After six weeks ‘Internetless in Dymchurch’ (could be a film starring Tom Shanks and Smeg Ryan) I’m back ‘home’ in Istanbul. How do I feel about that? Honestly?
Well, let’s start Britishly. With the weather. I could do with one of these today.
No doubt about it, the temperature in UK was far preferable to how it is here at the moment. Istanbul feels like I’m zipped up fully clothed in an Arctic grade, double-goose down, four season sleeping bag, in a one man nylon tent in the middle of a blistering and breathless Gobi Desert on a summer’s day, and it’s not even noon (or it wasn’t when I started writing this post four hours ago).
Lying in bed last night I was forced to undo the top button of my Winceyette pyjamas as I felt the perspiration puddling around me. The fabric of my night attire had reached saturation point and was unable to retain any more of my body’s vital fluids that were flowing out of my pores quicker than US dollars are flowing out of Russia these days, such was the stifling oppressiveness of the trapped, stale night air. It was like trying to sleep mummified in warm, damp kitchen towel.
We can’t have a window open to encourage a hint of any available night-time breeze because of the ‘enormous infant-obsessed killer mosquitoes’ queuing up on the window sill with their ‘crazy straws’ to gorge themselves on the blood of The Halfling; we can’t have a fan in the bedroom because ‘they are dangerous to leave on unattended through the night in case of electrical fires’; we can’t have air-conditioning because The Halfling might ‘catch pneumonia or Legionnaires disease’ from the ‘impurities being forced into the atmosphere by artificial means’. So let’s all die in our sleep of heatstroke or drown in sweat.
To all intents and purposes (what does that actually mean?) today is the last day of my summer holiday and oddly the first day in the last seven weeks that I’ve been able to spend entirely alone. Christ, how I’ve missed my own company (and you, my best friend: my laptop x). I’m holed up in a coffee shop that has air-conditioning and WiFi and which overlooks the Sea of Marmara (not bad, I suppose). The current-future-ex-Mrs Tidy has dashed away to visit her parents for the weekend. (Naturally, sans enfant terrible.)
The Halfling is at home renewing his bond with his Turkish nanny who he hasn’t seen for six weeks (someone who, from the look on his face this morning when she pitched up, he obviously believed he’d seen the last of in July) while I’ve been ‘instructed’ to make myself scarce so that said bonding can be more easily achieved. Good luck with that. I might not know much about kids but I didn’t need to be Dr Spock (the child doctor so influential in my mother’s thinking regarding child-rearing and not to be confused with the pointy-eared alien who my mum simply resembled) to recognise the sense of betrayal on the angelic features of my son and heir when the nanny’s face loomed around the front door this morning, like something out of a Hammer horror movie, while calling his name in that curiously shrill tone she manages that actually rattles the fillings in my teeth.
My son’s features instantly resembled those of Luke Skywalker on learning that his biological father was in fact his chief enemy.
I could barely bring myself to meet his watery, accusing eye as I did up my laces in preparation to leave them to each other. (Mr Iscariot, I know your pain.) And then he made a bolt for his room before either of us could grab his sweaty little body. It was unfortunate that all that stood between The Halfling and his dash for refuge was the nanny. It was doubly-unfortunate that, owing to the regrettable brush with Rickets she clearly suffered in her youth (the sort that leaves the afflicted unable to stop a pig in an alley, which is exactly the expression that sprang to mind as he ducked under her crutch and scuttled up the narrow hallway to his sanctuary [if only she’d turned up in a long skirt instead of those skin-tight, leopard-print leggings she insists on wearing making her look like some form of bizarre, over-sized wishbone from the hips down], slamming the door behind him and twisting the key. I knew it was a mistake to leave that in the lock but ‘he must have his privacy’. He’s just three for God’s sake!) she was unable to snap her knees together (not without dislocating her pelvis in at least three places) and block his escape. Mind you, I did experience a grudging admiration for him. I wouldn’t like to be cooped up with the Turkish love-child of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the captain of the Swiss women’s Olympic yodelling team all day being force fed his mother’s idea of nutritious meals: a lentil and pulse mush that looks like it could have come straight out of his nappy.
