I was recently asked what inspired me to write my book and to sum up in one sentence what Perking the Pansies is all about. This got me thinking. It’s been so hectic since the book was first drafted that I’d almost forgotten how unambitious my original intentions had been. The blog actually began life as a monthly email commentary of our experiences in our foster land and the extraordinary people we encountered along the way. I called my dispatches ‘witterings’ and shared them with my wish-you-were-here’s in the UK. As the witterings grew, a blog was born and, as the months trickled by, a book started to form in my mind. It really was that simple.
I’ve read some wonderful memoirs and expat books. Some are about building the dream in a foreign field set against a magnificent backdrop of history, culture and landscape. Others are about a personal journey of discovery and growth. Many are beautifully written and deserve their place on the bookshelf while others are worthy but, for me, a little unexciting. I wanted to write something completely different. My circumstances were certainly unusual and I was determined to provide an alternative version of the expat experience – from the perspective of a British gay couple in a Muslim land. It’s something no one had done before, and why would they? There aren’t many of us here on this side of the Med.
I still struggle to paraphrase the complexity of our experiences and emotions in Turkey. I guess ‘misery and joy, bigotry and enlightenment, betrayal and loyalty, friendship, love, earthquakes, birth, adoption and a senseless murder,’ gives a flavour of the book. Life in suburban London was never this eventful.