Originating from Hackney, London, George Dearsley tells of his love affair with Turkey in his book “Twelve Camels for your Wife. In February he gave a talk about his eventful and often hilarious past when he visited Kusadasi.

George who calls himself a working-class lad attended St Paul’s primary school where he won a prize which took him to an all-boys school, Christ’s Hospital, Sussex and from there to Oxford University.

It was here at Oriel college where he met Chris Ball who was to be his co-traveller on his trip east and their original destination was to be in Japan. Another fellow traveller was to be Jeremy Ward who wanted to hitch a ride to Iran via Istanbul.

The day arrived when the three companions set off in their modified Bedford van. They went from Dover and motored straight to Brussels, stayed the night, and drove on to Luxembourg and Germany. As they continued their journey, they had many mishaps which you can read about in the first chapter of the book.

They parted with their friend Jeremy in Greece as he wanted to take a quicker route to Istanbul. Monday 24th April in George’s own words “saw us arrive at the Turkish border at Erdine. I knew nothing about Turkey and was quite unprepared for the excitement and wonder that awaited us. I had no idea I was about to set foot in a country that was to captivate me and shape the rest of my life”.

Amazon says that George was “charmed by the fulsome hospitality of strangers, enthralled by breathtaking archeological sites, dazzled by beautiful beaches and scenery the author fell in love with Turkey in 1972. The lifelong romance that followed has included many incredible, sometimes sad but more often comical situations as a regular holiday destination later became a permanent home. They include being arrested as a spy, watching a man swallow a snake, judging a beauty contest, being given a front row seat at a circumcision and seeing Turkey’s most famous criminal crash a plane”.

It would be impossible for me to tell everything about George’s travels in one article, however, if you buy the book, you are in for a treat.

One story stood out for me although it did not take place in Turkey. At an interview he did as a journalist with Oliver Reed, George told us of how they met in a pub then went to a wine bar, had a few beers then went and had a few bottles of wine. Oliver suddenly remembered he was to appear on a live broadcast, however, he decided he would have another bottle of wine. You can see the video on YouTube – Oliver Reed, The Word.

Here follows a few snippets:

I sat down one day in Kusadasi at a hotel with Carolyn, Charlotte and Sophie to have a drink. I ordered a beer, Carolyn and Sophie ordered Coca Cola and Charlotte a glass of white wine. A waiter brought the drinks. After a couple of sips Charlotte said: “Hey dad, can you taste this? I think it might be off.” I drank a little. In fact, it didn’t taste of anything.

“I think this beer has been watered down,” I replied. We called the manager and he examined the bottle, then took a sip himself before disappearing. A few minutes later he reappeared with a glass of genuine pinot grigio and an explanation. Apparent a waiter who has recently left had decanted the wine from about ten bottles and filled them all with water before carefully re-corking them and replacing the metallic cover. Jesus’s miracle in reverse.

Apart from the occasional dose of the runs and the odd allergy we rarely fell ill in Şile. We had a scare once when daughter Charlotte, then ten, fell and hurt her leg and we took her for an x-ray to the local hospital. After confirming that she had not broken any bones, a man tied up the x-ray with a pink bow and gave it to us as a souvenir. Actually, that’s not quite the full story. When we arrived, we were confronted by a man in his forties in jeans and a tee-shirt. After explaining about Charlotte’s slip on the beach he organized the x-ray. But afterwards he made her sit on a bench in reception. He then took out a metal tape measure and checked the lengths of both her legs. I had not seen that done on Holby City or Grey’s Anatomy.

“Everything is ok,” he said confidently. When I asked if we could also have a photograph of him as a keepsake, he beamed a wide smile, disappeared for a few seconds and returned wearing a white doctor’s coat, with a stethoscope in the top pocket. As we left the clinic, I began to wonder if he was actually a doctor or a cleaner or security guard who just happened to know how to work the x-ray machine. Maybe he had simply given us an old x-ray image from the archives. Who knows?

I myself am a book junkie, especially literature from the late 60’s and 70’s. At times the book left me feeling a bit like I was on a journey with Ken Kesey and “The Merry Pranksters”, minus the LSD of course.

George has a great way with words, and I am sure that everyone who attended the talk will agree that we had a very entertaining evening. The book is available on Amazon and you will find it by copying the following link https://www.amazon.com/George-Dearsley tinyurl.com/kktvp25p

I would say that author Jack Scott, sums up George when he said: “George Dearsley’s account of a longstanding love affair with the country is a real delight – an astute, beautifully-penned story of an Englishman abroad”.

George also has a supply of paperbacks here in Turkey. So any expats in Turkey can buy directly from him. Cheaper than buying a paperback from Amazon. Price on demand (will vary with exchange rate).

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