I’m finally cracking on with some writing. R&M#6. It’s going really well. I’ve mentioned here previously that before I packed up for the summer hols I’d managed about fifty thousand words towards it. In five days (three of those were spent reading and trying to understand what I’d written, why and where it was supposed to be going) I’ve bumped that up to over seventy thousand. I think it’s going to be the biggest and bestest R&M File so far. Either that or it won’t.
Because of my in between homes circumstances I’m taking the laptop into my brother-in-law’s restaurant. He lets me use his office all day. (internet plus peace and quiet.) It’s been great. And the staff here are great too. Too great sometimes.
I wonder how many readers are familiar with Turkish hospitality. I’m willing to bet that there isn’t another nation on Earth as generous with food and drink when they have guests, especially when the food and drink belong to someone else.
I mention this because, being a valued family member, instructions have obviously been left with the manager that I am to be ‘looked after’. A steady train of food and drink from the impressive menu finds its way up to the office at regular and frequent intervals. If I’d been left alone I might have finished the book by now! But I don’t want to sound ungrateful.
Trouble is the more I eat the more they bring. It’s almost as though I am insulting them when I clean my plate. They think they haven’t brought me enough. So up comes a dessert with about ten thousand calories in it just when I’ve polished off stuffed peppers, rice, kebab, gallons of tea and coffee and lemonade. Even in my crap Turkish I know I’m telling them I’m full up but they just smile knowingly and return five minutes later with something I haven’t had yet.
It got to the stage that as soon as the office door was closed I was looking around for places to hide the food. When I ran out of those I started putting it in my laptop bag. That’s fine with solids and the like but things become more challenging when sloppier foods are involved.
Take Wednesday for example: I came in to the ‘office’ a bit late. After lunch. On the way in I’d munched a simit, polished off a family bag of crisps (I was just in the mood) and finished with a banana to make me feel better about the crisps. (Something about that combination that gave me a swollen belly.)
The laptop had barely had time to power up when there was a tap at the door and in came a smiling waiter carrying a tray with a great big bowl (more of a tureen) of chicken noodle soup. Now this stuff is a house speciality and it’s very good. So I got slurping. But soon realised I wasn’t going to finish it. And they’d be back for the tray soon. (They like to see how quickly I can eat, I think.) What to do with the remaining half-a bowl? My brother-in-law does not have a single plant in his office.
A brainwave: I still had the empty family sized bag of crisps packet in my bag. Those bags are waterproof. They have to be. So without delay I poured the remains of the soup into the bag, folded over the top and carefully stood it up inside my laptop bag. Perfect. And just in time as it turned out. My friend was back and looking happy that I’d done the lot. I smiled back desperately trying to communicate that I wanted nothing else.
It worked. I was not disturbed again.
She-who-must-be-dismayed rang a couple of hours later wondering when I was going home. Time had flown. I said I was on my way. I packed up and headed off down the stairs.
I walked through the kitchens and into the eating area, which was quite busy by then. I smiled and nodded to the staff who seemed a little distracted and not as friendly as usual. Maybe they were just tired, I thought. As I got to the front door I heard someone laughing behind me. I turned to see what was so funny.
If you can’t guess I’m not going to tell you. But here’s a clue: you’ve seen the trail a snail leaves behind it.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
Yes, it’s another pool story!
Key vocabulary: porte = door, sick (sik) = fuck. (Things should become clearer by the end.)
But first a bit of background.
I’m sure my big sister won’t mind me sharing a funny story about something that happened to her several years ago. This is the way I remember her telling it.
‘We were coming back from a driving holiday in France and we were late for the ferry. We eventually got to the port town and it was touch and go whether we would make our sailing. To make matters worse we got a bit lost. Stress levels in the car rose. As we were passing someone who looked like a local I told my husband to stop the car. I jumped out, ran up to the Frenchman and shouted at him: ‘Ou est le port! Ou est le port!’ (This would have been OK is she hadn’t enunciated the ‘t’ at the end of ‘port’ turning it into ‘porte’.) He shrugged, like a Frenchman, mumbled something about the crazy English and hurried away.
For anyone who doesn’t have the necessary rudimentary grasp of the French language or who just doesn’t get it, like me when she told it, in French ‘port’ (silent ‘t’) means harbour but ‘porte’ (that’s with the ‘t’ sounded out) translates as door. So my sister had been shouting at the man in the street, ‘Where’s the door? Where’s the door?’ No wonder the guy was freaked out.
Back to my new pool story. Yesterday, the Halfling and I ventured back to the pool at the local fitness centre. (Incidentally, they said Ankara was boring. They were right. It is. It’s been clear blue skies, gentle breezes and thirty plus temperatures every day. Can’t say I mind that kind of samey. It’s like living in LA.)
We’d been splashing around for a good while when the pool attendant hurried over and gave me to understand that we would have to get out. My body language asked why. He pointed over to the other side of the pool. Someone had thrown up in the shallow end. We got out. Quicker than if they’d released a big shark.
When I looked around I noticed that there were only about five people in the area. And I was the only one with a child. No one looked to be taking responsibility for what looked like barely digested cat food floating on the surface of the water. (The culprit had obviously front-crawled it out of there in their embarrassment.) It occurred to me that they might think that it was either my son or me – a cultural difference, perhaps: we’re British, of course it’s all right to throw up in the public baths and carry on as if nothing had happened. For an encore I take a piss of the diving board.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, because I was worried about our reputation and status as new members and foreigners, I tried to right any hastily drawn wrongs that might be present. I approached the pool attendant, pointed in the direction of the flotsam (or is it jetsam? I get so confused with those two.) and said in my best broken Turkish: ‘Benim yok sick.’
If you refer back to the key vocab you will see that ‘sick’ in Turkish (spelt sik) means fuck. Like my sister, I had muddled up my languages. A stress-related reflex, I dare say.
When I related the episode to she-who-must-be-dismayed later in the evening, she explained that ‘Benim yok’ when coupled with the word ‘sick’ in a sentence could be interpreted as, ‘I do not fuck.’ Judging from his reaction that was his interpretation.
I’ll give it a week before I go back. Not because I can’t stand the thought of swimming in someone else’s vomit but because I think staff work a rota system at the fitness centre and next week he’ll be in the car park. I don’t drive.