The Plumber and The Drummer

March 26th, 2007



Dear Mum,

My apartment block is a four-storey building in a street of one-storey houses, although a block of similar height is currently being built next door. The view from my balcony is nothing special. But one of the reasons I chose this apartment is because unlike all the others I looked at, there are no balconies immediately opposite or on either side. So in this respect it’s quite private and secluded.

Immediately opposite me is a plumber’s yard, owned by a short, plump, balding Cypriot whose favourite pastime seems to be shouting very loudly at people indiscriminately. Delivery drivers, staff, customers, passers-by, builders-next-door-blocking-the-road-in-such-a-way-that-his-customers-can’t-get-to-his-yard-which-seems-to-happen-pretty-much-every-day, they all get the same, full volume treatment.

The yard is full of flexible pipes, drain pipes, drain covers, water tanks, s-bends, u-bends, basins, sinks, more pipes, a skip, a fork-lift truck etc. etc.  –  much what you’d expect to see in a plumber’s yard! It’s not the most attractive sight to have from one’s balcony, but you can only see it if you look down, and it’s so much better than looking straight into another apartment opposite.

But amongst this plethora of plumbing paraphernalia, there stands a tree. It’s just inside the wall which surrounds the yard, but most of it hangs out over the road which runs round the side of it. This tree is a tiny oasis of nature amidst a concrete landscape.

It’s not a very big tree. You couldn’t build a raft from it to escape from the island. It’s about 18 feet high with a multitude of thin branches stemming from several not-so-very-thick trunks. I’ve no idea what brand it is.

'I don't suppose you happen to have a ladder?'The tree was still covered in leaves back in November when I moved in, and it provided some welcome shade for a few cats who live around here. I noticed when the tree shed its leaves in December that the cats love climbing it too. And sleeping in it.

The tree is also home to a couple of songbirds whose merry chirping at certain times of day is a delight to hear in the middle of a large town.

And recently I watched the first darling buds of spring appear all over its many limbs, as an abundance of new leaves began their annual life-cycle. The cats will soon have their shade again.

I hadn’t realised how fond I’d become of that little tree until I was rudely awoken at 7am on Saturday morning by the sound of a chain saw!

And the bastard cut it down! 😥

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I had a second unwelcome alarm call this weekend on Sunday at 6am, when I was again rudely awakened, this time by a lone drummer walking along the street bashing a snare-drum for all he was worth. Bear in mind that the clocks had just gone forward, so it felt like 5am! As alarm calls go, this one was very effective.

I went out onto the balcony just in time to see a young boy dressed all in khaki with a baby blue beret disappear round the corner, still bashing his drum at full volume, and presumably waking up the entire neighbourhood into the bargain. I thought it was a bit odd, but hey  –  this is Cyprus! Maybe it was a bizarre form of suicide  –  I couldn’t see him living long!

Three hours later, I took Cleopatra for her morning constitutional and then headed for the seafront to walk back that way. Always a pleasant stroll on a Sunday morning, especially when the sun’s shining. But as I approached the promenade, I could hear the music! I should have realised when I saw that drummer-boy earlier…

They seem to like marching and parading in Cyprus. Any old excuse and they’re all at it! And the powers-that-be tie speakers to the lamp posts along the entire length of the promenade and play music at a deafening volume. But not just any old music. Oh no! It’s  –  wait for it  –  Military Marching Band Music!

I can just about stomach the Royal Highland Fusiliers Pipes and Drums Regimental Band doing a stirring rendition of Scotland The Brave; I quite like the sound of bagpipes. But this stuff in Cyprus is your worst nightmare! Imagine the sort of music they’d play in a comedy film featuring a military parade in a banana republic somewhere, with it mostly out of tune and off-key, and you’ve got the idea!

And like I said, they don’t seem to have twigged that the volume control turns to the left as well as to the right. It’s very loud and very intrusive, and it’s nigh on impossible to sit outside a café and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a warm, sunny, Sunday morning whilst looking out over the Mediterranen Sea, which is what I’d had in mind when I headed for the seafront.

So I took Cleo home and then went out again, to the bakery to get a loaf of bread (Yes! I remembered!). As I got nearer, I could hear the marching band music. But this wasn’t coming from the seafront; this was nearby. I rounded a corner, and there they were, an army of school kids, girls and boys between the ages of about 8 and 16, all wearing khaki uniforms and baby blue berets, some with banners, some just marching  –  and some with drums!

Which one of you little bastards…?‘ I thought to myself, as I surveyed their faces, trying to work out which one of those little devils was most likely to be the guilty culprit, and imagining my hands tightening their grip around his throat… 😡


©MPB 26/March/2007
No idea where I found the photos. I really must start taking notes!


3 Responses to The Plumber and The Drummer

  1. Sue says:

    I’ve found your blog and read it all… you have a great style of writing! Loved the story of Cleopatra… we too live in Larnaka, and also rescued an almost-dead Cleopatra, but ours is of the feline variety.

    And yes, loud early morning sounds are a feature of life here. As are late-night noises such as motorbikes or people saying goodnight after a party. But woe betide anyone who makes a noise in the sacred siesta-time during the Summer.

    We used to live near a drumming route too. We moved last summer, only a kilometre or so away, but I had not realised until reading your post what an added bonus we have: no drummers nearby. There will be another load of marching this Sunday, April 1st. And the town band plays on Good Friday evening. Then I think that’s all until kataklysmos…

  2. Priapus says:

    Thanks for the comment Sue. I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it.

    Not sure I much like the sound of Kataklysmos! You couldn’t make up a better name if you tried.

    I can hardly wait…!

  3. Rich says:

    WOW! Great writing. The story took me from suprising fiction into what I thought would be a winee story and then into the woods. COOL! It made me feel euphoric Thanks!

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