Cyprus. Some call it the Mediterranean island of dreams. Some have even dubbed it a Greek oasis. But not for its gambling population, it ain’t. Especially the OAP portion whose weekly thrill revolves around an innocent poker party with their decrepit buddies.
When years in the fierce rays of the sun have dried you into a form resembling a prune, your nipples are often caught in your belt clasp, and you’ve forgotten what it feels like to chew your food with teeth – what else is there to see you through the weeks to your imminent death?
It seems in Cyprus, the answer to that is nothing. Nothing at all – as this week, police on the island summoned a 98-year-old lady and 40 other elderly women to court to face gambling charges after raiding their weekly poker party over two years ago.
A report by thestar stated the fun-lovin’ female gamblers, mostly in their 70s, were stunned to receive the court summons after gathering at a home in November 2009 for a four-hour poker-and-bridge game over sandwiches and pastries. They hadn’t even finished nibbling their home made cheese and onion pasties before police busted in, scaring the living day light out of them.
Daughter of the 98-year-old, Yioula Diakantoni, said: They were playing with only very small sums of money, just to make it interesting. It’s silly for police to concern themselves with such trivial games when there are more serious things they should pursue.”
Diakantoni stated that some women were so frightened by the raid, in the coastal town of Limassol, that they attempted to flee. “Run for the sea!” was one of many terrified shrieks heard through the dusty net curtains by passers by outside. Others involved didn’t realise what the hell was going on and remained tucking into the delicious food on offer in the finger buffet, including one woman who asked police to wait until she had finished her hand and polished off her prawn vol au vent.
Worse still, there’s been damaging ramifications for some of the ladies after such a sudden appearance by the police. Two of the women have since died and another two are currently rocking themselves to sleep in a nursing home.
“My mother has never done anyone harm and we hope she continues playing because it keeps her mind sharp,” Diakantoni added.
Gambling in Cyprus is punishable by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine. Prosecutor Michalis Themistocleous said the summons was merely procedural but added the attorney general was looking at whether to proceed. Do these little old ladies really deserve such a penalty for an innocent game of pasty-fuelled poker? Or should they lock them up and throw away the key? Let us know…