Monday, November 14, 2005


I don't really like the phone. I much prefer email, and usually that's fine. Typically we might get one phone call in a day, although Richard gets plenty of work calls on his mobile.

This afternoon, though, I think the phone has rung seven times in the past four hours since Richard went back to work after lunch. I was expecting one of the calls: house-browsing online again, I found another one that looks interesting so Richard called the guy who's shown us two already, and enquired about it. It may be a bit further away than we want, since we walk nearly everywhere, but it sounds quite nice and well within our budget. The guy did indeed call back, and we should see it tomorrow.

I also had a call from the other agent we've spoken to, saying she's found a three-bedroom house that might suit us. No, I said, we definitely want four. OK, she'll continue looking.

Then there were two calls for Daniel, and three from Daniel, who's in Nicosia for the afternoon. Only forty-five minutes' drive away, but this has turned out surprisingly complicated.

Let me back-track.

When we moved here eight years ago, Dan had been playing clarinet for a year, was doing well, and loved it. A big priority was to find a teacher in Cyprus. We enquired at several music schools locally, but they all seemed to teach piano, guitar and violin only. None of the ordinary schools do music at all (other than a little recorder and guitar at some of them) so they were no good either.

Finally we heard about the Town Band, and the leader who taught woodwind. To cut a long story short Dan auditioned, was accepted, and had heavily subsidised lessons for a couple of years. Then he joined the band as he was both tall enough and advanced enough, and his lessons were free.

However the band leader isn't really a clarinetist. Most of the people who learn from him are almost beginners, whose only ambition is to get to play in the band. He doesn't teach at advanced level, and so for the past couple of years or so Dan's really been teaching himself. He plays for at least an hour each day, often more, but was worrying at the lack of an expert who can tell him if he's going wrong, help him with tricky techniques, and so on. Particularly since he recently bought a professional level instrument.

A few months ago we heard that one of the local music schools had a clarinet teacher. So Dan phoned them in early September. They said the teacher was away but would phone him when he got back. Every three or four days he called again, and each time was told a slightly different story. The guy was on a concert tour, it seemed. Encouraging in a way - he must be a very good player. But he didn't seem to be returning!

Then when we were in the UK, Dan had a call on his mobile from the music school, saying that the teacher never came back so they had found a new one who lives in Nicosia, and comes to the music school in Larnaka to teach. They said they would phone when we got back, and try to arrange a lesson for the first weekend.

We got back, and heard nothing. So Dan rang them. Ah, they said, the teacher isn't here. Try tomorrow.

Tomorrow came. Ah, they said, she's busy. She'll call you later.

She didn't.

He started phoning every other day, and getting a different story every time. She'll call you. She's abroad. The office is locked so we can't find her details. If he wasn't so eager to find a teacher it would have been funny...

Eventually he got through to someone who told him that she wasn't coming any more to Larnaka, but they did give him her number. Progress! He called her, and eventually managed to arrange a lesson in Nicosia at 6.15pm today. The lessons were enormously expensive by Cyprus standards, but he really needs them. Perhaps he could have them every other week once he's established a pattern, we thought.

In fact he heard on Saturday that he's been accepted by the Doulos to return for two years, leaving on January 12th, so these lessons will probably only be for four or five weeks before Christmas, assuming he and the teacher are happy with each other.

His friends the Antidote Theatre company go to Nicosia on Monday afternoons and said Dan could ride with them, but they leave here at 2pm. That was OK, he didn't mind hanging out at a coffee shop for a few hours beforehand.

His first phone call was to tell me that he wouldn't be able to get a ride home with Antidote. They were going out with someone to eat after the classes. He phoned to ask me for the phone number of the shared taxi ('service') firm. I didn't have the number but our Yellow Pages listed the Nicosia tourist information office, so I gave him that number.

Ten minutes later he called back. The last service leaves Nicosia at 7pm (the lesson should end at 7.15) - and it's full anyway.


I did have a quick look online for bus timetables, but they're even worse: they stop at 6pm. Even after eight years here I'm not quite used to the appalling public transport here, but then we haven't often had cause to use it.

I was trying to think of people we know in Nicosia, where he could stay overnight if necessary, but that's no good: he needs to be at the theatre tomorrow morning for a rehearsal, as there's an extra performance of last year's play 'The Little Man's Best Friend' at a school on Thursday. Daniel plays the clarinet in this play...

Well, he said, he'd just have to see if he could get home with Antidote after all; however it would be very late. He'll buy a sandwich somewhere (I always worry he's going to get hungry!) and will let us know when to expect him. I don't think he even took his key but if necessary we can leave one under the doormat. Cyprus is pretty safe that way.

I just hope the lesson goes well and is worth all this hassle!

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