The staff are glaring at me with something akin to unpleasantness. I think that they think I’ve outstayed my welcome. They might have a point. I’ve been here a long time and only drunk two large cups of black coffee. They want the table for six that I’m stubbornly occupying for the family of nine that they want to cram in and make some profit from. Well I’m not moving. It’s hot out and I’m comfortable. And I’ve got Internet.
This summer I went away without any Internet enabled device: no laptop, no ipad, no Kindle fire. How liberating, I thought. How fucking stupid, more like. It wouldn’t have made much difference because the only Internet available to me in the UK would have been through my first son’s iphone, a device that always seemed to have either one bar of shaky Internet access or 3% of battery remaining. (Did I mention my first son before? The young man who is squatting in my English home. The son who should have vacated the property after giving it a thorough cleaning [make that fumigating] so that my Turkish family and I might enjoy the fruit of my pre-Turkish move renovation labours. On arrival the place looked like a scene from A Life of Grime.)
Where was I? Internet access. But still, I could have found somewhere, like the pub in the village that offered free WiFi if you bought a drink. I did that once. In fact I ended up buying quite a few drinks and making a bit of a spectacle of myself as well as a significant dent in the holiday spending budget and a smaller dent in the casing of my current-future-ex-wife’s brand new mini ipad that she’d rented to me for the evening. (We didn’t go to the zoo the following day, as I’d promised everyone. But that was because I was still being violently sick into a saucepan in the spare room. This was doubly-unfortunate because it was one of the three days that it didn’t rain in the six weeks we were there. How was I supposed to know that?)
I read quite a few ‘real’ books, which was lovely to be able to do. I got quite into Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montelbano series and I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that I enjoyed about them. I read JK Rowling’s A Cuckoo’s Calling and really enjoyed it, despite being determined to hate it. (Call it professional jealousy.) I read an Anne Cleeves, Shetland Islands book that was pretty good and Charles Cummings A Foreign Country that was very good. I also read a book about Ian Fleming, something that I ‘borrowed’ from the school library and took to read on the plane. I found out that Fleming and I share the same birthday. He wrote thrillers and so do I. He was enormously successful and rich…. anyway, spooky.
Talking of birthdays, I received a message from a reader yesterday, Erling Larson, who will have his ninetieth birthday in ten days time. Congratulations to him. I love the idea that a reader of such senior years is reading my books and getting on the Internet to let me know about it. If my dad had lived that long I know he’d of been just like Erling. Happy birthday, sir!
I need to get on with some work. I have emails, Amazon comments and blog comments to catch up on. I have a half-finished Booker & Cash to renew my acquaintance with (I can’t remember much of the forty thousand words I’ve already written. Bugger. I hope it all comes back to me quickly.) Smoke & Mirrors is still under construction.
I just read a blog post by a fellow author and virtual acquaintance http://patriciaismith.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/where-have-all-my-author-mates-gone/comment-page-1/#comment-16).
She says this:
I have come to realise I live two separate lives: a writer’s life which is quiet and solitary, and a family life which is busy and boisterous at times. I love them both, but the twain never meet, they might bump into each other occasionally but that is all.
How very true that is. Exactly how I feel. I’ve spent six weeks back in the UK surrounded by family and I could count on the fingers of one foot (in Turkey toes are referred to as ‘foot fingers’. How I laughed first time I heard that.) the number of times someone asked about my writing. It seems strange to me; they are my ‘nearest and dearest’ after all. Mum is always supportive but really no one else (apart from my daughter who has read all of them and my favourite nieces who have also partaken) is the slightest bit interested. It’ll be a different story when that seven figure, three book/film/TV series deal comes in, I’m sure. It used to bother me a bit but now I’m resigned to the truth: I’m living two separate lives.
And on Monday I start a new job, which I’m really looking forward to.
Anyway, back to my original question: how do I honestly feel about being back in Istanbul? Answer: things could be worse.
