Paphos, Cyprus, December 2016
I love so very much speaking with those who live on the borders listening to their revelations and have some humorous but also some devastatingly sad stories to tell. Many of these stories touch on the fantastical. It is where I find most of my angels and where the ‘old man’ will mostly live. It is there where feather and flesh, flesh and feather, meet on the margins of the long narrow streets, and around ancient churches whose bell-towers are about to collapse, in the ghostly sounds of trains which rush towards their final destination, in remote petrol stations, in the entrances to hospitals. And in that place where the Moon is pregnant with the light of the Sun.
This story belongs to the lighter side of these encounters. It was the day before Christmas. In Kato Paphos I would visit a café bar by the harbour whose crystal blue waters course in from the Mediterranean Sea. I would come here every morning to have breakfast, to check my email, and to work on some drafts. This café [like most cafés] had a story of its own, with its famous resident Coco the African grey and the expat former middleweight Englishman boxer the proud owner. This tall gentleman with the broad Yorkshire accent was one time bodyguard and confidant to the likes of Tom Jones and Demis Roussos. But on this particular showery morning the attention of the patrons was drawn to a bellowing voice across the street to the promenade. From what we could see it was a bearded old man with a large red Father Christmas stocking cap atop his head. Some of the patrons thought he was being a nuisance, while others preferred to concentrate on their old-school ‘full English’. But some of us did enjoy the grace and joie de vivre of the old man. I must admit I found his repertoire rather strange but on hindsight it was entirely symbolic. Until this day I had never before heard Father Christmas belt out “My Way” and “A Girl Called Maria”. Followed by “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”! A huge pretend pine tree was decorated to the hilt and proudly set up in the middle of the square. Late morning of the 24th both to my surprise and merriment, I discovered over four short blacks that my new bushie acquaintance was Jewish, his name was Lawrence, and that as a little boy he was a gofer for a stock exchange company in the centre of London. He loved to sing and was a member of a number of choirs, but like me I would suppose, he much preferred going rogue. And then we slapped each other on the back and sung “Hava Nagila”.
And for some reason I would remember my dearly loved Viktor Frankl to whom I have oftentimes turned for “meaning” who somewhere said that Jews and Christians would in many instances hold each other’s hands to pray together before being led into the darkest places of Auschwitz.