Happy Birthday?

Me, and how I stay youthful.

I just turned 32.

This is a strange age. It’s the age where people start dying; or at least the age where it starts to become less of a surprise when your friends and acquaintances keel over like pit canaries.

‘They were so… young,’ we say, not quite believing the words as they stagger uncertainly from our lips. It’s almost framed as a question. ‘They were so… young?’

I’ve always been certain that a heart attack will serve as the final sentence in the book of my life. I’m not psychic: just Scottish. At death, most pasty-skinned Celts will find the Grim Reaper holding their engorged heart in his bony hand, bouncing it like a blood-filled happy-sack as he points to the fat-smeared hole in their chest and says: ‘Looking for this, you fat bastard?’ Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind. Jamie Andrew’s heart is destined to burst like a rotten peach under the treads of a tank.

Fuck you, Murphy. You're shite at living.

I become filled with anxiety when I hear of a celebrity dying in their early 30s. As if their premature death somehow makes my own more likely. Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger: they both gave me palpitations. When a celebrity dies young I always chant inside my head ‘Please be drugs, please be drugs, please be drugs, please be drugs,’ and when it’s drugs I fist the air and shout ‘YES!!’ Which is pretty horrible of me, but then I never claimed to be anything other than a deeply, deeply horrible human being. They die of drugs, I don’t die of a heart attack. Yet. That’s the deal.

I guess I am still young, though. I look young, so I’m told, despite the rainforests of hair that seem to sprout from every available orifice. What’s with that? So much hair grows from my ears that I could pleat it and join Aswad. No joke. Bed bugs could abseil from my ear lobe down to my shoulder. This shouldn’t happen until I’m in my sixties or something, right? I don’t want to look like my grandfather just yet. Well, he’s dead, so of course I don’t want to look like him. I meant I don’t want to look like he did during his twilight years. Not at 32, anyway. His ears looked like they had boom mikes coming out of them. And the ears themselves were all waxy and gnarly, making him look like the head Ferengi from Star Trek.

My nose is no different, over-abundance-of-hair-wise. I always notice the hairs in the mirror when I’m driving, and then spend about five minutes yanking what look like wires from my nostrils. So if you’re on the roads in Falkirk, look out for a big tall guy clawing at his face and screaming in horror at his reflection: that’ll be me. So much hair dangles from my nose that it looks like a tarantula is trying to escape from my face. Honestly, it’s like steel wool. I could headbutt a pot and scour it at the same time.

It's the Argos Nose Hair remover I've got, if you're interested.

Which is why my mother gave me an electric nose-and-ear-hair remover for my birthday. No shit. She did. And do you know what the worst thing is? I was grateful. It’s something I need. At 32? Next year it’ll be a Noel Edmonds’ sweater and a brochure for a SAGA holiday. And bring on the socks and pants. I love getting socks and pants now. I wish I’d been more grateful to my grandparents when I was younger, and hadn’t just sneered when I ripped open the wrapping paper to find yet another 5-pack of Asda’s-own boxer shorts. I didn’t realise what a valuable commodity they were back then. Thank you, grandma and grandpa (X2). I sometimes think they were trying to tell me, in some hush-hush yet none-too-subtle grandparent code, that growing old is pants. I think they were on to something.

Anyway, here’s to the next 32. Well… maybe.

Memories of Marmaris – Pt 1

The cannibalisation of old material continues. Here’s a few thoughts I jotted down after a trip to Turkey a few years ago. I’m going to Turkey with my girlfriend later this year, a different part, but I enjoyed looking over old notes and reminiscing about all the beauty and sleaze the Turks have to offer holidaymakers in Marmaris – Jamie


Memories of Marmaris

Marmaris is a holiday resort in the south west of Turkey. It’s geared towards tourism, but the public transport is accessible enough to allow you to venture forth and enjoy towns, trails and villages off the beaten track. Also, the many excursions on offer by boat, jeep and camel are extremely good value for money, and well worth your time. That being said, it’s time for a bit of horrid honesty, and we’ll leave the wanky travelogue stuff to the late Jill Dando.

Driving Miss Daisy – Off a Cliff

The Turks have some simple, nifty ways to revolutionise the ordinary things we Scots take for granted. For example, Turkish traffic lights don’t bother with all that abstract ‘red, amber, green’ shit. The lights display a timed countdown from red to green. This innovation would be an extremely helpful stress reducer for British drivers; for the Turks, however, this countdown merely tells them how many seconds of law they’ve broken, so they can high-five their mates. To say that Turkish drivers are a bunch of maniacs who care nothing for the rules of the road, health and safety, or human life, would be a pretty accurate.

