Wednesday, 4 January 2012
In March, 1982, I flew to Izmir on my 23rd birthday, accompanied by Carolyn. We had both been employed to work on a flotilla of small yachts in Bodrum's brand new marina. We were met at Heathrow by Bilge and Haluk, Turkish businessmen in their early fifties who met us at the check in and introduced themselves as representatives of the company we had just joined. This was news to us and we weren't sure why we were travelling with them but they were convivial company and as the complementary wine flowed on the flight we noticed that everyone else on the flight seemed to know these two gentlemen by name. We soon learnt that Bulent owned an travel agency with a very up-market address in London and Haluk owned a hotel in Izmir. We landed to the North of Izmir on the military-run airport, and were met by Haluk's driver. It was during the drive to the centre of Izmir that Carolyn and I started to get a bit nervous at being in a car with two "mature" Turkish men, who we'd only met 4 hours before, and appeared to be on our way to a hotel with them. That hadn't been in the plan. We had assumed that we'd be taken straight to the boats that were wintering in Kusadasi. My unease increased as Bilge started telling us about Haluk's fantastic penthouse apartment above the hotel and how we would enjoy the views of Izmir and then added that they had some video tapes with him that were impossible to get in Turkey and he was looking forward to viewing them on Haluk's new VHS player. At that, Carolyn and I looked at each other in wide eyed panic. The word yacht "hostess" started to take on a completely different connatation. What had we signed ourselves up to? How could we have been that naive.