Cyprus Mail

‘For want of a nail…’

Like an engine with an oil leak, the Cyprus public service is slowly but surely seizing up through a totally unanticipated lack of lubrication.  Quite unexpectedly, a shortage in the supply of a single inexpensive but absolutely essential component is giving rise to a great and growing alarm and despondency among public servants at all levels, up to and including top politicians such as members of Parliament and even Cabinet ministers.

In a panic the authorities have pleaded with our friends and allies for assistance but without success.

When we asked Greece to fly in emergency supplies, we were told that not only had recent austerity measures made it financially impossible, but also that demanding domestic requirements associated with elections had made it physically impossible for Greece to help.

The UK also felt it necessary to refuse to help owing to demands anticipated in association with the upcoming “BREXIT” referendum on 23 June.  In growing despair, Cyprus turned to the Americans, only to be told that the current ongoing Democratic and Republican primaries, to be followed by a Presidential election in November, had the production and distribution facilities in the States more than fully committed to meet domestic needs.  Our US Embassy contact, who asked not to be quoted, added that since the United States, today no longer arguably, is absolutely the most corrupt society in the history of democratic government, this shortage is likely to persist;  and besides, American sizes would be found to be inappropriate for countries like Cyprus and Zimbabwe, which use the metric system.  The Russians did not reply to our repeated cries for help.

In a word, we seem to be stuck.  This is a very serious matter.  Those who failed to foresee this shortage should be identified and publicly named and shamed, if not sent to jail for a gross dereliction of duty that is undermining the very security of the state.  While an urgent appeal has been made to the European Union for necessary funds to establish, on security grounds, an essential production facility in Cyprus, even if it succeeds, relief will obviously be too little and too late.

The civil service unions are unanimous in their condemnation of the government for having allowed this situation to arise.  Threatened by a wholly unanticipated cut in their net incomes, they are prepared to go on strike until the shortage is eliminated and their hard-won rights, achieved only after a great and glorious class struggle, can be restored.

One of the more extreme unions has declared that it will try to force the government, by striking an estimate of the average loss, to make all such “unofficial” income pensionable.  In their endless search for votes, most of the political parties (except those pesky “Greens”) support the unions.  The Greens point out that one of the problems is that, like toilet tissue, this product is not deemed to be recyclable.  It is normally destroyed by burning and not retained for re-use, for precautionary reasons having to do with personal data protection.

Let this be a lesson to us all.  A famous quotation has it that, “for want of a nail the shoe was lost;  for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the battle was lost”.

Who would have thought that this great state, the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the United Nations and the European Union, would be brought to its knees by so insignificant a “nail” as a shortage of ordinary, cheap, plain brown envelopes?

Cassandra, via email (Name and address provided)

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