Friday, 17 August 2007

How to act very cool with pimples

Oooooo, number 98. This is getting very exciting. I'm struggling to scrape something from the bottom of the barrel to write about, but I might just be able to dip my snout over the line in a couple posts' time.

Back to Constantinople it is then. I've still got maybe half-a-dozen anecdotes to recount, and that's without delving into the darker side of life there. While we may not have been flavour of the century with our religiously conservative neighbours across the street or perhaps the folks living directly beneath, above and beside us, there were some residents of our apartment building who were willing to fraternise with us. I’ve already mentioned the tumescence-inducing likes of Alev and her younger sister Ebru on the lower floor. Their father was a restauranteur in the town of Çaycuma in Zonguldak province on the Black Sea coast, and so because Ebru was still at school she would travel home each weekend to be with her parents. I was invited there once for only the second time I escaped the city limits of Istanbul, but my memory of the occasion has dimmed over the years. All I can recall is some great köfte in Dad’s eatery, a visit to poor rellies in a nearby village where they were baking bread in an outdoor oven (see picture), tortuous conversations with the non-English speaking mother using my 10 words of Turkish (‘water’, ‘jam’, ‘bread’, ‘hot’, ‘cold’, ‘beautiful eyes’ and ‘fuck off’ don’t provide for a great variety of sentences in the total absence of verbs, pronouns and prepositions), and half-an-hour bent over the household squat toilet analysing the plumbing system and agonising over how to make one’s mephitic post-lunch extrusions vanish without the aid of running water (a common theme during my months in Turkey). It was all a bit of a disaster really because while Alev was just evincing some traditional Turkish hospitality, I had fanciful visions of canoodling with her on romantic evening walks in the countryside. Needless-to-say, I made a total prick of myself. Anyhow, it’s worth at this juncture posting a picture here of Alev to demonstrate that I wasn’t losing my head over a girl for nothing (wouldn’t be the last time though, would it…?).

Another resident who gravitated into my consciousness was a teenager who lived on the bottom floor with his mother (funny how I can’t remember any of the men’s names from this era). I think he must have been in his last year of school or was studying for university entrance examinations because he thought that paying me money to teach him English would somehow be of benefit to his studies. Incredible, I know, especially as I was also expected to teach him some French. I think I managed to wing it in much the same way that some people believe Bush is running the USA, and I guess my schoolboy Francais was still fresh enough at that stage to fool the most undiscerning of customers: “Ecoutez a repitez!” Amazing what you can get away with by doing one’s most outrageous John Cleese French impersonation: “I told zem we already ‘av one”.

This young lad had a few friends he was always hanging out with, and they adopted me for the couple months I was in Kadikoy as an older but mentally-handicapped brother. We would hang out on the streets or on the waterfront while I generally observed their interactions with other groups of likely lads. They were the most shameless poseurs (notice the French influence?) and would stop at nothing to represent themselves as greater lovers or street fighters. Which was all fine, except that my young friend suffered from a particular nasty case of acne. He wasn’t covered from shoulder to forehead in zits, but the oleaginous pustules that he did grow on his countenance were so ferociously volcanic and sebaceous in nature that I thought it safest to wear sunglasses in case they spontaneously erupted into one huge violent orgasm of lubricious white fluid. All highly amusing whenever I pulled out my camera, when he and his mates would immediately assume Hasselhoff positions. It’s very hard to play dead cool when there are big suppurating bubbles floating over your boat. Unfortunately, the lad in question is hidden under the towel in the picture below, but his mate beside him has got the Hoff down to a tee. Note, however, the reclining figure with the anti-zit splatter shades, the fine head of hair and the Speights Ale T-shirt.



1 comment:

Amena said...

Keep up the good work.