Monday, February 4, 2013



File:Cyprus topo.pngI prefer to display some humor in my writing—but that can be hard when commenting on this country’s economic woes. True, I might be writing about such issues with hilarity, but if my dry humor is so subtle it cannot be detected, where does that leave us all? As a consequence, I have decided to switch my political and economic comments to a new site which will be updated weekly (or thereabouts). This site will continue being updated daily (more or less) as normal.

Now we come to the shooting. Have you ever been shot at? The first time I ever had a gun pointed at me was in Nice in the South of France. I had left something behind on the aircraft we had flown in on, and when I went back to get it, I just ran up the aircraft stairs without thinking. Security was much looser in those days. All I expected to encounter was an air hostess tidying up after her flight.

Instead I encountered several gendarmes supervising the unloading of a high value cargo—gold to be precise—and one of them stuck his semi-automatic pistol in my face. I was eleven or twelve at the time, and absolutely terrified. When a gun is pointed at you with intent, the impact to one’s psyche is not trivial. The gendarme relaxed as soon as he saw I was a kid, and dropped his pistol to his side, but I have never forgotten the experience. It was to be followed by a number of others. One involved sniper fire in Northern Ireland which resulted in a policeman being killed close by me. He dropped like a sack of potatoes when the 7.62mm round hit him. It was a singularly un-dramatic death, but the following day a BBC film of the situation had me shaking like a leaf.

You think you are more or less in control of your own body, but in extremis you are not. Fear just grabs you and refuses to let go. Bravery is about overcoming such physical manifestations—being able to move and act—but fear still doesn’t go away. Fortunately, sometimes the pace of events can be so intense that you get distracted. That happened in Cyprus shortly before the Turkish invasion. I had taken to cross-country walking for some insane reason—civil war was about to break out—and during one of my walks I ran across a bunch of armed Greeks hauling weapons, wrapped in polythene, out of a well. I knew they were weapons because their silhouettes were outlined through the semi-transparent plastic.

My arrival caused consternation. What were the perpetrators to do? Killing me was an obvious option. That solution didn’t appeal to me at all—but I could not think of any dramatic action short of running, and I knew if I did that, I would be shot. Instead I waived cheerily, shouted greetings, and walked on as if I had not seen a thing. I didn’t turn, and while I remained in sight, kept feeling that a round might shortly penetrate my back. It was a very unsettling feeling—and I never did cross-country walking in Cyprus again.

Enough of past war stories. Currently I live in what is generally considered to be a high crime area because their have been four fatal shootings within the last year or so—all of which have taken place along the route I walk every evening. A couple of days ago, a man was shot in the chest outside my local Safeway—frequently the destiny of my walk. What to do?

My general feeling is to continue walking as usual because these events seem to be gang related, and I have encountered nothing but courtesy. But, it makes you think.


Orso Clip Art




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