Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

Jack's Cotillion

This is a preview to the chapter Jack's Cotillion from the book Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott.
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He was waiting for me at the gate. “You’re late.”
“What’s going on, Liam?” “You’ll see.”
I had donned my best party pants and slapped on a double layer of Clarins. The night before, Maurice turned up at our door wearing a long blond wig and carrying a blow-up doll under his arm. “Welcome to the second half of your life, you old slapper.” My steadfast friend had skipped across a continent to celebrate my fiftieth birthday and I was incredibly touched. Liam and I had discussed a celebratory trip to Istanbul but circumstances and a lean wallet conspired against us. We settled on the idea of a romantic meal for two in the Marina.
Maurice wouldn’t hear of it. “Party time for the old man. Us three, your place, tomorrow night. We’ll do drugs.”
I was dazed by the surprise and suspected Liam’s hand in it. The next day, Liam banished me to Maurice’s hotel while he cooked, stocked up on the booze and dressed the house for a gay boyz foam party.

Maurice heralded our arrival, wailing my name through the streets of Türkkuyusu at the top of his voice. Tasselled curtains twitched and Hanife came out onto the street to see what the fuss was about. Maurice had insisted on donning his Dollywood Dollywig and carrying a bunch of fifty red balloons. He also compelled me to wear a tee-shirt with ‘fifty, fit and fucked’ blazoned across the front and back in large pink letters. I waved at my landlady.
“Merhaba, Hanife. I’m so, so sorry.”
Liam led the town crier and his shamed co-conspirator into the garden. The crazy-paving path was lined with a hundred tea-lights, a party landing strip ready for night-time approaches. Gabrielle sang Dreams through open windows and a family of mini-mobiles hung from the oleanders, clanking and clinking in the breeze. I taxied into the courtyard. An enormous swathe of candles stretched across the ground and murmuring silhouettes moved in the shadows. Liam was up to something. He led an enthusiastic round of applause. A group of tuneless revellers sang Happy Birthday and smothered me in a rugby scrum of hugs, kisses and backslaps.
“Happy Birthday, Jack.”
Tracey hugged me and called over her four boys, each of them spruced up in their best warm weather bib and tucker.
“What the…? What are you lot doing here?”
“Ask your husband.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Say you’ll come back home more often.”
“I will, I promise.”
“The boys miss you,” “I miss them too.”

Liam appeared through the crowd with a glass of pink bubbly and a kiss.
“There you go. Happy Birthday, hub.” He took my hand and led me to an unlit corner of the garden. “Someone wants a quiet word with you.”
Beril looked on from her balcony, dressed in a cute little black number and screaming “ha-pee-ber-day,” every time I caught her eye. She loved the strange English party but was hitting the sauce before joining the crazy foreign fauna. Vadim hit the bongos. Liam left me standing in the shrubbery and went off to welcome some late arrivals. My eyes slowly adjusted to the dark and I spied a burning cigarette floating under Tabatha’s tree at the back of the garden. Her voice was unmistakable.
“Hello, Son. You took yer time. I’ve already drunk half yer brandy.”
Liam had pulled off a corker of a surprise.
I weaved through the party-goers and tried to get my bearings. Mother took up pole position at the temporary bar. Charlotte and Nancy were laughing and screaming like a pair of Essex party girls, preparing food and clacking round the kitchen in six inch heels. Sofas were home to hearsay and scandal and Susan persuaded Beril to join the gossip and down another rakı. Chuck came over to join me.
“Been a while, pal. Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks Chuck.”
“Take it you’ve heard the news?”
“Chrissy and Bernard. They’ve gone.”
“Gone where?”
“Gone to open a chain of tanning shops in South Wales.”
“Christ. Tanning for Taffys. And the Yalıkavak beauty salon?”
“They walked away. Turks don’t do fake tans.”
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