They like a good bit of anger on the roads. Turkish cars must have four pedals as standard: gas, brake, accelerator and horn. And I’m sure it won’t be long before they fit Bond-style mini-missiles to their front bumpers. It’s little surprise that in 2006, according to data on the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, there were over 585 000 car accidents in Turkey. This must be a conservative estimate. Perhaps 3million of the people sent to survey dangerous driving were killed by dangerous drivers before they had a chance to submit their findings.

Turk in, my son

The sexiest cunt in all of Turkdom

Turkish men walk a fine line between charm and sleaze. The bar folk are undeniably friendly, but in a tourist resort like Marmaris, this could have something to do with their commission-based pay.

Do be prepared to have your girlfriend fawned over in a way that would have you reaching for your knuckle-duster back home. And, yes, it’s true that you’ll see an enormous amount of young Turkish guys ‘courting’ gorgeous young blonde girls (for ‘courting’ read ‘trying every trick in the book in order to make them part of a living, breathing Turkish kebab before the holiday-clock ticks away, so the girl can jet off home thinking they’ve found their prince when in reality he’s already got his todger stuck in another willing waif even before the pilot guns the engine for the flight home’).

This is undeniably impressive when you consider that over the summer season most of these Supermen work seven days a week, often twenty hours a day, and still find time to shag a higher quota of girls than most of us will see in a lifetime. I’m impressed, in a kind of amoral way: their wives probably wouldn’t be.

Over summer, a lot of the waiters and bar guys come to Marmaris from the far corners of Turkey to make a bit of money for their families, before totting off home with their genitalia tucked between their legs. Winters are spent as mild-mannered Clark Kents; the kind of guys who love their wives and kids and definitely do NOT shag an army of drunk slags from Essex.

Take THAT, AIDS!!!

A word of caution for the ladies out there: there is a widespread belief among a large section of the male Turkish population that the best way to counteract nasty old AIDS, chlamydia and general knob rot is not to rubber up, but to thoroughly wash your bits afterwards. Yes. We all remember that from Dove’s last advertising campaign: Tom Hanks scrubbing his balls with a bar of soap, and smiling to himself about his new promotion at work. You’re not singing any more, Bruce Springsteen.

But what kind of guys can the ladies expect to meet? I’ve calculated that Turkish workers, especially in the bars, fall in to one of three physical categories: Gay Boyband Turk; Evil Hollywood Movie Turk; and Looks Like a Turkish Version of a Well-Known Celebrity Turk. For example, my very attentive hotel clerk looked like a Turkish David Arquette, and one of the wee waiters at a local restaurant looked like he was plotting to kill Arnold Swarzenegger.

Here, pussy, pussy, pussy

Pussy on a bike

It’s strange to come from a country where cats are pampered and beloved (some rich old British ladies have even been known to leave their vast million pound fortunes to spoiled Persian cats called Tiddles) to one where cats run wild and are even considered by some to be vermin. How cute they are, though. Well, the ones that aren’t horribly diseased and bedraggled, that is. Most of the street cats are considerably smaller than your average domesticated kitty, with tiny little faces and humongous, pointy ears. I always wanted to pat them. I wandered the Turkish streets dispensing a stroke here and a clap there, willing to touch the sick and the hungry, like some kind of Christ of the Cat People. Like a Steve Irwin who deals only with animals tame enough not to skewer him through the heart with a barbed part of their anatomy.

'Any spare change, pal?'

It is a shame, though. Turkish people don’t appear to be as enlightened as we are when it comes to animals. No real equivalent of our RSPCA seems to exist in Turkey, although animal welfare matters are slowly gaining relevance and importance thanks to the actions of various volunteer and charity organisations. Earlier this year in Marmaris there was outrage over a mass poisoning of street cats by assailants unknown (although the farming community is suspected). Unfortunately, the attempted cull was indiscriminate, and many domestic dogs, cats and other trusty pets bought the farm along with them.

Remember the Turkish men who thought that washing their bits was the best and only defence against AIDS? Well, another widespread belief held by some morons is that ingestion of pet hair can be fatal. This means, ladies, that stroking a cat is the best form of contraception.