Who’s the Daddy?

When I first started this blogging lark way back in 2010, I began to attract cyber-friends from across the blogosphere. Yankee repat, Charles Ayres, was one of them. Right from the off, Charles was a great supporter of my literary pretensions (blog and book) and was one of the first to review Perking the Pansies. He’s one of those virtual pals I know I would enjoy getting drunk with in the real world.

Charles published his own expat story, Impossibly Glamorous in 2013 and has now followed this up with a sequel, ‘San Francisco Daddy’ under the name Charles St Anthony (he thinks it sounds like a posh Yves Saint Laurent scent; it reminds me of a cheap hairdresser I once dallied with). Here’s what I made of it…

San Francisco DaddyCharles St Anthony used to be big in Japan. That was until that earthquake in 2011 which proved that Mother Nature was the bigger bitch. So what did Charles do? Kicked off his heels and chucked himself down the evacuation slide. Inexplicably drawn to tectonic faults, he parachuted into San Francisco. While waiting for the Next Big One, he wrote his brilliant autobiography, Impossibly Glamorous, keeping the wolves from the door with a series of less than glamorous dead end jobs. Gay men never grow old they just grow body hair and Charles joined the party by ditching the waxing and growing the whiskers. Transformed into a ‘bear’, he embarked on a series of romantic liaisons as dead end as the dead end jobs. San Francisco Daddy: One Gay Man’s Chronicle of His Adventures in Life and Love, is Charles’ brutally honest account of his tales of the city. Charles has lost none of his well-honed observational skills or self-deprecating caustic wit. The book is a delight to read. Did Charles land the dream job and the dream man in the end? You’ll have to download San Francisco Daddy to find out.

 

Check out San Francisco Daddy on…

KindleUK

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Itchy Feet

In the summer of 2012, we parachuted into Norwich on a wing and a prayer. We hadn’t the slightest inkling whether this golden-oldie city of medieval steeples would suit us or not. It was a difficult ask: somewhere we could replant our off-peak life but avoid the workhouse and somewhere within a bearable commute of London so we could keep tabs on our folks.

When we first paddled up the Wensum, we somehow ended up living in a Grade II listed Seventeenth Century brick and flint weaver’s cottage. The place had been through the wars and oozed history. By the Nineteenth Century, weaving had gone the way of the dodo and the cottage was reincarnated as a public house. In the Thirties, the Great Depression depressed ale sales along with everything else and time was called on the Devil’s brew. After that, the building gradually fell into miserable dereliction, boarded up and unloved. The final insult came when the building was gutted by fire; demolition seemed likely. Cue the city elders who stepped in with their compulsory purchase powers, repaired the structure, modernised the fabric and flogged it off. In 1986 the Weaver’s Cottage was reborn as two comfortable maisonettes with all mod-cons. The partially charred beams above our marital bed are the one remaining sign of that near-death experience.

A year and a bit on, those itchy feet are back but this time we’re moving across town, not continents. We’re rather taken with Norwich and have decided to put down roots by buying a small piece of it (while we can still afford to). So it’s goodbye to our pretty weaver’s cottage with its olde worlde beams, toffee-coloured fireplace and drafty halls and hello to our handsome warehouse conversion just beyond the old city walls with big picture windows, views across the burbs and proper insulation. We’re expecting our bills to plummet. Otherwise, that workhouse beckons.

Expat to Expat

Writing the closing scenes of my new book brought good and not so good memories flooding back. They came in erratic waves, like the mad traffic that used to vibrate past our stone cottage in Bodrum. Our time in Turkey was the best of times, a four year white knuckle ride that frequently left us breathless. Like all adventures, it wasn’t without its challenges. Language, culture, resentment, home sickness, red-tape, isolation, plunging interest rates, political uncertainty, the dreadful expat rat pack – these were just a few of my least favourite things. They made me sad and from time to time, they queered our pitch. I’m glad to say we batted most of them off. Like seasoned old pros, we settled down to a life of wanton self-indulgence in an emigrey bubble of our own making, for a while at least. The trouble is, all bubbles burst sooner or later and now we’re back on planet Earth. We’re grown-ups again, albeit a little older, a little wiser and with completely different priorities.

Expats_002

I’ve often been asked what we would do differently if we had our time over again. The answer is very little. Before we stepped off the treadmill and abandoned the long grey days, Liam became my very own forensic researcher. “Dib, dib, dib, dob, dob, dob,” as the Scouts say and, just like the Scouts, “Be Prepared,” was Liam’s mantra. Even so, despite extensive preparation, we still got tripped up. You see, whether you move to a foreign land for the filthy lucre, the thrill of discovery or just to put your feet up and wait for the Grim Reaper’s call, something unexpected will pull the cultural rug from under you. Trust me. It will happen whether you like it or not so best get used to the idea. That’s not to say you should just jump in the deep end without a rubber ring, that would be daft. No, it makes sense to to avoid that painful belly-flop. Do your homework and find out as much as you can from the people who have been there, done that and bought all the fake tee-shirts. In the long run, it will save you a lot of heartache. And if you like to take your advice in handy sound bites, check out HiFX Expat Tip page, from those in the know. There’s even a little tit-bit in there from me.

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The Cream of the Crop 2012

The Cream of the Crop 2012

top 10 It’s the turn of a new year, a time to reflect on the recent past. And what a hectic time it’s been for these old two old drunken reprobates. Four years ago, we jumped the good ship Blighty and swam ashore to paradise in search of a dotty dotage of gin and tranquility  We found a paradise of sorts and so much more besides. Three years into our choppy voyage, I found a little fame and notoriety, and a new course was set – as an accidental author. 2012 brought change: a rudder slammed into reverse and a return to our damp little island perched on the edge of Europe. So, in the best tradition of the year’s end, I give you the most popular Pansy posts of 2012.

