Summer came and went (well, going ...slowly). It was a busy one as it is every year. It's strange that when you live in a holiday destination, you never really get to have a holiday. When I was living in the UK, I worked all year for my two weeks in the sun and went I went on holiday, I holidayed.
These days, I seem to spend my time pottering around the house, avoiding the blazing heat outside the front door. I've put up shelves and pictures and spring cleaned my brains out in preparation for the new school year. At last, it seems, I've buffed the flat as much as I can.
In late July, I took a trip to Poland with my great mate from the UK and topped up my bacon reserves.
A couple of weeks later, I flew home to the UK for ma's birthday. Notice I'm using the word 'home' again in reference to England. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll give it a try.
Perhaps I needed time away, but my relationship with the UK changed considerably on my return this time. It was a stroll along the tree-lined banks of the Thames in my hometown of Kingston, when I realised just how beautiful the country is.
When you live in another country, you're forever reliant on other people. Especially when your grasp of the language isn't that great. Always asking for help with this and that slowly but surely bears down on you and creates an ever so slight feeling of confinement.
Turkey is a country where men, generally, make the decisions in a relationship. I'm talking about the day to day stuff; "which restaurant shall we go to?", "what film shall we watch?". Since moving to Turkey, I'd given up a lot of these decisions to the natives but on returning to the UK, I felt knowledgeable, decisive and confident again.
I'm probably coming across as a control freak but, believe me, I'm quite the opposite. It's just a little thing I noticed. A little thing that actually seeps deep into your sense of self-worth.
I feel I've forgiven the UK for whatever sins made me flee. I'm seeing it again with new eyes and appreciating what a fabulous place it is.
However, here's the gripe. Here are a list of things that still get on my tits about the UK:
1. Too many rules! The UK has gone regulation crazy since my departure. And what's worse, is that everybody seems to be policing these rules with ferocity. One of the things that's so infuriating and yet, is the charm of Turkey, is the lack of rules. You drive how you want, you sit where you want, you picnic where you want (I saw a family having a picnic on the grassy central reservation of a three-lane highway the other day. Surely there are better spots but who gives a shit?).
Notice the no-smoking sign. Why can't I smoke in this open air phone box? It has no door. My departure from the booth would cause enough air circulation to completely clear any residual fumes. I can guarantee, that should I spark up, someone would tap on the window and gesticulate for me to stub it out.
On a shopping trip one day, I was walking through an open precinct enjoying a smoke when a man in pseudo-police uniform came running over to me to point out, rather officiously, that I was in breach of the no-smoking law of the precinct (as there was a roof over a small section of the walkway). It was clear that this was his sole responsibility.
His speech meant that I had taken twice as long to pass through his pissy poundland ridden precinct and expelled twice as much carbon dioxide.
I said, in an overly nice way "oh I'm so sorry, where can I put this out?". To which he pointed to a drain. So litter control is not in his remit then. Cock.
2. The weather. It's still mental. Having to leave the house with sunglasses and an umbrella fucks me up.
3. Chavs. I hate pretty much everything about them. And I especially hate the fact that their influence is spreading into general society. From crocs to that slack jaw way of talking. Groups of middle-class white kids speaking in pseudo-patois, really gets my goat.
4. Heathrow Duty-Free closing at 10pm. Are you fucking kidding? It was like Supermarket Sweep trying to buy some aftershave. Having to beg a bloke at the door of Dixons to allow me 2 minutes to buy a netbook is something I've grown unaccustomed to. The Turks have the right idea; if you're thinking about spending money, you're always welcome. Anyway, I thought once we've passed through customs, we're in a no-mans land where time stood still? Not in England, clearly.
I know I'll think of more, but I better leave it there as the red mist is starting to descend.
In between trips to colder climes, I've mainly been attending weddings. The subject of weddings is on my to-write list, along with why poor Turkish people always where suits and why one turkish sport has a massive gay following in the West.
Oh, something I forgot to mention...
I bought the tickets for our flights to the UK through the Turkish Airlines website. BE VERY CAREFUL! In the small print, I hadn't realised that our flights were to be with a subsidiary carrier called Anadolu Jet. On realisation, I figured they couldn't be that bad considering Turkish Airlines had put their name to them. Wrong.
Turkish Airlines have really sorted themselves out over the years and I would even take them as preference over BA these days. The staff are friendly (usually), the food is superb (you even get a little menu to choose from), booze is free-pour and free, the planes are new... everything is lovely.
Anadolu Jet are a budget airline. OK, fine. I've flown budget before. EasyJet are great if you play by the rules; get to the airport early, bring your own food etc. Anadolu Jet, are sub-budget.
When the food arrived, we got a small roll (I mean small, see the pic), some water and a toddler's handful of pasta. I asked for a whisky, I was told they only had tea, coffee or orange juice.
My girlfriend reclined her chair and the right side of my chair went with it. This meant, we were pretty much spooning for the rest of the journey. Thank god the bloke on my left didn't fancy a snooze.
I guess I would have seen the warning signs if I'd compared the Turkish Airlines ads with those of Anadolu Jet...
How Turkish Airlines is supposed to make you feel.
How Anadolu Jet actually makes you feel.
You'll be glad to know I managed to get us back onto Turkish Airlines for the return trip. Not through conventional channels, of course. Despite emails and calls to Turkey, it took all the strings I could pull to get us back on a decent airline. Believe me, without a connection fairly high-up in Turkish Airlines, it would not have been possible. This, unfortunately, is just the way things go in Turkey (even if you're in England).
Right, I better get on with that article about the homo-erotic sport. I kiss you!