PERHAPS I have become a grumpy old man, no longer able to fight my innate conservatism and completely out of touch with the times. This was probably the reason I was astounded by the lack of measure with which society dealt with the death of Zeta Emilianidou, the labour minister, who passed away on Monday night in a hospital in Athens.
The government and media set the agenda by making the public mourning the only story for four days. I mean no disrespect to Emilianidou, who was an extremely capable, hard-working and honest, career civil servant and displayed all these qualities in her nine years as labour minister.
But listening to former colleagues, politicians and people she worked with go on radio and TV competing who will be the most sentimental and offer the most fawning praise of her, while crying on air, just seemed a bit too much for this grumpy old man to stomach.
I had always thought grieving for a person you cared for was a private matter and not something that has to take place on air or social media. Even grieving for the loss of a friend or loved one appears to have become a public act that must be marketed to thousands, in case someone thinks you are not caring and sensitive enough.
HYPERBOLE was the currency of the week as the government and media gave Emilianidou the status of Mother Teresa. A shaken, Prez Nik, referred to her as the ‘minister of the poor’ and ‘the best minister’ in his funeral oration during which he also described her as “irreplaceable.”
Before that he sent the health minister to Athens to arrange for the return of the body to the island, as if there was nobody at our embassy capable of doing this. On Wednesday he held a cabinet meeting to decide measures for showing respect to the deceased and it was announced that she would lie in state for two hours and be given a public funeral, which all public employees, including teachers could leave work to attend.
A sense of perspective is not something we can boast about as a society as the public mourning of the last few days showed. On Thursday morning the state broadcaster carried live coverage of Prez Nik signing the book of condolences at the labour ministry. Not even this could be done privately, because people had to know how caring and respectful Nik was.
I will write no more in case I am accused of insensitivity.
THE LACK of perspective we have in our DNA was also illustrated by an incident that occurred at the Paphos hospital in the early hours of last Sunday, when three drunken, young women were taken by ambulance to the A&E for some reason that remains unclear.
The British women, in their early 20s, caused a disturbance in the A&E, shouting and swearing before attacking a nurse and allegedly hitting her on the head. When a cop tried to arrest them they all fled but were eventually found and taken to court – one later on Sunday and the other two on Monday.
It was a non-event really, but it was blown out of all proportion by the media while the unions issued indignant statements about the need to protect hospital staff. Health minister Hadjipantela condemned the incident and called a meeting with Okypy and nurses’ unions to discuss safety of hospital staff. It was postponed because on Tuesday he had to fly to Athens having been assigned funeral director duties by the prez.
If such incidents were frequent, this may have been justified, but to make a staff safety issue out of an isolated incident seems rather excessive.
THE KNEE-JERK reaction of the nursing unions probably made Hadjipantela, not wanting to be accused of not caring, call a meeting.
One union claimed there were frequent incidents of verbal, physical and psychological abuse of nurses by patients and those accompanying them. Could this abuse have anything to do with the rudeness of some nurses and the long hours people have to wait before they are seen? People just don’t go to a hospital A&E with the intention of abusing nurses, verbally or psychologically.
The nurse attacked by the three drunk Brits was suffering from headaches it was reported. She will be fine after she returns from the four weeks sick leave, she must have been given to recover from the headaches.
ARCHBISHOP Chrys II may lack spirituality and be economical with the truth when he opens his big mouth, but his tendency for gossipy style provides great content for us.
His interview in Politis last Sunday and Monday reminded us of how much he would be missed when he’s gone.
He told the “son of Lellos” – presidential candidate Achilleas Demetriades – that he would lose his dignity if he stood as the candidate of Akel, before telling him: “Where do you live? On the moon, you aren’t a resident of this island? Have you not understood that the leftists are agents of the English?”
Asked by the interviewer to explain, Chrys said: “If you are a journalist and do not know this you are lacking. It is from the time of Papis (former leader of the party Ezekias Papaioannou), not now.”
He also had a go at the two Cyprus bishops who have sided with the Moscow patriarchate in the dispute of the Ukraine church and refuse to conduct a service with him. He speculated that one of the bishops had been bought by Russian money.
He told them: “You are not members of the church of Cyprus. You are Protestant.” Being labelled a Protestant is worse than being called a paedophile, in the Orthodox Church.
APART from cancer, is the Archbishop suffering from senility like his predecessor? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. If he were he would not so craftily have backed his fellow Paphite, Christodoulides for the presidency in the interview, while claiming he was not close to any of the candidates.
He declared Christodoulides the new Makarios, claiming that he is the only man to enjoy popular support since the time of Makarios. He then proceeded to act like the new Makarios’ spokesman. Christodoulides had nothing to do with stealing the Kasoulides speech and it was trap by his communication advisor; he is an independent candidate with no links to Disy; even without party backing he would pass his bills through the House; Prez Nik’s daughters support him; Averof has no chance of making it through to second round of the elections.
The last thing Kyproulla needs is a new Makarios, considering the original version started out as ruler of a whole country and ended up losing more than a third of it to Turkey, while maintaining his popular support. We really cannot afford to lose another third of Kyproulla for the sake of having a president with popular support.
THE NEW Makarios got a bit of stick on social media for failing to respect the three days of mourning for Zeta. “On the day of Zeta’s funeral, the couple spent [it] at a concert. At the same time all other candidates, without exception, cancelled all their obligations, our Nikoui is touring [a] concert to be photographed with fans. Weren’t you a colleague of the minister for many years? Or will you tell us it was the mistake of some communications advisor again?” The tweet also included a picture from the concert.
Another member of the Twitterati was more scathing, addressing the new Makarios directly. “She was you colleague for eight years re mala… Three-day mourning (lasts three days) was respected by everyone except you. Could you not keep yourself away from the election campaign and silliness.?”
I am sure the Archbishop has a very plausible explanation for the new Makarios’ latest faux pas, which he will reveal in his next interview.
THE HALLOUMI crisis shows no sign of abating. Despite the intervention of Prez Nik in his role of ‘wise leader who solves problems of the community’ no solution has been found.
Meanwhile the sheep and goat farmers, who are still being paid below cost prices for their milk, by cheesemakers, plan another milk-spilling and hay-stack burning extravaganza outside the presidential palace on Friday. They will go away peacefully if the problem-solver promises them another five million euro by the end of the month.
The problem are the huge quantities of halloumi that do not satisfy the PDO specs and, legally, cannot be sold or exported as halloumi. I would like to repeat our establishment’s suggestion, which was widely ignored, to label the fake halloumi, ‘I can’t believe it’s not halloumi.’
Another idea would be to label the fake halloumi packaging with the name ‘hamoulli’. People would just think it is a spelling mistake and buy the cheese. Just don’t apply for a PDO.
THE FAN club of the central bank governor Constantinos Herodotou is getting bigger. His newest fan does not belong to the IMH group, which does sell services to the central bank, but a scribe in Kathimerini, who last Sunday lavished praise on “the most sought after groom.”
After dealing with the RCB without negative effects for the banking system, “he completed the liquidation of the corpse of Laiki, thus ending another party for lawyers and accountants.” The writer did not advocate a renewal of his contract as governor, asking, “should we perhaps consider him for president?” Diko is still looking for a candidate even though I hear Junior is under pressure from his mum to back the new Makarios.
READERS have asked what is happening with the shrinking tashinopitta saga, given that the changing prize/size of the tashinopitta is an accurate reflection of how our economy is doing. I am sorry to say that I have not bought one for three weeks, but promise that I will have a full tashinopitta report in the next issue.