Brace, Brace

Nowadays, who pays attention to aircraft safety announcements when fiddling uncomfortably in a cramped seat and thumbing through the glossy but vacuous in-flight magazine?  Been there, done that, know the drill. We’re off on our holidays. Who wants to be reminded that we may die on the way? There’s no such thing as an atheist at 30,000 feet when the engines fail. Airlines sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to grab the attention of their passengers. Who hasn’t chuckled at the camp flying mattress flapping his arms about like a drag queen as he points out the emergency exits. Remember your nearest exit may be behind you. Pegasus, the no frills Turkish airline went one step further. It kept our attention and made us laugh.

The Turkish version is even cuter

In other words, when you hear the brace, brace announcement put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye.

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Penis Points

My second guest blogger is Alan from Archers of Okçular. Alan lives in the small farming village of Okçular. We live in the same province of Muğla but might as well be on different planets. His Turkey is the real deal and he’s been living it for 14 years.


Before you crack up, ‘Penis Points’ are no laughing matter; ‘Penis Points’ are, quite literally, a matter of life and death! At least here in Turkey they are. ‘Penis Points’ are a growth industry; ‘Penis Points’ figure in the GDP of the country, they are an essential component in keeping the economy ticking over. Above all, ‘Penis Points’ are a man thing and although I have observed the odd lady collecting her ‘puans’, they are, as a rule, far too sensible to join in these childish antics.

Before I go on, I’d like to relate a story from a time before J and I had considered coming to Turkey to live. We were visiting Istanbul on one of those ‘Weekend Breaks’ and whilst there had met up with Turkish friends. Mehri, the male half of the duo, was a gentle, quietly spoken university lecturer who emanated an aura of peace and love. He and his wife had collected us by car from our hotel and we had just merged into the stream of traffic when an amazing transformation took place; Mehri hunched over the wheel and began snarling and shouting. He hammered the car horn and drove aggressively at those around him; there was much honking back and screeching of tyres. At first it was mildly disturbing, funny even; but as the lunacy grew and the remonstrations from his wife went unheard, we began to fear for our safety.

Suddenly, he swerved violently into a narrow and very steeply descending side road and proceeded downhill at speed totally ignoring several crossroads before screeching to a stop outside his apartment. As he switched off the ignition another switch clicked in his demented, schizophrenic brain and the persona of Mr Hyde dissolved and there, once again, calm and smiling, was our friend Dr Mehri Jekyll!

This was our first introduction to the ‘Trafik Canavar’ or ‘Traffic Monster’, an incubus lurking inside so many, ever seeking opportunities for a quick ‘flash’ and the accumulation of those ego boosting ‘Penis Points’. The reality of the motor vehicle as an extension of the driver’s maleness was no longer some psychologist’s quaint theory; we had just witnessed it in reality.

So, what are these ‘Penis Points’ then? Well, they relate mainly to driving; are, as I said, almost exclusively a male thing and they are measured on a graduated scale from ‘Downright Stupid’ (1) to ‘Causing Death By Dangerous Driving’ (10).

Here are some examples:

  1. You overtake in a perfectly safe way but the guy you passed experienced a strange physiological happening – his penis shrivelled! His only remedy is to glue his car to your back bumper and then, when the moment is least suitable, over/undertake you. Oh! Joy, this prick is back to normal! Plus 6 points.
  2. You are at a junction, you check carefully and the nearest vehicle is 500 yards away so you pull out. The guy is so affronted that he accelerates up to your rear bumper blasting his horn before passing you on the pavement. Plus 8 points.
  3. You pass/pull out on a truck driver who suffers an immediate flaccid moment and then jacks up by hounding your bumper for the next 20 miles (or to the next incline, whichever comes first). He’ll usually catch you up later, when you least expect it and continuing to try sticking his manhood up your tail pipe! Plus 7 points.
  4. You are driving along peacefully when you are confronted by the flashing lights of the black Merc/BMW with Istanbul plates that is hurtling towards you at 180kms in YOUR lane, and you are required to drive off into the forest or compete directly with his superior crumple-zone protection. Plus 3 or 9 points depending on how soon you react!
  5. Some loony driving his tractor/car/ truck pulls out of the side road without stopping/pausing and turns directly towards you in your lane expecting that whoever is there will take the necessary evasive action. ‘Allah Korusun!’ Plus 4 points.
  6. This guy has been crowding your rear bumper for miles on straight, clear roads; suddenly, as you approach a blind bend, he sees his opportunity for an enlargement job and pulls out to confront the huge TIR truck that has just appeared with much flashing of lights and bellowing of horns! Judged well, this is a 10 pointer!

