-Bad dreams, machine gun fire and a bag of carrots.

Late 80’s, early 90’s and the need for isolation and writing continued. I needed a cave and solitude and to be with ‘my’  God. I was in Cyprus just before Christmas. The book was still eluding me and after several conversations with locals I headed to a small village called Polis on the North West coast.

The old men sat in the shade playing dominoes as they do. I stocked up with several bottles of water, stuffed a whole bunch of carrots into my backpack and with a load of paper and a couple of pens wandered off along the coast intending to settle into the first decent cave I arrived at. I found one. It was small but suited me well. There was plenty of flat land around me, and in front the sea. I ran a lot, practised yoga as best as I knew, talked to myself and wrote masses, mostly metaphysical stuff. It poured non stop from my head. It felt good and therapeutic.

One night there was a huge thunderstorm. I was fine in my little hide out though! Flashes of light lit up the sky and thunder clapped all around me. There were other strange noises though which I couldn’t place. There were the sounds of helicopters and machine gun fire. I was a bit dozy and just presumed it was all a dream.

It went on for too long though and I began waking up. What a show there was out there. I was very confused…and a little concerned. What the hell was going on? Machine guns were ratatatting like billyo, tanks were manoeuvring very close by and helicopters were hovering like dragonflies up above. Was I really awake or was this just a dreadful nightmare? I put it down to a bad dream, giggled a bit and thought I went back to sleep.

Morning came. No sign of a battle so I leapt out onto the fields to loosen up my body.

“Hey Man”, I heard an American voice say. “Hey Man, what do you think you are doing here?”

I was perplexed and didn’t really have much of an answer. “Just walking”, I replied.

“Man”, this friendly American said, “You’re right in the middle of a firing range! We’ve got live ammunition night exercises going on here. Jump up and we’ll get you out of here”.

The sun was up. It was a lovely morning, and here I was being driven back towards town on the top of a tank! They were nice guys but all my stuff was still in the cave…and I hadn’t finished my book yet!

When the coast was clear I crept back and sat down contemplatively in my cave. That was a close one. It began to rain. I looked in my diary. It was Christmas Eve. Loneliness set in and I began to feel real sad. The book would have to wait. I saw a pick up in the far distance. I threw all my stuff in my bag and ran as fast as I could over the very big field that separated us. They gave me a lift back into Polis.

It was really pouring now, but I didn’t care. I was going back to civilisation and the comforts of chocolate biscuits and cups of tea. I carried onto Limassol, walked straight into a bar called the Red Lion and was hired as washer upper immediately. I ate way beyond my share of the free mince pies, found a hostel with my earnings for the night, had a great sleep and turned up for work again the next day. They even let me phone my Folks on Christmas Day. Solitude, tanks, loneliness and then company, nosh and money. I was a lucky Lad.

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