Midsomer Murder

I’ve been asked what the book is actually about. You’ll have to read it to find out, but suffice it to say, I learned some valuable lessons from David Steddall, the English Literature teacher at my South London grammar school. “A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end,” he would say. We’ve all heard the mantra. He seemed to like my essays, even if they were sometimes a little risqué in a post-pubescent, hormone-raging sort of way. His encouragement gave me confidence. He would often give me top marks and have me recite my work in class. Tragically, I failed* my Lit O Level. I just didn’t get the poetry and I was a lazy little student. Still, I’ve stayed faithful to Dave’s cause ever since and my book has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s not a random series of observations like the blog. It’s the full story of our time in Turkey, warts and all. It’s not all light and frothy either. We’ve experienced some dark moments here:

Liam left exactly two months after we moved into the house in Bodrum. He dashed home on a mercy mission and I had no idea when he would be coming back. Üzgün’s death had thrown him off kilter and now he was needed in London.

The night before, we had dined al fresco to take advantage of yet another blessed, balmy evening. Liam’s gastronomic ambitions had reached such a pinnacle that we had less and less reason to eat out. The courtyard was a perfect setting. We reminisced about the days when, at the slightest hint of fine weather, we would rush home from work and grab the opportunity to eat in the garden.

We chinked glasses. “To the good life, Liam.”

It was a hollow toast. Üzgün’s murder had changed everything. He had been raped, robbed and murdered by three teenagers in a back street of Yalıkavak. His body was found in a dry river bed, naked, beaten and barely recognisable.

Liam got the call he had been dreading. He packed a suitcase and taxied to the airport to pick up the next available flight. I stayed awake for most of the night, texting Liam and trying to make sense of the mess around us. I camped on the balcony for hours, questioning my flawed understanding of Turkish society, balancing the highs with the lows and wondering if, ultimately, we had made one huge mistake. My head was a mass of interconnected thoughts and contradictions, each leading to a different conclusion and each stirring up an emotion that took me right back to where I started. I set myself a challenge. I would stay awake until the morning; by then I would know what to do.

The lights went out in Türkkuyusu just as they had done many times before. How could Turkey ever hope to become an industrial powerhouse if they couldn’t keep the bloody lights on? I stared into the darkened streets, lit only by the headlights of passing traffic. I wanted to speak to Liam but he was in the skies somewhere over Europe. I wanted to ask him why we didn’t go to Spain or why we left London in the first place. I knew he would answer, “because we’re different and different is good. Remember the pioneers. ‘Good As You’, they said.”

*I passed English Language with flying colours (along with history). Liam is trying to convert me to the joys of poetry. I fear it’s a lost cause.

Check out my book.

6 thoughts on “Midsomer Murder

  1. Thanks for the extract Jack. I think it’s going to be a riveting read. I hope my copy is waiting when I arrive in England at the end of the month.

    I think the book will fly and I hope you are working on your sequel?

    English Language was also my best subject which was very useful when I did OU course years later. I still don’t get poetry but wish I did.

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  2. . . these things leave scars – a few years ago my abla was with us on her holiday and a few village ladies called by to say ‘Hello!’ One young and very pretty girl did the washing up in our kitchen all the time chattering away. Two days later she refused the advances of the chef in the hotel she worked at in Marmaris so he took his knives to her and killed her. We went to sit with her family and my poor old abla was devastated by being there nut so glad she came with us. They laid the girl’s wedding dress on her grave and there it stayed still visible after several years – I can feel the tears welling as I write this. Dark moments indeed!
    Looking forward to Postman Pat with a little package for me – ‘something else for the weekend, Sir!’.

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  3. Alan, that story gives me chills. Are you writing a memoir? Or J?

    Jack, I am so glad you kept going despite the O levels…maybe poetry will light your fire yet.

    I failed math in high school and was told that it was ok for me not to continue with math thought it was required by the state – that my talents lay elsewhere. i was in full time Russian and art classes and encouraged to join the army vs. go to college. i had one teacher who really believed in me back then and i never forgot that. now i is a professor. 😉 here’s to bucking the status quo and surprising people, and perhaps ourselves as well.

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