Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: the mea culpa that wasn’t

By Patroclos

THESE are difficult times to write a column. With a week lasting just two days and the rest taken up by public holidays, there is little to write about and even less to inspire (not that there is much to inspire during a normal working week, but I will not go into that).

I toyed with the dubious idea of doing a ‘Coffeeshop’s Greatest Hits’ column which would involve finding the 15 or 20 of the better items published over the last 12 months and reprinting them today. Having a Greatest Hits in my name would allow me to pretend I was a rock star for a day, something I always wanted to be even though I could not play a musical instrument or sing – not mentioning the total lack of musical talent.

I dropped my ‘ageing rock star for a day’ pretensions when I put all the year’s Coffeeshops together and realised this was a daunting task as I would have had to read through almost 100,000 words of copy to do this properly and had no way of knowing which were the greatest hits of some 500-plus items that had a few days’ shelf life.


WITH the greatest hits plan scrapped, I thought I would re-print how we approached 2014, to show that we columnists do not get everything wrong. This is what was written in the January 5, 2014 edition of the Coffeeshop.

“WE WOULD have loved to start 2014 with a message of hope and optimism, something heart-warming that would help customers start the year in a positive frame of mind, but we just couldn’t think of anything that would raise spirits, apart from the fact that this is a World Cup year.

But this means nothing to people who are not of the football faith, while those who are know that the World Cup could be a big disappointment and the high hopes and expectations in the run-up a wasted emotional investment. At best, it can act as distraction for a month, a brief respite from a year of economic and psychological depression.
What else is there to look forward to in 2014? Higher taxes, diminished earnings, high interest rates, less cash in circulation, more businesses closing down, rising unemployment, more NPLs, moaning union bosses, European parliament elections and, worst of all, the sell-off of profit-making SGOs.
How could we approach the year with even the slightest hint of hope when the criminal comrade Tof is a free man living off the taxpayer, that abysmal failure masquerading as a Central Bank governor still enjoys the backing of the ECB, DIKO will be without Garoyian’s visionary leadership and the BoC is under the chairmanship of a guy who seems to care more about his hair-style than the balance sheet.
In view of all this could we really heed the advice of the classic Monty Python song and Always look on the bright side of life? I think we can as Kyproulla would still be a much better place to live in 2014 than Syria.”

(The World Cup was a disappointment, especially if you supported Brazil and the Central Bank governor stepped down even though we have still not decided whether his successor was any better).


WITH REGARD to the Cyprob, we wrote:

“We may have failed to mention the non-existent prospects of a Cyprob settlement as another reason for psychological and economic depression but that is because it is not. In fact the Cyprob stalemate is the only remaining constant in our lives.
In the previous year everything was turned upside down in Kyproulla, all our certainties shattered by the bail-in and memorandum. We surrendered control of our lives to the troika tyranny, which has been calling the shots, even telling the poor public parasites what times they should go to work.
The only certainty we still have in our lives is our beloved Cyprob. We can still wake up every morning knowing that at least one thing in our life has not changed and remains a beacon of constancy untouched by the meddling tyrants of the troika.
Without any prospect of a settlement it can carry on acting as our one inspiration, our unyielding struggle for a fair and just solution, a reason to live at a time of existential and moral crisis. We sincerely hope the word or words that would allow agreement on a joint declaration are not found in any dictionary because we need our problem intact, to see us through this difficult year”

(In the end, satisfactory wording was found for the joint declaration and talks began, but despite this our problem emerged intact, giving us inspiration and comfort all year)


PREZ NIK returned last Sunday and on Tuesday he was, according to the headline on the front page of Monday’s Phil, which seems to have a fixation with religious metaphors, “back on the Golgotha of problems.” Was the paper implying that a crucifixion was imminent as he was on Golgotha?

Nik addressed the public on Tuesday, but failed to cause political havoc and start a public row as he usually does, which suggests that he has not yet fully recovered from his heart surgery.

He had our customers speculating whether the surgery had made him emotionally fragile and wanting to be loved. How else could his speech, in which he admitted making mistakes during his 22 months in office and implored the political parties to join his government, have been interpreted?

Did he really want to co-govern, for the next three years, with the populist opportunists of EDEK and DIKO, as it was certain the comrades would turn down his offer? A glykis-drinking customer who claims he is a doctor assured that his new approach had nothing to do with his operation as emotional instability usually sets in several months after a heart operation.

The truth is that despite his reputation as an ash-tray-hurling maniac, Nik has always wanted to be loved. He has shown many times, before he fell ill, that he even wants to be loved by the repulsive public parasites, whom he has publicly pandered to on countless occasions – that says it all.


THE DOCTOR argued that Tuesday’s presidential speech was confirmation that our prez had made a full recovery. He cited Nik’s full use of his unrivalled thespian abilities while talking to the cameras – raising his eye-brow, varying his intonation for rhetorical effect, putting on his stern look when required and gesticulating with the control of true professional.

