My irreverent, irrelevant ramblings reached the grand old age of 10 in October last year. It passed by without notice. Blog years are like dog years so all things being equal, Perking the Pansies should have been sent to the knacker’s yard yonks ago. The fact that the pansies continue to thrive is a testament to those who still take the time to pass by after all these years. It makes this old nag very happy. How long will it continue? Dunno.
But what is certain is that the book that emerged from the early days of the blog changed everything and took Liam and me in an entirely different and totally unexpected direction. And that book – Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam Move to Turkey – reaches its own 10th anniversary next month, and that hasn’t passed me by. The fact that after a decade it still sells at all is a minor miracle and rather humbling. I thank you.
“A bitter-sweet tragi-comedy that recalls the first year of a British gay couple living in a Muslim land. Just imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, recently married middle aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country. Jack and Liam, fed up with kiss-my-arse bosses and nose-to-nipple commutes, chuck in the towel and move to a small town in Turkey. Join the culture-curious gay couple on their bumpy rite of passage.”
Author Shelley Workinger runs a blog that provides a unique approach to book promotion – food and the consumption thereof. My expanding waistline is evidence enough of my love of all things culinary, so I bit her hand off to get featured.
Turkish cuisine is justifiably famed as one of the world’s greatest. The Sultan’s table overflowed with extravagant bounty from the vast Ottoman domains that once stretched across three continents. The empire may be history, but food – preparing it, eating it, sharing it – is still of enormous cultural importance to all Turks regardless of status and income. So it’s small wonder the simple act of eating plays a starring role in both of my memoirs, Perking the Pansies and its sequel, Turkey Street. Here’s a soupçon…
The call came and I’m home alone once more. Liam dashed back to Blighty strapped to a Sleazyjet plane. My mother-in-law’s not well and the family is rallying round to provide the kind of TLC that this kindly lady needs and deserves. His departure was heralded by an impromptu and ear-splitting display by (presumably) the Turkish Air Force Aerobatic Team who flew ultra-low to strafe the unsuspecting town. The vibration set off car alarms. Boys with their toys.
While I’m home alone, I’ve got plenty to occupy myself, including preparations for our own homecoming in June. I’ll be clearing out my mucky drawers and chucking out the chintz. Besides, the weather’s on the up; I’m sure our select group of Bodrum Belles and Gümbet Gals will keep me from crying into the bottom of my glass. Liam went without hesitation or resentment and he went with my blessing. Liam’s love and loyalty is second to none. That’s what maketh the man.
The benign spring weather allowed us to take tea and tittle tattle on our balcony with a few Bodrum Belles. It’s a sunny spot, though we often have to yell above the din of the harried street. This is more than compensated by the chance to observe busy Bodrum life passing by below. I was being mother and, as I poured the coffee, I gazed momentary across at the flat roof of our single storey kitchen at the other end of the courtyard. It glistened in the bright sunlight. Tiny waves rippled in the gentle breeze. Had we installed a roof-top plunge pool? No such luck. A few weeks earlier, a beefy covered lady with Popeye biceps and sprouting underarms had collected the olive crop from the over-hanging tree. She had beat the bush with Amazonian gusto and left a shag-pile of twiggy debris in her wake. Come the next deluge, the leaf litter plugged the drainage hole and created the shallow lake.
After the Belles departed, I climbed onto the roof, waded through the water and unblocked the hole with the handle of a wooden spatula. The undammed waters spewed like a mini Niagara onto the turned dirt of our neighbour’s bald vegetable patch. Their chained up dog, so used to barking at the slightest flutter of the tiniest sparrow, was taken totally by surprise. Rover didn’t know how to react so decided not to react at all. Now there’s a first.
Barring a few meteorological mishaps and last-minute mayhem from Mother Nature, I think spring has sprung. We’re not leaving until the summer, so we intend to make the most of what we have left. We’ve washed down the patio furniture and shampooed the cushions, wiped the windows and showered the courtyard. Patio doors have been flung open to freshen the musk and murder the mould. We were regaled by the call to prayer at full volume and the first row of the season between our Turkish neighbours. It was a corker of a commotion with Beril’s throat at full throttle. Welcome to Bodrum reborn.
I’ve suffered a premature exclamation. Since I wrote this we’ve had that meteorological mishap. An instant cold snap has slapped us about the face like an icy flannel. We lunched with the Belles today at a modest promenade eaterie. Over the pide (Turkish pizza), Jessica gazed up at the uniform blanket of light grey and remarked ‘I think it’ll snow today.’ And lo and behold, it did. It was just a weak little flurry of flakes and was over in a jiffy, but it was a bona fide blizzard. Our first and probably our last.