I’ve always said that if I was a stick of Brighton rock, you’d find the words ‘city boy’ stamped all the way though me. And if, as a city boy living in the city, I’d heard gunshot, I’d have called the old bill, no hesitation. The truth is, despite the crime and the grime on the mean streets of old London town, I never heard gunfire for real, not once. Now I’m in the middle of huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ country where men are men and birds are nervous, I’m slowly learning to embrace the back of beyond. When I hear both barrels go off in the mean fields of Norfolk, I just shrug my shoulders and chuck another log on the wood burner. Pity the poor pheasants, though.
‘Tis almost the night before Christmas and the old Pansies have decamped to the Smoke for a leg of turkey, lots of stuffing and absolutely no sprouts. Meanwhile, I leave you with a random selection of favourite Yuletide quotes.
There ain’t no Sanity Clause!
Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.
The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, DC. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.
I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.
The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.
Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.
A good conscience is a continual Christmas.
Christmas to a child is the first terrible proof that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.
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.
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
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.
I’ve been asked what the book is actually about. You’ll have to read it to find out, but suffice it to say, I learned some valuable lessons from David Steddall, the English Literature teacher at my South London grammar school. “A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end,” he would say. We’ve all heard the mantra. He seemed to like my essays, even if they were sometimes a little risqué in a post-pubescent, hormone-raging sort of way. His encouragement gave me confidence. He would often give me top marks and have me recite my work in class. Tragically, I failed* my Lit O Level. I just didn’t get the poetry and I was a lazy little student. Still, I’ve stayed faithful to Dave’s cause ever since and my book has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s not a random series of observations like the blog. It’s the full story of our time in Turkey, warts and all. It’s not all light and frothy either. We’ve experienced some dark moments here:
Liam left exactly two months after we moved into the house in Bodrum. He dashed home on a mercy mission and I had no idea when he would be coming back. Üzgün’s death had thrown him off kilter and now he was needed in London.
The night before, we had dined al fresco to take advantage of yet another blessed, balmy evening. Liam’s gastronomic ambitions had reached such a pinnacle that we had less and less reason to eat out. The courtyard was a perfect setting. We reminisced about the days when, at the slightest hint of fine weather, we would rush home from work and grab the opportunity to eat in the garden.
We chinked glasses. “To the good life, Liam.”
It was a hollow toast. Üzgün’s murder had changed everything. He had been raped, robbed and murdered by three teenagers in a back street of Yalıkavak. His body was found in a dry river bed, naked, beaten and barely recognisable.
Liam got the call he had been dreading. He packed a suitcase and taxied to the airport to pick up the next available flight. I stayed awake for most of the night, texting Liam and trying to make sense of the mess around us. I camped on the balcony for hours, questioning my flawed understanding of Turkish society, balancing the highs with the lows and wondering if, ultimately, we had made one huge mistake. My head was a mass of interconnected thoughts and contradictions, each leading to a different conclusion and each stirring up an emotion that took me right back to where I started. I set myself a challenge. I would stay awake until the morning; by then I would know what to do.
The lights went out in Türkkuyusu just as they had done many times before. How could Turkey ever hope to become an industrial powerhouse if they couldn’t keep the bloody lights on? I stared into the darkened streets, lit only by the headlights of passing traffic. I wanted to speak to Liam but he was in the skies somewhere over Europe. I wanted to ask him why we didn’t go to Spain or why we left London in the first place. I knew he would answer, “because we’re different and different is good. Remember the pioneers. ‘Good As You’, they said.”
*I passed English Language with flying colours (along with history). Liam is trying to convert me to the joys of poetry. I fear it’s a lost cause.
Check out my book.
When Liam and I came to Turkey, we intended to retire early, put our feet up and watch the pansies grow. With a ridiculous amount of spare time on my hands, I decided to amuse myself by starting a blog. Maybe it would delay my inevitable descent into alcoholism? At the time, I assumed I would end up talking to myself. Twelve months, 400 posts, 2000 comments, 6,000 spams and 120,000 hits later, Pansies has just reached its first birthday. To celebrate this minor miracle I’d like to share what I think are some of the major milestones (Pansysteps).
08/10/10 – In the Beginning
24/11/10 – Are You Mad?
I knew something was up when the blog exceeded 12,000 hits. Shit, someone was actual reading my inconsequential, irreverent ramblings. I started to understand blog promotion and search-engine optimisation, joined Faceache and that tweet, tweety thingy to build a virtual social network. Well, it beats actually talking to people.
04/12/10 – Clapped in Irons
My blog was banned by the Turkish Internet police just as it was taking off. I was expecting a knock at the door by a scandalised conscript in latex gloves, demanding to conduct an internal investigation. I nearly gave the whole thing up in despair.
10/12/10 – Pooing on a Paddle
After a frantic, fretful week, Perking the Pansies shut up shop at Google and moved lock, stock and barrel to begin life anew at brand new WordPress premises. Fear of imminent arrest subsided. This naughty little number was my first post on the revamped, re-launched site.
14/03/2011 – Hold the Front Page
01/04/2011 – Bubba’s Gobbler
06/04/2011 – Perking the Pansies – Bound and Ungagged
The blog has spawned a little book which is about to go off to the publisher. The book covers some of same terrain as the blog but with much more spice, bite, depth, pace and pathos (Well, I hope so).
10/05/2011 – So You Think You Can Write a Pop Song?
This was the first mega post attracting big numbers. Pansies were bursting out all over the place. My pansymap ended up resembling a nuclear attack on Western Europe and North America. All very Cold War.
24/07/2011 – Amy Winehouse, RIP
This is by far my most popular post, 4,600 and still growing. I think it just caught the mood. It also caught the attention of some wanker who left a vile comment. I don’t generally censor comments. Free speech and all that. However, I didn’t publish his nasty little words.
17/08/2011 – I’m Coming Out
Many happy returns, Perking the Pansies. Make a wish and hope you make it to the terrible twos.