Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – “Finale” by Ken Dunn

It’s been a funny old year, not without fairly heavy dollops of relentless reports of doom and gloom but a few incidents in the TRNC have lightened the mood, at least for me.

You may remember an article in ‘Cyprus Today’, months ago, about the American University dumping clapped out buses. Nothing particularly unusual in that as most of the population tend to dump just about everything with gay abandon but what made me smile was the photograph in the paper of these single-decker hulks and the destination panel at the front of one of them. Being a Geordie I was intrigued to see that it had ‘Newcastle’ on it! Was that where it came from or was that where it was going as a special export offer?

Not wanting to bother about a satellite set up we decided to buy a simple set-top box which would give us, without any further monthly payments, contact with the outside universe, just to make sure we could be up to speed with the misery of Europe which still grinds on. Well, that worked out fine. 50 quid with a sensible sized dish and installed in less than half an hour we now have about 750 channels to choose from. The only drawback is that 740 of them are in Arabic, Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Libyan, Algerian, with the bonus of Moroccan and a few other completely unidentifiable languages together with a high number of clerics of the Moslem variety being extremely ‘urgent’ about… well, something. But at least we are able to receive BBC World, Aljazeera, is that how you spell it, a few other English/American news broadcasts and a sprinkling of movie stations.

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Finding any one of them who was broadcasting Wimbledon was a challenge! But I did find one. I think it was, as I scrolled down through the list, number 680 which gave us live coverage, albeit in Arabic! Quite entertaining.

I found out this year that the call to prayer every day, 5 times, was actually being broadcast from Lefkosa and is on a CD! Now that’s cheating as far as I’m concerned.

But good old Mehmet, the Tomorrow Man, he of the local Yapi market, cheered me up as he always does. On asking for some plastic edgeing for a kitchen top brought the usual, ‘It come tomorrow’ answer. Ten days later the stuff arrived but was the wrong colour. I think that might run as they say for a while longer until the right stuff arrives…. Maybe? During these visits the same mayhem continued with lots of locals in the place and Mehmet under pressure, as usual.

Two of the locals were pushing their luck as Mehmet was trying to cope and, again, he lost it, slammed down the phone – only using one this time – and pointed a trembling finger at them just said, rather loudly, ‘Fxxk off! Just fxxk off!’ Slightly taken aback they turned to go but Mehmet shouted at them, pointing again, ‘No not you, HIM!’

A few days later I needed a replacement plastic section of plumbing but he didn’t have one and, bless him, admitted he didn’t know where to get something like that. One of the locals, overhearing this suggested a way round my problem.

‘To connect one pipe to other use blow torch, heat ends up, squash together, job done.’

‘Will that work?’ I asked.

‘Is Turkish way!’ was the answer.

Mehmet pulled a face, a slight shake of the head and beckoned me to follow. He had an idea that something else might do. He took me into the depths of the shop and showed me a peculiar pipe, approximately the same diameter as the piece I needed to replace.

‘That might work’, he said and left me with a hack saw to cut a couple of feet from the stuff. One of the locals had wandered in behind us, grazing through the shelves but as Mehmet walked off, back to the counter, he let fly the most spectacular fart I’ve had the unfortunate luck to experience for quite some time. The local standing between us had a horrified expression on his face and simply pointed his finger at himself and shook his head vigorously, obviously conveying, ‘NOT ME! NOT ME!’

Now, rather than being shocked, stunned or even outraged I was greatly heartened by this event simply because it is a well known fact that when someone can fart openly in front of you know that the ‘offender’ is a true friend. So, thank you Mehmet we now have a much more substantial relationship with each other than ever before. That is further underlined by the simple fact that he didn’t charge me for the potential replacement. I also have to say that it worked and solve the problem superbly.

Well, there have been other daft situations this year but I’m going to save them until another time. Sadly, I won’t be able to bore you rigid with more stories for a while as pressure of other work, writing, illustrations, – for real money – will not allow me the time for my twice weekly missives. The cartoons will still be there and I’ll try to lob in the occasional article from time to time.

Until then I wish all of you a very happy, merry everything!!

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