This was a top notch performance, according to the doctor who saw the address as a charm offensive tempered by occasional expressions of false modesty calculated to win over the skeptics, having locked the support of the more naïve voters.

What else but false modesty was his admission that “during the first 22 months there were not only positives, but there were also negatives for most of which I take full responsibility?” He did not give one example of the negatives of his term nor did he explain how he would be taking full responsibility for them practically.

By not mentioning the negatives, how would we know that he would take full responsibility for them? Just asking.


HIS JUSTIFICATION for wanting to a form a government of the widest possible acceptance was a poignant example of the false modesty on display. “I believe and I am being direct and honest that the problems faced by the country cannot be shouldered by one person alone.”

If he directly and honestly believed this why did he become president in the first place?

I did not vote for Nik, which I admit was a mistake for which I take full responsibility, so that I would be governed by a committee consisting of Junior, Omirou and Lillikas, because the president has suddenly decided that he cannot cope on his own with the problems facing the country. I believe and I am being direct and honest that no party will want to share the responsibility for the unpopular decisions the government will have to take in 2015, just so that Nik can pose as a national leader.


APART from her technocratic qualities, last week we found out that Central Bank governor Crystal also has a spiritual side. She told a CyBC interviewer that while Nik was in hospital in the Big Apple, she was praying for him, which could explain his speedy recovery.

In the interview, Crystal volunteered the information that “during the ordeal the president went through I was praying for his health.” As she believes in the power of prayer and now having proof that it works, she could start praying for the speedy recovery of the Cyprus economy because I do not think it will arrive through Crystal’s non-spiritual, earthly abilities, which, barring tampering with her contract, have not impressed.


DIMINUTIVE deputy Zacharias Koulias’ Christmas text message to followers and colleagues was more metaphysical than spiritual. He said: “Time for all of us to understand that this country belongs to us and not the scum and thieves. Happy Xmas, and according to Icarus of Thessaloniki, Greeks keep your heads high. Our power is our origins. We can.”

What “we can” he did not say, because either Icarus did not tell him or because he wanted to avoid public ridicule.

Koulias, who is an independent deputy since his expulsion from DIKO, voted against the state budget for 2015, giving his approval (together with the patriotic deputies of EDEK, Alliance, Greens and AKEL) only to the defence expenditure, because the scum and thieves would not dare steal from the holy funds reserved for our overpaid, under-worked armed forces.


IN THE end, it was not a “political fabrication” against Akelites as the party had been shouting. The Larnaca court found AKEL’s financial manager Venizelos Zannetos guilty of extortion and he spent Christmas in prison awaiting sentence with a couple of other AKEL placemen.

The comrades immediately attacked the court’s verdict, with party chief Andros declaring Zannetos innocent. A saintly comrade could not possibly be guilty of any crime. As we have written in the past, in the AKEL criminal code, if money secured through illegal means ends up in the party’s coffers, this does not constitute a crime. Only if the perpetrator pockets the dosh is it a crime.

This was why for the commies, Zannetos was innocent, as the 650 grand he had extorted from the shady businessman who had thought up the Dromolaxia scam, went to pay off the bank debts of the AKEL-run football club Alki. The irony is that an AKEL deputy who had allegedly pocketed a big payment from the businessman was not even charged.

Zannetos, an impoverished party member, brought this payment up in court, but was told by the judge that it was not part of the case being tried.


MEANWHILE AKEL’s weekly rag Gnomi referred to Zannetos and former defence minister Costas Papacostas convicted for his part in the Mari explosion as “political prisoners”, who were victims of the “new dirty attack against the Left by the establishment of the Right”.

“Imprisonment of Zannetos a casus belli for the Left,” it declared on its front page and reported: “In view of rapid developments being cooked behind the back of the people, we are watching the same show of blows against the main political force of resistance to the anti-popular and anti-Cypriot plans.”

Its battle-cry was “Freedom to the political prisoners of the Left.” If the commie propaganda works Zannetos will become the Nelson Mandela of Kyproulla.


WHO WOULD have thought that halloumi would have eventually slipped into the Cyprob rhetoric. “Nicosia calls on (UN Special envoy) Eide not to deal with halloumi,” said a headline in Phil, which had brought the matter to public attention.

The paper had reported that Espen Barth Eide had become involved in discussions in Brussels about the registration of halloumi as a protected destination of origin. “Halloumi is none of his business,” said another headline in the paper, while it reported that the government made demarches to the UN and the EU over the protection of the name of halloumi.

But the best quote came from agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis. He said that “Halloumi should unite Cypriots, not divide them.” We fully agree and would love to see halloumi as the big unifying force of 2015. Crystal should include it in her prayers.

Happy new year.


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