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.
Three hours into the flight from Istanbul to London I finally succumbed to the dubious pleasures of the Pegasus inflight magazine – all pretty pictures and shallow articles, as is the nature of these things. A piece on the current Turkish bestseller’s list caught my brief attention. The number one book in Turkey right now is Gizli Anların Yolcusu (Passenger of Secret Moments) by Turkish author, Ayşe Kulin. The English translation of the review read:
“Passenger of Secret Moments is about the kind of love that most of us would have trouble understanding and have prejudices about (speak for yourself, matey). With her usual mastery, Ayşe Kulin addresses a subject most fear to approach head-on in order to break taboos.”
According to a Bodrum Belle of my acquaintance, Ayşe Kulin is a prolific writer who has mass appeal and flogs books by the shedload to the growing middle class, just like Jeffrey Archer. And just like Jeffrey Archer, she isn’t particularly well-regarded by the literati. Who cares? I doubt I will be either. Good for her for writing a book in Turkish with a gay theme that’s made it to the top of the charts. Such people have more influence that many realise. Power to her pen, I say.
Check out my book. There’s a bit of gay theme in it too and the reviews aren’t bad either.
New Year’s Eve brought a couple of tremors and torrential rain to Bodrum. We refused to let Mother Nature throw us off kilter or dampen our spirits as we joined the Bodrum Belles to drink in the New Year. The place of our undoing was Musto’s Restaurant, our haunt of choice. The source of our undoing was a bottle of Jaegermeister doing the rounds courtesy of a particularly boozy Belle (you know who you are). Think 100% proof cough mixture. At the stroke of midnight, Liam and I kissed in front of a passing copper, put out some windows with a salvo of party poppers the size of bazookas, watched the creditable firework display and shuffled from side to side to classic, cheesy, gay dance tracks of yesteryear. I wonder who chose the music?
It’s done and dusted. We’ve done our best to spice up the speech, vacuum the grammar and pep up the punctuation. We can do no more. Thank you to Liam. We didn’t row too much about the pace, pathos and plot. Thank you to Jessica who did a marvellous job of proof-reading. Thank you to the emigreys who handed me a story on a plate (or was it a poisoned chalice?). Perking the Pansies and Surviving the Expats in Turkey has gone off to the publisher by carrier pigeon (it’s quicker than the Turkish postal system) to be savaged by the editor. Booker prize here I come. As if.