Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu

I’m sure I’ve been here before.

So said my mother after she took a sip of her brandy and coke and looked around the large smoke-filled room. It was 1980 and I was stepping out with Bernie, a salesman from Somerset. We were treating my mother to a night of slap, sequins and perversion at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, South London’s premier drag pub. As it turned out, her feelings of déjà vu were spot on. In the Swinging Sixties, she and my soldier dad had slipped out from the barracks on the other side of the river to catch an act or two.

Bernie was a close friend of Pat, the jovial landlord. Against all the odds, bent-as-a-nine-bob-note Bernie and straight-as-a-die Pat had consummated their bromance at the horses, shelling out a king’s ransom at the Cheltenham Gold Cup every year.

RoyalVauxhallTavern

Pat was Irish. Digging roads or running pubs were the standard professions for the Irish back in the day. Just a few months before, Pat had been the manager of the Colherne, the grand old queen of gay bars in West London.  But Pat had ambitions to rise above the ranks and saved his pennies. When the tenancy of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern came up, he grabbed it with both hands, moved in his wife and kids and spent a small fortune reconfiguring the original three bars into one large single space. It was a masterstroke that saw the till ka-chinging for years.

Royal Vauxhall Tavern Charity Night

Charity night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern with the late Diana Dors flanked by the Trollettes. That’s Pat the landlord (top row, third from the left. Next to him in the bow tie is someone everyone knew as Terry ‘Allcock’ – can’t think why we called him that.

Image courtesy of the RVT Community.

Time marched on, of course. Pat and his missus retired back to Ireland many moons ago and, sadly, I lost touch with Bernie in about 2006.  The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, however, continued to thrive, standing firm against the constantly changing rainbow landscape as a venue for drag and alternative cabaret.  Arguably, the venue’s most famous turn was Lily Savage, Paul O’Grady’s theatrical alter-ego before he hung up the blond wig and became every housewife’s favourite.

And then the iconic building was bought by an Austrian property development company. There’s a vast building boom going on in Vauxhall and Battersea these days, with a tube line extension, the redevelopment of Nine Elms, Battersea Power Station and a new state of the art American embassy. The future of the pub was looking bleak. That was until some punters swung into action and applied for listed building status. And guess what? They got it. Historic England (the organisation responsible for such things) decided…

…the building has historic and cultural significance as one of the best known and longstanding LGB&T venues…

It’s the first time any building has been listed on this basis. While the new status protects the building for posterity, it doesn’t mean that the venue will survive in its present form but it’s a start, a great start.

Turkey Street Uncovered

300,000 characters, 65,000 words, 350 pages, near-divorce bust-ups, seconds out sulks down the pub, slammed doors, never-ending re-writes and entire scenes littering the cutting room floor like yesterday’s news. Finally it’s done, dusted and shipped, and only 18 months later than I hoped. Life just got in the way. So it gives me great pleasure to declare that Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum will be published on 18th May in paperback from the usual retailers and digitally from Nook, Kobo and Apple iBooks. And, it’s available to buy on Amazon Kindle right now. No pressure.

Early reviews are in and I’m rather chuffed.

A great rattlingly paced read which also provides a snapshot of a Turkey that is changing in ways none of us, as yet, fully understand.

Barbara Nadel, author

Cutting wit, giggles and sadness – Jack and Liam’s dalliances with the expat world make for compelling reading.

Julia Power, Turkey’s for Life

A book that removes Turkey’s headscarf and tousles the hair a little – with comical and touching consequences. I loved it.

Jay Artale, author, the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide and Gümüşlük Travel Guide

A beautifully presented tale that segues cleverly from hilarious and irreverent to heartbreakingly poignant, told with insight and innovative language.

Kay McMahon, British Expat

Once again, Jack Scott expertly blends wit and humour in an accurate portrayal of daily Turkish life, warts and all!

Natalie Sayin, the Turkish Travel Blog

Turkey Street

Order the paperback on Amazon and Waterstones | Buy the Kindle on Amazon | Other buying options

Six months into their Turkish affair, Jack and Liam, a gay couple from London, took lodgings in the oldest ward of Bodrum Town. If they wanted to shy away from the curtain-twitchers, they couldn’t have chosen a worse position. Their terrace overlooked Turkey Street like the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the middle-aged infidels stuck out like a couple of drunks at a temperance meeting. Against all the odds, the boys from the Smoke were welcomed into the fold by a feisty mix of eccentric locals and a select group of trailblazing expats, irresistible ladies with racy pasts and plucky presents.

Hop aboard Jack’s rainbow gulet as he navigates the choppy waters of a town on the march and a national resurgence not seen since Suleiman the Magnificent was at the gates of Vienna. Grab your deckchair for a whirlwind tour of love and duty, passion and betrayal, broken hearts and broken bones, dirty politics and the dawn of a new Ottoman era.