Desperately Seeking Doreen

Desperately_Seeking_Doreen

A cursory glance at my stats shows that Perking the Pansies pops up on the internet in totally unexpected ways. My irreverent ramblings seem to attract the lost, the lustful, the inquisitive and the ignorant – and from the four corners of the world. These are a few of my favourite search terms:

  • Pussy lovers (for feline aficionados, obviously)
  • Gran Canarian Sex (for a bit of bump and grind in the sun)
  • Rent Boys (believe me, my street-walking days are over)
  • Hardon All Day (hit it with a stick)
  • Is Marti Pellow/Gary Lineker/Kate Adie gay (they seem happy enough to me)
  • Gumbet Love Rats (for the ladies who never learn)
  • The Turkish Living Forum (keeping my 2012 rant right up there in the rankings)

And then came:

  • Doreen Dowdall

Doreen Dowdall

Now that one completely threw me.  Dowdall was my old girl’s name before her soldier boy popped his ring on her finger. Who was the mysterious surfer?  I don’t know, but if s/he ever surfs back, do drop me a line and put me out of my curiosity. And yes, that is me in the picture (the one in shorts, not the fabulous Sixties frock). Bless.

P.S. It’s Doreen Dowdall’s 85th birthday tomorrow. Apart from being a bit mutton with a touch of arthritis and a dodgy hip, the old girl’s in fine fettle. I just hope I’ve inherited her genes.

2013 in Review

Perking the Pansies recovered from a difficult birth at the murderous hands of the Turkish censors, thrived through the terrible twos and survived the transitional threes, ending the year with 60,000 hits for the last twelve months. Thank you to everyone and anyone who’s passed by and glanced at my random witterings. Most blogs burn out after two years so I must be living on borrowed time.

As the sun sets on 2013, in the best Hogmanay tradition, I give you the year’s top ten – a pick ‘n’mix treat of bum cleavage, Turks at the barricades, a shot in the arm, a tender coming out story, a sexy rugger bugger, a book to send you to sleep, an old-time boozer, an olive tree planted in a foreign field and a scratched itch.

Plumber’s Bum

It was the picture wot won it.

Turkey Troubles

A revolution in the making?

Tom Daley: Something I Want to Say

Saying it before someone said it for him.

Gareth Thomas, Dancing on Ice Drama

Who said ice-prancing rugger buggers can’t read?

Life in the Old Blog Yet

With thanks to the nice people at WordPress who featured me on one of their big hitting sites.

Turkey, Surviving the Expats – Out Now!

Keeping me out the workhouse.

God Save the Queen’s Head

A Chelsea classic and old watering hole of mine.

From Little Acorns...

A small corner of Turkey that is forever John.

Seven Year Itch

A soppy tale from Liam.

Turkey, Who Will Blink First?

And we all know who did in the end, don’t we?

For some inexplicable reason, this was the most popular image of 2013, featured in Let’s Hear it for the Brides.

Nine Elms
The Thames at Nine Elms

And I shouldn’t forget the perennial favourites from previous years that keep coming back again and again like a bad case of thrush.

Gran Canaria Sex Emporium

Proving that ‘sex’ really is the most searched for word on Google.

Now That’s What I Call Old

A humble little post about a spectacular discovery in eastern Turkey that just keeps on giving while the archaeologists keep on digging  – 8,000 hits and climbing. Who would have thought?

Expat Glossary

Oft quoted and oft plagiarised (and not always with a credit, tut tut)

Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The few spoiling it for the many. A real shame.

Turkey Street RecliningAnd what of 2014? All I know is that Turkey Street, Jack and Liam move to Bodrum will be out early in the year. Will it be as successful as the first one? Who knows? Not me. Whatever happens, come rain or shine, a happy and prosperous year to all my pansy fans. Thank you for staying the course and for your remarkable support. I’m touched but then, I have been for years.

The Cream of the Crop 2012

The Cream of the Crop 2012

top 10 It’s the turn of a new year, a time to reflect on the recent past. And what a hectic time it’s been for these old two old drunken reprobates. Four years ago, we jumped the good ship Blighty and swam ashore to paradise in search of a dotty dotage of gin and tranquility  We found a paradise of sorts and so much more besides. Three years into our choppy voyage, I found a little fame and notoriety, and a new course was set – as an accidental author. 2012 brought change: a rudder slammed into reverse and a return to our damp little island perched on the edge of Europe. So, in the best tradition of the year’s end, I give you the most popular Pansy posts of 2012.

1. Now That’s What I call Old

Who would have guessed that a lazy, throwaway post about the 12,000 year old ruins at Göbekli Tepe in Eastern Turkey would hit the top spot? Although it was published in 2011, like Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell*, it never left the charts. In fact, it’s my most popular piece ever, racking up 7,500 hits to date.

