2013 in Review

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.

Plumber’s Bum

It was the picture wot won it.

Turkey Troubles

A revolution in the making?

Tom Daley: Something I Want to Say

Saying it before someone said it for him.

Gareth Thomas, Dancing on Ice Drama

Who said ice-prancing rugger buggers can’t read?

Life in the Old Blog Yet

With thanks to the nice people at WordPress who featured me on one of their big hitting sites.

Turkey, Surviving the Expats – Out Now!

Keeping me out the workhouse.

God Save the Queen’s Head

A Chelsea classic and old watering hole of mine.

From Little Acorns...

A small corner of Turkey that is forever John.

Seven Year Itch

A soppy tale from Liam.

Turkey, Who Will Blink First?

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.

Nine Elms
The Thames at Nine Elms

And I shouldn’t forget the perennial favourites from previous years that keep coming back again and again like a bad case of thrush.

Gran Canaria Sex Emporium

Proving that ‘sex’ really is the most searched for word on Google.

Now That’s What I Call Old

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?

Expat Glossary

Oft quoted and oft plagiarised (and not always with a credit, tut tut)

Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The few spoiling it for the many. A real shame.

Turkey Street RecliningAnd what of 2014? All I know is that Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum 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.



Petula ClarkUnlike many of the stately old homos of my generation, I never quite developed a taste for the torch-song trilogy of Garland, Minnelli or Bassey. And I can take or leave the new old girls on the block – the fallen Madonna, nip and tuck Cher or crazy Diana (Ross not Spencer). But, my spot is very soft for a classy dame from Surrey, a woman who first hit the streets in the year war broke out. Then, she was performing with an orchestra in the entrance hall of a Kingston-upon-Thames department store for a tin of toffee and a gold wristwatch. She was seven. Seventy four years on, she is still going strong and is currently on national tour. I am, of course, referring to the iridescent and timeless Petula Clark – child protégé, forces favourite, Hollywood starlet, Sixties pop princess, chanteuse Française and West End superstar.

Autumn was fashionably late this year but made quite an entrance when it did eventually arrive. We were battered by brolly-snapping weather as we wandered the windy streets of Ipswich in search of the Regent Theatre, East Anglia’s largest.  We had a stiff double at the bar while we dried off. The drench did nothing to dampen our spirits and as we took our third row seats in the auditorium, the crowd buzzed with anticipation. Miss Clark has been treading the boards for a very long time and this was no better illustrated than by the giddy silver-haired fans who surrounded us. Every care home in Suffolk must have been drained that night. I swear I spotted a St John’s Ambulance crew on standby just in case the excitement got too much; mercifully, we were spared a medical emergency. Still, our Pet raised the blood pressure with a superb performance, giving those X Factor wannabees, a fraction of her age and a fraction of her talent a marathon for their money. From Gershwin to Lennon via Elvis and Gharls Barkley, Miss Clark stepped through her set with style, humour and remarkable agility. Naturally, ‘Downtown’ got the biggest cheer but, for me, it was ‘I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love’ that got me all dewy-eyed. You see, I’d chosen it as the soundtrack to the champagne reception at our Civil Partnership (“Ah,” I hear to cry in unison).

Come the finale of the two-hour gig, the wrinkly congregation got to their feet for the much-deserved standing ovation (though, in truth, it was more of a slow stagger than a youthful leap). Even a wheelchair-bound man in a turban found his legs, Twas a miracle from the lady who famously played Maria Von Trapp’s favourite singing nun. Hallelujah, sister.

Get your hankies ready…

Let’s Hear it for the Brides

Let’s Hear it for the Brides

The sun shone, the bride and bride kissed, the pansexual crowd whooped, the fizz popped and the waters trickled by in approval. After the nuptials in Islington, the wedding party was delivered via double decker to Blackfriars Pier where we joined them, all suited and booted (well, I’ve got to get some wear out of the two piece I bought for the funeral of my celebrated uncle). What started as a boozy cruise down Old Father Thames ended with a slow smooch on a riverside dancefloor and two very happy ladies. Liam caught up with old colleagues from his waged days and I got to flirt with a bone fide fire fighter. The hettie-man didn’t seem to mind any of my obvious batty-man gags about sliding down his greasy pole and playing with his enormous hose. The running buffet, bottomless barrel and limitless goodwill helped ensure our first lesbian wedding was a rip roaring success. We felt honoured to witness it.

