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Turkey The Raw Guide Best of Perking the Pansies Episode One By

Jack Scott All rights reserved. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author. Š Copyright Jack Scott 2012


Blurb … Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to live in a foreign field, particularly a Muslim one? Guidebooks and travelogues only go so far and, these days, many of them offer second hand accounts. To get a genuine insider’s feel, you need to ask someone who’s been there, done that and bought the fake designer t-shirts. In 2009, Jack Scott and his civil partner, Liam, moved lock stock and barrel to Turkey. They read all the right books and asked all the right questions but nothing could prepare them for what was to come – heatstroke, frostbite, biblical floods, Byzantine red tape, lazy censorship, blackouts, bugs, rancid drains, suicidal drivers, dirty politics, any-hole-is-the-goal waiters, jaw-dropping sunsets, kindness, generosity and ultimately, acceptance. In short, the inquisitive couple stumbled upon what Jack infamously described as ‘the mad, the bad, the sad and the glad.’ Jack decided to write it all down and started a blog for all the world to ignore. He called it Perking the Pansies. Against the odds and much to Jack’s surprise, Perking the Pansies grew into the most successful blog of its kind in Turkey, attracting a loyal following, the attention of the Turkish press and hatching an award-winning number one best-selling book on Amazon. That was then. After four glorious (and occasionally inglorious) years, Jack and Liam upped sticks and paddled back to Blighty on the evening tide. They now live in the English cathedral city of Norwich, a picturesque gem set within the flatlands and big skies of Norfolk. With a changed focus and a new audience, the blog continues to go from strength to strength. With his sweeping Anatolian adventures behind him, Jack is now publishing the best of his popular blog as a two part mini-series. The uncensored director's cut includes previously unpublished material and some solid home-spun practical advice about living the dream. Visas, tax, banking, working, customs, healthcare, schools for the ankle biters - all the boring stuff is in here. Jack likes to be functional as well as decorative. This is Episode One - Turkey, the Raw Guide.

Coming soon … Jack and Liam parachuted into paradise with eyes firmly shut and hoped for the best. When the blindfolds were removed what they saw wasn’t pretty. They found themselves peering over the rim of a Byzantine bear pit. Bitching and pretension ruled the emigrey roost. The white-washed ghettoes were populated by neo-colonial bar-room bores who hated the country they’d come from and hated the country they’d come to, obsessed with property prices, pork products and street dogs. Expat life was village life where your business was everyone’s business. For Liam, it was the barren badlands of the lost and lonely. For Jack it was the last stand of the charmless Raj, ‘Tenko’ without the guards, the guns and the barbed wire. It took them a while to find their feet and separate the wheat from the chavs but, determined to stay the course; they eventually found diamonds in the rough and roses among the weeds. The miniseries continues with Turkey, Surviving the Expats.