Oh How I have missed your ramblings Oliver. You do make me laugh. I was just thinking earlier today, that I discovered you in the guise of Romney and Marsh almost a year ago while on holiday in Tunisia, having downloaded Rope Enough just before we left. This year having read everything that you have written, I will be sadly lacking in the Oliver Tidy book department while sitting by the pool.
I am glad had a safe journey back from Sunny Dymchurch.
We, here in Whitstable, are staggering under the immense weight of the visitors who descend on us on a daily basis. This years Oyster festival should have been re-named The Sardine Festival. You quite literally could not move down here. The entire Town was bulging at the seams and at one point I wondered if we might actually sink under the endless onslaught.
On the plus side one bright spark of a Local has had a FB page running called Overheard in Whitstable which has kept us all entertained, both by reading other peoples posts or by sneaking around earwigging on unsuspecting visitors. The site will close at the end of this month and she will be collating the most entertaining quotes for a book.
I look forward to your next offering and hope that you find a cool solution soon, maybe you could consider moving into the fridge for a while 🙂
Good to hear from you. We had a pretty good summer on the south coast despite my whining.
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad someone’s laughing. I’m thinking about going to bed but I just can’t face it. Fridge getting more appealing by the minute.
Just checked out the FB page you mention. Funny stuff. Great idea.
The Sardine Festival made me chuckle. I can only imagine how you must all feel at that time of year.
Have a great holiday in Tunisia – if I’ve understood that right, you’re returning there. Sorry not to have anything new for you to read but I thank you sincerely for your continued interest in my writing.
Have really missed your musings( huh is there such a word) this summer. You make me laugh.
I went to France with our caravan for a couple of months. Disaster struck in the first week, my kindle died. Think perhaps i had read it to death. Luckily most of the campsites we visited had plenty of books to borrow so i wasn’t totally deprived. First thing i did on return to uk was to buy a new kindle, so I am sorted again. I will try not to kill this one. Looking forward to your next masterpiece, get on with it, the holidays are over, ha ha.
Thanks for your comment. Musings is a very polite word for the turgid waffle I harp on about. 🙂
The death of a Kindle is always something to mourn. And it always happens at the worst possible time. Mind you, you can’t beat a real book.
A couple of months in France sounds wonderful. Lucky you.
Good luck with the new Kindle and I hope to have something for you to download in a month or two. Like you say, the holidays are over. Now I feel like bursting into tears all over again.
Great to have you back. I too have missed your ramblings. As an ex Kent person now living in Turkey I can relate to so much of what you say. (I hope you never wander about barefoot – oh but you don’t have a womb do you so it won’t get frozen, preventing you from having babies!) While you vacated Istanbul we took a short holiday there en route to a week in Le Barp a small village near to Bordeaux. I am hoping to be back in the Bul for a few days in November with a friend, but before that I am looking forward to getting re-acquainted with Acer Sampson, or Booker and Cash so please don’t let that new job get too much in the way!
Thanks for your comment. It’s good to be back to my ‘other’ life. (The real me.)
I haven’t heard the one about the womb before, but, as you say, I wouldn’t have because I haven’t got one. It made me laugh, as most of these bonkers idea do, but it doesn’t surprise me. Where do they get them from? There was a teacher at the school I just finished with who would always, when she came into a baking hot room and the window was open, shut it. She cited the ‘fact’ that having the window open risked serious illness. Believe me there is nothing funny about sitting in a staffroom in forty degree heat with the windows shut and no air-con or fan. (I was scared of her. We all were.)
Istanbul is a great city to visit. Five years of living here, the gloss is wearing thin. I bet Bordeaux was good. I just think of French wine and French bread and French cheese. What more do you need?
I’ll be cracking on with the writing as soon as I’ve got my head round being back.
Quite a lot of coincidences in your comments. Whitstable was right next to my home town in Kent!!! A friend there keeps me posted on what is going on, especially about the Oyster Festival this year. France seems to be featuring quite a lot too!!
I took my Kindle with me to read on the various flights (6 in total), lots of books unread on there, but no Oliver Tidy, no Peter James, so I didn’t actually get round to reading it at all!!
The wines and cheeses were good and plentiful – lots of oysters too!
