Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

Fright Night

This is a preview to the chapter Fright Night from the book Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott.
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We started to ignore Chrissy’s frequent calls, unable to bear her insidious propaganda about the warm weather and her do- as-I-do demeanour. We fantasised that Clement had found new ways to keep warm by developing a part-time relationship with the lusty log man. We pictured him ordering more supplies whenever he felt frisky and always insisting on sundown deliveries. Liam prepared an interactive bar chart showing the direct relationship between the quantity of firewood neatly stacked outside Clement’s door and the number of times he might have pleasured the lumberjack. If the current trend continued, within a month, Clement would have enough logs to build a boat the size of Noah’s Ark. Pure invention on our part but it kept us amused during the bleak mid-winter.
Liam looked up from his laptop. “Thrilling news,” he said.
“What thrilling news?”
“Quiz night in town tonight.” “No way.”
“There’s a prize.”
“Not interested,” I said.
“Free nibbles?”
“We’re not going.”
“Chrissy might be popping round later.”
“What time does it start?”

Yalıkavak life was in hibernation mode, and the hatches were well and truly battened down. As a working town, daytime activities went on as they must; by night the village fell silent except for the roving packs of abandoned dogs and a few venues scraping a scanty living from the hardy emigrey perennials. We successfully dodged the skinny strays except for one frisky rover who playfully jammed a wet snout into Liam’s groin. Liam was tempted but time was getting on.

We trudged along the deserted promenade in search of Berni’s Bar and Grill. I had threatened to wear my pink sequined jumpsuit lined with incontinence pads, a DIY costume I had fashioned for a recent Eurovision party. I settled on a grey fleece and see-through Pac-a-Mac. It started to spit. We spotted a bright light through the drizzle.
“It’s that opening scene from the Rocky Horror Show,” I said. “We’re Brad and Janet looking for dry sanctuary.”
“Shut-up, Dr Frank-N-Furter, and get those little legs moving, I’m getting soaked.”
“Maybe Berni’s a trannie. A crinkly emigrey in basque, fishnets and a truss.”
“We can only hope.”
The distinct sound of Pet Clark’s Downtown pierced the damp night air. I started to sing along.
Liam clipped me around the ears. “Shut it, Jack.”
A neon Welcome to Berni’s sign hung above the glazed sliding door of a rain-stained dirty-white building. The door was open and we crept across the puddled doorstep and loitered inside. It was like a Darby and Joan Club without the toxic tang of lavender and pee. We looked at each other as the ancient ruins looked at us. We may as well have been the only black people at a Ku Klux Klan convention. Bottle-blond bombshell Bernadette raced over to greet us.
“Welcome, lads. Not seen youz before.”
“New in town,” I said.
“You surely are.”
Derry doll Bernadette escorted us to the bar, poured us a beer and entertained from the outset. She was a bracing breath of fresh air on a brisk night. Berni called a spade a shovel and was the real deal in spray tan and mountainous heels. Her high-octave Ulster outbursts were delivered like an exuberant Gatling gun, much to the annoyance of Liam who understood not a single word, despite his Southern Irish lineage. He feigned interest and smiled politely like the Queen at a Commonwealth jamboree. I fared slightly better, attuned to the Northern Irish droll, thanks to my mother. To the side of the bar, our glamorous compère and quiz-master was limbering up at the microphone. He had dressed for the evening’s festivities in some style, uncompromisingly clad top to tail in Omo whiteness. His shiny white patent leather loafers were the perfect foundation for his dazzling ensemble of back-combed highlights, Hollywood teeth, Elvis shirt and oh-so-tight skinny jeans. This was vetpat Bobbi in all his splendour. Berni waved at Bobbi and Bobbi blew Berni an exaggerated kiss.
“From Blackpool,” said Berni.
“No kidding,” I said. “The only gay in the village?”
“Not anymore.” Berni shrieked a belly laugh that could fuse a pacemaker a mile away. As ancient hearts skipped a beat all around the room, we took our seats, girded our loins and turned to gaze at our glorious quiz master.
“Glad I ditched the jumpsuit idea,” I said. Who could compete with Archangel Gabriel in drag?”
We sat next to a couple of Bobbi’s quiz night stalwarts. Liam took a shine to George and Phyllis; the matching home- spun cardigans drew him in. I found them dull. They engaged us in terribly exciting banter, chatting away like bus stop bores (“We have a tortoise as old as our house,” and “I met George at an abattoir”) before settling down for the main event. The highlight of the evening was our second encounter with Üzgün, haunted eyes and all. He flounced over and shook us limply by the hand.
“I please you come,” he said before gliding back to the bar to refill our glasses. Somehow or other our association with Üzgün turned the light on for poor George and Phyllis.
“Oh!” said George. “I think they’re homosexuals.”
“Looks like.”
“They seemed normal.”
“They did.”
“They’re even wearing wedding rings.”
“Be nice, George. It’s not catching.”
The quiz was hopeless or rather we were hopeless at the quiz. We came last. To our eternal shame we got the cruet set question wrong.
“You need to watch BBC World,” said Phyllis. “That’s where Bobbi gets his questions from.”
“Christ, Liam, when was the last time you heard cruet sets mentioned on BBC World? Let’s get out of here.”

We said our fond farewells to busty Berni, the lovely Üzgün and the cardiganed quiz-meisters, hitched up our skirts and took our little gay arses, wedding rings and all, into the cold drizzly night.
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"The book includes a list of colourful characters, British and Turkish...almost Dickensian in their eccentricity, humour, melancholy, self-delusion, kindness and..."

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