Another 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.
Hairdressing, like undertaking, is a steady trade which never goes out of fashion. Having sampled a few establishments in the village, we have settled on a high street barbershop run by a delightful father and son combo. Our number two cut requires only a few minutes with a hair trimmer. However, this cannot be said of the average young Turk. Generally blessed with abundant tresses, even the humblest waiter vainly adorns his head with elaborate, gravity defying sculptures held aloft by a vat of gel. Armpits though, are not always so well groomed.
Our genteel Yalıkavak barber is a far cry from Liam’s first skirmish with a Turkish coiffeur. The fun began on the final full day of our gloriously romantic honeymoon in splendid Kaş. I persuaded Liam to join me in the exotic pleasure of a Turkish shave, an indulgence I have enjoyed many times on previous visits to Asia Minor. The barbershop boys saw us coming, and we were mobbed by eager young bucks queuing up to service us. The routine began innocently enough – an efficient double shave with a cut throat razor followed by ear and nose fuzz skilfully dispatched with a flaming cotton bud soaked in petrol. I thought it unusual to find that we were stripped of our tops for the neck and shoulder rub. My young man asked if I would prefer a full body massage in the little room at the back of the shop. I naïvely accepted thinking nothing untoward could occur in a busy barbershop on a main thoroughfare.
He led me into the room and lay me face down on the padded table. His expert hands kneaded and pounded my torso into rapturous submission, and my mind wandered into semi-trance. The spell was rudely broken by a tug of my shorts, which were expertly and unceremoniously whipped off in a single movement. I had gone commando that day which rather startled my young masseur but which only added to his vigour. His pummelling went into overdrive. I opened my eyes fleetingly to find him standing to my side inches from my face, shirtless, scarlet-faced and sweating like a dray horse and obviously aroused. For the remainder of the rubdown, I kept my eyes firmly shut and my arms religiously tucked to my side for fear of displaying the slightest encouragement. It was my honeymoon, after all.
Meanwhile, Liam was relishing an upper body rub. However, he became alarmed when the crimper’s fingers started to walk south towards the small of Liam’s back, playfully plucking the waistband of his shorts and continuing their passage into the abyss. Liam grabbed the boy’s wrist firmly giving a whole new meaning to the word hayır.
It is not hard to imagine what raced through Liam’s mind as he endured the grunting, murmuring and bed squeaking that emanated from the back room. Shortly afterwards, my tellak and I emerged into the light, me shaking uncontrollably, he drenched in sweat. We concluded our business with a quasi-post-coital cigarette.