Friday, April 18, 2008

Mirth and Woe: Turkish Delight

Mirth and Woe: Turkish Delight

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Nothing to do with this story, at allI had been granted an audience with the Turkish Prime Minister. Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to come to our luxuriously appointed hotel in the centre of Istanbul to make a speech and to answer journalists' questions on his country's national day.

The trouble was, as I sat on the throne in my 12th floor suite, I had a turd that wasn't going anywhere.

"BLUUUUUUMPH!" it had gone, and emerged - not word of a lie - a good eighteen inches long, a testament to the rich Turkish diet and the terrifying capacity of my bottom.

It sat there, scowling at me, in the toilet, refusing to disappear. Flush after flush - the thing was made of ferro-concrete and even defied a good thumping with the toilet brush, sitting there intact, refusing to move.

There are times in your life where you have to make a snap decision.

"Sod it", I said to myself, straightening my tie in front of the bathroom mirror, "I'll sort it out later", and left for my date with destiny.

In the end, I arrived - only seconds late - for the PM's arrival, with only one thing on my mind: The Black Sea Monster, which remained, unflushed somewhere on the hotel's top floor. My carefully-honed question, mixing congratulations on this key date in the Turkish calendar, a remembrance of the life of Kemal Mustafa Ataturk and a probing insight into the opening of state media to Kurdish and Armenian minority groups went unasked.

All I could think, as the interpreters rattled away in my headphones was "I wonder if it's still there?"

I got back to my room an hour later, and it had gone.

Instead, there was the toilet roll, diligently folded into a point in the manner taught to every hotel maid in the world, and a hastily-scrawled note on Conrad Hotel-headed notepaper.

It was in Turkish, so I showed to the waiter in the rooftop bar.

He laughed.

He showed it to some of his colleagues, who also laughed.

They pointed at me, as I clutched my hideously expensive bottle of Stella and laughed some more.

"What? What does it say?"

"It say… uh… how I put this?"

"Yes... well...?"

"You dirty, shitty bastard dog!"

There was no way on God's Earth I was leaving her a tip.

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