a cesspit and has been for years. Their excuse is, of course, that they are an incredibly young democracy, and in the grip of the unions. I suspect that the Cypriot equivalent of Margaret Thatcher is unlikely to come galloping to the rescue and that this lovely place will always have its warts on show. But, for the life of me, I know which country I prefer.

Socks and sweaters are just about banished to the back of the wardrobe and - with the sun on my back - I can almost put up with anything. We might well be in the market for a new television as it is "impossible to call" which of us will put our boot through the screen in the weeks leading up to the General Election. I suppose the obvious answer is to stop watching the BBC News.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

May you live in interesting times.

Some things never change and one of those is our habit in listening to "Sounds of the 60s" on Saturday morning on BBC Radio 2. We have listened to this homage to the great decade of pop music  ever since we met, and only rugby, cricket and Formula 1 get in the way. This morning, with the Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying session beginning half way through the "Sounds of the 60s", will break that tradition but not catastrophically so.

A dour week with the German air disaster and all the "revelations" that have been made in the media since. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the dead, and I cannot imagine what the parents of the co-pilot must be feeling.

The General Election campaign in the UK plods along, and it is certainly turning out to be a dirty campaign. Whether it is the thought of the dodgy dealings that UKIP and the SNP might get up to, if they are successful, and the sheer terror that the Tories and the Socialists might be feeling as the cosy status quo is overturned, but this is certainly a campaign that appears to not be very honourable. The sound of skeletons in the cupboard being "discovered" and dragged out into the public domain is deafening. No doubt there will be further "revelations" and probably many more newspaper stings "all in the public interest". And my, how the neutrality of the BBC has evaporated. All the closet socialists are rubbing their hands with joy at the probable demise of David Cameron and the Tories. Nobody seems to care about the Liberal Democrats (and I can be counted amongst that number).

As the Chinese curse has it, "May you live in interesting times."

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Total self-indulgence

Today had to arrive eventually - the final day of this year's Six Nations' Championship. Three matches in a row, with England v France the climax (and let's hope not the anti-climax) tonight at 19.00, as long as our Coptic storm does not lead to a power cut.

Quick shopping expedition to Papantonios to buy "snacky things" to nibble on, with no doubt a pizza to munch on as hunger takes over in the middle of the evening. Keo and other supplies already in hand, and so all those little jobs will need to be completed before 14.10 this afternoon. With the possibility of three (outside chance of four) teams being able to win the championship it will be an exhilarating and nail-biting day. If Wales manage to beat Italy by a lot, and Ireland win in Scotland (probably not by quite a lot, if at all) then the Twickenham match may see England having to absolutely stuff the French. Not an easy task, especially as all the pundits seem to think it will all happen in the last twenty minutes.

Our garden furniture did not end up in the pool (yet) thanks to some preventative measures by Ann yesterday but the wind is howling around the house, and no doubt everything will have a covering of sand tomorrow. But with fine weather forecast for next week, at least the operation to clean up will be able to be done in shorts.

At some stage soon I shall have to venture to Paphos to take some photographs of the doorways of various buildings to place in my ebook, the most pressing of which is to show exactly how to get to the Alien and Immigration department. It took us ages to find and the first thing we suggest to new arrivals is a drive into Paphos to show the hidden doorway. Dave and Pam showed us, and we showed David and Letitia, and no doubt they will show the next new arrivals. But the ebook will ensure that it is plain sailing for others.

Ann and I were sitting having an early afternoon drink in Polis yesterday when we spotted our friend Dave, being dropped off by Pam, on his way to the doctor's. We spoke afterwards and my goodness he looked frail and tired. His shingles has come back with a vengeance (at least that's what I assume) and Pam had had to make an early return from the UK to look after him. What an absolute horrible state of affairs, if you don't shake it off in the first couple of months. Dave has been suffering for well over a year now, with no end in sight. I tease him about not taking the painkillers regularly, but my heart went out to him yesterday. He has lost weight and seemed to be shuffling, rather than walking. We have offered our help but the situation is not good. Here's hoping for a swift recovery for a man who has been so helpful to us in the last two and a half years.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Guacamole, Taramas and ... Keo

They say Cyprus isn't just sun, sea, sand and any other word beginning with "S" but Monday afternoon was idyllic. Ann had made some Guacamole and Taramas, and this combined with some popadums - and a couple of bottles of cold Keo - sitting by the pool under blue skies and a hot sun - absolute bliss.

One of the things we realised fairly early on in our retirement here was that we would do what we wanted when we wanted. And that is just what we did.

