Yule

No I do not know what it means either but you can always look it up. Personally CBA (you may need to look that up too – Urban Dictionary).

If that sounds like a sorry-arsed, f**k you sort of introduction to a blogpost I guess I must apologise; Thing is it is Christmas. And in my later middle years (I like that one) I have gone off the whole thing. I am more “Bah! Humbug!” than rosy Pickwickian, crackling log fire, mistletoe, festive cheer.

Life is rich in ironies; when I was a twenty year old, long haired student, in an ill-judged moment I agreed to go to Morocco for Christmas with a friend. We thought it would be, well coool man. Know what I mean?

“What are you doing for Christmas, man?”

Long pause (there were always long pauses those days).

“Going to Morocco, man”

“Wow! Far out thought man!”

“Yea. Train down to Marrakesh!”

“Marrakesh man. Wow!”

“Dig, yeah”

Collapses from effort of sustained conversation.

In the event 3 days in we pretty much ran out of money and hunkered down in Fez. Christmas Day was major non event heightened by the single sad sign in a single sad shop window wishing customers “Joyeux Noel”. Still remember wishing I was home and not hungry and tucking in to Christmas dinner. And here I am 45 years on retired in a Muslim country , loving the fact that Migros will be open on Christmas Day and it will all be a non-event.

What goes around..

Actually not all of our foreign resident community are as Scrooge-like as me and many decorate their houses and put on Christmas dinners. But me? Non merci.

The rot started to seep in quite a few years back. I think there came a point when I thought why are there Christmas crackers in the shops in October? And then the whole thing began to look more and more like a retailfest. Then there’s the whole pc Winterval thing, and the fact that everyone already has so much stuff that buying more just seems like a criminal waste of resources and I always preferred everybody else’s present and also..that’s ENOUGH MOANING!

No but, really, I remember when I was a child indulgence was a glass of Emva Cream and our Christmas stocking contained things like Brazil nuts and tangerines (tangerines? You were lucky Gessiah. We ‘ad potato peel. Aye that were fact and we were grateful forrit)

Alright, maybe it wasn’t that great! Just pour me a glass of Mateus Rose and pass me my rose-tinted spectacles.

Ottoman castleActually Special K and I will be heading off to Antalya’s spectacular old city (Kaleicin) for three days over the Winterval period. We have booked in to the gorgeous Tuvana Hotel, one of Kaleicin’s many boutique hotels created from Ottoman era mansion houses (konak). And they are putting on a Christmas Eve menu which reads like a banquet, complete with Campari and Soda sorbet between courses and unlimited wine, rakı or beer for £35!!! It is the only restaurant I have come across outside Istanbul which is entitled to use (and does) the term fine dining.

However, and here’s the thing, the Antalya Devlet Opera ve Balesi is putting on Franz Lehr’s The Merry Widow as its Christmas Production on 24th. So while Special K and Friend Lynn, who is actually a widow, settle down to a feast, I am thinking off slinking off to get a fix of Turn of the Century Viennese glitz.

It’s a genuine dilemma for me because I love fine dining and unlimited wine but I have a pash for Turkey’s State Opera and Ballet companies. Last week we went to see a production of Carmen (best seats in the house for £5) and the audience was like for a rock gig; Sculted handhardly anybody over 30. It fills me with hope for the secular, modern, open-minded republican Turkey that is locked in eternal struggle with a more narrow minded, religious and conservative Turkey that is out there too.

Comfortably seated in the Hasan Işcan Kultur Merkezı  surrounded by todays Young Turks in tight denim and trim beards and the ghosts of the fathers of the Republic in full evening dress, I feel strangely at home.

So I do not know which side of me is going to win out, culture or vulture?  Maybe I can get back in time to join Kim and The Widow while they are still merry and get the best of both worlds.

New Year’s Eve will find me, Special K and friends celebrating at the excellent Mussaka restaurant where I am playing with fellow rockers Cengiz, Selçuk and amazing singer Marianne.

A Merry Christmas (I suppose) and an excellent New Year to everybody

“Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh”  Peace at home, peace in the world – KS Atatürk.

That will do nicely.

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5 Responses to Yule

  1. Chris Williams says:

    Wishing you, Special K and the Merry Widow a fab time in the lovely Tuvana Hotel.
    I will be in England with my 3 sons who are around 40 years old, they still get upset if they do not get a Christmas Stocking on Christmas morning. I have been banned from putting sox and pants in the stockings, they like Computer Games, aftershave and Jack Daniels etc. I think I will put potatoe peelings in this year and tell them that’s much more than a lot of folks will be getting this year. X

  2. Jane Hills says:

    Hi Chris – Happy Bah Humbug to you too! Enjoy the Campari and soda sorbet if you get there. Jane x

  3. Lisette says:

    Ohhhhhh no! Obviously you do not like the gifts and all commercial circus surrounding Xmas Chris….. I love Xmass….but it frightens me on the other hand with no family left of the generation before me and no next generation….But still…the true spirit to me is peace, family feeling, seeking warmth, love and safety together. Xday for me is to remember how lucky I am that I am together with some of the beautiful people that surround me in a safe, peaceful moment embraced in warmth and love. A dinner is just a means to that end….. but togetherness is a must……in my opinion. So…let’s celebrate next year together! By the way…our boutique hotel in Antalya is just besides that toer in the picture….

  4. Lisette says:

    And all the best for you and lovely Kim…..

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