By Kathy Martin…
Written January 2015
There has been a lot of harrumphing among the (British) Ex-pats living here who are in receipt of the UK state pension winter fuel allowance. The reason for the harrumphing is that the British government is considering withdrawing payment of the fuel allowance to pensioners who live in “hot” countries such as Cyprus!
When I became eligible for my UK state pension a few years ago, I found that I wasn’t eligible to receive this allowance, so I don’t have an axe to grind, nor, (if I want to lie through my teeth), do I want to go against popular opinion.
Popular opinion is that it does get cold here in winter; when there is “always” snow on the Troodos and Toros Mountains, and (somewhat occasionally) the Kyrenia mountain range which causes an extremely cold wind-chill factor. Yes, that is true, but how often has anyone living in the towns here been obliged to scrape ice off a car windscreen?
In addition, of course, most of the modern houses and apartments here don’t have the traditional thick walls that insulate against both cold and hot weather.
I understand the winter fuel allowance is also paid to those living in the UK who are claiming benefits, such as, Job Seekers Allowance, I think that the allowance is funded by the British taxpayers, unlike the contributions based state pension.
As such, don’t they have a right to expect that their money is ploughed back into the local economy by way of the British energy suppliers?
Although this winter (our 9th in the TRNC) seems (so far) to have been the coldest that we remember, we have, as during most winters been able to sit outside (albeit occasionally nestled inside jerseys etc) on many occasions at lunchtime enjoying the sun!
While I, personally, have no loyalty to Britain, I believe that the British government and (especially) taxpayer need not pay the winter fuel allowance to pensioners living here.
However and here is a thought, wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Britain to pay a “summer fuel allowance” to contribute towards the costs of running air-conditioners and/or swimming pools during our long, hot summers?
Written February 2015
People who know us and also my regular readers will know that our favourite radio station is Radio Bayrak. Although the majority of broadcasts (in English) are made by full-time presenters and DJ’s, an Ex-pat, DJ Max, hosted a pre-recorded hour-long easy listening music programme “Soul Train” on Saturday mornings.
Sadly, Max, who had been suffering from cancer for a while, died on Wednesday 28th January 2015. His last recorded programme (coincidentally his 250th) was broadcast on Saturday 31st January. Unless someone has very big shoes to fill the hole, our anticipation of, and enjoyment of, our Saturday morning listening will be greatly diminished, rest in peace Max.
I remember Spike Milligan writing in (I think) one of his “war memoir” books “nothing happened, but it happened suddenly”!
Let me explain what prompted this memory………
On 24th January a man died from septicaemia some time after having been bitten by a stray/feral dog, which has apparently since been identified. As a human-being has died, and a family lost its “alpha male”, all right-minded people (and, for once, I include myself in this category!) could expect all relevant departments and organisations to swing promptly into action to prevent this tragedy from being repeated.
According to the local press, the police say that, under the (2014) Animal Welfare Law the responsibility to shelter and care for stray animals belongs to the local government Belediye (Municipality).
However, the Belediye inspector has said that the local authority doesn’t have shelters for stray animals, but are (still? my question) waiting for the national government to give land so that shelters can be built.
Meanwhile, he is advising people to contact the State Veterinary Office.
The State Veterinary Office doesn’t have places to keep stray animals, but apparently does have the right to put a dog “down”, if it has bitten someone and, therefore, is regarded as dangerous.
A spokesperson has said that liaisons will start “next week” (I presume the week starting Monday 9th February 2015) between the State Veterinary Office and the Lapta Belediye/Municipality
While this is (or may not be!) all well and good, imagine the outcry if a known and accessible human had been allowed to wander about freely in a locality for over two weeks after killing another human purely because the law was confusing, or everybody was too politically apathetic or lethargic to take any responsibility or action!
Although the victim in this particular case was a resident Ex-pat, his nationality and social standing should not have made a difference.
However, the cynic in me makes me wonder if he were a Turkish-Cypriot member of a financially wealthy and/or (especially) politically influential family would the reactions and responses from the police and Belediye have been the same?
My attention was caught by a recent article and leader comment in the (UK) newspaper the “Daily Mail” that a friend of ours passes on to us.
Rather like that hackneyed saying “but hey, this is Cyprus”, some of the (to my mind) flawed logic and reasoning makes me want to display my open palms, shrug my shoulders and say “but hey, this is Britain”!
The topic of the article and leader comment was the British parliament’s (at the House of Commons .level) attempt to de-criminalise the failure to have a television licence (payable to the BBC) to own a television set, even if the viewer only watched “commercial” channels!
Although, seemingly no longer required, owners of “wireless” sets in Britain needed to purchase a (BBC) licence since shortly after the inauguration of BBC radio programmes in the 1920’s to finance its service.
Since 1st June 1946 (goodness I didn’t realise that it was so long ago!) television set owners were required to have a (BBC) licence. This requirement continued even after the “commercial” company (ITV) started broadcasting in 1955.
This meant that ITV viewers (who had “wavy line” aerials on their roofs) still had to pay the BBC the cost of a licence, despite BBC programmes only being receivable at houses with an “H” aerial! This practice (backed by the British government) is tantamount to people living here being unable to see a film at a Galleria cinema, until they had also bought a ticket for a Lemar Complex show!
The British parliament did not intend to ignore the “offence”, simply to move it from the criminal list to the civil list. As such, an offender would not automatically gain a criminal record, but would still be fined (but not jailed)!
Also, as apparently, something like 10% of cases heard in the magistrates courts are “failure to have a TV licence”, the processing of genuinely serious criminal offences would be speeded up, which would certainly benefit all involved!
However, the pooh-bahs in the House of Lords, led by Lord Grade (chairman of the BBC until 2006), spluttered into their whisky and sodas, and cried out “good heavens Caruthers, this will mean the end of civilisation as we know it”!
Lord Grade is quoted as muttering that there are “dark forces at work” and fearing that the BBC won’t be able to “make ends meet”, Lord Grade and his cronies have, apparently, been able to delay any change to the legislation until April 2017, more than two years away!
Incidentally, a thought passed through my little brain after pausing long enough for me to write this paragraph.
Why the House of Lords is called the House of “Lords”?
OK, I know that it is the “upper” house of the British parliament where both the hereditary and “life” lords can shelter, when it is too rainy to go out to massacre birds, animals in the most sporting fashion, but there are also “ladies” who sit there.
Why, in a politically correct Britain, hasn’t an active feminist demanded that it is re-named the “House of Lords and Ladies”? Perhaps, in the interests of brevity it could be called the “House of the Nobility”?