Act One

Turks and Turkey Excerpt … In the Beginning Friday, October 8, 2010 In the beginning there was work and work was God. After thirty-five years in the business, the endless predictability made me question the Faith. Liam, on the other hand, was neither bored nor unchallenged but routinely subjected to the ephemeral demands of a capricious boss, a soft and warm Christmas tree fairy with a soul of granite – Lucifer in lace. He feared for his tenure. I feared for his mental health. It was the 30th May 2009, Liam’s 48th birthday, and we were enjoying a romantic meal in Soho. As the booze flowed the conversation turned to ‘What if?’ and so began our Great Adventure. We began to hatch an audacious plot to step off the treadmill and migrate to the sun. Turkey sprang instantly to mind since we had just returned from Bodrum, a chic and cosmopolitan kind of place attracting serious Turkish cash, social nonconformists and relatively few discount tourists. Liam loved it and, after many years visiting the western shores of Anatolia, I needed no convincing. All I had to do was sell my house just as property prices were in free fall. All Liam had to do was agree a financial settlement with his ex on their jointly-owned property. Thus far, that particularly knotty problem had proved more difficult to resolve than the Arab-Israeli conflict. Against all the odds, I sold my house and its contents to a God-send of a neighbour and, after some emotional horse-trading, Liam finally achieved a reasonable settlement on his own property. Implausibly, we both secured voluntary redundancy from work. In my case, it happened with such indecent haste that I sensed they were glad to be rid of me. Well, the axe man was stalking the Town Hall corridors looking for prey. It mattered little since it all added to the purse. Our remarkable run of luck convinced us that someone was looking down kindly upon us. Liam attributed it to the Virgin Mary. We turned our attention to where in Turkey we might settle. The obvious choice was the narrow western coastal strip tucked beneath the vast Anatolian Plateau, the area most attuned to European sensibilities. Turkey beyond this was the genuine article, a magical land of sweeping landscapes, drenched in drama and culture but far too foreign and exotic for a couple of mature, bourgeois, gay boys from the Smoke. Bodrum was the bookie’s favourite, an urbane, liberal oasis where we could live safely and unmolested. We briefly entertained the notion of living in Kaş on the Turkuaz Coast. We had honeymooned there and fallen under its captivating spell. The sparkling Bohemian jewel was surrounded by a pristine hinterland and had mercifully been spared the worst excesses of mass tourism. Its glorious isolation was also its downfall. The resort was protected by a wilting two hour drive from the nearest international airport, was effectively closed out of season and lacked those dull but essential full time services we all need to live in the material world: banks, supermarkets, hospitals and the like. We cast our eyes along the map. The coast running south-east of Kaş towards Alanya has been colonised by the Germans and Russians and the string of major resorts running north – Fethiye, Marmaris, Altinkum and Kuşadası – attracted legions of bargain basement Brits. It was no surprise that the odds on favourite won by a mile.


Bedlam in Bodrum Saturday, April 02, 2011 We took a sunny dolly ride to Bodrum to see how the ambitious townscape transformation was progressing. Much has been done since our last inspection but there’s still much to do and very little time before the start of the season. As work progresses, the grand plan is becoming clear. Sort of. Tired crazy-paving is being replaced by top-notch slabs and the marina road is being narrowed to a single lane, providing a broad costa-style esplanade to saunter along on balmy summer evenings. Nuisance parking will be banished and pestering from the hassle bars should be better controlled. It’s looking good. The start of the season approaches ominously. A legion of swarthy lads with sweaty vests and rusty tools has been drafted in from the east in a frantic rush to complete the work. Early bird visitors have already landed, mainly the elderly Teutonic type topped and tailed in straw hats and socked sandals. They waddle through the unexpected rubble in bemusement. Bedlam in Berlin? Unheard of. Finished by Easter? Not a hope. My Golden Horn Thursday, April 07, 2011 We took an all too brief trip to Istanbul to celebrate my birthday. We started with the usual whistle-stop tour of Sultanahmet (the old city). Haghia Sophia remains the highlight and leaves me quite speechless every time I gaze up at the magnificent dome. Onwards to the curvaceous Blue Mosque built a millennium later. Better outside than in, the seductive silhouette of mosque and minarets defines the famous city skyline. Domed out, we rested outside in the well pruned park and endured the call to prayer in thunderous surround sound. Our first evening was spent in Beyoğlu, the increasingly hip shopping and entertainment district that looks proudly down on the old city from across the Golden Horn. We dined expensively along Istiklal Caddesi, the broad pedestrianised boulevard that runs like a spine through the area. After settling the extortionate hesap, we ventured out into the night in search of a minority interest inn to quench our thirsts and assess the locals. Unsurprisingly, the Byzantine gay scene is infinitely superior to any other in Turkey. We supped in a couple of minor league joints before ending the night in the appropriately named Tekyön (One Way), a large pulsating dance bar. It could have been London or Paris, but here, the disco tits on display were attached to young carefree Turks rather than pumped up Colombians. You know you’re getting old when, like the police, the competition is getting ever younger. We left the boys to their play and headed back to our hotel for a cocoa and a macaroon. We know our place. Tick Tock Friday, September 23, 2011 Liam has become increasingly alarmed at the pendulosity of my neatly pruned testiculaire. It's a long hot summer and without the provision of a support hose, gravity has taken its toll. I could run a grandfather clock with 'em. Caveat Emptor Friday, November 18, 2011 Liam and I love living in our little stone cottage tucked away in the middle of old Bodrum Town. Not even a perilous spark, a sieve-like roof, heat exhaustion or frostbite have put us off. Our neighbours are a joy and the locals are warm, welcoming and obliging. We rent and are thankful for the freedom this gives us. We’ve been released from the notion of owning a property that Brits nurture in the womb. For some, the dream can turn sour. For years, people buying property abroad have fallen foul of unscrupulous builders, vendors, agents or officials. Some of the stories are enough to make you weep, particularly when the unsuspecting lose their shirts in a single dodgy deal. Sadly, it’s a phenomenon which afflicts many nations of the world, not just Turkey, and the laws which protect such people vary


