The World Through Expat Eyes

InterNations

Hot of the press from the splendid people at InterNations is Expat Insider 2014, one of the largest global surveys of everyday life and personal happiness in the expat forest. As Turkey features in the top twenty destinations, it gets its own country profile. As well as the usual reasons for settling in Turkey (climate, low crime rate, family friendly environment, blah, blah), 13% of survey respondents moved there for love. Here we go again, all those Shirley Valentines being laid at low tide. It’s a bit of pet subject here at Pansy HQ and, unsurprisingly, is a recurrent theme in my new book, Turkey Street. Just in case you think it’s just me being smug as usual, fear not, I get my comeuppance and there’s a glimmer of redemption at the end.

Plucked, banged then blown out when the cash dried up, the orchestra of ladies kept on coming anyway, scouting Turkey’s resorts for love and orgasms.

Chapter 3 – Home Alone

‘Look, when your boat’s holed beneath the waterline, head for dry land. It’s no use bobbing about in the water like flotsam just because the sea is warm…’

Chapter 8 – The Sisterhood

As we supped our cocktails and nibbled the cheesy balls, the tragedy of Deborah’s tale was concluded in all its tawdry detail. With her husband scattered over the playing fields of Eton, Deborah sold the bistro, moved to Turkey and drowned her sorrows by jumping on top of any would-be gigolo who sailed past her patio. The boys got younger as she got older and she clung to the VOMIT lifeboat until her nails bled.

Chapter 15 – Happy Birthday Uncle Sam

‘Anyway, I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Jack Scott. About the VOMIT thing on your blog. You’ve got us wrong. We’re not all victims or washed up old slappers. And we don’t all chase pretty boys and drop our drawers at the first smile.’

And finally…

‘The Sisterhood, Jack?’ asked Doc.

‘Ex-VOMITs. Ladies who learn.’

‘That works for me.’

Chapter 31 – The Ringing of the Belles

I’m relieved to write that Turkey Street has finally gone off to my publisher for knocking into shape. Expect an early 2015 release. Life just gets in the way.

The Sisterhood

Expat GlossaryI 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…

Turkey StreetThe Sisterhood

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.

Turkey, Surviving the Expats – Out Now!

Turkey, Surviving the Expats – Out Now!

PtP Episode 2

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).

PtP Episode 1 (313 x 500)Don’t forget to pick up Episode One – Turkey, the Raw Guide. Like Jack and Liam, they come as a pair.

Time Out, Istanbul Top Billing

I’ve never had much difficulty finding something to say. In fact, sometimes Liam would rather I kept it buttoned once in a while. Today I received a copy of the April edition of Time Out, Istanbul, courtesy of Pat Yale which features a piece she’s  written about expat books. Pat is one of the (if not the) pre-eminent resident travel writers in Turkey. She gave Perking the Pansies top billing. It made me feel like a sexy centrefold without the need to take my kit off (believe me, these days Jack in the flesh would put anyone off their Adana Kebab).  Pat’s review is, well, see for yourself. I am speechless. Thank you, Pat. You managed to shut me up and Liam is at peace for once.

Time Out Instanbul April books

Mother’s Ruin

I rode the dolly to a bar we know in Turgutreis. I was warmly welcomed by Mehmet, the jolly owner. As usual he was very much the worse for wear, indulging his infamous tendency to drink the profits. After initial reticence his new waiter started to give me the serious glad eye. Tall, slim and handsome, in a previous incarnation I might well have been tempted. These days I am a fine and faithful married man. In any case, I know through bitter experience that encounters with Turkish men are invariably complicated and often require recompense for services rendered. My advanced inebriation was such that I couldn’t tell if this young man’s favour was genuine or if he was just another member of the gay for pay brigade.

Mother's Ruin

Discounting the waiter’s flirtation, I engaged Mehmet in drunken conversation. I was supping gin. He ordered one of the waiters to fetch the Bombay Sapphire from the store room and proceeded to lavish it upon me. My reputation as a drinker is legendary and Bombay Sapphire is my favourite tipple, but even I couldn’t handle the quantity of mother’s ruin he overpoured into my glass. I tipped much it on the floor when his back was turned. Sensing I had reached my limit, I paid my bill, made my excuses and staggered off to the taxi rank. The winsome waiter waved ruefully as he watched his bounty disappear into the night.

Ex-Pat Glossary

Expatriates, like everyone else, come in all shapes and sizes – the mean and the mannered, the classless and the classy, the awful and the joyful. The abbreviated epithet ‘expat’ simply doesn’t adequately express the myriad folk who have chosen to live here In Turkey. To add a little descriptive colour to my posts, I’ve devised some new words to depict the numerous variants of the species.