As you say they certainly have some very weird ideas, although in the 10 years we have been living here they do seem (hereabouts anyway) to have watered them down a little. Talking of water, it mustn’t be too cold for drinking, perhaps they think their insides will freeze.
I really can imagine a hot, stuffy 40 degree plus room with no windows open – my room is like that with the windows and doors open and a fan going!!! It is what happens whenyou live in a stone housde with a flat, concrete roof!!! Sensible husband stays downstairs with the air con on!!
I can imagine that Istanbul can lose its gloss when living there. We have Istanbul friends who live down here and have no intention of returning, not even to visit family!! However, for someone who has lived in Turkey for 10 years and only just made my first visit, to the European side, it still does have an appeal. Maybe we will venture over to the “other” side another time.
I won’t hold you up any longer as I am in need of some good reads, dying to learn that the baby is actually Acer’s!!!
Learning that you live in a stone house with a flat concrete roof made me reach for a glass of water. Must be like sleeping in an oven. Your husband has the right idea.
We’re toying with the idea of moving a little way out of the city to get some cleaner air and a bit of garden for us all. One of those complexes with a pool and some grounds. This high-rise living gets a bit samey and claustrophobic. Right, back to work. 🙂
I don’t know how you did it? It must have felt like having to have your laptop surgically removed. We writers could manage without our legs, but we cannot do without our laptops. I can’t even go for two days without lifting the lid, smiling down at the keyboard, then letting my fingers tap away: sheer heaven. I know it’s an addiction, but I categorically refuse to go to Writer’s Anonymous.
As for the new teaching post? ‘screw your courage to the sticking post’ and enjoy. You will soon find your new surroundings will get those creative juices flowing even more.
Good to hear from you.
I just thought I’d get by without it. Maybe I wanted to prove something to myself. All I proved was I can’t function properly without it.
I don’t think I’d have done any writing but there were so many times I just wanted to flit about the www, check my emails, blog, Twitter, Amazon accounts, sales figures and then random searching. You know how it is.
It’s good to be reunited with my life support machine at last and I won’t be making the same mistake again. Do I sound like I have a problem?
Thanks for the wise words. My personal mantra for teaching in Turkey is: Do your job. Shut your gob.
Can’t wait to get back to my fantasy worlds. 🙂
I came to Istanbul in July and it rained!! Loved your blog but agree with the other comments back to work. Looking forward to the next Acer book and to see if you have killed off another favourite character. Loved your comments about your family, I have just had an outrageous hair do with different colours. All I got from my loved ones “What’s for tea”
Good luck with the new job and keep up the good work.
Thanks for the comment. Lucky you getting some rain here in July, although you probably didn’t feel that way. I’m getting back in the mood. Still fiddling with Acer (you know what I mean.) You must know by now that Acer has some sort of curse attached to him – all his nearest and dearest die sooner or later. (And it saves me having to remember characters for the next instalment.)
Families eh? Who’d have ’em?. I appreciate you good wishes for the new job. Thanks.
Well had I known you were here then you could have used my wifi lol but would have had to head up the a2070 a bit to do so. Were you in Dymchurch when that storm hit? Just like Armageddon, we were down there eating chips and watching it roll in from Dungeness, a very surreal experience I can tell you.
I really don’t envy you in that heat, one thing you can always rely on in the UK is that if it is hot then it isn’t likely to last for long. So back to work and back to blogging too, hope you aren’t too occupied to keep up with the writing!
Thanks for your comment. And thanks for the WiFi offer :-).
Yes, I remember ‘that’ storm. But mainly because my son kept telling me that the lightning had affected his Wifi reception and so I couldn’t use his phone for a week. Must have been pretty special with a front row seat out at Dungeness. If there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with the penmanship, I’ll just have to give up sleeping! Problem solved.
Great to have you back Oliver…I had forgotten just how much I have missed your amusing blogs…you clearly need to move to France where the climate would be more conducive for your writing 🙂
Ah, gay Pareeee (and the rest of it.) France has always appealed to me as a place to live but me and French…I’m not a language learner. Five years in Turkey and I’m still on ‘Hello, how are you?’ Not good.
Hope you had a good summer.