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 ...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Terracotta Paint and "New Magnolia" ...

The repair and repainting of the outside of our house continues apace. The hoped-for deadline at the end of the week is apparently still on track as Becky S. and Jason arrive for a holiday on Saturday. Sunday sees the fourth anniversary of our arrival in Cyprus and, my goodness, doesn't time fly? It seems only yesterday that we moved into his house, whereas it is over three years ago.

We are all geared up for the arrival of Becky S. and Jason on Saturday and I think my previous posts on this blog will have alerted local followers that Argaka and Polis will definitely be the place to be for the next week.

The pound continues to fall and it is just about at the level that it was when we arrived in Cyprus. Everyone is feeling the pinch and thinking back to the halcyon days when the exchange rate reached the hallowed level of £1.00 >€1.42 a few months ago. As this is all outside of our control there is little point in worrying about it, although we do have a moan about it from time to time. The UK's decision to leave the EU reminds me of a scene in a comedy western years and years ago when the gunfighter drew both of his pistols and managed to shoot himself in both feet at the same time.

We have not seen many expats recently to hear what they have to say about this parlous state of affairs but it is something that people hoping to follow in our footsteps should bear in mind. Forget about the exchange rate as it was, is, or might be, and just work out your cost of living as if the pound was the same as the euro. If the exchange rate is better than that, you can celebrate with the rest of us. If it ever falls below parity, then we are all doomed.

The chasm that the UK is looking into is ghastly in the extreme, and if the economy does indeed crash ... well we all know who to blame. What is galling is the fact that it is self-inflicted. My own forecast about the whole mess is that the government will end up having to call a General Election in the next twelve months and the battleground will be whether to finally leave the EU or not. Of course if Article 50 is invoked, then the EU will have us by the gonads and negotiation will be more like a surrender. You read it here first.

Someone we were discussing life in Cyprus with did point that out that it is better to be poor in Cyprus than poor, wet and cold in the the UK. But our glass is always half-full and Monty Python's "Always look on the bright side of life" springs to mind, although we should remember that the people singing that were in the middle of being crucified ...