What I Saw

03 Feb 2023

Rupert Gunnis wrote to his parents in 1929:

Rupert Gunnis wrote to his parents in 1929:

‘Here we are off on our travels again and I am writing in the usual Police Station while the gramophone is playing. But to start from Thursday last, Mary and I off went down in my car to Limassol and were joined by H.E. and Lady Storrs who had left Government House about an hour after we had. At Limassol H.E. presented medals to the Police and made them a little speech. Our departure was like James II from Wapping “hurried and difficult”. The new Education Bill is very unpopular among a certain section of the population and the local agitators had made all the school children strike and parade the town with a large blackboard borne aloft on two staves with the following charming inscription on it:

You have treated us worse than the


ever did in three hundred years.

Having wandered up and down all the main streets these dear children lined our path to the pier and as we appeared sang some insulting songs of which we took no notice but smiled. The Royal Party got into the Customs Launch and to the Mail Boat, I waved to them till they were out of sight and then returned to the Customs Shed to find all quiet. Lunch with Montagu (who I was staying with), after which Alexis and I went off in my car to the village of Parclousha, about six miles from Limassol, where I wanted to collect some inscriptions for the Museum.

I had managed to buy one or two which were lying about in the back yards of various houses when the sinister figure of the local Communist appeared on the scene; he started to address the people telling them I was trying to swindle them and was the sort of fellow who ground the faces of the poor in the dust and they should demand 5/- for each inscription instead of the 3/- and so via Alexis I addressed them and flatter myself I made rather a good speech pointing out how hopeless it was to try and help the island when one was obstructed by people like themselves, how I was buying the inscriptions for their Cyprus Museum and paying for them from my own pocket and a good deal more on the same line, a noble speech, slightly ruined by Alexis adding on his own account to the Communist “And now you can go to Hell”.

The villagers now seemed more anxious to sell, but it was I who refused to buy and climbing into the car shook the mud of their village from my tires. Straight back to Limassol where I saw Cacoyanni the local MP and told him how tiresome his electorate had been, he was much upset and promised to accompany me himself and get all the inscriptions I wanted next time I came to Limassol, I then met my old friend Corporal Andrea who told me the village was a Bolshie centre and that he had raided it for Communist Literature a few days before.

Tea with the Brownes, then to see the Boyles and Montagu had a dinner party, very gay city Limassol. Left early next morning and in the pouring rain to Nicosia where I did various things and had a long talk to Gjerstad who is still excited about the Temple, alas it has been so wet that work has had to be suspended. I see it has already got into the English papers. Dinner with Mr. Henniker Heaton, who is active Governor, such a nice man, and he asked endless questions about the island and the Cypriots as he thinks I know it better than most people.’

The 'What I saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP Cyprus and Active Citizens Fund.

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