Saturday, 24 November 2012
Brian Sewell - South from Ephesus revisited.
One of the joys of my recent "retirement" is sorting through my very dusty bookshelves and coming up with a gem I had forgotten I owned and having the time to sit down there and then and start reading. I can remember buying Brian Sewell's "South from Ephesus" quite soon after it was published in 1988 and loving the honest impressions of South West Turkey. At that time I hadn't seen him on the TV or read his magazine columns, but was seduced by the painting of the Gümüşkesen in Milas on the back cover. This volume is a selective record of 10 years of Sewell's visits to Turkey from 1975 to 1985, covering the coast from Ephesus to Side. It's not a guide as such, more a running dialogue of history, archaeology, anthropology, art, geography and sex that you might enjoy if you were lucky enough to have an extremely well informed travelling companion. He bounces from the Carians to The Renaissance as he wanders or stumbles around befriending local dogs, cats and villagers. We are now accustomed to his dismissive, grumpy delivery, but I was quite shocked by it in the 1980s. He obviously loves the country but won't be sidetracked from describing it's drawbacks, even when accompanied by a car and driver donated by the Turkish Tourist board. Especially when, as he can't stand the guide who seems to have no interest in the archaeology, is incapable of pre-booking a damp-free hotel, shouts at waiters and is more interested in his carpet commission. Sewell's description of an over-weight belly dancer's contortions while submitting her audience to extortion on a damp New Year's Eve in Bodrum is an image that is still making me cringe. I love his description of getting lost trying to find Gerga as we did the same although, unlike Sewell, we did eventually find the site and didn't fall into the river. This book has been out of print for a while so I was extremely pleased to get an email from Amazon announcing it's availability.