My Letter to Özgecan

Maybe, just maybe, something positive will emerge from this.

janeyinmersin

I never had the pleasure of meeting you Özgecan.  I never had the chance to hear you laugh with your friends or sing along to your favorite tune.  No I did not know you at all but I know you now.  Your name will forever be etched into my heart and into the hearts of millions of others here in Turkey and around the world who woke on Valentine’s Day, the day of romance, to the sickening news of your death at the hands of a monster.  We are shocked beyond words hearing of your suffering and of knowing that the simple task of stepping on a bus is no longer safe here in Mersin.

Aslan

What happened to you happens to other women every day, all over the world.  Whether it is in New Delhi or Melbourne monsters can be found everywhere.  But with your death comes the news that tens of thousands…

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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 Barber’s Tale

Sweeny ToddAnother day, another painful nip and tuck to the manuscript of Turkey Street. ‘Nice story,’ Liam had said at the time. ‘Cut it.’ Naturally, I complied, unable to bear another hangdog look from my taskmaster. So, ladies and gents, I give you the barber’s tale, ripped from the heart of Turkey Street before it went off to the publishers – Sweeney Todd minus the music, the murder and the meat pies.

Barber's_Tale1Barbers_Tale_2

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam

Turkey StreetThere’s a tense stand off in the Scott-Brennan household. The air has cleared of gun smoke leaving a wreckage of words scattered round the cutting room floor. It happened last time for my first book and it’s happening again for the sequel. Just when I thought I’d got the bloody thing done and dusted, Liam slashes it with his big red pen. It’s all to the good in the end but the tortuous journey is littered with out-takes that have cut me to the core.

My post before last was about our good fortune with neighbours in recent years. I deliberately left out Clement, our first neighbour in Turkey because, well, we were rather pleased to see the back of him. Now poor Clement has been left out of the book too. Still, nothing gets wasted. It just gets recycled, like most of my rubbish these days. So Ladies and gents, as it’s American Independence Day, here’s the neighbour’s tale, a painful cut from Turkey Street, Chapter 13, Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam.

Clement's Tale

 

 

 

 

Neighbourly Relations

Albert Cooper

Albert John Cooper the third was born to Albert and Alice Cooper of 48 William Street, Norwich on the 16th of June 1933. Like all new born babies for those first few moments in his new world he started turning blue, until rushes of air cleared Albert’s throat for the first time in many, however, the blues had remained.

From Albert Cooper, A Chronicle of Norwich’s King of the Blues

So began the long and eventful life of Albert Cooper, Norwich’s very own Man in Black who’s been singing the blues since 1942. Albert lives below us in the old Co-op warehouse. He’s a Norwich original with a tale or ten to tell, is still gigging at the age of 81 and remains in fine voice. Long may he continue.

Orford_Cellar_2Norwich has a rich musical heritage to suit all tastes from high brow to arty-farty,  symphonic to solo, electric to unplugged and everything in between. Albert is a wonderful part of this tradition and if you happen to be in town tomorrow evening, pop along to the Rumsey Wells Pub in St Andrews Street to catch the local legend and his blues and boogie band.

Down the years, we’ve been remarkably blessed with engaging, generous, fascinating and wacky neighbours. Until recently we shared a Weaver’s Cottage with the modest and unassuming Anjali Joseph who has written two internationally acclaimed novels and lectured in English Literature at the Sorbonne. And there was dear old Colin with his signature horn-rimmed glasses who bought my house and all its contents in Walthamstow, lock, stock and barrel. His kindness eased our passage to paradise and when we got there, we found ourselves sharing a garden with Beril and Vadim…

Turkey Street…a maverick and unwed Turkish couple who had escaped the conformity of Ankara to take possession of Stone House No. 1 and join us in the garden of sin. Vadim was a retired rock and roller, a portly, rosy-cheeked percussionist in his late fifties, obsessed with drums and wedded to his collection of Turkish darbukas. Beril was a good decade younger than her rhythm and blues man and bore more than a passing resemblance to Kate Bush in her Home Counties years. She tolerated Vadim’s banging with good grace but preferred the gloomy Gallic romanticism of Charles Aznavour to the guitar riffs of Eric Clapton.

From Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum, Chapter One

Fairground Attraction

Fairground Attraction

Yesterday, I left Liam indoors slaving over the final pre-edits of the new book and tootled into town to catch the bank holiday vibe. The crowds were drawn to the Easter parade of stalls flogging fast food with an international flavour – German bratwurst competed with Cumberland sausages, French fromage with the Great British Cheese Company, savoury Indian street food with overflowing troughs of sweet treats. It was as if Borough Market had parachuted in for the day. Naturally, I was drawn to the stall selling Turkish delight, baklava, olives and mezes. The swarthy geezer with tombstone teeth behind the counter wasn’t bad either.

In nearby Chapelfield Gardens, a travelling fair rose up above the neat borders. As I drew closer, the fatty aroma of fried onions and cheap burgers mugged the senses and my arteries hardened with every nostril-full. Distant memories flew me right back to my adolescent stirrings for the tattooed oiks who spun the waltzers, the kind of randy highwaymen who would take you round the back of the ghost train and relieve you of your pocket money (or at least, that’s what I imagined at the time).

There was a time when I would jump on every attraction with gay abandon. Alas, I am Braveheart no more. Not since my nephews dared me to hop on the Detonator at Thorpe Park a few years back and I nearly lost my lunch. Risk aversion comes with age, I suppose. These days, the rickety rackety rides seem way too Heath Robinson for my liking. For me there’s little fun left at the fair. Still, the tattooed oiks still manage to get my loins stirring.

Desperately Seeking Doreen

Desperately_Seeking_Doreen

A cursory glance at my stats shows that Perking the Pansies pops up on the internet in totally unexpected ways. My irreverent ramblings seem to attract the lost, the lustful, the inquisitive and the ignorant – and from the four corners of the world. These are a few of my favourite search terms:

  • Pussy lovers (for feline aficionados, obviously)
  • Gran Canarian Sex (for a bit of bump and grind in the sun)
  • Rent Boys (believe me, my street-walking days are over)
  • Hardon All Day (hit it with a stick)
  • Is Marti Pellow/Gary Lineker/Kate Adie gay (they seem happy enough to me)
  • Gumbet Love Rats (for the ladies who never learn)
  • The Turkish Living Forum (keeping my 2012 rant right up there in the rankings)

And then came:

  • Doreen Dowdall

Doreen Dowdall

Now that one completely threw me.  Dowdall was my old girl’s name before her soldier boy popped his ring on her finger. Who was the mysterious surfer?  I don’t know, but if s/he ever surfs back, do drop me a line and put me out of my curiosity. And yes, that is me in the picture (the one in shorts, not the fabulous Sixties frock). Bless.

P.S. It’s Doreen Dowdall’s 85th birthday tomorrow. Apart from being a bit mutton with a touch of arthritis and a dodgy hip, the old girl’s in fine fettle. I just hope I’ve inherited her genes.