I first compiled my expat glossary in 2011 as a tongue-in-cheek classification of the various expat types Liam and I encountered during our time in Turkey. The idea started with ‘emigrey’ to describe silver-haired retirees living out their dotage in the sun. It was a play on the English loan word from the French ‘émigré,’ the past participle of ‘émigrer’ – to emigrate. The glossary caused quite a stir at the time, striking a chord with most but hitting a nerve with the humourless. It’s remained a perennial favourite, often quoted and plagiarised, and not always with a credit – naughty, naughty. Over time, the lexicon has grown, with additions by me and suggestions from others. And now, I’ve added a new category. So, ladies and gents, I give you…
The antidote to the VOMITing sickness that afflicts the Shirley Valentines who wash up like driftwood on the beaches of Turkey. Many of the Sisters are reformed VOMITs who’ve been through the ringer, some more than once, but have emerged to tell the tale stronger and wiser. The Sisters stick together (like birds of a feather), because men are rubbish.
The Bodrum Chapter of the Sisterhood play a central role in Turkey Street, the sequel to Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey, due out in the Summer of 2014.
I noticed a little growth on my head beneath my slowly receding hairline. An ugly little lumpy bump popped up without warning. I didn’t know what it was. Best get it checked out, I thought. A childhood spent splashing around in the tropical sun fleeing leeches as an army brat and four years under Anatolian skies squashing mozzies as a lotus eater and I could well be asking for trouble. My fierce (her word) German GP didn’t know what it was either. “Best get it checked out,” she barked and sent me off to a dermatologist. He didn’t know what it was. “Best get it sliced off,” he said. Four blue stitches, a neat little scar and a lab report later, it was just a wart. Not the viral kind of my carefree childhood days but the worry warts of my impending dotage. Wisdom warts Frau Doktor calls them. Witch’s warts I call them. I’ve already got a thicket sprouting from my nose, silver short and curlies and unregulated wind. What next? Gout?
For many more months that she cares to remember, Linda A Janssen (Adventures in Expatland) burned the midnight oil and poured her heart and soul into her book, The Emotionally Resilient Expat. It was time well spent because she’s really pulled it off.
This is what the pro had to say:
“A practical guide in the art of managing the risks of overseas life in ways that will promote endurance and effectiveness. Full of honest and hope-filled stories from the lived experience and life-long learning of Janssen and her dozens of expatriate contributors. An invaluable companion for expats who want to know that they are not alone.”
Duncan P. Westwood, PhD, (C)OACCPP Clinical Director of Expatriate Care & Development, International Health Management.
This is what the amateur had to say:
“What’s it like down your neck of the expat woods? Exhilarating? Challenging? Tough? Isolating? Life-enhancing? Alienating? All these things wrapped up in a bow? You are not alone. We live in a global village where it has never been easier to pitch your tent in a foreign field. But, it’s a sprawling village of brain-aching complexity and diversity, which can stump even the most adventurous and resilient. Janssen has managed to capture the very essence of what it means to try a different culture on for size, assembling an exhaustive toolkit to help the expat explorer adapt and prosper. It’s quite a coup.”
Jack Scott, Author
And guess what? Liam and I have cameo roles. Fabulous!
The sequel to Perking the Pansies to tie up the fraying loose ends and bring our Anatolian journey to its crashing conclusion is coming along very nicely. Expect a few surprises. I have a working title of ‘The Sisterhood,’ so this may give a little clue about the main theme. In the meantime, a gentle plug for the books already on the virtual and actual shelves. Hey, a boy’s got to sell his soul to bring home the bacon.
The books are widely available in multiple formats. And if you buy direct from me, I get to keep the lion’s share of the take. For more information, check my website.
