by Mandy Kerr
Sex on the beach cocktail with an umbrella
I know that you are worried about me going away on my own to a far-flung country, and that you are concerned about the political unrest in the ‘Far East’ as you put it (despite being relatively clueless about the political unrest here in England), but I will message you every day to reassure you. I have thus far reached the age of 55, bought a house, held down a job and managed to not kill my children. I will be fine.
I remain unradicalised. The ISIS recruitment stand was unmanned; I think he was at lunch. Not been swept off my feet yet by a Turkish fisherman with a large gulet, but they are few and far between around the airport. My flight has been called, so see you on the other side. (No, not the spiritual other side..) Please don’t worry about me.
I have avoided militant Syrian insurgents so far. I thought I saw one at Dalaman airport, but it turned out to be a grumpy Costa Coffee employee having a quick ciggy on his break. Lovely apartment in the town where Icarus fell to earth after his wings tragically melted. Well, not actually in the town centre, in the sea. I feel this must mean something but haven’t worked out what it is yet. Discovered, to my horror, that you can take a Kindle to Turkey but can’t bring it back again. What sort of weird regulation is that? Surely there must be some kind of Kindle mountain there by now? I have survived day one.
This morning I made two new feline friends. (Anya, and an unnamed male with huge cat balls). I discovered that Turkish cats shout a lot and eat entire bags of crisps while blatantly staring you in the eye. I had to chase them round the balcony to retrieve my cheese and onion Lays (when in Rome...). I might head into the mountains shortly to search for bears, mountain lions and an alleged Daesh training camp. (Joking Mother). Rest assured I am still alive.
Saw a wild tortoise. Was hoping for a mountain lion really but beggars can’t be choosers. Discovered that Anya the cat is actually Tanya the cat, which explains why she was ignoring me. And the unnamed cat is, in fact, called George, a name I feel doesn’t do justice to his majestic masculinity. Dithered about going out in a strapless dress, but couldn’t work out whether that was out of respect for the Muslim culture or a compulsion to keep my bingo wings under cover. I went for it anyway but kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be stoned to death as a Western strumpet. I have a feeling that sadly my strumpet days are well behind me so it should be fine.
Still, I got to meet and be attacked by another cat (just a flesh wound and yes, my tetanus shots are up to date), and even saw a display of some cool skulls arranged on a fence. I think this might have been Ed Gein’s house, but I declined to go in for the obligatory Turkish tea. The phrase ‘I’ve had a skinful’ may have been misinterpreted. Against the odds I’m still alive.
Another wing meltingly hot day. Even my eyeliner pencil has become impotent, and my iPhone informed me that it was going on strike due to unacceptable working conditions. My task for today, to find a boat trip. When I got to the harbour I was faced with a Libran nightmare. Dozens of boats all promising to be the Best. Boat. Trip. Ever. Even I know that this cannot be possible. What if I happen to choose the boat skippered by a disillusioned captain who has picked today to be the day that he takes his final voyage and goes down with his ship? I can’t risk that. To avoid terrorism but fall prey to a bitter seaman with suicidal tendencies and possible mother issues? I decided to take a few names and do some research ready for tomorrow. Luckily, as I wandered back, I bumped into local restauranteur Ramazan, whose best friend Ahmet is a captain wouldn’t you know.
‘Say Ramazan sent you and Ahmet will make sure that you are looked after very well.’ As he spoke, he winked in what I presume he intended as a gesture of reassurance, but I have seen a few films along these lines, and they generally don’t end well to say the least. Sali at the restaurant next door promised me fresh squid and octopus when the fishing boat comes in at four. He offered me a romantic table on the water and looked genuinely distraught at my plight when I requested a romantic table for one. He told me I was a very beautiful lady which, considering I was covered in sweat with fingers like sausages and wild humidity frizzed hair (remember Monica in that episode of Friends?), I took with a pinch of salt. Although I think I saw a genuine tear of pity and compassion in his eye. Wandering back for a swim, the incessant chirp of insects meant I was unable to get the opening bars of Club Tropicana out of my head...
I haven’t spoken to one single English person here. No Dave and Sue from Southampton or Wendy and Mike from Manchester. Just the locals who make my breakfast, clean my room, bring my vodka, and serve my dinner. They are all charming, helpful, speak very little English, but are happy to try to have a chat nevertheless, and love it when I try to say hello, please and thank you in Turkish. That’s what being abroad should be all about surely? Needless to say, I remain alive and well.