from country to country. I was recently contacted by an emigrey who is fronting a campaign for change in Turkey. He points out that while it is quite possible to purchase property here successfully, there are too many examples of people getting a rough ride. He's not alone in this view. The Turkish press is littered with examples of scams and only last year, police raided the Central Tapu (property deeds) Office in Bodrum. Of course, fraud can afflict all buyers, foreign and Turkish alike. But for foreigners, coming to grips with the complexities of unfamiliar property law in a foreign land can be a daunting task. Not to mention an emotional one. Wherever you are willing to splash out, in Turkey or elsewhere, it clearly makes sense to do your homework. Do everything you can to understand the buying process, get good legal advice, don’t be tempted by cost-cutting shortcuts and don’t dish the dosh unless you are absolutely sure that everything is above board. Let’s face it, that’s exactly what you’d do in your own country so why lose your head (and possibly your life savings) when abroad? If it looks too good to be true, the chances are it is. There are plenty of people around who can offer good advice. Turkey is a fabulous and seductive country to live in or invest in. Dreams really can come true if you do it right and the authorities play their part too. But, if you are one of the thousands of Brits thinking of splashing out on a Turkish bargain, do so at your peril. Tales from the Water Closet Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Emiköy Alan, who as a hunky young rookie snatched the Queen’s shilling but found it to be debased, lives with the missus in a traditional Turkish village near Dalyan. Alan writes affectionately of their lives as rustic emigreys in his blog Archers of Okçular. He often leaves witty (or so he thinks) comments on my posts. Alan recently published a post about the evolution of Turkish privies, from low slung to high tech. To be mildly obsessed with evacuation is a peculiarly British pre-occupation. It’s our Dunkirk spirit. Alan reminds us of the ‘all-in-one dump and rinse pans’ that are common in this part of the world. They’re not for me. I use wet wipes to keep my ring fragrant. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Wednesday March 28, 2012 Auntie Beeb recently ran an article about gays in the military, not in America this time, but in our foster home. It makes comical reading. For young gay Turks to receive their pink exemption slip (I prefer lilac myself) they have to prove their perversion with photographic evidence. Got a few holiday snaps of you being bummed on the beach in Bodrum? Now, young man, it only counts if you’re Martha not Arthur. The next best thing is a photograph of you in a frock and slingbacks. Anything floral by Laura Ashley will do. It’s all about a cock in a shock frock. After all those wasted years of navel gazing by the horrified higher echelons of the British armed forces, gay and lesbian Britons are now allowed to serve their country. People who know a great deal more than I do about these things say this has had absolutely no detrimental effect on the operational efficiency of Her Maj’s army, air force or navy (well, it’s always been rum and bum in the navy). Military failure is reserved for hapless politicians who send our brave boys (and girls) out to fight wars they can’t win. Let’s face it, when it came to periods of genuine national emergency (like a world war), no one cared less where you put it. We were all cannon fodder back then. Unless you were Quentin Crisp, of course. The Cult of Atatürk Wednesday, August 08, 2012 Now we’ve returned to Blighty I feel safe enough to comment on a subject that is taboo in my former foster home: the cult of Atatürk. Mustapha Kemal was undoubtedly an inspirational military and political leader who saved the Ottoman heartlands from the territorial ambitions of the victorious powers following the Great War. The Italians, French, British and Greeks all wanted to pick over the


