'Cyprus time' is a concept people learn about rapidly once they've lived here awhile. It's a warm Mediterranean culture, not far from the Middle East. So people are relaxed, and get around to things gradually. Time is relative. If a show is billed to begin at 8.00pm, it will probably start at around 8.15pm, and if anyone complains they're told, with a shrug, 'It's eight o'clock Cyprus time'.
It's not just about things starting on time, either. If a workman says he'll come 'tomorrow' he actually means 'some day in the future that isn't today'. The word αυριο (pronounced, approximately, AV-ree-oh) is often translated as 'tomorrow' but has a much broader meaning than we understand by the word.
We've got used to it. There are some companies and workmen who have learned a more European way of thinking about time, and others who haven't. No point worrying about it. Our blood pressure is much healthier when we relax and think in Cyprus time. With mobile phones being so popular, anyone delivering something will phone when he's en route anyway, to check we are in. So we don't sit in for days, fuming; we just live life as normal until the phone call comes. Even then, if we're not in, we can arrange another flexible time.
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered - along with countless millions of others around the world - the newest Harry Potter book. Bookshops here don't usually get hardback books at all, and certainly not on publication date. Besides which, they usually charge the sterling recommended retail price... in Cyprus pounds! In other words, a book like this with RRP of £17.99 (sterling) would cost £17.99 CY - which, at the current exchange rate, is about £20.80 sterling. No doubt some ardent fans would pay that much, but we much prefer to pay £9.99 sterling (postage free) from Play.com.
So, we didn't expect it to be here until well after the publication date. But last week, I checked my Play.com account, and was startled to see that the book had, apparently, been dispatched on 13th July! They do allow ten days for things to arrive in Europe, but generally it's less than a week. So we wondered if we might actually get it in advance of the publication date. After all, even if there was a note on the envelope saying 'not to be delivered until after 21st July' we didn't think anyone would take any notice of it, not in Cyprus.
So, we checked the PO Box on Wednesday morning, before we went away. I then left the key with Tim, who walked down to check it on Thursday. We checked it again on Friday, and even drove down on Saturday, despite the fact that the Post Office isn't even open on Saturday so if it had arrived, it wouldn't have reached our box.
No Harry Potter book.
This morning, Tim walked down again.
Still no book.
I looked in my Play.com account, and this time it said it that it was posted on July 20th. A week after it had, supposedly, 'dispatched'. So perhaps the 'dispatch' note merely meant that it was in its envelope, addressed, and awaiting postage.
I doubt if it will be here before Thursday, now. Which, of course, is approximately 21st July, Cyprus time.
PS if anyone reads this with shock, convinced that Christians don't read Harry Potter, please also read this article from Christianity Today, which is an interesting set of suggestions about what might happen in the seventh book, and has a link at the end to a thoughtful blog post about it too. However, if you have already read the book, I don't want to know whether any of these suggestions are accurate or not!