Now we’ve returned to Blighty I feel safe enough to comment on a subject that is taboo in my former foster home, the cult of Atatürk. Mustapha Kemal was undoubtedly an inspirational military and political leader who saved the Ottoman heartlands from the territorial ambitions of the victorious powers following the Great War. The Italians, French, British and Greeks all wanted to pick over the bones of the moribund empire and punish the Sultan for backing the wrong horse. There were scores to settle. Atatürk saw off the pack of hyenas and established a secular Turkish Republic mostly shorn of its imperial lands within more defensible borders. His post war reforms dragged the country into the 20th Century. He was able to achieve all this because of the sheer strength of his towering personality and resolute single mindedness. Yes, he was a dictator, in the age of the great dictators (I mean ‘great’ in the powerful sense, obviously), but his rule was progressive and transformational. His avowed legacy was to establish a just and secular society based on the rule of Law and gender equality. I wonder, therefore, what he would make of the personality cult that has developed around his memory following his death? I wonder if he would approve of the laws that ban even the mildest criticism of him and require his image to be prominently displayed everywhere? What would he make of monumental scale of his mausoleum and the thousands of grand statues that adorn every town square? I wonder?
Jack Scott Imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, married middle aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country. I chronicled our exploits with the mad, the sad, the bad and the glad in a blog for the whole world to ignore. Then came the book which became a critically acclaimed best seller. Its success opened out a whole new career for me as an author. Who'd have thought it? Certainly not me. In June 2012, we ended our Anatolian affair and paddled back to Britain on the evening tide, washing up in Norwich, a surprising city in eastern England. I’m sometimes nostalgic for our 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, Turkey Street, is out now in print and digital editions.