Just imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, recently married middle aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country even one that is secular and practises a moderate and state-controlled form of Islam. Turkey is a country familiar to many Brits: the beer swigging tattooed tourist seeking cheap fun in the sun with chips on the side and those of a more scholarly hue that wonder at the unparalleled scale and depth of Anatolian culture and history. Türkiye means ‘land of the strong’ an old Turkic/Arabic compound.
Anatolia translates as ‘sunrise’ from ancient Greek. Both poetic epitaphs are fitting depictions of a place blessed with striking physical beauty, shaped by the brutal force of nature and fought over, won and lost by conquistadors across all of recorded time. Turkey is a true crossroad of civilisations, the evidence of which lies casually underfoot. I decided to chronicle our exploits with the mad, the sad, the bad and the glad in a blog for the whole world to ignore. Since most Turkish travelogues we have read tend to be worthy, insipid or both, I decided I would try and stir things up with something a little less reverential and lot more controversial.
In June 2012, we returned to England. Asia Minor gave us four years of extraordinary exploits with some extraordinary people. From the outset I called our cast ‘the mad, the sad, the bad and the glad’. We now lodge in the surprising city of Norwich set among the flatlands and big skies of East Anglia. I’m sometimes nostalgic for our entertaining encounters with the hopeless, the hapless and, yes, the happy go lucky. They gave me an unexpected tale to tell and for this I thank them. The next instalment is on the story drawing board.
Were we mad? Probably.
See how all this comes alive in the best-selling and award-winning book, Perking the Pansies – Jack and Liam move to Turkey.
“The book’s originality lies in it’s honesty.” Time Out, Istanbul
“Empathetic, respectful and pretty acute.” Turkish Daily News
The sequel, Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum will be out May 2015. Expect few surprises.