Cyprus – English Fatigue?

cyprus-map-political

I spend a fair amount of time in Cyprus.

My parents retired here and I lived here for a while.

I have a holiday home not far from Limassol.

It’s beautiful. It’s hot and sunny.

Cyprus, island of Aphrodite, sits in the eastern Mediterranean, not far from the coast of Lebanon. As islands go, it has seen more than its fair share of turbulence and invasion.

For many years it was a part of the Ottoman empire and laterly was a Crown colony of the United Kingdom. In 1960 it became an independent republic.

Recent history is complicated – Greek Cypriots in the 1950s were fighting for ‘Enosis’ –  union with Greece.

Instead, they got an independent republic, where ethnic Turkish Cypriots had protected rights.

The Republic never really worked and in 1974, the Greek Cypriots staged a military coup (egged on by the Junta in control of Greece) with an eye to achieving Enosis.

Turkey resisted this with an old fashioned, but effective counter.

Paratroopers.

The island was partitioned and remains so to this day.

The above is a gross over-simplification, I am no historian.

There is a fascinating book called the Cyprus Conspiracy by Brendan O’Malley that does a good job of shedding some light on a dark corner of geo-politics. Well worth a read.

The United Kingdom, throughout all of this upheaval, has largely managed to maintain a strong relationship with the part of the island that was not occupied by Turkey.

The Royal Air Force has an airfield here and there are several other UK military installations on the island.

Cyprus is reliant on tourism and the lion’s share of visitors have always been British.

Certainly, one would never struggle to find an English Breakfast on the coast.

While I would not necessarily see the ubiquitous availability of an English breakfast as a positive, there can be no denying that the universal use of English and affinity with the British does make Cyprus ‘easy’ to work for the Brits.

This affinity, together with the tourist industry and turnover of military personnel means that thousands of UK citizens make Cyprus their home in retirement.

Greek is a tough language, and the British are notoriously bad at learning languages anyway.

In Cyprus, this never mattered. Cypriots speak excellent English and many have attended university in the UK or the USA.

Over the last couple of years though, I have noticed a trend.

A sort of militant “Greek only” trend.

In equipping the holiday home, I have visited that famous Swedish furniture giant – Ikea. As Cyprus is a small island, rather than invest directly, multinational firms tend to grant franchises. Ikea is no exception.

Everything in Ikea – from the labels on the goods, to the leaflets, to the signs on the door is in Greek and only Greek.

I have never seen that in Cyprus before.

Adjoining the Ikea store is a shopping mall. The mall has a food court where can be found the usual fast food suspects.

There is also a fast food version of more traditional Cypriot food.

Again – all of the signage was in Greek only.

A reasonable percentage of consumers in Cyprus will speak little or no Greek. Tourists generally don’t, and many expats don’t either.

Therefore this policy has a cost to the business.

Perhaps I am reading too much into it – but there seems a sort of militance to it – an intentional statement.

I am not sure why it should be happening and whether it might have a broader connotation.

 

Immigration. Stop it. Now

immigrants

Stop spouting uninformed nonsense about immigration and immigrants.

I posted about this before.

I am prompted to do so again by the horrific images currently all over the media.

A school of thought is emerging that we have an obligation towards refugees but that economic migrants are a major problem.

I don’t want to pontificate, so I will limit myself to a story or two.

I married the daughter of two immigrants. Economic migrants in fact. In post-war Sicily, there simply was no work.

My father-in-law packed a bag and worked in Germany, Switzerland and Glasgow before settling in London and becoming a postman. Hardly the Cosa Nostra is it?

Once he had saved enough money to buy a house, he brought his wife and three daughters over. His wife and ultimately daughters got work in the local hospital.

My wife came along in London as a little surprise. Testament to the poor quality of British television in the sixties perhaps.

Margaret got a university degree and has never been without work.

Britain has done well out of these particular economic migrants.

I even got a wife out of the deal, which I’m very pleased about.

This year, my wife’s cousin has made the move from Sicily. In post-crisis Sicily, there is simply no work.

My cousin-in-law packed his bag, come to London and become a bus driver. He is hoping to soon have enough money to bring his wife and child over.

The parallels are obvious.

On the phone the other day, my cousin asked my wife why no English people drove buses in London.

All of his colleagues are immigrants. All of them.

I daresay that some would say that all the bus driver jobs are taken by immigrants.

For this to be true, I would need to believe that the major bus companies are intentionally filtering out indigenous English people at interview stage.

I really can’t see why this would be.

We might speculate why immigrants are that much more successful in becoming bus drivers than the indigenous population.

We might wish to look at motivations of employers and applicants.

Anecdotally, an employer might tell you that an immigrant is more likely to be flexible, and to find a way to work.

There are good people of all colours, creeds and nationalities. There are bad ones too.

That a man (or woman) wants to build a good life for his family is to be admired, not feared.

We must stop demonising immigration and immigrants.

V is for Vanity

From the Oxford Dictionary

Excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements: e.g. ‘it flattered his vanity to think I was in love with him’

1529

 

He certainly had a way with words didn’t he?

Are we living in the Age of Vanity?

An age where people ‘share their status’ – through a variety of media.

People seem much keener to tell the world that they are shopping in Harrods than they are to let us know that they have gone to the corner shop to buy milk.

Judging by Facebook, the world is a place where everyone is fabulously wealthy, taking exotic holidays and drinking only the finest Champagne. And their children? Oh don’t get me started on that…

“Vanity asks the question: Is it popular?”

I am a writer. I want people to read my words. Ultimately, I want people to pay to read my words. Vanity is an essential driver.

In the new world of publishing, I am expected to ‘build my following’, to attract followers on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. I am not even sure that I understand Instagram! (Nevertheless – I can be found on all of those channels and more, feel free to follow me.) I am expected to persuade you good people to subscribe to my blog.

In the age of vanity, the more popular that I can demonstrate I am, the better support I would get from a publisher.

This is just business sense I guess; but it does seem a little backwards.

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E for Election

 

In the UK, it is that time again.

Next month the country will elect a new government for the next five years or so.

Between now and polling day, we will be subjected to an enormous amount of posing, pontificating and promises.

Someone, somewhere has decreed that the ‘big’ issue is immigration.

The thesis is that Britons are tired of foreigners coming into the UK, claiming benefits, exhausting public resources, taking over communities and thereby worsening the lives of those people already here.

A variation on the theme is that the foreigners are stealing the jobs of the poor hard-working Brit.

Parties all the way along the political spectrum are offering solutions to this problem.

What utter nonsense.

In the UK we are lucky enough to live in a country where on one street we can eat the finest examples of cuisine from every continent.

Our universities are crammed full of bright and enquiring minds from every corner of the earth.

The very name of the place should give it away – ‘The United Kingdom”. It has always been our way to embrace multiple cultures, nations and races. The diversity of the population has always been what has made this country so vibrant and exciting to live in.

There is competition for work. There is strain on limited resources. This country, like any country, faces problems. Immigration is not one of them.

While the politicians tilt at windmills, pose for the cameras and pursue the perfect populist sound bite, they neglect the work that needs to be done to make things better.

There’s only one thing for it.

We will have to bring some immigrants in to do the job.

It is the British way.

 

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