Tuesday 19 May 2009

Turtle trouble: A postcard from Turkey

I've been away. Let me show you.
Imagine Europe, as pictured from above. Find the Aegean sea, and pan across a bit, to where Europe meets the East, in Turkey.
Zoom in a bit. Focus on the Southwest coast.
Zoom in a bit further. Picture the Muğla Province, rich in scattered ancient ruins and modern marble quarries.
Zoom in further. Find the coastal resort of Sarigerme.
Track SouthWest, until you find the 4-star First Choice holiday village. In the South corner, you will see a block of apartments. Head for that, observing as you do that the fine people of the Marriott hotel chain are building a 5-star luxury golf resort some 25 metres away.
At this juncture you can add a soundtrack, which will enable you to marvel at the scant respect the contractors have for local planning regulations that are meant to restrict building noise to reasonable working hours. (You can also feel a slight twinge of envy, if you like, because on this trip we're going four-star and the people next door will eventually be going five...)
You may also choose, at this point, to wonder aloud if this beautiful region of the world - which features a sparkling sea that laps a beach of tumbled gemstones (where protected turtle species lay their eggs) and a series of jaw-dropping 4000 year old tombs carved directly into the hills - will really be improved by the addition of a 18-hole golf course and another set of waterslides. Then remind yourself that the local economy relies almost entirely on tourism, and that you have contributed to the ecology problem by just being here - so in some tiny way, if the turtles all die, it's your fault...
But leave that aside for now. Continue zooming. Swoop down through two floors and find apartment 3011.
More specifically, find the bathroom. And that, my friend, is where you will find me.
On the toilet. At my lowest ebb all week.
(What, you thought I'd write about the good times on holiday? How little you know me...)
I have been sitting for some time, lamenting both the second chicken kebab with chili sauce that I ate the night before (and which I believe is responsible for my current situation), and my new swimming trunks, which were purchased in haste a few days before leaving for holiday. They feature a blue and white floral pattern and, in the the lengthy time I have had while seated to examine them puddled around my sunburnt lower shins, I have decided they make me look ridiculous.
But this is only one source of discomfort for me - leaving aside the first, most obvious and pressing issue, I am also not enjoying the fact that I am performing for an audience of three, as follows:
a) Myself, in a large mirror that runs across one full wall. This allows me to catch the occasional glimpse of my contorted, sun-reddened face, which is extremely disconcerting - because with one thing and another I am not really looking my best.
b) A large inflatable whale. This was purchased for my daughters to ride on in the swimming pool, and which they have decided in the meantime to store on the bathroom floor. This means that, by happy accident, it can 'observe' everything I am doing with its big cartoon eyes. Every 30 seconds I stare malevolently at its stupid painted smile and think about stabbing it with some nail scissors - but that would involve rising from my throne, which currently feels inadvisable.
c) My youngest daughter, who is outside the bathroom and whose short chubby legs, complete with pink sandals on each foot, I can clearly see through a louvred panel at the bottom of the door. She has been chatting amiably to me for some time, even though I have tried to explain that this is not strictly welcome right now, because Daddy is busy. Unfortunately, as she is currently enrolled in the School of Toilet Training herself (sadly, it appears, with graduation day still same way off), she clearly feels a kinship with me in my current position and has decided to share some some of the verbal encouragement she normally receives:
"How is your poo doing, Daddy?"
"It's...it's fine. Go away."
"Are you trying hard, Daddy?
"Go away. Please."
"Is it coming yet?"
"Go away. I'm begging you."
"You need to try hard, Daddy....."
"Go and see Mummy, will you?"
"You need to concentrate."
"Go away!"
"Concentrate, OK, Daddy? Concentrate and try..."
At this point I notice the absence of toilet paper. I recall with some sadness that I removed the last roll myself, in order to show my eldest daughter that if you draw something in wax crayon and then rub it hard with tissue paper the wax melts and soaks into the paper, leaving a translucent pattern. Even now she is in the other room, making a series of stained-glass window pictures to adorn the window, tearing up sheet after sheet of precious toilet roll and throwing it in the bin.
Outside the door, my youngest daughter discovers she can reach the bathroom light switches. As a result, both the main room light and the one above the mirror start going on and off intermittently.
"Keep trying, Daddy..." she calls through the door.
In the flickering light, the whale continues to smile at me. I swear it is laughing at my swimming trunks.
Zoom out now, and just keep going. Up through the apartment roof, up away from the turtle beach, higher and higher, until Turkey is spread below you, the planes heading for Dalaman are passing beneath your feet, and you can clearly see the curvature of the earth.
Now, listen.
I'm sure, even at this height, that you can hear me shouting for my wife...


Max Halliwell said...

I am liking your work Mr Collins, that poor poor whale

A Modern Mother said...

Too funny! Love it, great post.

Am highlighting your blog on BMB this week.

nemo said...

I'm going on holiday this weekend. My sister asked if I was looking forward to it.

I said I was definitely looking forward to it having been a total success.

I'll avoid the kebabs though.

The bike shed said...

Found you on the Daddy Blogger website. Enjoyed reading this and quite a few of the earlier posts too - some great writing here. Nice to see that. I'll look again.