Roll on Saturday and hopefully an England Six Nations' Championship ...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The UK ... Quo vadis?

It is sometimes difficult to know where my place of birth is going, especially when viewed from two thousand miles away. Whilst we are now legal residents of Cyprus, and don't regret that for a moment, Ann and I take a close interest in what is happening back there. But the are times when words fail me and - to be brutally honest - if I hadn't emigrated, then I would be seriously considering it.

Politics has always been an interest of mine, and the current crop of self-serving "nose in the trough" breed of career politicians of all parties leaves me wondering whether - if still resident in the UK - for the first time in my adult life I would not vote. Even more significantly I can honestly say I would not know who to vote for.

I have always voted for the same party and, like a lot of people, that was down to upbringing and self-interest. Of course I always considered what was best for the country but it had to coincide with my own interest. Having spent most of my career teaching in independent schools, that meant that I could never have voted for the Socialists whose avowed intention was to abolish them. That would have been akin to turkeys voting for Christmas. The bearded sandal-wearing brigade never seemed to have a policy worthy of the name, and the "fringe parties" promised a wasted vote.

With the rise of UKIP, although a joke party in many ways, the complete demise of the Liberal Democrats (almost sure to disappear without trace this May) and with Labour's meltdown in Scotland, the prospect of a hung parliament is very real. Very few people will forget the thirteen years of Labour's borrow and spend, which left the UK in dire financial peril, but - to be brutally honest - the Tories have managed to alienate whole swathes of the population. So, if I was back in sunny Bexhill, for the first time in my life, I would be looking for the option on the ballot paper to vote for "None of the Above."

We are still entitled, in theory, to vote in the 2015 General Election. But the postal vote is seemingly biased against expat voters, and with the postal service in Cyprus as it is, our postal votes would never reach us and be able to be returned in time. Of course, as expats, we are concerned with the economy of the UK, and would hate to see the current strength of the pound against the euro reverse (self-interest again), but that is outside of our control. The debate about the Winter Fuel Allowance seems to have been decided and Ann will lose her allowance next year, unless the much-maligned EU steps in.

So UK where will you be this time next year? We care but cannot do anything about it.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The early bird catches ...

Brilliant deal on six chairs and super table ... don't prevaricate and get on the 'phone. Picking them up tomorrow and then all set for entertaining this Spring and Summer and Autumn. Lovely people who were as good as their word ... Ann delighted and I am "quite pleased".

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

New beginnings

I don't know whether this is being mirrored across the island but Polis was a hive of activity yesterday. We were sitting in Saddles and all around us there was beginning of season activity. A number of the bars and restaurants were replacing old furniture and there was evidence of refitting and cleaning, all wrapped up with a sense of optimism. With the weather changing today (the sun has got its hat on), it is feeling rather special here.

Of course there are far more important things going on in the world than our little backwater getting a facelift. The news reflects all that is bad in the world, and 2015 does seem to have all the makings of an annus horriblis. Whether murder in the UK, terrorist atrocities across the Middle East and a seeming return to the Cold War, it can be a chastening experience to read a newspaper or watch the television news. There is nothing any of us can do to stop these terrible events but it certainly leaves a hollow feeling in the stomach.

Becky S. seems to be settling back in the UK and hopefully will find a permanent roof over her head soon. The wheels certainly do grind exceedingly slowly, especially when you are waiting for news. One positive piece of news was that her dead laptop has been resuscitated by the simple matter of replacing the power cable.

So, all in all, we can only hope for better news in the future. Perhaps the madmen in the Middle East and in the former Soviet Union can be brought to book, but I am not holding my breath. Ever onwards and upwards ...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Only another 364 days until ...

What a birthday celebration ... at home, with friends, and an epic curry from my darling wife. There are times when I don't appreciate how lucky I am, and how lucky Ann and I are. I must admit I have had some lovely birthdays in the last twelve years and this was one of them. And the best news is that Ann's curry will stretch to tonight and - if I am very good - some of her homemade guacamole.

The weather is warming up and we are looking forward to banishing shoes, socks, long trousers, sweaters and jackets to the wardrobe until the end of October. The beachcomber look is bound to be all the rage in Polis this year.

Sad to see the French beaten yesterday (how can a team with so many talented players be so badly coached by ex-players who were so exciting and adventurous in their day?) by the Welsh. I never like to see the Welsh win (like many Englishman I am still bruised by memories of the 1970s). Great for the Italians that they recorded another victory in the Six Nations, and - for the perfect weekend - an English victory in Dublin.

English cricket ... words fail me ... try picking the best eleven players without politics in the background.