“My Friend, I Give You Very Good Price”

Ok, so it seems there is a minor flaw in my theory that if I don’t pay attention to Everton they do better, as our late return from Turkey prevented me from finding out about the shambles taking place over at Highbury until I arrived back at work. Still, surely the exception that proves the rule: they did manage to complete their unlikely qualification for the Champions League while I was away, after all.

Turkey, by the way, was lovely. A bit like Croatia, but with bartering. Sal went there backpacking for two weeks with a couple of friends, but as I lacked the holiday allowance or desire to join her for most of this, I travelled out for the end of their trip to join them for a few days at an all-inclusive resort at the bottom of the country.

Somewhat stupidly, I had chosen to fly into an airport some 250km away, but rather less stupidly I decided to pre-arrange a surprisingly reasonably priced transfer off some company I found on the Interwebs. And so it was that, given that no one else is stupid enough to fly in to an airport so far away from their destination, I travelled the three hours from the airport to the resort in my own private 15 seater minibus. I feel uncomfortable enough catching taxis at the best of times, but this was just ridiculous.

Barely 5 minutes out of the airport, we slowed to a crawl in the backed-up traffic. It didn’t take long to see the reason for the delay, as we spotted a police car, a group of onlookers, a cameraman, two bashed up cars, and a chap with a bucket of sand repairing the road. I looked around for the seatbelts in my minibus. There weren’t any.

Somehow we made it safely, despite the cavalier attitude the Turkish take to road markings and their decidedly vague attitude to the concept of “lanes”. The driver managed not to hit any of the many people just wandering around at the side of the road, and he even somehow managed to remain on the windy mountain road just outside Oludeniz despite the fact that he was clearly watching the para gliders over the bay to the right, even as he turned the wheel to the left.

Perhaps it’s just as well that I wasn’t really there long enough to see the real Turkey, and at any rate we spent most of our time in our closeted all-inclusive world. (But, hey, they let you pour your own beer: why would we leave?)

We did escape a couple of times, though, if only so Sal could exercise her bartering technique at the market stalls that permeate tourist Turkey. She certainly drives a harder bargain than me; I just fold at the earliest opportunity. Somehow, though, that didn’t matter, because I didn’t really see a great deal that I wanted to buy: somehow the stalls all seem to sell the same products and be staffed by chaps who’ve been taught the same routines–“alright mate”, they would say, in a faux Landarn accent, “what part of London you from? Sarf Landan?” Still, at least that was better than the chap we met in the Grand Bazzar in Istanbul who decided that a winning sales strategy for promoting the fake aftershave and dodgy T-Shirts on his stall would be to refer to me as “skinny man”. For some reason, we chose not to purchase anything from him. Can’t think why.