After a few weeks of tweaking, fixing and buffing, Turkey, Surviving the Expats is off the blocks. Episode Two of the best of the blog contains all the juicy bits from the Turkey years. Here’s the blurb:
In 2009, Jack Scott and his civil partner, Liam, sold off the family silver and jumped the good ship Blighty for Muslim Turkey. They parachuted into paradise with eyes firmly shut and hoped for the best. When the blindfolds were removed, what they saw wasn’t pretty. They found themselves peering over the rim of a Byzantine bear pit. Bitching and pretension ruled the emigrey roost. The white-washed ghettoes were populated by neo-colonial bar-room bores who hated the country they’d come from, hated the country they’d come to and were obsessed with property prices, pork products and street dogs. Expat life was village life where your business was everyone’s business. For Liam, it was the barren badlands of the lost and lonely. For Jack it was the last stand of the charmless Raj – ‘Tenko’ without the guards, the guns and the barbed wire. It took them a while to find their feet and separate the wheat from the chavs but, determined to stay the course, eventually they found diamonds in the rough and roses among the weeds.
Welcome to Part Two of the mini-series which includes previously unpublished material together with Jack’s personal recommendations of the must-sees that Turkey has to offer visitors and residents alike.
Buy a Kindle edition from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and from all other Amazon stores worldwide. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Download the Kindle app from Amazon and read the book on your PC, smartphone or tablet. Alternatively, buy an e-Pub version from me directly and I get to keep all the dosh. The e-Pub format can be read on most non-Kindle readers (Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple). The e-books are priced at just £2.99, $3.99 and €3.50 – cheaper than a frozen pizza from Iceland (the shop, not the country).
The pictures are hooked, the classic Habitat vases are strategically placed in medieval nooks, the beds are nattily dressed and the gay scatter cushions have been scattered gaily. Our Gallic Lady of the House gazed down on us enigmatically as we popped the cork on the French fizz and toasted to a job well done. The ex-semigrey repats are in and we’re sorted. Liam’s loving the kitchen and loving my Radio gaga. We’re wallowing like proverbial pigs. We’ve finally sussed the complex recycling palavar. The slightest infringement of the rules and the feeble boys with their feeble wrists won’t take the crap. It wasn’t like this with my little plastic save-the-world box in Walthamstow and it certainly ain’t Turkey.
‘In the beginning there was work and work was God. After 35 years in the business, the endless predictability made me question the Faith.’
I wrote those words on the 8th October 2010, the opening sentence of my debut post on a brand new blog about a couple of silly, cynical old queens who decided to jump the good ship Blighty and wade ashore to Asia Minor as gay semigreys (or is it semigays? No, that would be those who dip in and out). For a minority report, the blog’s done rather well. Now there’s a book. That’s done rather well too. Remarkable. Both crept up behind us without hint or herald. Maybe we should have listened to the early advice of our playground peers and kept our backs to the wall. Too late now.
We planned to stay in Turkey for a good few years, slowly descend into memory loss and erectile dysfunction disguised by a haze of alcohol, then paddle back to Blighty for the liver transplant and wait for the Grim Reaper’s call. Sadly, it’s not to be. I’d like to do author things and keep the pennies (and believe me I do mean pennies) rolling in. I can do neither in Turkey. There’s another reason. An important reason. There are pressing family issues that cannot be ducked or delayed. If you have read the book you will understand:
“One day, our Turkish adventure might be curtailed. We were prepared.” (Chapter 12)
That time has come.
Where will we be laying our hatboxes next? Well, there’s a clue in the picture below. Hint – it’s not in Soho.
Thank you Turkey for breaking the umbilical cord between wages and lifestyle. Thank you Turkey for giving me the time and space to write. Thank you Turkey for handing me a story on a plate. We hope one day to return. But, for now there’s no going back on going back.
The photo above is a picture of one of the great cathedrals of England but where is it? Answer correctly for the chance to win* a signed copy of Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey. Submit your answer by commenting on this post.
*The winner will be chosen at random by Liam from correct entries submitted before 4th March 2012. Comments containing entries to the competition will not be published until after this date so no cheating. The book will be shipped free to the winner to any address in the UK or Turkey. Delivery elsewhere (Mongolia, the dark side of the Moon, etc) may incur charges depending on the cost. Those who already know the answer are banned (we know who you are).