1. Now That’s What I call Old

Who would have guessed that a lazy, throwaway post about the 12,000 year old ruins at Göbekli Tepe in Eastern Turkey would hit the top spot? Although it was published in 2011, like Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell*, it never left the charts. In fact, it’s my most popular piece ever, racking up 7,500 hits to date.

2. Expat Glossary

Another perennial favourite. Technically, it’s a page not a post nowadays (though it started off as a post many moons ago). Oft quoted and copied, it’s a tongue in cheek attempt to classify the vintage villagers of expatland. It continues to strike a chord.

3. Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The closest I came to an unseemly slanging match – I queered my pitch with the Turkish Living Forum (or, more accurately, they queered their pitch with me). I stopped the vile conversation in mid-sentence. I can do that. It’s my blog. It gladdens my little homo heart that this post continues to attract punters. If I’ve put just one potential member off the bigoted posts, then my work is done. It’s a shame. Most contributors to the forum seem sane and reasonable. It’s a good idea ruined by the vicious and vocal few.

4. Britain’s Got Loads of Talent

I’m a sucker for a sob story and Britain’s Got Talent is stuffed to the rafters with them.  A genuine attempt to discover the best (and worst) amateur talent that Blighty has to offer, or a cynical commercial exercise in crass over-sentimentality? Probably both and so what? This year a dog won. No, a real dog, not an ugly person.

5. No Going Back on Going Back

A slip of the wrist and the cat was out of the bag. A premature posting meant that I announced our repatriation much earlier than I had intended and readers tuned in to read the news.

6. Zenne Dancer

A post about a ground-breaking and award-drenched Turkish film, inspired by the true story of a Kurdish student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly gay. It still hasn’t been released with subtitles so I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t seen it.

7. Fifty Shades of Gay

I wrote this post to celebrate and support the launch of Rainbowbookreviews, a brand new LGBT book review website. As part of the party, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey was offered as a competition prize. What some people will do for a freebie.

8. The Friendly Games

This was my naughty but nice take on the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The BBC did a grand job in televising the once-in-a-lifetime event – online, on radio and on TV. Liam had all three on simultaneously. For a brief period, the nation forgot its woes and smiled again. The mother lode of precious metal helped.

9. Bodrum’s Crusader Castle

Towards the end of our time in Turkey, I thought it was high time to give the pansy treatment to the grand centrepiece of the Bodrum townscape – a little bit of history (not too much) and a little bit of humour. It’s a popular cocktail.

10. Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Our first ‘proper’ holiday for four years and we chose Gran Canaria, that rocky mid-Atlantic brothel. You can take the boy out of the back room but you can’t take the back room out of the boy.

I leave you with my favourite image from 2012. I know, it’s all a bit predictable but I’m turning into a dirty old man and I intend to wallow in it. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for enduring my camp old nonsense for yet another year.

Olympics1

*Bat Out of Hell stayed on the UK album chart for 474 weeks. God knows why. 

Suited and Booted

Now that our frivolous semi-retired life among the lotus-eating emigreys of the Aegean is behind us, I thought I’d mark the transition with a major makeover. Not me, of course (far too late for that). Regular readers will have noticed that the blog is now dressed in more sober attire. Backtobodrum commented:

“I have to comment that your blog now looks very organized and serious. Have you two gone back to wearing suits and ties?”

It’s an interesting observation because, in a way, we have. Liam’s got himself a part time job doing something with data. So much for giving up the wicked world of the waged but needs must when the Devil drives. The demon in this case is the continuing slide in Turkish interest rates. It’s a pre-emptive strike. We’re spending more or less the same here as we did in Bodrum, but we need to stitch the little hole that first appeared in the family purse a couple of years back. Working part time enables Liam to plug the gap and to meet his family obligations (the main reason we came back to Blighty). It also enables me to make a proper go at this writing lark (the other reason). When I get the film deal, Liam will be released from paid labours and return to his main function in life – sorting me out and peeling me grapes.

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God Bless America

Insurance is easy cash for the fat cats, as simple as falling off a log. When we shipped the tarnished family silver back to Blighty, cover was compulsory: no pay, no way. It’s one of life’s expenses that you put down to experience and write off, like the unrequited Christmas card to an ungrateful relative. Regular readers may remember that our tatty heirlooms were raided by the fuzz and that an ostentatious hi-fi speaker was badly damaged. Time to claim, we thought – in for a penny, in for pound. In went the claim, back came the cash. A check (Yankee spelling), landed on the mat for $250. God Bless America and God bless Travel Guard, Inc. Of course, by the time all the middlemen down the monetary line took their cut, I only ended up with £130.

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Jumping Jack

Liam and I registered with our local GP practice. The serene surgery is a far cry from the NHS bedlam we left behind in inner city Walthamstow. Natural politeness reigned supreme and you could hear a syringe drop in the waiting room. The entire process took no more than ten minutes. I have wobbly legs to check and periodic limb movement disorder to re-diagnose so I booked my first appointment. I was greeted by a smiley Germanic quack who listened intently to my dancing calf story and examined the test results I had shipped over from Turkey. She checked my blood pressure. “A little high,” she said, “but that’s because I’m a scary doctor.” We laughed. “Best we re-do the tests,” she continued. I’m booked in for a fasting blood test in a few days and I’ve been given a home blood pressure kit to check the numbers every waking hour on the hour for the next week. I suppose I’d better cut down on the sauce a bit. Frau Doc has also referred me to a consultant cardiologist for an arterial MOT. Apparently, I book the appointment online. I have a sneaking suspicion that Teutonic efficiency will cut through the NHS flab like a hot knife through butter.

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