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Where there’s muck...

Tom Roche

Tom Roche

Where there’s muck...

  • 19.08.2017

MY ERSTWHILE Sky News colleague Thomas Moore has been here filming the latest of his Ocean Rescue programmes, highlighting plastic pollution of the seas.

Thomas has always been interested in environmental stories and I believe it was the work of the Turtle Project that drew him here, rather than any malign intent to show North Cyprus in a bad light.

Even so, it’s just as well he and his crew kept their cameras trained on the beach.

Ocean Rescue claims that, worldwide, the equivalent of a rubbish lorry of plastic waste is thrown away every minute.

By 2050, Thomas says, the plastic in the sea is likely to weigh more than all of the fish. There’s little doubt North Cyprus is making its own significant contribution.

It would be too easy to blame others, to say the rubbish on our beaches is washed in from the sea, not dumped by locals.

That is clearly the case at one of my favourite spots, Akdeniz Beach in the west. This isolated expanse of dark sand attracts few pleasure seekers. Those who do come, congregate within a few hundred yards of the Caretta beach bar and restaurant, and yet the dunes stretching to the distance are still partly spoiled by an unbroken spew of rubbish.

The bits of rope and driftwood there are, if you like, traditional beachcomber items, although even the rope is nylon these days.

The rest is that carelessly discarded plastic doing untold damage to marine life, sea birds . . .  and us.

For, as is now becoming disturbingly obvious, humans are absorbing residues called micro-plastics from fish into the bloodstream.

So, lots of Cyprus rubbish does come on to our beaches from out to sea, though not, I suspect, the discarded melons, barbecued meat in foil and used nappies that so often dog one’s footsteps in the sand.

Meanwhile, I haven’t noticed any ocean liners or oil tankers ploughing majestically up the Lefkoşa dual carriageway, yet the sides of this and every other main road are a disgrace to humanity.

I see it every day, the plastic bottle or cigarette packet tossed without a care from the vehicle in front. Oh for a James Bond-style Aston Martin with front wing machine guns. I’d be sorely tempted to let rip.

The issue of rubbish and litter seems to have fallen into that capacious Cyprus file labelled: “They’ll never change. Nothing you can do about it.” I beg to differ.

Loath though I am to suggest any new powers for our rapacious belediyes, they might like to note how local councils in Britain are raking in extra cash with on-the-spot fines for littering. Admittedly this has led to some over-officious jobsworths hitting law-abiding members of the public for the likes of dropping cherry stones in a flower bed and even, in one truly mad example, letting a £10 note fall from a wallet!

Still, the only way we will combat this Cyprus scourge is to hit them where it hurts – in the pocket.

Oh, and as it happens, I was following a Lapta Municipality flatbed truck this week. It had obviously been sent out to clear the roadsides. All well and good, except the open bags on the back were actually redistributing the collected rubbish in the wind, at least two black bin liners and a shower of white plastic bags and assorted paper before it turned off in front of me.

***

I HADN’T been to what I still call “The Pictures” for a long time but felt impelled by the great reviews and my own interest in the subject, to see Dunkirk this week.

My immediate enjoyment came from the cinema itself, my first visit to the superb Starlux in Karaoğlanoğlu, extra-large, comfy, couch-like seats, a steep incline so no heads in front of you and the blessed relief of air conditioning.

Starlux also boasts a hi-fi system which pounds you with surround-sound, as I was soon to discover: Dunkirk, one of the great human dramas of the Second World War, diminished to a booming sound track of roaring engines and crashing metal.

Director Christopher Nolan boasts that no CGI was used in the making of his movie. What a pity. We should have seen a third of a million men stranded on the beaches. More than 200 Royal Navy and the amazing “Little Ships,” 700 of them, took part in the rescue.

The RAF lost 145 aircraft trying to protect them. It was the biggest evacuation in military history.

We got a few snaking queues shorter than the average Black Friday sales crowd, three Spitfires and the plucky captain of a Little Ship (just one). It came across as a Reduced Shakespeare Company production with a slimmed down cast and few props.

With much of the action taking place inside sinking vessels, at times it felt perilously like a remake of The Poseidon Adventure. I half expected brave-but-doomed Shelley Winters to come bursting to the surface at some point.

There were some lip-biting moments, but overall the film lacked a human element to balance its “epic” pretensions. I shall be digging out the 1958 version with John Mills and Richard Attenborough for comparison. Perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t do so beforehand.

***

MY FRIEND Hussain does an excellent curry at Bollywood, his place in Çatalköy, but I have often chided him over his somewhat limited wine choices. When I pulled a face at a recent rock ‘n’ roll evening, he finally decided to do something about it.

“Look, tell me what you like and I’ll get it for you,” he said. I scribbled down two inexpensive and readily available names we enjoy, expecting he’d order some in for next time, but before you could say “Bombay Bhaji,” he was off, to the local supermarket, returning five minutes later with our preferences. Bolly good show!

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