Monthly Archives: June 2012

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

In Istanbul, at any rate. So much changes as the years go by: it’s prosperity, of course, which does it – and the corrosive ways of global finance, which encourages people to get rich by trashing things we like.
Now that the Pera Palace has had a facelift, I’m shifting my bags along the road to the Grand Hotel de Londres, partly because the name is so evocative, and partly because it has what some call faded glamour (and others depressing plumbing). It’s here:  Note: they take bookings without taking a credit card number! How’s that for old world politesse?

While we’re at it, are there any places like that which you’d recommend to us all? I can think of some in India, like the Ooty Club; and I remember staying at the Peace Hotel (nee Cathay) in Shanghai, when the old men played jazz downstairs and your room could swallow a London bus. There was a Greek cafe, Makarios, on Jermyn Street in St James’s till a few years back where you could get a dish of mussels for, I think, £4.50; it was full of minor civil servants and the old waiter had a voice like molasses running over gravel. Now, pimped up, overpriced, Italianated and lost, it’s like this:

Still, all is not yet lost – so take a moment to share your nostalgic travel treats with the rest of us, below – if you can squeeze a photo in, so much the better!

Yashim – the soundtrack!

Complete joy! I did an event for An Evil Eye, talking about the harem, at the wonderful bookshop in Bath, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. It was rounded off by this appearance from the Bookshop Band… They’ll be on Radio 4’s Today programme this week, too.

Watch and enjoy – and share it with friends: the band deserves it!

As the band said, if Yashim’s adventures were done as a children’s tv programme, this would be the soundtrack.

Order, order

Over the course of the Istanbul series of Yashim novels it’s inevitable that new readers will begin to discover them in random order – which is why, like JK Rowling, I make sure the characters are re-introduced in each book, subtly enough (I hope) that regular readers won’t be bored.

Here is the Yashim hit-list (linked to in strict order of appearance:

1. The Janissary Tree

2. The Snake Stone

3. The Bellini Card

4. An Evil Eye

A fifth, provisionally entitled The Latin Reader, is currently entertaining me each day…

Image This is Gentile Bellini’s 1501 Turkish Painter, in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston