Limassol, Troodos, and Psycho Reports

April 27th, 2007



Dear Mum,

I said I’d let you have a full report today of my day out last Saturday with my two good friends, Declan and Anna, who are respectively a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist. You really have to be careful what you say in their company  –  you’re never quite sure what is on or off the record. I think they’re a bit like policemen; never off-duty. But I did ask them each to provide an appraisal of my current mental state, just one short sentence would do, which they said they’d let me have by today. And which they both seem to have taken far too seriously. I think they’re genuinely concerned!

So this letter is a long one. It was a long day! But it comes in three handy tear-off strips, so you don’t have to read it all at once. Read one part per day over the weekend. Spread out the excitement!


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Part 1  –  The Journey

Just before I left to come to Cyprus last year, Declan said to me,

We’ll definitely be coming out to Cyprus early next year. Don’t worry about putting us up, Anna’s parents have got a place just outside Larnaca, so we’ll stay there.

Great! Except that Larnaca turned out to be Limassol, 60 km away.

Easy mistake to make. They both begin with the letter ‘L’. (I’m being charitable here)

Anyway, to cut a long story short  –  and I am  –  after several plans to meet up went avocado-shaped for various reasons, the F-plan ended up being me travelling over to Limassol by miniature green omnibus on Saturday morning.

Declan had very kindly found out for me that the bus left from opposite the Four Lanterns Hotel on Larnaca sea-front. Which took some finding because unfortunately it’s now a building site. But I made the 8am bus ok and asked the driver how long it took so I could text Declan and let him know what time I’d be arriving.

 The driver simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Three pounds“.

Other passengers were more helpful.

Just under an hour“, one said.

An hour and a half“, said another.

About an hour and five to ten minutes“.

I sat down, wondering who was going to win the sweepstake.

An old guy sitting in front of me turned round and said very quietly and very emphatically,

It takes an hour and twenty minutes“.

Ok! I sent a confusing text to Declan. Well  –  I was confused! I got a reply back saying that they’d be there to meet me at 9.30. His exact words were,

‘Should be there 9.30. Text me when you arrive and see you there. Arch Makarios’.

Arch Makarios was presumably the name of the place where the bus would drop me off, named after Archbishop Makarios who was the first president of Cyprus following independence in 1960.

So I settled back to enjoy the ‘Inter-City’ bus to Limassol.

Strictly speaking, their terminology was quite correct. It was an Inter-City bus in that it travelled between two cities. But there’s something about the expression that leads you to assume that it’s going to take the shortest and fastest route, and zoom down the motorway at top speed.

I should have known really. I should have guessed. This is Cyprus. Instead of taking the nice new shiny motorway, it lumbered along the old road, stopping at every possible point. The road criss-crossed under or over the motorway many times, and I watched with envy all the traffic speeding along it. And I swear we took a 5km detour just to drop off the driver’s dear old Aunt Xanthe right outside her front door.

Still, it was a pleasant enough journey, and the bus rolled in to Arch Makarios in Limassol after exactly one hour and twenty minutes.

I got off the bus, and looked around for an arch which I assumed would be quite a landmark. No arch!

So I got back on the bus and asked the driver if this was Arch Makarios. He chuckled. He informed me that this was the Old Port, and that Arch Makarios Avenue was about 2km back in the direction we’d just come from.

You should have told me. I could have dropped you off there“, he said, still chuckling to himself. “Stupid English tourist!

He didn’t actually say the last bit, but I could hear him thinking it.

Well I suppose he was right. I should have asked. So, what to do now? I was here, and they would be there. But they’re driving and I’m not. It’s not far. So I sent a text telling them where I was.

When they arrived, Declan told me that he’d only signed the text Arch(bishop) Makarios for a joke! He had no idea there actually was one!

Well the driver certainly found it very funny…


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Part 2  –  The Troodos Mountains and Limassol

It was great to see Declan and Anna again after six months. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day so we drove up into the mountains whilst catching up on all the gossip.

They tried to kid me that they were taking me to a monastery where I was going to be secluded until my mental health had improved. And they asked some very searching questions at times. One of the questions they asked was if I’d brought any CDs with me to Cyprus. I said I’d brought just one, expecting them to ask which one. I was very surprised when they didn’t ask. Human nature surely dictates a large amount of curiosity, never mind what it might have told them professionally. So maybe they’re not human. I’ve often wondered. Must be from the planet Psycho, in a distant galaxy far, far away.

And of course I told them all about my faithful hound, Cleopatra, and how odd and neurotic she can be at times. About how she’s developed a liking for spaghetti in tomato sauce, and even likes oregano with it! About how her favourite toy is the cardboard tube from a toilet roll, which she quickly chews up into many pieces. Unfortunately demand outstrips supply!

I also told them all about what a struggle it’s been to get things going here, and about all the obstacles that have been put in my way. Stuff I haven’t bored you with in this weblog. But hopefully, I’ve turned things around now.

The Troodos mountain scenery is fantastic. I hadn’t been up there since October, so it was great to see it again. We stopped for a drink at a small café/bar, where we sorted out the Cyprus Issue [see appendix]. I had no idea it would be so easy! How come it’s taken them over 30 years and they’re still nowhere near finding a solution?

I’d like to be able to tell you where we went, but to be honest, one narrow mountain track looks much like any other. I’m not sure that Declan or Anna could tell you where we went either. Or just how honest they’d be about how lost we were at times! There were many occasions when we came to junctions in the mountain forest tracks, with no sign-posts to give us a clue. Anna was driving, while Declan did the map-reading, but a fair bit of his navigating was done by looking out the window to see where the sun was! It’s certainly one way of making sure that you’re heading in the right direction, but it does tend to get screwed-up when you go round a hair-pin bend, and suddenly you’re facing the other way!