bones of the moribund empire and punish the Sultan for backing the wrong horse. There were scores to settle. AtatĂźrk saw off the pack of hyenas and established a secular Turkish Republic mostly shorn of its imperial lands and within more defensible borders. His post war reforms dragged the country into the 20th Century. He achieved all this through the sheer strength of his towering personality and resolute single mindedness. Yes, he was a dictator, in the age of the great dictators (I mean ‘great’ in the powerful sense, obviously), but his rule was progressive and transformational. His avowed legacy was to establish a just and secular society based on the rule of Law and gender equality. I wonder, therefore, what he would make of the personality cult that has developed around his memory following his death. I wonder if he would approve of the laws that ban even the mildest criticism of him and require his image to be prominently displayed everywhere? What would he make of monumental scale of his mausoleum and the thousands of grand statues that adorn every town square? I wonder?


Act Two

Jack’s Facts Excerpt … Getting In and Staying In Turkey is a land for all seasons, whether you fancy dipping your toes in the warm Aegean, tumbling over ancient stones as old as time itself, hiking past towering peaks, shooting the rapids or gazing up in awe at the dome of Hagia Sofia. There’s something for everyone – for the cultured, the curious, the adventurous and the lazy. Increasingly, Turkey is also the destination of choice for work and stay as well as play. More… Nasty Tax As with most countries, the tax system in Turkey is complex and bureaucratic and as with most countries, people try to avoid paying tax as much as possible. The Turkish black market is extensive, particularly in the tourist and building sectors where labour is often casual and payments are cash in hand. This explains why the Turkish Treasury relies so heavily on relatively high indirect taxation like VAT to fill the State purse. Having said this, the authorities take a dim view of those who deliberately flout the law and penalties can be stiff. It is your responsibility to know your tax liability and to pay your dues. Turkey has more taxes than you can shake a stick at but laid out below are the main areas that most people will be troubled by. More… Banking the Wonga In 2001, following decades of systemic financial instability, chronic inflation, stratospheric interest rates and wild runs on the currency, the banking system snapped and Turkey suffered its own banking meltdown. Several institutions went to the wall and people lost their shirts. The authorities acted quickly and decisively. The banking sector was consolidated and reformed. As a result of this, and other important structural reforms, Turkey has gone from basket case to power house in only 10 years. Nowadays, Turkey’s banking system is competitive, robust, well-capitalised and admired internationally. Turkey has survived the current global financial crisis relatively unscathed. Due to relentless devaluation, like the Italian Lira of old, Turkish money used to be counted in millions. In 2005, the Turkish Government lopped off the zeros and introduced the New Turkish Lira. It was no longer necessary to place your thumb over the last three zeros to make sense of what you were spending. After a period of transition, the New Turkish Lira is back to being called the plain old Lira. More… Anything to Declare? Depending on your point of view, Turkey is either a shopaholics’ paradise with bargains galore for those willing to barter or a hellish haggle-zone awash with fake designer goods. Duty free shops are a rare example where the price on the tag is the price you pay. More… Doctor in the House The last decade has seen the implementation of a sweeping health reform programme in Turkey, aimed at increasing the ratio of private to state health provision and making comprehensive health care available to all. As a result, anyone deciding to relocate to Turkey has a choice of joining the state healthcare system (by making regular contributions) or accessing the growing network of excellent private hospitals and clinics. Many Turkish doctors have received at least part of their training abroad


