What I Saw

09 Ara 2022

Sir Harry Luke included his first experiences in Cyprus in his book 'Cyprus: A Portrait and an Appreciation.'

Sir Harry Luke included his first experiences in Cyprus in his book 'Cyprus: A Portrait and an Appreciation.' The British were not aware of the customs of the Cypriots regarding the production of new wine, who always buried a few bottles when their first child was born and dug them up to offer, diluted with fresh grape juice, at the child’s wedding.

This is how he describes his discovery of some matured wine.

My first official post in Cyprus was that of A.D.C. to the High Commissioner, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, who succeeded Sir Charles King-Harman in 1911. It was because King-Harman was the son-in-law of General Sir Robert Biddulph, the island's second High Commissioner, that the Address of Welcome he received on his assumption of office in 1904 began with the statement that the High Commissionership of Cyprus had evidently become hereditary in the female line. Life was pleasant in those days despite the fact that the then Government House was an austere, mid-Victorian prefabricated, military wooden bungalow and that my duties were manifold. One of them in Nicosia was to make sure that there were always two bottles of ink beside the Visitor's book in the hall: one of red ink for the Archbishop when he came to see the High Commissioner; one of blue for the other visitors.

Upon arrival, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, his Lady and I set about exploring our new home. My investigations led me down a ladder into the rudimentary cellar. My descent was illuminated only by a taper and at first sight the shelves seemed empty by the dim candlelight until farther search

disclosed a few bottles in a bin in the remotest corner.

Closer inspection revealed them to bear manuscript labels inscribed "Commandaria 1805" and instinctively I marveled at the late incumbents making no reference to so rare a legacy in the handing over notes. With elation I called out the good news to my Chief above and crept cautiously up with one bottle of the precious stuff. With infinite care the bottle was broached and the three of us each took a hopeful sip, only to reject it violently with a lack of decorum not usual in vice-regal circles. We then understood why the bottles had not followed the previous High Commissioner into retirement nor indeed had been floored before he left.

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

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