Us Scots are definitely not genetically designed for such temperatures. As Woody Allen once said, ‘I don’t tan, I stroke.’ Lazing by the pool for the day has given me the opportunity to watch the ebb and flow of guests at the apartments. The benevolent group of ladies of a certain age who were obviously here on some kind of yoga retreat (the proliferation of mandala tattoos and fringed kimonos gave it away), leaving parting gifts of cherries and strawberries for the two lovely maids who work all day with smiles, humour and literally no idea what you are saying to them. Also, excitingly, the arrival of the first English voice I’ve heard so far. He is called John, is from up north (Burnley, Bolton, Barnsley?), has a very loud voice, and appeared to be drunk on arrival. Or maybe not, it’s hard to tell with some people. Anyway, he hung out at reception with the ever patient, ever present manager, who was trying to explain to him the English meanings for Trump and wanker. (hand gestures included). This was punctuated by John’s regular cries of ‘Chop chop!’ to the friendly maids who, I must say, took it all in very good spirit. He then flung himself into the pool and started to sing Especially for you at the manager who, by this point, was looking slightly baffled. As was I by this time, and I slunk down behind my book and sunglasses in case John decided to include me in his duet for one. Thankfully, he didn’t. I have survived another day.
Ok, so you know I said it was hot before? That was literally just the warmup. I don’t think there’s even a word for this. It would be more of a strangled gasp which I’m not sure how to spell. As I was walking out, Olgun, the owner here, stared incredulously at me and gasped,
I told him I didn’t have one, but wrapped a gauzy black scarf
over my head, which I’m pretty sure would just magnify the direct heat on my brain. However, he seemed
placated, even approving, as he told me that now I looked like a Muslim. Maybe
this is how radicalisation starts? By forgetting a hat.
Anyway, the reason I’m still not on a boat is that I had such a bad night’s sleep, alternating between turning the air con on (too noisy) and off (too hot), that I turned my alarm off and didn’t wake up until 10 am. I’m buying and eating stuff without having a clue what it is, taking a wild guess that peyniri is much more likely to be cheese than mountain lion penis.
I went to
the Marina with two boats in mind. How do I choose between them? Does one
captain look more trustworthy than the other? One more unhinged? Do I choose by
a glint/twitch of the eye or do I hand out a psychometric questionnaire? (I
feel valued in my job: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly
disagree). I went by gut instinct and jumped on the Aviva 2. The other boat had
already buggered off anyway.
So I headed out to sea feeling like a cross between Marco Polo and Simon le Bon in the Rio video...
There have been many captains in history; Captain Ahab, Captain Birdseye, Captain Pugwash, Captain and Tennille (one for the over 50s, keeping it current), and now Captain Ahmet. Amazing day, great food, and lots of stops for swimming (desperately trying not to think of Deep Blue Sea, Jaws, or indeed any film with sharks or other aquatic killers). Luckily, I’m not one of these people who need to be able to feel the floor under my feet; fathoms of deep green sea beneath, warm ocean all around, Cleopatra’s stomping ground and a true taste of Turkey. It’s only the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer at 4.30am that makes me think sod this, I’m too lazy to be Muslim. Day six successfully survived.
Well, I’d hoped to do my final update in Turkey, but my cheap iPhone charger had other ideas and packed up (damn you Poundland!). Maybe it was finally sick of all the photos of yachts. Consequently, and perhaps fittingly, it’s last gasp was a message from Captain Ahmet last night. Enigmatically it read ‘Good Evening’. I guess I’ll never know what it meant (possibly good evening?) How he even got my number remains a mystery, but I blame some Turkish ladies I met on the boat. It’s a shame I didn’t get a picture to show you, as he wasn’t your stereotypical captain. He had a man bun and said he liked going to ‘disco clubs’. Instead of his photo, I’m taking one which shows the flagrant disregard for health and safety found in Turkish bathrooms (you can’t take a kindle out of the country, but you can have a live electrical socket in the shower apparently). Also, a sneaky one of Northern John. I felt a bit like David Attenborough taking that one. I’d thought having a late flight today would be a bonus, but in reality, you’re up, packed, turfed out of your air-conditioned cocoon, and left in a sweaty limbo. I got a nice hug from the cleaning lady, and Olgun’s son (confusingly also called Ramazan) wants you to visit. Five hours wait for transport, then three hours wait at the airport, where I shared a brilliantly British, outraged conversation about the price of a cup of tea. I have maintained a ten to one water to vodka ratio, learned how to suck out a fish brain and read six novels. More importantly, no one died. Looking forward to seeing you soon.
P.S. can you recommend a good self-tan? I went away the colour of milk and have returned the colour of milk just on the turn. Woody was spot on.
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