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The Landlady: Taking a trip down Electric Avenue …

After spending three days with no electricity in my little Turkish house, I decided to bite the bullet and go to the electricity people – Aydem – to find out what was going on. I suspected that I had been cut off because I had not paid the bill. My reasons for not going to Aydem sooner were many, and varied; the main one being that although I speak five languages, Turkish is not one of them. So far, my attempts at mastering the language have been centred around the important task of ordering various sizes of alcoholic beverages: ‘one glass of white wine please’, was unlikely to get me very far in the Turkish equivalent of Seeboard.


Furthermore, the town where I live in Turkey is not, unlike Marmaris and Bodrum, full of Turkish locals comfortably chatting cockney rhyming slang and effortlessly quoting Delboy from Only Fools and Horses. But the thing that most deterred me from going to sort out my electricity problem was the fact that I had been in the office not six weeks earlier, attempting to pay a water bill mistakenly thinking that it was an electricity bill. So they already thought I was mad.
I sheepishly approached the counter and tried to say something in Turkish – that might have actually been German – to the young girl, while I waved my bill. She typed my meter number into the computer and told me – in perfect English – that there was no debt on the bill and it should be working. I filled in a laborious form which required my even more laborious address, and a phone number. I put the phone number of my Turkish friend K, who rents out my house for me in the summer, then hared down the hill to his office to inform him that Aydem would be calling. I’d barely sat down in front of his desk, when Aydem called him to say that they couldn’t find my house. This is normal. It even took me a while to find my house, the street address being useless as most of it is a pile of rubble (in a romantic bougainvillea-strewn way).


When I returned home later that evening, Aydem had taped a note to my meter, claiming something indecipherable in Turkish. I photographed the note and sent it to my friend K, who appeared the following morning with an electrician who, in the manner of most Turkish workmen, looked like a friendly walnut in jeans. He soon ascertained that my electricity cable, suspended through an olive grove, had been attacked by an olive tree and had snapped in half. A new telegraph pole would be needed to carry a new cable to the main pylon. I was surprised to learn that the bill would be picked up, not by Aydem, but by yours truly. Among the purchases for my house, I did not imagine that I would have to buy a telegraph pole. But there’s a first time for everything ...