Photographs by Mike Vickers
Feature photo above: Normally busy, but thanks to lockdown, now deserted
As a species, we’re an adaptable bunch. One of the many reasons why we are what we are is because when faced with urgent situations we can use our drive, ingenuity and intellect to overcome these challenges. Doctors and nurses in every country across the globe are working heroically way, way above and beyond the call of duty to keep us safe, keep us alive and to get us a vaccine as soon as possible, and for that I know you will join with me when I offer my heartfelt thanks, respect and admiration.
In return, collectively, we all have a duty to help by minimizing our chances of contracting this virus, allowing them to concentrate on tending the sick. The best way we can achieve this is to adhere to the instructions given to us by the authorities, instructions based on the advice of these amazing medical professionals, people who really know what they’re talking about, and when they tell us to stay indoors, then stay indoors. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a particularly onerous or difficult thing to do, although it does seem to be for some, and even if it does throw up logistical problems then there’s always help available to achieve what is needed.
So, we suddenly find ourselves confronted by an unexpected barrier that should not be breached – the front door – leaving us unable to enjoy outdoor living in one of the most beautiful places in Turkey. Although this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, it does throw up a novel problem. We need to keep ourselves occupied while we wait this one out, and the internet has already shown us just how inventive people can be in that growing field, with a refreshing and heartwarming emphasis on humour. Being British, of course, we are noted for being a nation very much susceptible to levity, especially in trying circumstances. Inevitably, this susceptibility is more pronounced in some than others, but do not mistake me when I say Jan and I are still fully aware of just how dangerous this virus can be, particularly for people of our age.
With that in mind, here are a few entertainments which have come to mind over the last few days. Good luck if you want to participate, but for legal reasons I hereby absolve myself of any responsibility for the consequences. I must point out I haven’t actually tried any of these – it’s been more of a mental exercise to while away the time in front of a buffering TV. Hang on, what have we here?
Buffering Roulette – ah, the free bonus supplied with internet TV that no one mentions in the adverts. A version of this gets played out every night somewhere in Fethiye. After checking the schedules, you select that juicy police thriller and settle down in front of the box in eager anticipation. Box? Why’s it still called a box when TVs are no longer boxy? Same for a level crossing road sign. When was the last time you saw a steam engine chuff past – 1968?
Anyway, back to our little game. After watching for an hour or so, the denouement’s imminent, the adverts are almost upon us and it’s getting really rather exciting. The rozzers have made a breakthrough.
‘It’s got to be either Colin the Cutter or Big Barry Bludgeon. One of them has to be the murderer.’
‘You’re wrong, inspector.’
‘Watch it, constable. I’m never wrong.’
‘I’m sorry, but the evidence is conclusive. I admit this is the last person I would’ve expected, but there’s no doubt, and now Beryl Byheckmywistlesdry is in danger from a clever, relentless and brutal psychopath, so we have to move fast and arrest…’
Buffer, buffer, buffer, spinning cone of catastrophe, buffer, pause, more interminable spinning.
‘What!’ shouts Jan. ‘Who the hell’s Emma? Where on earth did she come from? Can you recall an Emma in this?’
‘Not unless I’ve had an aneurism,’ I observe.
‘…the memory foam mattress from the UKs favourite online supplier.’
The programme’s finished and we’ve moved on smoothly to the adverts. Jan explodes. It’s impressive. I have to tell you I’ve heard all the words before, but never in that particular combination. We’ll never know whether Beryl survives or not.
Blindfold Cupboard Sorting. Once blindfolded – and please do this while you’re already standing in front of your selected cupboard to avoid unnecessary confusion and the risk of injury – open the door, empty it and replace the items in any order you like. The choice is yours; weight, size or even furriness. That would be the cat muscling in on the action. If you’re feeling particularly confident, try to empty two cupboards simultaneously, mix the contents and replace at random. This one has double the benefit – you’ll then have to spend just as much time setting things right again, but then, what else are you going to do – go down the gym? There’s only so many times you can watch all 73 episodes of Game Of Thrones back-to-back before going completely doolally.
Toilet Roll Jenga. For the sake of stating the obvious, you need to have enough toilet rolls, so this one cannot be played in the UK, where you can now exchange an Andrex twin-pack for a three-year-old Renault Clio. We went into Migros last week to top up our legitimately dwindling stock and found the smallest pack on sale contained 32 rolls, enough to see us through to the summer solstice. Next year. Construct your tower carefully – this is a game of delicacy as well as nerve, and can be won or lost in seconds if urgency dictates an unscheduled dash to the loo. Injuries are rare but third-degree burns can occur if your tower falls onto the soba.
Items We’ve Acquired Recently Which Now Belong To The Cat. Not strictly a game for us, but the cat thinks it is and likes to be involved. He can stake his claim within minutes.
Things You Can See From Your Windows. Not really a game, but here’s a selection of the weird and wonderful that we can see from our own windows and garden in Babataşı.
I hope these few moments of frivolity has helped pass a few minutes and made you, for just a moment, forget the hurt of the world. Keep your distance, keep smiling, keep safe.
First published for Fethiye Times, 4 April 2020