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Lucky in Cyprus    by Allan Cole Amazon.com order for
Lucky in Cyprus
by Allan Cole
Order:  USA  Can
CreateSpace, 2008 (2008)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

It's been said that you can never go home again, a statement I consider only partially true. Allan 'Lucky' Cole proves it, eloquently, in his e-book Lucky in Cyprus: A True Story About A Boy A Teacher, Some Terrorists An Earthquake, And the CIA, as he journeys back in time to his childhood and teen years. When asked why his parents called him Lucky, he tells us, 'Hopalong Cassidy is my cousin and his sidekick's name is Lucky' (the author was loosely-related to western actor William Boyd). Also the movie Mr. Lucky (starring Cary Grant) was shown during one of his visits to the Pentagon.

Lucky begins his story at Athens Airport in 1952, where his diplomat father, Allan Cole Sr., his Irish mother Helen Guinan, baby brother Charlie, and he were detained. The Coles were en route to Cyprus, Cole Sr.'s first assignment as a CIA agent. The family was confined to a guarded security corridor for hours, while words like spy, smuggler, and prison were overheard. It was explained that Allan Sr. was suspected of crimes against the Greek government, with Helen his accomplice. At last they boarded a crowded plane for Cyprus. Lucky would always remember 'the perfume of Cyprus ... smells of citrus, the sea, roses, and spices' in the 'balmy wind'. The youngster observed everything, absorbing the sites, people, and basic Greek words. But the most important words were emphasized by the agency counselor were to never tell 'my dad's a CIA agent'.

En route by taxi to a house in the countryside, they saw a group of kids gathered about an old man and his water wagon, using containers to catch water that escaped from the rusty tank. Women bargained with him for water. Taxi-driver Nikos explained that only the rich had water in their homes. Lucky also learned that the fields surrounding villages were tended communally, as were the herds. In Cyprus, Lucky was living in a time and place 'where two worlds existed side-by-side ... one still part of antiquity, the other struggling to enter the modern age'. The first view of their new home in a sprawling Mediterranean villa with landscaped grounds took Lucky's breath away, as did landlord Yorgo's daughter Athena. But it would all end after his father's four-year tour-of-duty.

Lucky Cole entered 'Thomas Arnold Academy For Boys, with uniforms, British lingo, and teachers armed with pointers and whistles'. Lucky prefered to solve problems via wit vs. fists. The history teacher, who 'brimmed with liberal ideals', assigned the class 'an essay on the influences of the Romans on modern British history'. Lucky worked industriously on the assignment, entitling his work The Last Sunset, based on the quote that 'The sun never sets on the British Empire'. The teacher asked Lucky to read the essay to classmates, which resulted in 'cold silence'. Afterwards Lucky was assaulted by fellow students, requiring hospitalization. It was the last time he 'set foot on the grounds of the Dr. Arnold Thomas Academy For Boys'.

He was subsequently tutored by Jim Demetrakis (whose teaching methods were unlike any Lucky had encountered), leading to a longtime friendship. Lucky's studies included the cinema, theater, living art - and the words: 'without art, without laughter and music and tears at our fellow man's tragedy, we would be nothing but barbarians'. Geography began with memorization of the capitals of Europe, followed by meeting a retired Cypriot mining engineer in a map store where Jim unrolled relief maps of Europe. Thirteen-year old Lucky was intensely drilled in subjects, including the art of bargaining, and Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat. Lucky's friend Andreas told him, 'everyone is saying you are practically a Cypriot ... they say you will soon be a genius, because you are being taught by the second most-intelligent man in all of Cyprus.'

While telling his story, Allan Cole quotes Far Away Places by Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer: 'Far away places with strange soundin' names, / Far away over the sea. / Those far away places with the strange soundin' names / Are callin', callin' me. / Goin' to China or maybe Siam, / I wanna see for myself. / Those far away places I've been readin' about / In a book that I took from a shelf. / I start gettin' restless whenever I hear / The whistle of a train. / I pray for the day I can get underway / And look for those castles in Spain. / They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am, / But I know that I'm burnin' to see / Those far away places with the strange soundin' names / Callin', callin' me.'

Lucky reveals his life with unrestrained emotion - the happiness, love, sadness, and losses. He writes of an alcoholic, abusive father, who, in turn, was abused by both his biological father and mother, until stepdad (grandfather) Sullivan entered the family, and treated both father Allan Sr. and grandson Lucky like his own - the Coles were heavy hearted when the beloved step-grandfather took his own life. Lucky's recollections place readers in the villages, mountains, and the history of Cyprus, with grains of fact that he personally experienced. An avid reader from day one, he gained street smarts in facing prejudice and discrimination, along with risks and dangers, alert to the surroundings and the humanity around him.

In his education, Cole writes coherently of the skills and truths he acquired through one of the major influences in his life - gifted tutor Jim Demetrakis gave Lucky a love of learning that nurtured him long past the Cyprus years. He once told Jim, 'I like to read probably more than anything else. I want to be a writer when I grow up, you know, and reading is a good way to learn how it's done' - a scriptwriter and journalist, Cole has also written the Sten Series; the Timuras Trilogy; Lords of Terror; Drowned Hopes, and Dying Good.

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