The first thing I see each morning when I open my eyes is this painting by my son-in-law of Pissouri Beach in Cyprus. I have chosen today a striped scarf which echoes the colours of the painting. It is silk and is probably from India.
The first time I visited Cyprus was with my husband. It was a return visit for him as he had been stationed there as a young airman when Cyprus was not a divided country. On our visit, it was a tourist attraction to go to the top of a department store in the Greek part of Nicosia to look at the poorer Turkish Cyprus over the guarded border. It reminded me of being in West Berlin when there were viewing towers to look over the Wall at the East. Even these borders would be meaningless today with the Covid enemy which attacks mankind irrespective of religion, colour, politics or social standing. Our local friends, a German girl I used to work with and her English husband, showed us around, eating at their favourite tavernas which we would not have found on our own, even encouraging me to buy an orange tree! Roots stripped of soil, washed and then wrapped in one of our host’s dampened T-shirts, branches pruned back to fit into my small suitcase, the tree then journeyed to England. You have seen my oranges in some of my scarf photos. I wanted it only for the perfume of the orange blossom but a pot of marmalade is a bonus twenty years later!
I was in Tesco last year buying fruit and got chatting to a gentleman who recommended the apricots. He was Cypriot, a personal friend of Maria Callas and he had written an autobiography of her life. Perhaps, now in lockdown, I should read it. I did check him out on line as I thought he might have been spinning a yarn. All true. The book is Sacred Monster by Stelios Galatopoulos. He also told me his family home had been right on the partition line between North and South Cyprus. There is now a large centre built there with a football pitch where his large family villa stood. He said as a child he played football on that very spot......in the reception hall of their home.....must have been a pretty big mansion! The passing Tesco fruit and veg manager was now accosted for a pen to exchange telephone numbers and he joined our interesting conversation. He was a University graduate from Sicily, a cultured man, unable to find work there, now filling the shelves with apricots. I enjoyed the unexpected intellectual international conversation in the supermarket aisle. Miss that sort of thing now.
I have visited Cyprus three more times with a jolly group of lady golfers and it was good to introduce my Japanese golfing buddy (who kindly gave me that lovely Ferragamo tiger scarf) to my German girlfriend. I celebrated VE Day and will do the same for VJ Day, but I would rather remember friendship than conflict.
Our flights were booked to Pathos for November this year and another five rounds of golf more suited for mountain goats than silver haired mature ladies. All cancelled in March! I suppose I will have to content myself at home, look at my Pissouri painting, wear thought-provoking scarves and remember...... Greek salads, haloumi, moussaka, dolmas, baklava, ancient mosaic floors, Aphrodite’s rock, the smell of orange blossom and a warm welcome.
I think the border has more or less gone in Cyprus. I also have tucked away in a drawer, a small piece of the East/West German wall after that came down. I wonder when my barriers will lift? I am ever hopeful.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!