2. Expat Glossary

Another perennial favourite. Technically, it’s a page not a post nowadays (though it started off as a post many moons ago). Oft quoted and copied, it’s a tongue in cheek attempt to classify the vintage villagers of expatland. It continues to strike a chord.

3. Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The closest I came to an unseemly slanging match – I queered my pitch with the Turkish Living Forum (or, more accurately, they queered their pitch with me). I stopped the vile conversation in mid-sentence. I can do that. It’s my blog. It gladdens my little homo heart that this post continues to attract punters. If I’ve put just one potential member off the bigoted posts, then my work is done. It’s a shame. Most contributors to the forum seem sane and reasonable. It’s a good idea ruined by the vicious and vocal few.

4. Britain’s Got Loads of Talent

I’m a sucker for a sob story and Britain’s Got Talent is stuffed to the rafters with them.  A genuine attempt to discover the best (and worst) amateur talent that Blighty has to offer, or a cynical commercial exercise in crass over-sentimentality? Probably both and so what? This year a dog won. No, a real dog, not an ugly person.

5. No Going Back on Going Back

A slip of the wrist and the cat was out of the bag. A premature posting meant that I announced our repatriation much earlier than I had intended and readers tuned in to read the news.

6. Zenne Dancer

A post about a ground-breaking and award-drenched Turkish film, inspired by the true story of a Kurdish student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly gay. It still hasn’t been released with subtitles so I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t seen it.

7. Fifty Shades of Gay

I wrote this post to celebrate and support the launch of Rainbowbookreviews, a brand new LGBT book review website. As part of the party, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey was offered as a competition prize. What some people will do for a freebie.

8. The Friendly Games

This was my naughty but nice take on the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The BBC did a grand job in televising the once-in-a-lifetime event – online, on radio and on TV. Liam had all three on simultaneously. For a brief period, the nation forgot its woes and smiled again. The mother lode of precious metal helped.

9. Bodrum’s Crusader Castle

Towards the end of our time in Turkey, I thought it was high time to give the pansy treatment to the grand centrepiece of the Bodrum townscape – a little bit of history (not too much) and a little bit of humour. It’s a popular cocktail.

10. Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Our first ‘proper’ holiday for four years and we chose Gran Canaria, that rocky mid-Atlantic brothel. You can take the boy out of the back room but you can’t take the back room out of the boy.

I leave you with my favourite image from 2012. I know, it’s all a bit predictable but I’m turning into a dirty old man and I intend to wallow in it. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for enduring my camp old nonsense for yet another year.

Olympics1

*Bat Out of Hell stayed on the UK album chart for 474 weeks. God knows why. 

Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

nooseThe Turkish Living Forum has been hijacked by religious nutters and right wing bigots. I won’t be returning. And neither will many others judging by the private messages I’ve received. The tiresome exchange (well, mostly a fascist rant from the usual suspects) on UK marriage equality was allowed to shout on for three days. I’m not talking about people who oppose same sex marriage. That’s a difference of opinion, a legitimate example of free speech which I cherish. I’m referring to those who seem obsessed with man-on-man genital acts (always suspicious) as if being gay is all about sodomy (er, it isn’t) and those who were allowed to call for the extermination of gay people (Jawohl, mein Führer). Is this what the forum has been reduced to? Are the owners just in it for the hate money?

This offending comment was eventually removed by the moderators and the thread was then closed. Too little, too late, I’m afraid. The moderators were caught sleeping on the job. I will be watching from afar and if this hate campaign is allowed to continue, I will report it to the British Police as inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, a criminal offence in England and Wales since March 2010. Political correctness gone too far? Tough. You reap what you sow.

There are other forums to join such as Turkey Central where the discussion is more measured and actually about Turkish living.

Same Sex Marriage in the UK

Scratch the surface and stupidity lies beneath. The lunatics have taken over the asylum at the Turkish Living Forum. What is the subject that’s got the bigots crawling from underneath their stones? Why gay marriage of course. All this tedious religious claptrap from tossers who take their bible like they take their software – jump to the bottom and tick the ‘I accept’ box. They are in good company – kiddie fiddling priests, the British National Party and religious fundamentalists who talk in tongues and still murder witches. Where are the forum moderators? Running for cover and hiding behind some corrupt notion of free speech.

Personally, I have no wish to get married in church. Unlike the hettie hypocrites who keep the chapel tills ringing with their white weddings and solemn vows that only half will keep, I won’t pretend to be religious. No priest is going to make a phoney out of me. Liam and I have a Civil Partnership. That’ll do us for now. However, I would never deny the right of others to marry whoever they choose. It’s an equalities thing.