Fair dues though, they had several specific places in mind to visit, and we did see them all, so I guess we were never in danger of needing to call out the mountain rescue team.

Don’t ask me how, but we eventually found ourselves back on the road to Limassol, where we went and had a really nice meal. I had a traditional Cypriot lamb dish. Anna had a traditional Cypriot chicken kebab dish  –  and Declan had a traditional Mexican burger!

Anna moved her chair round to be closer to me, making some feeble excuse about the sun being in her eyes. Women can be so transparent sometimes! But I’ve grown used to it over the years. It’s not easy being incredibly handsome and having an Adonis-like body!

We wandered around the streets for a while after the meal, popped into a church and admired the fantastic mural and ceiling paintings, walked to the end of a pier and took a few photos, and then it was time to leave.

On our way back to the car park we passed a pet shop with a sign outside which said ‘Do not touch the puppies’. Who can resist having a peek at some puppies? So we went in. But I guess that’s why the sign’s there, because of course there were no puppies. Just an empty space where they should have been. Nice trick though!

And it worked, because Declan and Anna bought a ball-on-a-rope as a present for Cleopatra. Really good of them. The ball-on-a-rope was an instant hit when I got back and gave it her. So much so that by the following morning she’d completely chewed through the rope  –  so now it’s a ball-off-a-rope!

She jealousy guards the two pieces of rope though. She keeps them on the old sheet that I gave her to lie on. Actually, she’s now on her second sheet, having torn the first one into a million pieces. The second one is fast going the same way. She grips it between her paws, grabs hold of it with her teeth, and pulls for all she’s worth. She just seems to love the sound of tearing linen!

But whenever she’s not looking, I move the two pieces of rope, and as soon as she realises they’re missing, she won’t rest until she’s found them and moved them back again. I’m running out of hiding places!

So thanks Declan and Anna for the ball-off-a-rope. It’s certainly taken her mind off toilet-roll-cardboard-inner-tubes. Perhaps now I can slow down my consumption of roughage!

STOP PRESS  –  Latest Update  –  The two pieces of rope have just been chewed into three, and she’s looking pretty pleased with herself!

Needless to say, I haven’t had the photos and psychiatric reports that I was promised, but you know how stretched the NHS is these days. I knew I should have gone private. Dr Declan, MBBCh, BAO, MRCPsych had this to say:

It’s a very complex case which requires considerable thought. There are also issues regarding competence to give informed consent re publishing pictures of the patient. Could be another 10 days before my legal department clears the documents!

Dr Anna was unavailable for comment. A spokesperson said she was ‘missing, presumed having fun.’

So I guess we’ll just have to wait…


Appendix – The Cyprus Issue – a brief explanation of what this refers to can be found at the end of the Cyprus Info page, under Recent History. Just click on the Cyprus Info tag at the top of this page.

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Part 3  –  Psychotherapy Report

Just before publishing this epistle, I noticed Cleopatra with her glasses on, reading a letter. She wouldn’t let me see it. Bitch! But she was laughing so much that I snatched it away from her.

It was a letter addressed to Cleo from Dr Anna. So she hadn’t missed the deadline after all. Here’s what she had to say.

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26th April 2007

Dear Cleo,

Thank you for your referral for MB. Following a number of phone calls and text messages, we managed to arrange a meeting in Limassol on Friday 20th April.

I am pleased to report that from a nursing perspective, my findings are very encouraging. He was warm (to the touch) and pleasant in manner. He was dressed in casual attire, appropriate to the 21 (or thereabouts) degree heat. He was softly-spoken and conversation was spontaneous. He took my not-so-subtle assessment style in good humour and deflected any cheeky questions rather nicely.

As you had intimated in your letter, M’s commitment to re-locating to Cyprus has been tested every which way. An unexpected drop in temperature, missing compatriot still missing, difficulties with work, lack of finances and increasing frustration with the Cypriot system to address his lack of finances are just some of the stress factors. I think it might have affected his ability to complete activities of daily living to some degree. In accordance with stressful times, his sleep may have shown some impairment and his diet may have included comfort foods such as spaghetti bolognaise. He made some reference to alcohol intake but this may have been no more or no less than usual.

On a lighter note, it appears M has turned a corner and is gradually noticing an improvement in his situation. He speaks of the future positively, particularly in reference to your friendship. You have clearly been a source of real strength to M, particularly over the last few months and I would say that your friendship is blossoming. He is gradually gaining in confidence and despite a visit from two trained professionals, he handled the pressure very well. I don’t think he believed for a second our story of a one-way trip to a Troodos mountain retreat  –  luckily for him the real doctor in Agros had taken an impromptu mini-break to a Greek island without informing us.

I hope to see M again for a follow up visit later this year, possibly September. Please keep me informed of any developments.


The Sneaky Psychotherapist.


ps. as I said to M, he’s a little crazy but I like it.

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Well, if that’s Anna’s idea of ‘one short sentence’ then I can’t wait to see what Declan has to say!

But I don’t seem to come out of it too badly. It could have been a lot worse…


©MPB 27/April/2007


One Response to Limassol, Troodos, and Psycho Reports

  1. JAC says:

    Loved reading your blog – Cleopatra sounds like an absolute joy! Bless her.

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