In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.
Our troubles, in other words, are relative. There is always somebody with bigger problems than your own if you choose to see it that way.
Resilience in adversity is a quality I particularly admire and not because I would claim to have it in large quantities myself. I am with Edmund Blackadder “When the going gets tough the tough hide under the table”.
But I confess to a regard for the Resilient, under which banner I would have to include the likes of Jeffrey Archer even though he always seemed an operator and a chancer. Ringo Starr who came across him at a small charity event said, displaying a surprisingly poetic turn of phrase (Scouse accent) “’He strikes me as a nice enough fella, but he’s the kind of bloke who would bottle your piss and sell it.”
However, Archer went from top to bottom twice and picked himself up, dusted himself down and started all over again each time. Going to the summit of the Conservative party and reinventing himself as a massively successful author (no I have not) on the peaks and taking in a stretch at Belmarsh on the troughs. You might not like him and he definitely would not like you but a certain reluctant respect n’est-ce pas?
My Old Mum too had that kind of grit; the stoicism so often found in the wartime generation that rarely if ever complained about their lot. Hers was a life, particularly after the loss of her husband (my dad) aged 47, spent waging a relentless battle to keep up appearances to a chorus of “Mustn’t grumble!” and “Count your blessings”.
Although lacking somewhat in empathy – nonsense Christopher! You loved boarding school – the defining quality of Post Diana Britain she generally appeared a cheerful soul. If what you see is what you get that is and in her case I always suspected all was not as it seemed; for instance when, at an early point in my marriage, I made some remark about being happy she muttered that it was easy to be happy when everything was going well!
A rare glimpse of a darker wisdom. For her sustaining happiness in adversity was what counted.
We divorced eventually so maybe she had a point.
I had occasion to reflect on such matters recently when a few days after taking delivery of our brand new Dacia Duster, I parked in Upper Kalkan Main Street to do a brief bit of shopping. On my return I find our new toy the centre of attention, the cause of which I quickly perceive to be a large dent in the driver’s side wing.
Waaagh! More in sorrow than in anger I gaze unbelieving at the until very recently wirgin white and immaculate but now sadly crumpled bodywork.
“Only just bloody bought the thing five f**king days ago” I splutter or rather, that is what, to a rapidly gathering crew (not much going on in Kalkan at the mo’), I wanted to say but my Turkish lacks the colourful vocabulary .
To cut to the chase the driver of the other vehicle appears mortified, accepts 100 % responsibility and demonstrates that he is fully insured (not a certain bet by any means) so we go in to the nearby restaurant to do the formalities.
I am assisted in this by a very urbane looking guy who speaks good English so I cannot resist having a whinge (sorry ma) about my bad luck in copping a dent so soon after purchase. He counters by telling me it could be worse; he has just lost his entire restaurant, pulling out his phone to show me pictures of a blazing inferno.
I realise that I am in conversation with the owner of one of the five restaurants that were reduced to ashes by a blazing fire in the small hours of a night last week: a night when the Special and I were spending a week back in London.
Our sharply dressed and urbane Istanbullu is in fact the owner of Yakamoz, aka Jimmy, and his insurance company is fighting his claim.
I feel very bad as the tragic fire has been the talk of Kalkan and has wiped out amongst others the much loved Mussaka restaurant, owned by good friends of ours Mehmet and Kitty. Suddenly my little dent shrinks back to what it really is, a little dent that the insurance will return to new within a week or two. I put away my handkerchief.
Meanwhile the owners of Mussaka, Yakamoz, Kleo, Seaport and Deniz restaurants face a very sad Yılbaşı and no doubt a hefty whack of anxiety and uncertainty for some considerable time to come.
Well thank you Jimmy for your help with my little problem and for the lesson in perspective. And hats off too to all the owners and let us hope that we shall see their respected establishments restored to form in the near future. When the dust settles and we can see what is required, their customers will certainly want to do what they can to help them get on their feet. The messages of support have been amazing
Count your blessings eh?
At least I know what my New Year’s Resolution is going to be.