Regular pansyfans may recall that Springtime Books (that’s me and my partners in crime) are working on an anthology of expat stories about Turkey. A huge thank you to those who’ve contributed so far – the book is building very nicely. We’ve already got a fabulous, diverse selection of personal tales and reflections – from Istanbul to Gaziantep, from ‘Chickens in a Buick’ to ’Finding My Tribe in Turkey’, some humorous, some touching and all capturing a personal snapshot. All this means there’s a unique book in the making.
So do keep your contributions coming in (see Turkey Anthology – What’s Your Story? for more info.) We’re about halfway there. I know many of you have some amazing personal stories to tell and, as this book is a ‘thank you to Turkey from expats past and present’, it would be particularly good to have some up-close-and-personal accounts of how Turkey and its people have affected you, touched you. Don’t worry if your idea isn’t fully-formed, just get something down on ‘paper’ and we can finesse it later.
The book is still untitled but to help visualise what it might eventually look like, I’ve got our designer to knock up a mock-up. It’s just an idea at this stage to be taken lightly but does hint at the kind of look and feel we’ll be going for.
The world may be going to Hell in a handcart but the Pansies keep on blooming – year in, year out. I keep them fed and watered and I’m grateful to those who pass by to admire the display. As the New Year dawns and more dark clouds lurk on the horizon, it’s a good time to look back at the pansies that perked the most in 2018. Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum, romped home by a mile. Who knew a drag show in a circus tent could strike such a chord?
As for the also-rans, it’s the usual eclectic bunch – as befits my random rants and ramblings from daily life: cowboys, cross-dressers, the curse of modern parlance, movie misses, gym bunnies, Hellenic heaven, and stories old and new from the Land of the Sunrise.
Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum | Can I Get, Like, a Coffee? | My Brokeback Mountain Moment | Heal Thyself | Pretty in Pink | Do You Have a Tale to Tell? | Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? | A Hard Act to Follow | Old Money, No Money | Postcards from Crete
There’s No Place Like Home was the most shared. Similarly, in 2017, it was Home Sweet Home. So I guess there really is no place like it.
And what was the most popular post from years past? For the second year running it’s that 2012 camp classic, Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium. It’s the title that won it. Shame on you.
With 2018 all wrapped up, we’re off to the Ivy for some posh nosh and to see in the New Year. Wishing everyone peace and prosperity for 2019.
Liam’s busted ribs are mending slowly but surely and the pain has eased. At one point, I was considering putting him on the liquid morphine left over from my arterial bypass
a few years back, but it’s well past its ‘use by date’ and I didn’t want Liam to go from crack to smack. A casualty of his temporary incapacity was a planned jolly to North Yorkshire. Since Liam could neither travel nor drink, our merry night in Leeds followed by a little festive fun in Knaresborough was off. My disappointment was partially redeemed by a recent five star Amazon review for that book I wrote seven years ago. Amazingly, it still sells, though less so these days. The reviewer simply wrote:
Thank you, Susan Pritchard. Have a fabulous Christmas.
It’s been ten years since Liam and I jumped ship and waded ashore to Bodrum. Ditching the profitable careers did little for our bank balance but a great deal for our work-life balance. Four helter-skelter years in Turkey taught us to live better with less – about 75% less, in fact. Our Turkish ride also gave me an unexpected tale to tell and tell it I did – first in Perking the Pansies and then in Turkey Street. But enough about me. What about you? Do you have a tale to tell?
Delicious Bodrum belle, Angie Mitchell Sunkur, recently parachuted into Norwich for a surprise visit. She was a welcome tonic and over a few gins we got talking, as you do, about the good old, bad old days. It reminded her of a soiree with some buccaneering belles and beaus where, as the wine flowed, so too did the stories – stories of fun and frolics, sadness and adversity, love and commitment, courage under fire – stories to amuse and to move, stories that should be heard. It’s a rich seam.
‘It would make a good read, don’t you think?’ she asked.
I jumped at the chance. I am a bona fide publisher after all. Angie knows people, lots of people, so she flew back home to collect the recollections. She’s doing a sterling job and we’ve got a fair few already. But we need more. We’d love to publish an anthology of expat life in Turkey – stories long and stories short. I’ll handle all the boring bits – editing, design, production, publication and distribution – I know people.
So do you have a tale to tell?
We’re interested in hearing from Turkey expats and regular visitors past and present. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you more.
This is the second article originally published at On the Ege Magazine back in the day. I’ve rescued it from the bin to re-post for posterity. Why? Because I can.
Old Money, No Money
We were summoned by a Turkish neighbour for moonlit drinks. Her name is Sophia, a slightly batty older lady who speaks fluent English with a cut glass accent. Sophia has been threatening us with an invitation for weeks by rapping on our window, poking her hand through the grille and startling our visitors. Our immediate neighbours, Vadim and Beril, were also invited so we all scurried along Sentry Lane together. We approached an ornate set of heavy double-doors and rang the bell. Sophia flung open the doors to reveal a gorgeous candlelit courtyard bursting with a copse of mature fruit trees – avocado, pomegranate and lemon – laid out before a pretty, whitewashed old Bodrum house. Liam was immediately drawn to a candlelit niche in the stone wall, partially hidden by the thicket. The recess contained a small statuette of Our Lady, a replica of the original from Meryemana (the house of the Virgin Mary, near Ephesus). Liam resisted the knee-jerk urge to genuflect.
As a foreign student in the sixties, pedigree’d Sophia had acquired her regal inflection at the Royal Society of Dramatic Art. Her career in the arts was cut short by marriage to a Turkish diplomat whom she loved intensely; she travelled the world as the ambassador’s wife until his premature death a decade ago. She still grieves him, but that doesn’t stop her flirting outrageously with Vadim. His protests that he’s a one-woman man get a sceptical response from Sophia. In her experience, it’s perfectly normal for Turkish men to have a harem of women on the go at any one time, a modern twist on the old Muslim custom of taking more than one wife.
Drinks were plentiful and complemented by bountiful mezes freshly prepared by Sophia’s faithful old head-scarfed retainer she calls ‘my Kurdish woman.’ We were serenaded by Vivaldi and classic crooners – while the hired help fell to her knees and prayed with gusto next to the stereo, disregarding completely the irreverent chatter emanating from the terrace. This bizarre spectacle illustrated, as nothing else could, the polar extremes of Turkish society.
As Dean Martin’s honey tones dribbled from the speakers, Sophia pulled me from my seat for a slow smooch around the terrace.
Although she tended to dominate the conversation (in both English and Turkish), Sophia was a gracious host and the evening was a civilised, bi-lingual diversion. Sophia is old money through and through. She seems taken by us though; we’re completely baffled what ‘old money’ sees in ‘no money’.