Here I am then, Cyprus at last. I had begun to think it would always remain a dream unfulfilled.
Looking out of my bedroom window overlooking Kyrenia known as Girni by the Turkish Cypriots, my mind slips back to an evening many years ago and a promise made to me by my late ex-husband, David. We were enjoying our first meal together in our new home. He was regaling me with another story of the troubled island during his time with the air force regiment in the fifties at the height of the conflict there.
He had paused for a few minutes, his face sombre. “Poor sods never stood a chance, there wasn’t much left to put in the body bags when it came right down to it”
He looked back at me and said sheepishly: “Sorry, didn’t mean to tell you that tonight, especially tonight; tonight is supposed to be a celebration. I’m going to make you a promise, I reckon if we start saving now, you know, a few quid here and there, by the time our fifteenth anniversary comes around we could just about afford a couple of weeks holiday there. Mum’ll have the kids for us.”
I sat open mouthed not able to say a word; it was 1968 holidays abroad were still for the professionals and the very wealthy. People like us were lucky to go camping on the east coast, yet he had made me a promise so if he said it would happen it would, I believed in him fervently then.
It was not long after moving that David took a part time job to help with the extra expense of owning our own home and it soon became evident that he enjoyed it more than his regular shift work. It was in fact the first soft chord of the death knell to our marriage and ultimately his untimely demise.
Between shifts of his regular job, he had begun to help our friend Alec, with his removal business.
The aspect of this work that had so fascinated him, was that part of the job that dealt with estate agents who had been retained by solicitors acting for people with deceased estates, which meant clearing properties and transporting the effects to auction to be disposed of. Occasionally an estate would come along where there were no beneficiaries, so all proceeds from the sales automatically went to the treasury. This to David’s way of brooding was a crime so it was with a clear conscience that anything valuable found hidden in secret drawers of desks, behind wardrobes or under mattresses belonged to him... finder’s keeper’s being his philosophy.
It may not have worried David’s conscience but it played on mine continually. Nothing I could say though would persuade him to see my point of view, to my shame I gave up protesting and bowed to the inevitable. Soon the whole of our lives revolved around this new love in my husband’s life, mine and the children's needs becoming an encumbrance to him.
Fun family holidays camping up by the pine woods at Wells - Next - The - Sea for a fortnight became a thing of the past. His annual leave from his regular job was now taken up with the removal trade or portering for the auction marts. Family holidays were restricted to long weekends over a bank holiday, usually in an up market hotel at Cromer, Sherringham or Blakeny.
Then the day came when that soft knell rang a little louder; I knew the minute he walked through the door something momentous had happened, he had that glint in his eye that told me whatever was on his mind, he had already made his decision. If I had an objection or any other kind of opinion, tough... I could like it or lump it.
When at last he started to tell me his news I felt my heart sink to my boots but I knew him well enough by then to know that anything I had to say would not be heeded, he was merely informing me of his intent not asking for my blessing.
His eyes shone with excitement he told me of Alec's desire to retire, that Alec's own son was not interested in the business and finally that Alec had offered him the chance to buy him out for just two thousand pounds. He said two thousand pounds as if it were nothing, when in fact only a few short years earlier we had bought our smart semi detached house for one thousand six hundred and forty pounds more than Alec was asking for what was in reality a very old Pantechnicon and as he claimed the good will.
I suddenly remembered the promise of Cyprus he had made on the night we moved into our lovely new home and was stunned to realise that our fifteenth anniversary was only a year away and in that moment I knew beyond doubt my dream of Cyprus with David was becoming more and more remote.
The deal took a few weeks to finalize and inflicted many a sleepless night on me; because in order to achieve his ambition we had to use our home as collateral against a loan from the bank, an action that didn't sit well with me at all. As usual though David's decisions were unilateral and my opinions ignored, even though he needed my signature on all of the documents. David always got his own way in the end.
Yes... Cyprus remained a dream and over the next fourteen years the soft knell grew gradually and irrevocably louder, but that's another story.
As I look out again over Kyrenia I think how nice it would have been to have shared this moment with David. The fates obviously had other plans for us.
Another thought bursts joyfully into my mind. how wonderful it is to be sharing my cherished dream with our first born daughter