By Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou
ANTONIS runs a small business near where I live and he works long hours to keep it on its wobbly feet. We do our fogey chat when we see each other, both loners, a state forced on us by fate rather than choice, because we know that interaction with fellow human beings is a vital part of keeping ourselves compos mentis rather than compost mentis, as he likes to tell me with a chuckle.
Antonis’ chuckles have to be savoured because he’s a first class, Grade A curmudgeon who loves a good mumble. That morning he was ranting about: ‘Hell! Look at Hell!’
My first thought was he gone over the final jump into the wilderness of confusion, the thing we old-timers dread but no, he was pointing at three squashed tins lying in the road beside the path.
‘How do you make that out, Antoni?’
‘Some foul marketing man is a devil worshipper and those damn things are everywhere reminding people to vote for the devil.’
If he had said that during our elections I would have put it down to party politics but the elections were well gone.
Antonis did not have the chance to take tertiary education but he’s an avid reader and loves nothing more than a good yarn in his hands when business is slow. He reads in English, ‘To improve my vocabulary.’ and he picks up second-hand books by the bagful at bazaars. I was more inclined to think the cans simply advertised a hot, spicy drink rather than one of Satan’s estate agents letting those who loved the horned boss know there was space available in his residence if they sinned enough.
‘It might be the opposite. It might be a marketing man or woman who wanted to remind people that they should mend their ways when they see so many ‘hells’ staring at them every day.’
He hmmmmed a bit and said it was possible. ‘Maybe…but…it’s probably the Templars.’
‘The Templars…the Limassol branch?’
Antonis’ mental state was starting to concern me.
‘You think they’re still around at Kolossi?’ I prodded the sanity border.
‘Not them; their followers. They are everywhere. So many novels I read all blame the Templars for a lot of the problems in the world. They did really bad things you know, orgies and things. Devil worshippers do orgies.’
They weren’t/aren’t the only ones I was about to say but didn’t for fear of where that might go.
‘They wore crosses on their tunics during the Crusades, Antoni mou.’ Not that it stopped them slaughtering innocents at Acre in the name of a loving Christ who never asked anyone to kill in His name.
‘And who knows…probably when they took those tunics off they turned the crosses upside down.’
‘At least they left us Commandaria.’ I smiled. ‘That’s a good thing.’
‘They made wine to get drunk and make money.’
OK, this wasn’t going anywhere. I changed tactic. ‘Actually, I was thinking it’s a pity the cans weren’t recycled.’ I hoped a change of subject might bring a change of mood.
‘Another trick for someone to make money at our expense. We buy things, put them in a plastic bag for them to grab and sell. Tell me, why should I give these idiots what I spend cash on so they can make money out of me? They don’t even supply the plastic bags we use. No! We have to buy them.’
‘It helps our children and grandchildren not to waste the planet’s resources. That’s what recycling’s all about. Instead of throwing waste away, it can be reshaped and reused. Think of all the trees we could save if we recycled paper.’
‘OK! But tell me, where do you see bins to put things in, hah? All that advertising paper littering the road…whose fault is that? If there were recycling bins that paper could be reused, yes?’
I agreed and said goodbye. As I walked away a friend of his came by with his dog. A smiling Antonis patted its little hairy head. Ahh, peace unto your mind, my old friend – but…
‘I’m sick picking up s***! All day long these manic clean Cypriots, whose houses are like clinics, pass by here and let their dogs’ poo so I have the pleasure of lifting it and putting it in a bin. I have a spray inside and if I can catch the next one, I’ll spray him or her.’
I didn’t wait to hear what was in the spray can. I simply hoped he’d recycle it.
Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou