For a good while now, I’ve been an early-riser. I like to get a head start on the day.

I’ve fallen into the habit of rising early, but then sitting at the kitchen table doing nothing in particular. It’s a bit like staying late at the office to play Solitaire. This morning, I was determined to get out of the blocks faster. Several things are languishing in my task manager, filling me with guilt every time that I check in. But more of that later.

Before 6am, the dogs were fed, and out with me for an hour’s stroll. Getting myself going early filled me with energy and determination. Let me at that task list!

Head of the procrastination queue is “Obtain fresh copy of property title.” In theory, this can be done online - but in reality, the much-vaunted system doesn’t actually work. One needs to allow the site to authenticate me through my online banking, which is a scary concept, but didn't work anyway. The alternative method was "go to the office."

I braced myself for a brush with Cypriot bureaucracy. Up until as recently as the mid 1990s, English was the lingua franca in legislation and I remember it being straightforward to pay taxes and navigate the organs of the state. Modern Cyprus however chooses to operate in Greek and only Greek. This goes as far as internal signage. I stood next to a Cypriot man, gazing at the office plan.

"Understand?" He ventured.

"Not a thing. You?"

He shook his head sadly.

Not understanding the floor plan, I took the stairs to the first floor, knocked on an open office door and asked where I might get a copy of my deeds. The woman looked at me quizzically. Helpfully, I explained my quest a little louder and a little slower (always best with Johnnie Foreigner, I find.)

The quizzical look still on her face, she answered me in concise English received pronunciation. “I’m afraid this is the Social Insurance office. You need the next building.” We then enjoyed a comical exchange working out whether the next building was left or right, and then whether it was left from the front of the building, or the back. All very jolly.

I found another building, and there was a fifty-fifty chance this was the correct one. I used the patented Lennon method of going up to the first floor and knocking on a door.

Again. The quizzical look. The repeated question.

“In the next office. Savvas.”

Off I went. Savvas directed me to room 103, again, in fluent English.

“A copy of the title deed? Certainly sir. You’ll need to fill in this form, and send it in with a copy of your passport.”

“Oh, right. Thank you…oh. Wait. The form is entirely in Greek.”

“Yes. But it’s very simple,” came the reply.

“Hmmm…I’ll use Google translate. Thank you. How long will it take to get the copy?”

“Send in the form and we will e-mail a receipt. Once we have checked the record, we will send you a link to pay the fee. Once that is done, we will send you an e-mail to say that you can collect the deed. Probably a week in total.”

Cheered by this good news, I smiled.

“You know, it might be an idea to put this information on your website…”

She gave me a withering look and returned to her keyboard.

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