Let’s keep a sense of proportion. The proposed law in Blighty will simply give those religious organisations (the Quakers, primarily) that want to perform a marriage ceremony for same sex couples the freedom to do so. So really, what is all the fuss about? The bigots are fighting a losing battle. Don’t want to treat me as equal? Then don’t take my taxes. The days of second-class citizenship are over. Almost.

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Resident Aliens

After much brouhaha and faffing about, the Turkish Government will finally introduce new visa requirements on the 1st February. Essentially, this means that foreigners entering Turkey on a tourist visa can only stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period. Anyone staying longer will have to apply for a residency permit.

The permit process is not particularly onerous or expensive but it is a tiresome paper chase of red tape. It can be weeks before you finally get your mitts on the precious little blue book (that looks like it’s been knocked up by a child in a shed). Patience is needed. After years of encouraging foreigners to spend their readies and buy their dream holiday home, Turkey will not allow them to enjoy the fruits of their investment for more than 3 months at a time without becoming residents of a country they don’t reside in.

There’s a more significant change that is rocketing blood pressures into orbit. Spleens are being vented all over the forums. According to an article in the Land of Lights, the Turkish Parliament has passed a law requiring all expats with a residency permit exceeding twelve months to join the Turkish National Health Scheme. The cost will be a flat fee of 212 Lira per month each. This week’s special offers are two-for-one for married couples and children under 18 get in free. Those living in sin or have done the in-sickness-and-in-health thing differently (civil partnerships, for example) needn’t apply. Also, as with all the best health insurance policies, pre-existing conditions will not be covered. So it’s just tough if you’re a bit old and slightly doddery, with a touch of arthritis and spot of hypertension. That’ll be many expats then. Best not cancel your private insurance just yet.

The article also states that, while the scheme isn’t up and running yet, everyone is required to register by the end of this month. Failure to do so will attract a hefty fine. If this is the case, how come this crept up and caught us awares? What’s our man in Bodrum (actually, our woman) been doing? Sod all as usual.

I’m a great supporter of national health care, free at point of delivery and available to all. Apparently, the fee is the same for everyone, Turk and expat alike. I find this difficult to believe as 212 lira is a lot of dosh to most Turks I know. We’re happy to do our bit and pay our dues but I’m not keen on any scheme that isn’t linked to the ability to pay. As the cost of residency for Brits dropped dramatically last year, is this a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul?

As with most things the devil will be in the detail. The forums are hot with gossip and hearsay, outrage, resignation, argument and counter-argument. I’ll let the dust settle before I decide what to do. I’d still like something from the Honorary Consul, though. I won’t be holding my breath.

Caveat Emptor

Liam and I love living in our little stone cottage tucked away in the middle of old Bodrum Town. A perilous spark, a sieve-like roof, heat exhaustion and frostbite have not put us off. Our neighbours are a joy and the locals are warm, welcoming and obliging. We feel blessed. We rent and are thankful for the freedom. We can move as we please and when the mood takes us. We have been mercifully released from that inbred notion to own (something we Brits nurture in the womb).

For some, the dream can turn sour. For years now, we’ve read reports about people buying property abroad falling foul of unscrupulous builders, vendors, agents or officials. Some of the stories are enough to make you weep, particularly when the unsuspecting lose their shirts in a single dodgy deal. Sadly, it’s a phenomenon which afflicts many countries around the world – not just Turkey – and the laws which protect such people vary from country to country.

I was recently contacted by a member of the Turkish Living Forum who is fronting a campaign for change in Turkey. He points out that while many people successfully purchase property here, there are plenty of examples of those who have a really rough ride. He’s not alone in this view. The Turkish press is littered with examples of  scams and only last year, police raided the Central Tapu Office in Bodrum.

Of course, fraud can afflict all buyers, foreign and Turkish alike. But for foreigners, coming to grips with the complexities of unfamiliar property law in a foreign land can be a daunting task. Not to mention an emotional one.

Wherever you are willing to splash out, in Turkey or elsewhere, it clearly makes sense to do your homework. Do everything you can to understand the buying process, get good legal advice, don’t be tempted by cost-cutting shortcuts and don’t dish the dosh unless you are absolutely sure that everything is above board. Let’s face it, that’s exactly what you’d do in your own country so why lose your head (and possibly your life savings) when abroad? If it looks too good to be true, the chances are it is. There are plenty of people around who can offer good advice.

Turkey is a fabulous and seductive country to live or invest in. Dreams really can come true if you do it right and the authorities play their part too.