Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

Anyone for Spare Ribs?

This is a preview to the chapter Anyone for Spare Ribs? from the book Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott.
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After an inauspicious start, our rapport with Tariq the toothless warmed up nicely. During midwinter there was little for him to do except keep watch and annoy the few residents who had stayed to brave the elements. His favourite pastime was standing on Clement’s terrace and peering through the window to gawp at the wide-screen TV. He would stay there for ages, hypnotised by Easter Parade or giggling at the gymslips on St Trinian’s. Clement would attempt to shoo him away but Tariq kept returning like a bad penny. He loved teasing Clement. Every now and then he would come and pilfer our Marlboro Lights. Each time, he would greet us with a broad gummy grin and a handshake of digit crushing magnitude. In between arm- wrestling contests, English lessons and chain-smoking, we managed to determine that he was from Hatay. More Arab than Turk, his homeland was the little finger of Turkey that poked into Syria. We’d slowly gleaned that five years previously, Tariq had joined the annual exodus of itinerants looking for work. He found gainful employment labouring on Tepe Heights as the villas were being constructed. His hard graft and obliging demeanour endeared him to the site owner who’d asked him to stay on as caretaker. Tariq sent word back to his wife and daughter in Hatay and they’d joined the next caravan heading west. His spouse was a covered woman in traditional garb. She was never to be introduced to us and remained a shadowy figure we rarely saw. By contrast, his daughter Selma was new- school, in modest Western dress. She was a pretty little thing, a fourteen-year-old with fathomless dark eyes and long brown hair, perfectly parted at the middle. Tariq had ambitions for her. She would have proper schooling, professional opportunities and greater freedom. Tariq had come a long way and not just geographically.

Beaten down by Chrissy’s insistence, we finally succumbed to the dubious joys of Bernard’s home-spun fare. We rode the dolly to their house in Torba with heavy hearts. As usual the dolly was chock-full of commuting locals. We were jammed into the front, next to a man carrying a car exhaust. Live entertainment was supplied courtesy of an unseen female passenger at the back of the bus, a woman obsessed with the distance covered by an indi-bindi, a short hop fare. Her loud and persistent protests were met by a robust defence from the driver who feverishly waved his official fare chart to anyone who would care to look at it. Turkish arguments are different: loud, passionate, sometimes physical and ultimately pointless. No one gives in, no one wins and no one loses. Our distracted driver was oblivious to the three large teenagers snapped together like Lego on a small scooter that weaved ominously in and out of the traffic around us. A disaster was only averted by an evasive wrench of the steering wheel, prompting a sudden lurch of the bus. Indi-bindi girl shrieked at the driver and decided to vent her spleen by throwing plums in his direction. We all ducked for cover. When her supply was exhausted, the over-heated woman alighted and the dolly pulled off. She stood at the roadside, flailing her arms like a crazed evangelist, screaming profanities and rueing the careless loss of her plum crop.

We arrived at Torba Otogar a short time later, grateful to be alive and relatively unscathed by the random plum-thrower.
Chrissy was waiting for us in her four-wheel Nissan tank. “Sunglasses at dusk,” said Liam. “Classic.”
“Hello, my loves. Welcome to Torba. You’re late. Hop in. Bernard’s slaving away. I’m famished. Gasping for a snifter.”
We ascended to the hills above the town. Greater Torba was a sprawling settlement east of Bodrum, clustered like a bowl around the original fishing village. Large detached villas ruled the crenelated landscape, and man-made mini plateaus with room for a pony housed imported palm trees and infinity pools.
I recounted our near death experience.
“We don’t do public transport, Jack. Didn’t at home and won’t do it here.”
“You’re missing out on free plums.” “I told you boys, get a car.”
“And we told you, we don’t want a car.”
I fastened my seat belt. It was going to be a bumpy night.
Chrissy’s house was generously and expensively appointed, heavily dressed in English country-cottage naffness. Windows were suffocated by thick floral drapes trimmed with massive braided tassels that wouldn’t look out of place in a jaded Thistle hotel. Her provincial tastes were closer than she realised to her Turkish char; she was the shop girl who’d won the Lotto. Bernard poured the drinks and disappeared into the kitchen to finish off his gastronomic masterpiece. As we chatted to our hostess, it became clear that she was rather obsessed with social protocols. The emigrey pecking order was high on her agenda, and she reckoned she was top of that particular heap. We were warned to choose our friends carefully and keep our standards as high as possible.
“There’s very little class in these parts,” she explained, topping up the Screaming Orgasms. “By the way, I’ve been thinking about you two boys.”
“You have?”
“We’d like to offer Liam a job.”
Liam choked on his orgasm. He’d just got rid of one insane female boss and wasn’t about to insanely acquire another.
“I need help with the apartment bookings. And maybe some airport runs.”
“Thank you, but, no.”
“Just a few hours a week.”
“No, absolutely not.”
“It’ll help with the boredom.”
“Who says we’re bored?”
“Of course you’re bored. You need time apart.” “Who says?”
“Trust me, I know.”
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"Perking The Pansies is not so much about Jack’s Adventures Through The Looking Glass, but more about Who He Found..."

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