December 2016

There is a man in the east London borough of Hackney who has been feeding the hungry and trying to bring together his compatriots since before I was born.

In fact, my father was only ten when Turkish soldiers landed in northern Cyprus and my parents had only just met the year the island was split. Turkish and Greek Cypriots were displaced and two thirty-year-old nationalist policies achieved fruition. Today, there is hope that the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders might find a path to unification. But upcoming elections cast that future back in to doubt.

Cypriots from both sides of the island were displaced and private property seized. Tensions and mistrust remain high.

In 1976, the Hackney Cypriot Association was founded to promote a shared Cypriot culture, while encouraging joint Greek and Turkish events. (They also find time to provide locals with free lunches alongside a Christian group).

The driving force behind this is the charming, warm, gentle man mentioned above, who is in his sixties but still a great dancer.

To raise money for their association, the Cypriots host an irregular pop-up where two Cypriot friends of ours help with the cooking. It is a fun night squeezed around tables of welcoming people with live music. Somehow, they find space to dance and got me up with them. My girlfriend posted the picture above (of my awkward English attempt at rhythm) with the tag #myweirdbrit. I’d like to take the chance to say that, for all her talents, she wasn’t doing any better. And next time I’ll do even better.


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