and a growing number of heath tourists are invading Turkey’s shores, attracted by a high quality service and competitive prices. More… Earning an Honest Crust The good news: it is perfectly possible to work legitimately in Turkey; you just need a work visa. The bad news: they are hard to get. There are many restrictions and regulations to get your head around. Some foolish people don’t bother. There are too many examples of foreign nationals who either don’t understand the rules or bend them to suit their own circumstances. The coastal resorts of the south-east are littered with instances of British and other nationals who worked illegally in bars, restaurants or other small businesses and who were fined or deported when they were caught. It’s a dangerous game to play. It’s not surprising that the authorities take a dim view of people who flout the Law. Half of the population of 70 million is under 30 and, with too few jobs to go around, many Turks are either underemployed (in seasonal work, for example) or unemployed altogether. More… Attitudes Toward Women Women’s rights are protected under the Turkish constitution and many women have achieved high status in government, commerce and the Arts. However, Turkey remains a predominantly patriarchal society and meaningful female liberation is a distant dream for many. Most Turkish women are expected to remain virgins until they marry (this is not necessarily expected of men). In poorer regions, the education of boys takes precedence over girls and arranged marriages are unexceptional. Many Turkish men serving Western women in bars and restaurants will be itinerant workers from the East who may never have experienced the kind of liberated female behaviour commonplace in the West. Women, particularly lone women, will get pestered. Although Turkey is proud of its secular tradition, the overwhelming majority of people are Muslim and many are conservative. It pays to be respectful. Away from the coastal resorts and city centres of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, women are expected to dress modestly. Bikinis (and bare chested men) are best kept for the beach or the pool. More…

How to Buy the Book …


About the Author … Jack Scott was born on a British army base in Canterbury, England in 1960 and spent part of his childhood in Malaysia as a ‘forces brat’. A fondness for men in uniforms quickly developed. At the age of eighteen and determined to dodge further education, Jack became a shop boy on Chelsea’s trendy King’s Road: ‘Days on the tills and nights on the tiles were the best probation for a young gay man about town.’ After two carefree years, Jack swapped sales for security and got a proper job with a pension attached. By his late forties, passionately dissatisfied with suburban life and middle management, he and his Civil Partner Liam abandoned the sanctuary of liberal London for an uncertain future in Turkey. In 2010, Jack started an irreverent narrative about his new life and Perking the Pansies quickly became one of the most popular English language blogs in Turkey. Within a year, Jack had been featured in the Turkish national press, published numerous essays and articles in expat and travel magazines and contributed to the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. As the blog developed a head of steam, a growing worldwide audience clamoured for a book. Jack duly obliged and his hilarious (well, he thinks so) memoir, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey hit the streets at Christmas 2011. The book became a critically acclaimed, award-winning best seller and its success has opened up a whole new career for Jack as an author. Jack and Liam decided to end their Anatolian adventure and paddle back to Britain on the evening tide. They currently live in Norwich, a cute cathedral city in eastern England.

Jack’s Debut … Jack Scott’s debut book was released by Summertime Publishing in December 2011. Blog material was artfully weaved with a series of previously untold tales created a page-turning, white water ride of misery and joy, bigotry and enlightenment, betrayal and loyalty, friendship, love, earthquakes, birth, adoption and murder. Since publication, the critically acclaimed, book has been a number one bestseller on both Amazon UK and Amazon Canada, has received a Rainbow Book Award in two categories, was listed for the prestigious Polari First Book Prize and featured in a double page spread in Time Out, Istanbul.


What the Critics Said … “…the book’s originality lies more in its honesty about the grubby reality of expat life that conventional travel literature prefers to gloss over.” Time Out, Istanbul “A really excellent book. Funny and insightful and poignant all at once.” Rainbow Book Awards “There is heartlessness and tragedy here but also a generosity of spirit and a positivity, along with a dogged determination to see the best in humanity.” Polari Magazine “An entertaining story, told with wit and insight.” Paul Burston, author “At turns hilarious, saucy, witty, heartwarming and incredibly moving.” Global Living Magazine Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey is available in paperback, Kindle and ePUB formats. For more information, please see Jack’s website, www.jackscott.info. Jack is currently working on the equal sequel to tie up the fraying loose ends and bring the epic saga to a nail-biting conclusion. Early retirement was never meant to be this gripping. Catch it in spring 2013.

Jack’s Websites …


Turkey, the Raw Guide