Born in: Canterbury, England
Passport(s): British with official Turkish Residency
Countries lived in: Malaysia (Malacca): 1967-1969; Turkey (Bodrum): 2010-present
Cyberspace coordinates: Perking the Pansies | A comical narrative of expat life (blog)
What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
I moved to Bodrum in Turkey with my civil partner, Liam. I was a petty bureaucrat for 30 years gently ascending a career ladder to middle management, middle income and a middling London suburban terrace; comfortable, secure and passionately dissatisfying. We thought it high time to take a break from our labors, put our feet up and watch the pansies grow while we were young enough to enjoy it.
Is anyone else in your immediate family a “displaced” person?
My father more or less ran away from home when he was 16 to join the army. If he hadn’t, he probably would have ended up down a mine or in a factory (the days when Britain had such things). He (and then we) traveled widely — to Northern Ireland, where he met and married my mother and where my eldest brother was born; then on to Germany, where my second brother was born and contracted polio; then on to Malaya (before independence), where my elder sister was born; then back to England (Canterbury), where I was born. Our family then moved to Pimlico, in Central London, living in a barracks that is now the Chelsea School of Art(!). Finally, we went to Malaysia, where my younger sister was born. In Malaysia, we lived in a large, self-contained complex on the coast near Malacca called Terendak Camp. The camp had been built along miles of golden sands overlooking the Malacca Straights for army personnel and their families from Britain and across the Commonwealth — we shared it with Aussies, Kiwis and a few people from Malta. It was all very colonial, unimaginable today. I also seem to remember Dad traveling on his own to Cyprus, Aden (in Yemen), and Egypt. He died some years ago. Maybe I’ll write something about him one day…
Describe the moment when you felt most displaced over the course of your many displacements.
It was right here in Bodrum. We were spited by a storm of Biblical proportions that was punctured by a spectacular light-and-sound show that lit up the sopping sky and cut the power. Prodigious pulses of horizontal rain assailed every crack and cranny of our house, through every easterly window frame and beneath every threshold. It was freezing, so Liam and I hid under the duvet and fought over the hot water bottle. All Turkish houses leak, have no insulation and precious little heating. Of course, it rains in England, too — but not like that. Now, that’s not in the guidebooks and travelogues.
Describe the moment when you felt least displaced.
Liam and I were chuffed when our Turkish neighbors invited us over for dinner. Our grasp of Turkish remains lamentably poor and their English is virtually non-existent — but they made us feel very welcome and the food was delicious. There was much waving of hands and furious gesticulation. We used a Turkish-English dictionary to chuck random words into the conversation just for the hell of it. Turks are blessed with an honorable tradition of hospitality long abandoned in the West. In London I hardly knew my neighbors.
You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from the country where you’ve lived into the Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
I was very young when I lived in Malaysia. I haven’t been back since though would love to. Sadly, I’ve kept nothing from those distant days. As for Turkey, our prized possession is the fragment of an ancient Ionian capital in our garden. It’s a bit heavy to put in a suitcase, and I’d be arrested if tried. Turkey is an incredible land where history lies casually underfoot.
You’re invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other Displaced Nation members. What’s on the menu?
Turkish cuisine is up there with the best in the world. I would offer a meze plate of tasty Turkish fare using the best produce from the local market seasoned with exotic herbs and spices you just can’t get at Sainsburys. My guests would be offered:
- roasted aubergine blended with garlic puree; artichoke hearts with herb dressing, peas and lemons
- seaweed with a tangy vinaigrette
- vine leaves stuffed with spiced rice
- sauteed beans with olive oil and tomatoes
- white cheese with olives drizzled in olive oil and garnished with oregano
- finally, the ubiquitous but delicious sigara borek – shallow, fried, cigar-shaped mixed-cheese pastries.
It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Yours?
You may add one word or expression from each of the countries you’ve lived in to the Displaced Nation argot. What words do you loan us?
Avustralyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınızcasına. This is a Turkish term pronounced as a single word and an extreme example of agglutination, the process of adding affixes to the base of a word. This word translated into English means “as if you were one of those whom we could not make resemble the Australian people.” Though rhythmic and poetic on the ear, Turkish is not an easy language for Europeans to assimilate as it is thought to belong to the Altaic language family and is distantly related to Mongolian, Korean and other inscrutable Asiatic tongues. Despite Atatürk’s valiant 1928 adoption of the Latin alphabet and the fact that the language is phonetic and mostly regular, the word order, agglutinations and the absence of familiar sounds all conspire to make learning Turkish a very daunting prospect. I’ve chosen it specially for The Displaced Nation to torture, to amuse and to remind everyone how completely hopeless many of us — particularly native English speakers — are with foreign tongues.
Question: Readers — yay or nay for letting Jack Scott into The Displaced Nation? Tell us your reasons. (Note: It’s fine to vote “nay” as long as you couch your reasoning in terms we all — including Jack — find amusing.)
img: Pencil sketch of Jack Scott by a local Turkish artist
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