A short while ago I shared this image on Facebook. It was a whimsical tease about the sartorial obsession the religious establishment have with funny hats, as if a silly head covering confers gravitas and wisdom. The idea being that if atheists could come up a millinery gimmick to get them in the papers, they might get taken more seriously. It was a joke, obviously. Not so to someone. A couple of days later, the picture and associated comments disappeared quicker than a South American political activist. Where did it go? Why did it go? Who knows? But then, a few days on, the post miraculously re-appeared. I know it was probably some Faceache anorak in hipster whiskers and top knot but I like to think it was divine intervention.
Nothing slaps you about the face better than God’s wrath in 3-D. I’m a sucker for a Hollywood style Biblical epic, particularly as the fairy tales of the Old Testament lend themselves to stunning special effects. So when Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ was released, I was front of the queue. For the most part, the movie delivers on spectacle, making up in drama what it lacks in depth. The plagues sequence is particularly delicious as the God of Moses teaches Rameses a thing or two about divine power. The film has dumped the preachy gravitas of the Cecil B Mille’s 1956 ‘The Ten Commandments’. Christian Bale’s doubting Moses is much grittier than Charlton Heston’s pulpit-style rendition and is better suited to today’s more secular age. Depicting God as a ten year old boy is either inspired or daft (I’m still not sure which). Having the child resemble Damien from ‘The Omen’ is masterly.
According to the BBC, the film has been banned in Eqypt because of ‘historical inaccuracies’ (sorry?) – partly because the movie depicts the Hebrews slaving over a pair of pyramids (the construction of which ceased centuries before the alleged great escape). I’m glad to see that the religious censors are on the ball and standing up for the truth.
If ever there was cast-iron evidence for limiting the number of terms in the top job, it’s the Prime Minister of Turkey’s current spat with Twitter, an unedifying squabble that makes Erdoğan look autocratic and self-serving. Is the Twitter ban on or off? Who knows? Are the tweets about Erdoğan accurate? Who knows? Twitter is in good company. Lazy censorship is the norm in Turkey. A ban on YouTube has been on and off for years. Facebook may be next. Erdoğan doesn’t like selfies. It’s all rather pointless as anyone with a little technical savvy can circumvent the ban with relative ease.
Something dangerous happens to those who sit at the big desk for too long. The seduction of power can be unhinging. Like the absolute monarchs of old, some start to think that they personify and embody the nation they’re supposed to serve and to insult them is also to insult the nation (something that is a crime in Turkey). Erdoğan doesn’t respond well to criticism and uses politically appointed judges to punish those who cross him. And it’s not just Turkey. This imperious tendency can happen even in so-called mature democracies. Think Margaret Thatcher and how she became more regal and dictatorial with every year of her reign. God knows how Her Maj coped with those weekly chit chats. Who was giving an audience to whom?
Wiser heads know when to leave the party. Take Nelson Mandela, a great example of a dignified exit and even the ever-shrewd Tony Blair knew when the game was up. Not so for our power-crazed Erdoğan. In 2011, he won an unprecedented third consecutive election making him the most popular and successful Turkish leader since Atatürk. But there was a problem. The Constitution barred him from serving a fourth term as Prime Minister and that historic victory could have been his swan song. But the wily old Erdoğan wasn’t about to let the small matter of a Constitution pension him off, he simply changed it.
In August, Turks go to the polls to choose a directly elected executive president and guess whose name will be at the top of the ballot paper? The chances are Erdoğan will win, maybe by a smaller margin, but with a majority nonetheless. I don’t expect today’s local elections to upset the political status quo either. I do expect more authoritarianism and more paranoia, a prospect that doesn’t augur well for political pluralism in Turkey. And so back to the Iron Lady. In the end, it was her own who got rid of her, not the electorate. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a lesson here for Erdoğan.
Perking the Pansies recovered from a difficult birth at the murderous hands of the Turkish censors, thrived through the terrible twos and survived the transitional threes, ending the year with 60,000 hits for the last twelve months. Thank you to everyone and anyone who’s passed by and glanced at my random witterings. Most blogs burn out after two years so I must be living on borrowed time.