The only blot on the landscape was our uncomfortable room at the Comfort Inn, Vauxhall, with its thin duvets, wonky fittings and tiny shower cupboard with a loo barely big enough for a five year old. Still, we were three sheets to the wind thanks to our generous hosts so we hardly noticed.

The wedding album isn’t out yet so here’s the view from the pier at the Westminster Boating Base in Pimlico where the reception was held. Liam said I scrubbed up rather well and who am I to argue?



Last month, John, my eldest brother and his missus came to visit. He’s the eldest of five and would be the first to admit that when I trampolined out of the closet at the tender age of 16, he was none too pleased. In those far-flung days, only the likes of sexually ambivalent Larry Grayson, Kenneth Williams and John Inman were in the public consciousness and they all kept a foot firmly in the closet door. Most people thought all queers were predatory child abusers recruiting for the cause (some pond life still does, of course). Ironic, now that the Jimmy Savile scandal from that very era has now hit the fan. As the years rolled by, my brother’s views mellowed and moderated. I see his altered image as a metaphor for society as a whole. On the evening of our 5th wedding anniversary, John and his wife treated us to a slap-up meal at Jamie’s Italian. Thanks bro!


Seven Year Itch

Seven Year Itch

It’s the fifth anniversary of our civil partnership today and seven years since Liam and I first met. I’ve been stalked by happiness (and a bit of sadness from time to time) since the day I dropped out of my mother’s womb screaming “I am what I am.”  The last seven years have been, without question, the happiest. I awoke this morning to find that Liam had posted  a little something on Facebook.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am.

Okay, you. One sentence should do it.

Seven years ago we met in that bar in Trafalgar Square, shared that Sloppy Giuseppe and over-priced Pinot Grigio, argued about the bill, eventually went Dutch, courted for months like a pair of 1950’s Catholics (for heaven’s sake), collapsed out of exhaustion into the world of jiggy-jiggy (terribly messy but strangely exciting), fell madly in love, got married (nice suits), moved in together (delicious scandal), watched the curtains twitch (mostly nets), gave up everything sensible and moved to Turkey (what was wrong with Spain?), fell in-and-out-and-in-and-out of love with an extraordinary (no, challenging, misogynistic, homophobic, primitive and God was it cold – okay I loved it) place, you writing ‘that’ book, ‘that’ book getting critical acclaim and big sales (cha-ching) but ‘that’ book largely ignored by those close to us (discuss?), coming back to look after our own (good call), becoming poor, well poor-ish (bad call), discovering the great city of Naaaarwich (nuff said), having more jiggy-jiggy (apparently unnatural, but terribly good with central heating and an injection of Radio 4 LW), re-discovering UK culture like a long lost friend but afraid to tell the expats how wonderful it was in case it came across as boastful (fine line), you becoming ‘properly’ recognised as a ‘proper’ writer (hurrah!) not to mention radio star (OMG), me re-learning Bach fugues (they are SO hard to play, even harder than Mozart, you really have no idea how my fingers ache), both of us weeping like candles at the latest Cinema City flick (okay, mostly Dame Maggie and thank God for the discounted tickets and blood-warm Merlot at the bar), getting over-excited about that converted railway carriage in miles-from-nowhere (yes, I could wash my bits in a sink with a view like that), improvising those make-shift nappies during the messy norovirus days (thank you Blue Peter and Morrison’s super-padded 2-for-1 kitchen towels, we owe you), people-watching at the Playhouse and longing to be young (clearly, we need to avoid Death In Venice comparisons here), gasping at Bonnie Langford’s amazingly flexible crack (and boy, can that Dolly write a tooone) but most of all, keeping our focus, always, on making sure our glass is resolutely full. I’d say it’s been an extraordinary seven years, husband.

Happy Anniversary. It still feels surprisingly good.