Charlotte and John

Charlotte MacKenzie in conversation with
John MacKenzie

Charlotte’s father, John, is a retired Doctor who lives in Cyprus. She chose him as a conversation partner not only because she misses him, but because his usually hectic social schedule appears to have resulted in him contracting COVID-19.

Note 1: March-May

“It’s like the Marie Celeste around here: no one about, not a car on the road,” comments my Dad, John, who’s enjoyed some seven years in retirement in Cyprus to date.

We usually have a weekly call to catch up, so after having heard in great detail about his armoury of medicines and tinned foods (he’s a retired Doctor), he himself fell ill with Covid-19, caught off a lady in his bridge club.

My younger brother and I both felt decidedly helpless, listening to someone long-distance who sounds completely flat and exhausted for a good three weeks is pretty distressing, however Dad rallied round on a diet of Marmite on toast and some ‘R and R’ – also very difficult for a man with a permanent job list.  

Hairdressers, small businesses, the dentist and supermarkets are all open, with hotels and restaurants left rotting in the sun. Tourism is still on hold.

Note 2: May-July

Catching up with my Dad this past week, he is most excited about the fact that he has managed to have a haircut.

A self-confessed foodie, he was looking forward to enjoying meals out, set to pick up in Cyprus from next week. He’s just off to have dinner with friends when I speak to him.

Dad is very much a creature of habit, although he has kept himself busy during the island-wide lockdown. Now it seems that the three-hour daily time slots and paperwork for leaving the house are being lifted, and there is talk of him returning for his weekly golf meet-up in the next few weeks.

All things considered, I am pretty impressed with how Dad has remained in good spirits during the past several months. I think this also has much to do with the weather improving and a total of 17 deaths on the island – pretty incredible, all things considered.

The Turkey-Cypriot border remains closed, and no flights as yet. However, there is no chance that friends and neighbours will ever stop putting their head over the garden gate for a quick chat, and say hello to the cats, socially distanced of course.

Note 3: July-August

“We’ve had a surge,” my Dad John comments when I caught up with him earlier this week. It’s full-blown holiday season for Cypriots across the island, leaving my Dad lamenting for the off season and cooler weather – it’s been a scorching 41 degrees when we chat. 

As cases steadily rise, in fact they have increased by 26 in one day when we speak, he does seem concerned that once again more restrictive measures need to be put in place. The blame, it seems, lies with tourists who are still set on having a summer break during a full-blown pandemic. 

The Cypriot government has imposed stricter rules for those looking to visit Cyprus, with a 72 hour health certificate and a form confirming you are ‘fit to fly’ now a requirement. I for one am doubting I will get to see Dad this year, but it’s our weekly phone-calls that give us both a bit of a boost. 

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