As the sun sets on 2013, in the best Hogmanay tradition, I give you the year’s top ten – a pick ‘n’mix treat of bum cleavage, Turks at the barricades, a shot in the arm, a tender coming out story, a sexy rugger bugger, a book to send you to sleep, an old-time boozer, an olive tree planted in a foreign field and a scratched itch.
It was the picture wot won it.
A revolution in the making?
Saying it before someone said it for him.
Who said ice-prancing rugger buggers can’t read?
With thanks to the nice people at WordPress who featured me on one of their big hitting sites.
Keeping me out the workhouse.
A Chelsea classic and old watering hole of mine.
A small corner of Turkey that is forever John.
A soppy tale from Liam.
And we all know who did in the end, don’t we?
For some inexplicable reason, this was the most popular image of 2013, featured in Let’s Hear it for the Brides.
And I shouldn’t forget the perennial favourites from previous years that keep coming back again and again like a bad case of thrush.
Proving that ‘sex’ really is the most searched for word on Google.
A humble little post about a spectacular discovery in eastern Turkey that just keeps on giving while the archaeologists keep on digging – 8,000 hits and climbing. Who would have thought?
Oft quoted and oft plagiarised (and not always with a credit, tut tut)
The few spoiling it for the many. A real shame.
And what of 2014? All I know is that The Sisterhood, Jack and Liam’s Turkish Affair will be out early in the year. Will it be as successful as the first one? Who knows? Not me. Whatever happens, come rain or shine, a happy and prosperous year to all my pansy fans. Thank you for staying the course and for your remarkable support. I’m touched but then, I have been for years.
Are you an expat who started a company to do the business in Turkey? Do you have a website? If not, you’d better get one sharpish and register it with the authorities. If you don’t, you might find yourself dumped in the clink for 6 months. Even if you do have a website, you’d better make sure it’s stuffed to the brim with company information. Don’t forget to include the name of the office cat, your granny’s maiden name and the parlous state of your bank balance. If your site content isn’t up to scratch, expect to be banged up alongside a hairy daddy with a twinkle in his eye and a little lovin’ on his mind. Why is this? Well, the Turkish Government has just adopted a new Trade Law which is due to come into effect on the 1st July this year. To find out more click here.
Sounds like some silly idea from a witless job’s-worth paid to dream up the unworkable. I expect it will go the way of the much heralded internet regulations introduced with a fanfare then unceremoniously dropped when it became blindingly obvious they were just a little bit crap.
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My ‘Welcome‘ page on the Facebook Perking the Pansies Book site is no longer available in Turkey. The page is supplied courtesy of a third party application called Pagemodo. Perhaps Pagemodo has just been added to the very, very long (and getting longer) list of sites blocked by lazy Turkish censors. First the lights went out on my blog, then my personal site, now a harmless promo page on Facebook. This is all getting a little tedious. How is an indecent boy meant to make a decent living round here?
In December 2010, Perking the Pansies was blocked by the Turkish internet police. I threw a hissy fit at the prospect of a firm hand on my door knob, a frisk by a frisky conscript and instant deportation. It all turned out to be a storm in a çay cup. Tens of thousands of Google blogs were instantly blacked out because they all shared the same IP address with a couple of Turkish websites that were infringing copyright law (laughable when you think that Turkey is flooded with counterfeit goods). As a result, my inconsequential ramblings were simply caught up in lazy censorship – the scatter gun approach punished the innocent and the guilty alike. My blog became, as the Americans say, ‘collateral damage‘. I had to shut up shop at Google and move lock, stock and barrel to new premises at Word Press.
Well, bugger me. It’s happened again. This time, the idiotic censors have targeted my personal website, jackscott.info, which I use to promote my book. I’d like to make some PR capital out of this by claiming anti-gay discrimination but, alas, I can’t. The circumstances are exactly as before. This time, it seems porn and gambling sites were targeted. I found one site sharing my IP address called Jail Bait; sounds like a particularly nasty little corner of the web. Ban illegal sites by all means but it can’t be beyond the wit of these petty bureaucrats to deal with offenders individually, instead of pulling the plug on thousands of innocent sites just because it’s easier.
I’m pleased to write that the problem has now been resolved by changing my IP address with my domain registrar. What a palavar.