  • Emigreys: retirees serving out their twilight years in the sun, most of whom seem to be just a little to the right of Genghis Khan and who bought a jerry built white box in Turkey because it was cheaper than Spain (well, it was at the time). Everyday emigrey life operates within a parallel universe of neo colonial separateness preoccupied with visa hops to the Isles of Greece, pork sausages, property prices and Blighty bashing.
  • VOMITs (Victims of Men in Turkey): vintage desperate ex-housewives with a few lira to spare who shamelessly chase younger Turkish men. Predictably, such relationships rarely last once the money runs out. Thank you to Sara for this one.
  • Semigreys: those too young to retire in the conventional sense, who are living the vida loca on the proceeds of property sales. Plunging interest rates present quite a fiscal test to those trying to maintain a hedonistic lifestyle on dwindling assets while waiting for the pensions to kick in, assuming there will be a pension to kick in given the parlous position of the public purse.
  • Vetpats: veterans who have been living in Turkey for many years. Usually better informed than their peers with a less asinine view of the world, vetpats have taken the trouble to learn Turkish and are better integrated into the wider community. Some have even acquired Turkish citizenship and are fortunate to have found gainful employment on the right side of the Law.
  • Sexpats: discrete grey men of means who are serviced by young Turkish men in return for a stipend.
  • Hedonistas: Those who enjoy a carefree existence of total self indulgence liberated from the binding ties of responsibility or the worries of tomorrow.
  • The Ignorati: A collective term for those who live in utter ignorance of the history and culture of their foster land, shout loudly in English and see the world at large through the pages of the Daily Mail (or The Daily Bigot as I like to call it).

These terms are not mutually exclusive. It’s perfectly possible for an emigrey to also be a vetpat VOMIT and a fully paid up member of the ignoble ignorati.

I have received several suggestions from readers to add to the ex-pat lexicon. Thank you to Greg for ‘emigays‘ to describe well to do old queens spending up their savings because you can’t take it with you. Thank you also to Tom for the deliciously naughty ‘cowpats‘ to describe those I really can’t abide and would flee to the next town to avoid.

More please…

Las Vegas-on-Sea

Vinnie in the Foliage

After a hearty brunch, Nick decided to initiate us into the ancient Ionian ritual of bush bashing to bring down the olive crop, a technique that has remained unaltered for countless millennia. Liam took to thrashing  a cane with great gusto donning a fetching floral headscarf for the occasion. I withdrew to the foliage to keep Vinnie company. Vinnie was distinctly nonplussed by all the fuss and took refuge in a sunny spot.

Next on the packed agenda was a whistle-stop tour of the dubious daytime delights of Kuşadası, the Aegean gateway to the splendours of some of Asia Minor’s best preserved historical sites. Having read the ‘Rough Guide’ which uncompromisingly describes the resort as “a brash, mercenary and unpleasant Las Vegas-on-Sea…” my expectations were rock bottom. In fact, I thought the epitaph more than a little harsh. The town is a touch rough around some of its sprawling edges and not as classically attractive as Bodrum, but it does convey a vital urban buzz which I found appealing. I was unpredictably impressed by the busy throng of real people, the boulevards of real shops and the sprinkling of smart bistros. And Kuşadası does provide one important facility that sets it above the rest – a proper, bone fide gay bar that entices an eclectic mix of trannies, dancing queens, sugar daddies, gays for pay, hairy marys and the odd bemused bi-curious northerner in search of furtive titillation.

Sunset Behind the Marina

We stopped off for coffee at a trendy café along the neat promenade and watched the sun set over the marina. We contemplated the stark contrast to our cute but comatosed little town of Yalıkavak where nights are spent holding hands and contacting the living. Where’s Doris Stokes when you need her?

Karyn dished up a gastronomic triumph for the evening’s victuals, serving duck terrine which she fretted over all week according to ‘The Competitive World of Expat Cooking‘. She needn’t have worried. The reclaimed brick had done the trick, and the terrine was superb. Karyn invited a few old fairy friends along for the slicing ceremony. We were particularly amused by senior citizen, Peter, a dedicated Friend of Dorothy and philanderer extraordinaire who is an accomplished, competitive cook and keeps a Turk in the basement for afters.

The next day we took homespun kahvaltı in the local soba-warmed lokanta, escaping the crisp mountain air. Popular with both the Chelsea tractor brigade and villagers alike, the rustic eatery served up a plentiful plate of traditional fare. We hit the road after breakfast, waving farewell to our generous comperes and their tender menagerie. I had utterly enjoyed sparring with an intellectual thoroughbred. We shall return.