If I tried to paint a grey sky, it would like a Cyprus rainy sky. Gunmetal, battleship, almost black in places. All variations on a theme. The rain is neither timid nor fierce. It’s implacable. Rivers from across the garden taking water away to the road. The dogs curl on the couch, burying noses under paws, eyes closed to the weather.
It’s cold. Not proper cold, but Mediterranean-cold. I lived in Prague, with frigid winters offset by fantastically insulated, ferociously heated buildings. Here, adjacent blocks in the wall have only a passing acquaintance. Houses are designed to promote draughts and to keep cool. Here, we keep the heat out, not in.
I’m in my office, a converted carport beneath the kitchen. I’ve a million things to do, and no desire to do any of them. Three o’clock and it feels a long day already. The lights are on, and the dogs are getting restless. They’re solar-powered, and the absence of the sun makes them hungry, a trait that I have too.
Returning from the UK, I had cause to marvel at the joys of living on a small island.
We’d left my Mum’s at 03:45 for an early flight out of Gatwick. The plane was lightly booked and the pilot in a hurry. Less than four hours after take-off we were coming in to land. We sped through immigration and customs, and were soon at my beloved Nissan March, Kyproulla in the car park. The boot (or trunk for those of a North American persuasion) wouldn’t open. Not particularly unusual, she can be temperamental, particularly having been neglected in a car park. It was however, a portent of things to come. I’d left the driver’s door open. The open door meant a lit courtesy light, and consequently a flat battery.
I rang a friend.
“I’ll be there in forty minutes.”
Mrs L and I repaired to the café for a flat white, and before we knew it, Mick, and his jump leads were at Kyproulla’s side. Minutes later, we were on our way. I’m not sure things would have been so easy at one of London’s sprawling airports.
Once home, we got on with the serious business of turning the plug sockets on. (Mrs L isn’t one for taking chances.)
“Oh. I meant to tell you. When I turned the washing machine off, the switch went funny.”
A broken switch on a public holiday? No washing machine until after the weekend?
Reader, I’m brave, but not brave enough to tell Mrs L that she’s doing no washing before returning to work. A couple of calls, and the husband of Mrs L’s colleague was round, screwdriver in hand.
Living on an island is much like living in a small town. One that’s a long way from any decent delivery service. DHL phone me to ask me to come collect my packages. But people know each other, and help each other.
Tomorrow, I’m helping pick up a friend who’s just had surgery on his joints. He might need a hand getting into his apartment.
It’s just how we island-folk roll.