By Kathy Martin…

kathy-newWritten November 2014

I recently read in the UK press that a 75 (yes, 75!) year old pensioner has not been taken to court to face the charge of “causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress”! Really, Caruthers we absolutely must bring back hanging!

spainThe pensioner’s “heinous” offence apparently occurred when he was departing from Stansted airport to fly to Spain for a holiday.

During the security procedures before boarding the aircraft he was asked to remove his shoes. While complying with this request he is reported to have asked “I am not a Muslim, am I”? I don’t know if his tone was jocular or irascible, but one of the security guards called him a racist and called the police because he, (the security guard), was “upset by the remark”!

Although the pensioner was allowed to go on his holiday, he was arrested and charged on his return to the UK. From that time onward, the pensioner lived under the cloud and stress of an impending court case. The time span between his arrest and his not being put on trial is reported to be “over 200” days.

In other words his “cloud and stress” lasted for 7 months! In fact, according to the press report, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) only “dropped” the case the day before he was due to appear in court! The reason for not proceeding with the case was stated as “lack of evidence”!

There may well have been a valid reason why, in the 7 month period between arrest and theoretical court appearance, there was a “lack of evidence”. Perhaps the affronted security guard had joined the jihadists in Iraq/Syria and therefore wasn’t available for a court appearance?

However, if there had been no change either in the circumstances or the participants in the “offence” why did it take so long for the CPS to decide not to prosecute?

Whether the newspaper report was accurate and unbiased or not, I am concerned (on behalf of the British tax-payer) that so much time and money has been spent on this “storm in a teacup”. Perhaps the security guard felt genuinely affronted, but possibly all he wanted was an apology, which was rudely rebuffed. After all a man in his mid-seventies is not necessarily a sweet, cuddly, adorable little old man! If neither party would “give ground”, then a situation would develop that simply “snowballed” out of control and proportion!

What also concerns me is that, even in a politically correct British legislation against “causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress” exists! To my mind, the existence of such a law is, in itself, racist! Any person who invokes this law against another person is, by definition, being racist by taking legal action!

Just a thought!

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

While on the subject of Britain, my attention was caught by the good news contained in a report made by the environmental and conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The report stated that, during the month of October, the “renewable” energy sources of wind and solar panel farms created enough electricity not only to satisfy that nations need, but also was able to export some!

Scotland has a population of around 5,300,000, while Kibris has a population of only around 300,000. Scotland may have had an unusually sunny October, but I bet a pound to a penny (or a lira to a kuruş!) that, over a 12 month period we have enough sunny days to generate enough electricity by using solar panels to supply the needs of this small nation.

This month a “remembrance” ceremony will be held, 11th November, probably “celebrated” worldwide, will commemorate Armistice Day in 1918, effectively ending World War One, which began in 1914 – one hundred years ago.

Britain sent a portion of her small regular army, a few thousand troops, to meet a far larger and superior German army. Although initially suffering ignominious defeats, the German advance was finally halted by the British and French armies.  In those days, the British had steely eyes, jutting jaws and stiff upper lips.

Makes you proud to be British, eh Caruthers?

carruthersRecently, leading up to and including the “Remembrance Day” celebration or commemoration events, a great deal has been made in the press and media about the bravery of the common soldiers and other servicemen who sacrificed their lives, especially during World War One.

I have never gone against popular opinion (oh, yes you have, cry people who know me!), but, while some service men and women, or even many of them, were indeed brave, but, in trench warfare, the “common (British) soldiers” were forced to advance across “no-man’s land” with the option of either being shot by the Germans if they advanced, or being shot for cowardice by the British if they tried to return to their own lines!

Isn’t it time for more attention and publicity be broadcast about the ineptitude and incompetence of the generals and chiefs of staff, especially in the First World War?

These people whose imagination, initiative and creative thinking only extended as far as, “the Germans and their allies have only got one million men, whereas we (the British and our allies) have one million and one”.

Therefore, if each of “our” soldiers kills one of “them” before being killed by one of “them”, we will still have one man “standing”, and therefore “we” will have won the war!

In modern times, I am reasonably confident that in the eyes of an organisation such as the Court of Human Rights grounds exist to regard the inept generals and chiefs of staff as “war criminals”!

swallowDuring our years here we have occasionally met British tourists, and Ex-pats, both of the “swallow” and long-term resident variety, who feel that signs in English should be more prevalent in hospitals, police stations etc. After all, these (fortunately few in number) people argue, “Cyprus used to be British, and, therefore, most people here are, or speak, English”.

Some time ago there was a letter printed in one of the local newspapers from a (presumably newly-arrived) British Ex-pat complaining that he had been given a parking ticket.

The complaint was not that he had been given the ticket, but that the procedures to pay on the back of the ticket were only in Turkish. The writer claimed that the omission of instructions in English caused him to delay making payment, until after the “period of grace” (I think that it is 14 days) had expired and therefore he was obliged to pay an additional fine for late payment!

Obviously, despite being a stranger in a foreign land, the thought of going directly to the police station or going to a local cafe or bar to ask a waiter or manager to translate the procedures on the back of the ticket didn’t cross his mind.

Union Jack

Alternatively the writer could, within a few days at the most, have used one of the internet translation programmes, either on his own computer or at an internet cafe. But no, to his arrogant, “colonial” brain, it was “let’s blame the natives for putting needless obstacles in the path of the great white lord from across the ocean”!

Yes, all you of in the “Union Jack” brigade who want to live in a British environment, but with sun, Cyprus was at one time under British rule, but that ended in 1960, over half a century ago!

No, most of the people here (in Kibris), do not necessarily speak English. Most of the people here may be Ex-pats; however, they are not all from Britain, but most are from mainland Turkey! I believe that the only population group that the British can claim to be a majority of, is the Ex‑pats from “Europe” which, from a recent census, accounts for only 1% of the entire population. I believe, British Ex-pats make up something like 90% of that ethnic group.

Here in Kibris there are many “London Cyps” who are fluent in English, as well as many bi‑lingual or multi-lingual people in the tourist and catering trades, but it is neither a requirement to speak that language nor have signage in it.

It is a simple matter to purchase a phrase book and/or a Turkish-English dictionary. We invested in each of these before we emigrated and have since found them to be invaluable.

When we produce and use them in almost any circumstance, “the ice is broken” and we get all the help and attention that we want. We have frequently been taught the correct terminology and pronunciation, although our “teachers” have occasionally dissolved into gales of laughter or giggles!

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

These rambles were written by Alistair initially for the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum