Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

Hit the Road, Jack

This is a preview to the chapter Hit the Road, Jack from the book Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott.
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We stumbled upon our new home quite by chance. Wandering through the heart of Old Bodrum Town, we found ourselves in a puzzling maze of white washed buildings huddled together cheek by jowl. Traffic buzzed through the tek yön (one way) streets, water sellers rang their bells, rag and bone collectors shouted through the narrow alleyways and locals pruned overgrown bougainvillea and swept their terraces. Türkkuyusu Mahallesi was a distinctly Turkish district and emigreys were thin on the ground. Two stone houses nestled on the corner of a busy thoroughfare and a picturesque lane. The bijou cottages were built in traditional style with wooden floors and beamed ceilings and set within a pretty, well stocked walled garden. A huge double-trunked olive tree cast a long shadow over the courtyard terraces and fragments of pilfered antiquities and terracotta anfora were scattered randomly about the garden. Both cottages were empty and available for rent.
“Let’s do it,” said Liam. “It’s stunning.”
It was and we did. We met the landlady, negotiated the rent, promised to be good little boys and signed the worthless contract on the larger of the two cottages. Our new Turkish delight would be a very different proposition altogether; we had just done the biggest U turn since Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. It would be so long to sleepy little Yalıkavak, spectacular sunsets, silence broken only by the sound of randy crickets; and howdy to incessant barking, the call to prayer in surround sound, overpriced lattes, twenty-four hour traffic – and people, lots of them. It seemed to make sense. Bodrum was open all year round, entertained far fewer emigreys and housed a great deal more eye candy. Besides, our perfidious landlord was about to evict us, and one more night of the living dead in wintery Yalıkavak would have us sailing back to Blighty on the evening tide. Yalıkavak was a summer gem but an out-of- season nightmare.

Eight months into our rollercoaster ride, Liam decided that a fiscal review was in order. Unannounced, he plugged his laptop into the flat-screen TV, switched off The Weakest Link and limbered up.
“Oh God, Liam, not Bill.”
I uncorked a bottle, slumped onto the sofa and held my breath. Just like the Queen, I no longer carried money. Liam had assumed the role as banker and keeper of the petty cash. In effect, I had no idea how close we were to being broke.
Liam and Bill laid our financial world bare; it was all there in splendid technicolor – spend, income, projections, the lot. “As you know, Jack, interest rates have plummeted from twenty to fifteen per cent since we arrived.” He pointed at a number of indecipherable bar charts on the large screen. “As you also know, Bill and I anticipated this by diversifying some of our investments into mutual funds. There’s a problem though. We’re still eating into our capital. Not by much, but enough to be a problem in the long term.”
“How much of a problem?”
“We’re talking a budget deficit equivalent to ten percent of GDP with only moderate prospects for growth during the next fiscal period.”
“Who are you, Lord bloody Keynes? What the fuck does that mean?
“We’ve got to cut back or we’re buggered.”
Liam’s presentation was a shock to the system. We were in the same position as the Greeks but couldn’t guilt-trip the Germans into bailing us out. Prostitution and taking in laundry were discussed as potential earners but we knew we couldn’t compete with the gay-for-pay brigade or the washerwomen thrashing their drawers on the rocks. There was nothing for it, we would sit tight and wait for our pensions to kick in, assuming we’d still have pensions given the parlous state of the public purse. In the end though, it was the quality of our lives that really mattered and that quality was remarkably good. Rich or poor, we still had each other and that was something money couldn’t buy.

We watched in amusement as the large removal van struggled to reverse up the steep road that led to Tepe Heights. It got stuck. Each of the men offered a different solution and each of them competed for attention. A round of Turkish expletives followed, something akin to “May Allah protect you from your stupidity, you son of a bitch.” Once Allah and the boys had moved the truck into position, the house was stripped and re-flat-packed in record time. Liam provided çay and chat. A scraggy vested boy emerged from the house with our fridge-freezer strapped to his back. Not to be outdone, a child the size of a gnat used the same back-breaking technique to haul our washing machine out to the van. A walking dishwasher joined in the race. They would all be crippled by their thirties.

The van sped off down the drive and we moved from room to room saying our goodbyes in time-honoured fashion. We would miss the place; it had provided the perfect start. Our truculent landlord had tried to sell from under us but maybe he had done us a favour. The man was a fool and an unpleasant one at that. He was also cutting his nose off to spite his pocket. The peninsula was full of empty little white boxes that nobody wanted and nothing was selling. Builders kept building regardless, depressing prices and killing off the goose that once laid the golden egg. Tariq and Selma came to say goodbye. Selma shook our hands.
“Goodbye. Baba has been practising. You will see.”
Unusually, there were no rib-crushing bear hugs or mimed scissor actions from Tariq. Instead, he hugged, kissed, and placed his arms around our shoulders. Tariq smiled and we both spotted a small tear. “I will miss you. Please come back.”
Seven perfect words in perfect English.

The phone rang. I was engrossed in the noble art of unpacking and staring at the randomly scattered boxes cluttering the floor.
“Where the fuck do I start?” “By answering the phone?”
I hunted for the mobile and eventually found it nestled in a box of knitting patterns.
“Jack? Is that you? Something terrible’s happened.” “Alan?” Charlotte was crying in the background. “Is something wrong with Adalet?”
“Worse. Much worse. We need to see you.”
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