22nd December 2006
I told Atkins Down The Road about our apartment in Turkey and mentioned that once weâ€™ve taken possession of it at the end of October 2007 he and Mrs Atkins Down The Road will be welcome to stay with us whenever they likle.
His reply was immediate and without ceremony at all. â€œNo thanks.â€
There was something wrong here. In Atkins we are talking about a man who is as likely to turn down a freebie as Cherie Blair on speed. I asked him why.
His lip didnâ€™t exactly curl but it might well have done from the tone of his voice. â€œTurkey?â€
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with Turkey?â€
â€œYouâ€™ll do well to last a month without having your throat cut. You wouldnâ€™t get me within a thousand miles of the place.â€
â€œThis is Altinkum weâ€™re talking about,â€ I said. â€œA holiday resort on the Aegean coast. Not downtown Istanbul after Galatasaray have just lost at home to Millwall.â€
â€œAltinkum, Istanbul, theyâ€™re Turks, and theyâ€™re all tarred with the same brush, Turks. Only the amount of tar is different. Vagabonds, murderers, the lot of them; they canâ€™t help themselves, itâ€™s in their blood, itâ€™s the hot weather.â€
I was prepared to say more fool you to him then let the matter drop when an idea came to me that if acted upon would test to the full Atkinsâ€™ resolve to keep Turkey off his list of desirable holiday destinations. I acted upon it. â€œEven if what you say is true itâ€™s a risk Iâ€™m prepared to take,â€ I said. Â Then I paused for effect before continuing, â€œIf only to sample that sea bass again.â€
Atkinsâ€™ ears pricked up at once. â€œSea bass?â€
Those of you who have heard me speak of Atkins Down Then Road before might recollect that he is such a lover of duck that if he is eating out and someone in the company orders duck then Atkins has to order it too as he can not bear to see other people eating duck if he himself is not eating it. Sea bass is itâ€™s Piscean equivalent; in fact if anything he likes sea bass even more than he does duck.
â€œWhile I was over there I had the most marvellous sea bass Iâ€™ve ever tasted, fresh out of the sea that day,â€ I said. â€œHanging over the edges of the plate it was, must have weighed a pound and a half at least. It cost me Â£7, including chips and all the trimmings. In this country you couldnâ€™t buy a sea bass of that size for twice the price from a fishmonger, let alone have it cooked and served up to you in a restaurant that also served up perfectly acceptable wine for two quid a bottle.â€
He thought about it for all of a second. â€œOctober you say?â€
â€œWe take possession on the 31st of October.â€
â€œPut me down for early November,â€ he said.
â€œHow are you going to eat sea bass if your throatâ€™s been cut?â€ I asked.
He thought about it for a moment then said, â€œWe might have let them in the Common Market by then,â€ as if that were all the reason Turks would need to stop slitting Englishmenâ€™s throats, then made himself scarce before I could query his reasoning.
Ignore this if you have already read it. My books Dear Air 2000 and Football Crazy are now in print. They are priced at Â£8.99 each and are available from Amazon, but readers of my blog can buy them direct from me for Â£7.50 including p & p. Just send me a cheque and I will send the book/books by return.
My address is â€“
Terry Ravenscroft, 19 Ventura Court, Ollersett Avenue, New Mills, High Peak, SK22 4L