There are many other examples and variations on the theme which include the shooting up of road signs with pistol or shotgun from the moving vehicle. Penis Points are awarded based on speed and accuracy!

I am of the opinion that a significant percentage of male drivers in this country, whether Turk or foreigner, have been sexually repressed by their overprotective, overbearing mothers to some degree or other; and that the only possible relief is to be found in the soft porn pages of most daily newspapers or by traffic manoeuvres that have the chance to bring about the ultimate orgasm of killing yourself or, better still, some poor, bloody innocent third party!

Aaaaaahhhh! How was it for you, darling? Absolutely smashing!!!

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The Good Samaritan

Liam had popped out to the cashpoint to withdraw the rent money. While he was gone Beril, our neighbour, ran into our shared garden shouting for help. I leapt from the radiating sofa, slipped on my flip flops, followed her out of the gate and along the narrow lane that runs along the side of our cottage. Beril led me through the large ornamental gate that lead to Sofiya’s courtyard. I found pedigreed Sofiya heaped in a flower bed. Her knees were blackened and bloodied, her white delicate cotton dress crumpled and muddied. Her grimaced face gave the pain away. I examined her wounds. Fortunately, they seemed no more than a graze and she was able to move her legs.

I galloped back down the lane, through our gate and back into the house. I nearly tripped myself on my wobbly, flopping footwear. I quickly washed my hands then returned with antiseptic cream, kitchen towel, large plaster dressings, paracetamol and water. I gently washed Sofiya’s wounds with the towel soaked in bottled water, unscrewed the cap of the cream and dabbed the ointment onto the cuts. She winced a little but otherwise seemed calmed by my attention. We gently lifted her from the bedding and Beril helped place Sofiya’s arm over my shoulder. I held her firmly round the waist as she hobbled across the garden to the ramshackle conservatory. I gently lowered onto a floral sofa and went in search of the kitchen. Beril followed behind. I located the fridge, opened up the freezer compartment and removed a tray of ice. Beril immediately understood my intention and hunted around the busy kitchen for a plastic bag. She found one wedged at the back of a deep pan drawer. We filled the bag with ice and returned to the patient. Beril placed the cold press against Sofiya’s knees.

‘You must be careful. One fall might carry you off,’ I said.

‘Me, darling? No, I’m invincible.’

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The Horn Chorus

Turks are impatient motorists. Their ambling deportment on foot is transformed into Formula 1 wannabes as soon they get behind the wheel. Sometimes the narrow lane in front of our house is grid locked. This might be because a delivery truck is blocking the road by doing what delivery trucks do or simply due to the sheer volume of traffic trying to cut across town on market days. Crazy moped drivers weave dangerously through the static traffic and overheating drivers play the horn chorus. We watch the melee from the safety of our balcony. It can be quirky and comical, boisterous and baffling but rarely bothersome. However, we have witnessed two memorable hot-headed conflagrations, the first aided by a baseball bat and the second resulting in a violent push, a blow to the head and a few minutes on the ground unconscious. Still, I suppose it’s small beer compared to an average Saturday night in Croydon Centrum. To think that Alexander the Great, the most famous of ancient queens, marched along this very thoroughfare to claim old Halicarnassus (Bodrum that was) as his own before beating up the Persians and conquering half the known world. Get the madam!

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But for the Grace of God…

We were shocked and saddened to hear of the fatal car crash on the Torba Road that killed Engin, the chef from Koşede Restaurant in Yalıkavak and seriously injured his wife and child. We used to eat in the restaurant from time to time. We were only on nodding terms with Engin but know Emra, the front of house, a little better. The scale of the tragedy hit the news. The article in the Bodrum View is in Turkish but hardly needs to be. The pain on Emra’s face says it all. It brings back horrible memories of our own near death experience on the same road. I’m not religious in the slightest but think at these times but for the grace of God go all of us.