Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (24)
By Kathy Martin…
Written July 2014
This issue will be published on Thursday 24th July 2014, and the Ramazan Bayramı Arifesi. Eve of the Feast of the Şeker (Sugar) Bayram is the 27th July. I want to wish all Muslim/Islamic staff and readers “Bayramınız Kutlu” or “Mübarek Olsun”! I think that either or both mean “May Your Feast Be Blessed”! If I am wrong, please allow me to fall back on the standard greeting “Îyi Bayramlar” (Happy Holiday)!
We will have our usual bowl of sweets (Şeker) to offer the “little people”, who have visited us during the Şeker Bayrams, since we occupied our flat some 6 years ago.
We have always been impressed with the courtesy and respect that we have been shown by the village children. Only on one occasion did a child take a very large handful of sweets, but he was (literally!) “growled” at by his friends until he opened his fist and took only two, which all the others had done!
Many of the children have also honoured us with the traditional gesture of respect. For readers who are unfamiliar with this Turkish ceremony, it is when a youngster takes an elder’s hand, kisses the back of it and then presses it to his (or her) own forehead in order that knowledge and wisdom can be transferred! It is a heart-warming gesture, which we have both experienced!
Summer has arrived here in sunny Kibris, and, as a result, is extremely hot during both the day and night! My brain (or what is left of it!) seems to have melted into a small pile of inactive goo.
I am reminded of a verse in that popular satirical song of the late sixties, or early seventies; “It’s Good News Week”. The words are something like “Science is finding many ways/Of wrapping brains in metal trays/To keep us from the heat/To keep us from the heat/It’s good news week”!
While it is tempting (for me) to say at this point “more next week folks”, there are a number of items, both in real life and the news that have caught my attention.
Firstly, the increased amount of building work that is happening in our locality, and, possibly, throughout Kibris. For years we have travelled along the “sea” road between where we live on the eastern border of Girne and the Happy Valley in Çatalköy.
We shop in the independent supermarkets (two other supermarkets belong to “chains”, so we ignore them, preferring to support local businesses) situated along this road and end up meeting some of our Ex-pat and Turkish-Cypriot friends in the Happy Valley for mid-day refreshments and a chinwag.
Should the politicians and lawyers from both sides of the Green Line care to stop for half an hour or so at our table on (say) a Monday, by mid-day Tuesday the entire “Cyprus problem” will be history and everyone (especially the Turkish-Cypriots!) on the island will have “happy” faces!
However, to get back to the building and construction work, if currently there are 100 shops along the approximately 5 kilometre stretch of road, 50 are yet to be occupied! I don’t know how many shops there are, but the proportion of only 50% occupied is probably not far from reality.
Despite this, yet more shops are being built! Who is paying for the land, materials and wages of the builders? Friends who were fortunate to have been living in Kibris in 2004 while the Anan plan was being proposed said that there was a similar building and construction flurry then. (This was written in July 2014 and still in 2016 more shops are being built!)
However, my personal opinion is that both the Ministers of Employment and Finance are behind it all. In a few weeks time the entire (ex) staff of the defunct national airline, CTA/KTHY who seem to believe that the world owes them a living, will be told that the government (well, really the tax-payer!) will continue to pay them for doing nothing only if they can find either a dodo or a blade of grass in Kibris!
Legislation has recently been introduced designed to ease traffic congestion during “rush” hour periods. Under this legislation Lorries and other “heavy” vehicles will only be able to use the roads outside these periods. Apparently the police will be able to issue “spot” fines, so perhaps the government has learnt from previous ineffective or cumbersome legislative procedures in enforcing “seat belt” and “crash helmet” laws.
Usually I strongly support any attempt to ease traffic congestion and/or improve road safety, but I wonder at the practicalities involved in this legislation. For instance, will the ferry companies have to re-schedule the arrival or departure times of their ships?
Parking on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway for an hour or so may be practical, but what happens if the lorry is on a narrow road in a town or the country at the “witching hour”? Will the lorry driver be allowed time to find a place to park his lorry or will his lorry simply completely block the road during the “rush” hour?
The bulk of our imports come from mainland Turkey, the Middle East and Europe, so how will this law be advertised to lorry drivers from these areas? I wonder if this law will be a success or failure?
Let’s go back a hundred years
Popular British history states that the First “World War” began at 23.00 (11pm) British time on 4th August 1914, in other words, a hundred years ago. Taking a risk, by going against popular opinion, I refute that.
Yes, Germany’s failure to respond to Britain’s demand that Germany recognised Belgium’s neutrality may have been the beginning of the end (or even the end of the beginning!), but at that time and date, the “world” was not involved!
At this time the situation in Cyprus was rather complex, wow, some things don’t change do they?! After the Congress of Berlin, in 1878, Britain leased Cyprus from the Ottoman Empire on a de Facto basis. However, as far as the legal administration was concerned, Britain allowed the Ottomans de Jure powers over the island. When the Ottomans allied themselves with Germany and Austria, Britain simply “annexed” Cyprus on 5th November 1914!
A state of war existed between Britain (and bound by treaty, allies France and Belgium) and Germany.
Italy didn’t enter the war until May 22nd 1915.
America (USA) entered in April 1917.
Greece waited until July 1917 before declaring war on Germany!
However, the prize for impeccable timing must go to Romania, who declared war on Germany on 10th November 1918, ONE day before the armistice was declared!
Andorra, with about ten soldiers in an army that solely performed ceremonial duties on national holidays, was one of countries that declared war against Imperial Germany in 1914.
However, none of her diplomats or nobility were invited to the 1919 “Peace Conference” at Versailles. Therefore, she was not included in the list of countries to which Germany surrendered.
As such, the Hitlerite Third Reich must have been somewhat bemused to receive a message on 25th September 1939, some 2 weeks after the start of the Second World War.
The message was worded something along the lines that “we (Andorra) have been at war with Imperial Germany for the last 35 years. However, if you sign on the bottom line, we will accept your surrender!”
Interestingly, the armistice was signed at 05.00 on 11th November 1918, but wasn’t declared until 11.00, some six hours (a quarter of a day) later!
Calculating the total number of military deaths against the number of days that World War One lasted, the average daily death rate (not including the wounded!) is in the region of 6,000!
So well done to that chinless wonder, who thought it would be a really excellent jape to end the war “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day….” statistically you condemned a further 1,500 people to death!