Meta avatarThe Long Goodbye   Sun 11-Feb-2018 11:48

The Long Goodbye

Nothing else exists. It is just the two of us. And I am totally caught up in the moment. Then I hear “Oi, are you getting in or not? I can’t sit here all fucking night waiting for you to finish eating each other’s faces”.

That certainly kills the romance.

I turn to get in. But Jake stops me and tells him to go. He kisses me again. He obviously wants to whisk me off to bed. I tell him that I would love to get naked with him. But it's too soon. He agrees.

I’m confused “So why did you send the taxi away?” He says that the driver was aggressive. And he didn’t want me getting into his taxi.

I should be offended; he is implying that I can’t look after myself. But I find it really sweet that he cares. I want him to look after me. Oh dear. What is wrong with me?

He hails another taxi. And we part reluctantly. I smile to myself as I sink back into the seat.

Then I start playing a silly numbers game; when I was graduating from university, he was still at primary school. And when I was leaving primary school...... he hadn’t even been born.

This is so unfair. Why can’t he be older? I stamp my feet, clench my fists and actually growl with frustration. I become very much like a petulant child when inebriated.

The taxi driver can’t help but notice my little tantrum “You alright love?” I respond with “No, actually I’m not. I have just had a wonderful evening with a lovely man.” Then I put my head in my hands. And growl a little more.

“That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing love!” I explain that he is thirteen years younger than me. And I don’t want to look like a ridiculous older woman having a midlife crisis.

He laughs “You looked around the same age to me love” Ordinarily his consistent use of ‘love’ would grate on me. But he is being complimentary so I let him continue.

He speaks in clichés all the way home “age is nothing but a number”- “you’re only as old as you feel”. In short, he says everything I want to hear. Clearly this man has great wisdom and insight. I will see Jake again. I thank him.

I am about to get out when he says “You’re welcome love. Now if you don’t mind me asking, who are you going to be voting for in the next general election?” I really don’t want to get into a political debate so I tell him that I'll decide closer to the time.

Then he completely throws me by saying that he thinks UKIP have lost it since Farage resigned so he will be voting for the BNP. And that I should vote for them too. He is black. The BNP are neo-Nazis. Clearly he is joking. I laugh “You almost had me there!”

He assures me that he is serious. Apparently immigration is getting out of hand and the BNP are the only ones willing to tackle it.

I explain, as gently as I can, that if the BNP were ever to get into power, he would be amongst the first people to be deported. I suggest he reads their manifesto very carefully.

But his mind is made up. And his high level of stupidity obviously negates all the relationship advice he gave me.

I send Jake a text, home safely – thank you for a lovely evening. Then he calls. And tells me he would love to see me again. I hesitate. He asks if his age is an issue. I admit that the age difference concerns me.

We talk effortlessly for one hour and twenty three minutes. It would have been longer but my stomach started cramping quite badly. And I had to leg it to the bathroom. I don’t think those prawn shells agreed with me.

I am woken up by the incessant ringing of the telephone. It’s my mother. She wants to know why I am not there yet.

I arrive to find her baking for an army. They are flying to Cyprus tonight. And it is custom that family and friends come to see you off when you are going away. Custom also dictates that you feed them. This has always struck me as being both inconvenient and inconsiderate.

My mother sits me down with a glass of water. She smiles sadly whilst brushing my hair out of my eyes. Then she cups my face in her hands. And breaks the news to me gently, "Kitty, I'm afraid there hasn't been any interest in you from the wedding". I almost snort with laughter.

Then realise that she is genuinely concerned for me. I manage to keep a straight face as she tells me that I mustn’t give up hope. She kisses me on the head. And almost chokes me as she forces her freshly baked olive bread into my mouth.

Then she says “We will be making enquiries in Cyprus so all is not lost yet. You never know, we may even come back with a surprise for you!”

That 'surprise' is likely to be the village idiot.

It’s time to stop playing along. I tell her that I have more to offer than a British passport. And that marrying an inbred villager is the last resort for hopeless cases. She agrees. Then asks me to give it serious consideration.

“I know you were born here, but you are a Turkish Cypriot. It is not nice that you are so dismissive of our people”. I tell her that I think Cyprus is a beautiful island. But I find the people primitive and insular.

Apparently a lot has changed since my last visit. That wouldn’t be too difficult; I’ve haven’t been back for twelve years. She says I should be ashamed of myself.

I blame the long absence on my fear of flying (particularly take off and landing). And as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus doesn’t ‘officially’ exist, you cannot fly there directly. Therefore one round trip involves four take offs and four landings.

She points out that it has been possible to fly directly to the South and cross the border into the North since 2003. I can’t argue with that. I munch silently on the bread while I think of a diversion.

Then I remember that my penultimate trip to the motherland (when I was fourteen) had resulted in my parents banishing me from the island. I triumphantly remind my mother of that minor detail.

Her attention is successfully diverted. And she launches into a full blown rant “Oh the shame of it. You went and had all your beautiful hair shaved off and dyed green the day before we went. You looked like a punk. Everyone was staring at you. Then you decided to walk through the village naked....” Her face is red. This could go on for some time. I tune out.

I should mention that I didn't actually walk through the village naked. I was wearing a tiny string bikini that I had somehow managed to squeeze my prematurely developed body into.

Admittedly it was a step too far when I decided to go into the ‘men only’ cafe where my father was playing backgammon. He was absolutely furious. I tried to argue that it was over 40 degrees and I was merely trying to keep cool. He threw his cold water in my face. Then made me wear his shirt and marched me back to the house.

But at least it secured me a place in heaven; I have never had so many old ladies simultaneously praying for my soul to be saved.

It was another ten years before they allowed me to go to back to Cyprus with them.

I was briefed thoroughly before we went. Behave in a ladylike manner. No skirts/dresses above the knee. Do not call them thieves when they take your clothes. And only bring clothes you are willing to lose; it is perfectly acceptable for people to go through your suitcase and simply help themselves to whatever takes their fancy (including your underwear).

I was welcomed back as ‘The Lawyer’ and spent an exhausting week successfully redeeming myself.

I was relieved when it was time to go home. My mother offered to help me pack. She took out the few items of clothing I had left “Do you really need these?”

Then she packed my now empty suitcase full of hellim (halloumi). I pointed out that hellim is widely available in London.

But she insisted that they do not taste as good as the ones she has had freshly made in Cyprus. I stared at the rows and rows of white blocks in clear plastic bags. I told her that it looked very suspicious. Her response was to cover them with a beach towel.

Apparently she didn’t have room in her own suitcase because she was bringing back the figs. And the oranges.

I spent the entire flight imagining the scene at Heathrow customs as they opened my suitcase “And what is this madam?” I could almost hear the snap of the rubber gloves being pulled on as I responded with “Cheese”.

I wasn’t stopped. But I still have nightmares about being strip searched.

The doorbell rings. The goodbye committee (and their buckets) start arriving in force. And I am duty bound to stay there all day.

My mother takes me to one side just before they leave. And hands over a holdall to “keep safe” until their return. I open it. It’s filled with bundles of cash (they don’t trust banks).

I tell her I don’t want the responsibility. And suggest that she gives it to one of my five siblings. But she insists I take it because “the others have people coming in and out of their houses all the time – nobody comes to your house. It’ll be safer with you”.

The buckets are filled with water. Then we go outside to wave them off. As the car pulls away, the buckets of water are thrown after it. It is supposed to signify ‘go safely, come back safely’.

I ask them to refill the buckets and do the same for me as I drive off with my parents’ life savings.

Avatar image
Avatar image

Kitty Moore

Turkish Cypriot with attitude ...