VLUU L200  / Samsung L200Once upon a time in another life,  this seasoned old cynic met and fell for a handsome young man with razor-sharp wit and a glorious smile. His name was John. We collided in a long-gone dive in Earls Court called the Copacabana. He stayed the night and never left. Eight years in to our fine romance John fell ill, quite suddenly. Within just six weeks he was dead. He died in my arms. It was quite a Hollywood moment but not one I care to reprise. That was 10 years ago today. Even though I’ve been given a second time around, I still miss him.

John liked a slice of Turkey. We’d visited many times. When Liam and I first pitched our yurt in Anatolia, we bought a olive sapling in John’s memory and put it in a patio pot. It did remarkably well and bore fruit in the first year – a lean harvest but a harvest nonetheless. After we decided to wade back to Blighty, I asked Annie of Back to Bodrum fame if she would take care of John’s little twig in her Bodrum garden.  Annie went one better and offered a sunny spot in the olive grove of her fabulous country pile.

My old mucky mucker, Ian, and his much younger squeeze, Matt, were our final gentlemen callers in old Bodrum Town. Back in the day, John, Ian and I had been the three muskequeers blazing a gay trail and frightening the locals from Ephesus to Antalya. Annie invited the lot of us out to her rural idyll for a spot of lunch and bit of aboriculture. She knows quite a lot about both. A gorgeous sunny afternoon of feasting, wine and gay-boy banter was polished off with a tree-planting flourish. Notice me proudly holding the big spade. Don’t be fooled. Annie’s husband did all the hard graft. All I did was plop the tree into the hole and pat it down like the Queen at an opening.

Now there is a little corner of Turkey that is forever John.

Thank you, Annie.