Currently in London, and moored almost at the bottom of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s garden in Islington. I am on my brother’s narrow boat, which allows us to sail around central London and stay for up to 2 weeks at a time, in some of the better postcodes the capital has to offer. So in a way you feel both connected to the capital but also, and this is the best bit, quite separate from all of the overheated expense and commuting necessary to live so centrally.
I always look forward to my times in London to catch up with old friends and also to enjoy various bursts of culture and entertainment, that are seldom available where I live. This summer has been no exception and I have done a number of galleries, exhibitions and also watched a couple of art-house films, which if they ever reach Turkey tend to be either in French with Turkish subtitles or worse still dubbed into Turkish.
After a fairly unsettled spring and summer period in Turkey this year, it had actually began to cross my mind that it was getting close to the time, when I should perhaps consider spending more time in the UK. Living in Turkey is never straightforward and their knee jerk love of any excuse to complicate even the most simple process with unnecessary red-tape is legendary. Ataturk may have got rid of the Ottoman Empire but some of the mentality, systems, ideas and petty bureaucracy that was such a suffocating part of those years, still lives on in far too many corners of today’s Republic. There is also a sense that under the AK Party Turkey is experiencing a period of increasing Islamisation, which some commentators have described as creeping into far too many aspects of our life there, a process that has worried many people in recent years, mainly because no one knows how far this process will go. That said, I tend to live a quite simple but comfortable life there, so I can’t complain too much. Also, despite leaving my house for the hottest 7 weeks of the year, simply to escape the the chaos of the holiday season, it is easy to forget that for the other 45 weeks of the year, I live a quite happy and pretty much undisturbed, life with often my only conversation, being throw away comments to my cat.
So while I miss London, and other cosmopolitan places, before too long I always seem to want to get back to my simple life in Turkey. I lived in London, on and off, for the best part of 20 years and in that time I have seen many changes, particularly after spending big chunks of time away, that most residents may barely notice. But if I had to pick just one change compared to last year; it would undoubtedly be the fact that on 2 separate occasions, just this week, in different places, I have heard people discussing the rising value of their property, which was a fashion that I had hoped had died out back in the early 90’s. But no, London, or at least Central London is apparently going through a mini property boom, all fired up by foreign buyers eager to get a foothold in the capital. However, before you all book flights to get in on the act, I should also warn you that there is also a tandem belief, that the bubble is just about to burst. This mainly because the vast majority of these buyers are Russians, who are about to become awash with Government restrictions, regulations and extra taxes etc. in the wake of Mr Putin’s clear involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and the recent shooting down of the Malaysian airliner.
Anyway, enough of this travelogue on London – it is now 6pm and so high time for me to again share a bottle of red wine with some friends at the bottom of the Mayor’s garden – something which would be quite unthinkable now if I was anywhere near the homes of the ever more Islamist leaning Mayors of Istanbul or Ankara… so Cheers Boris!