Quiet please, I'm thinking.
During the month of Ramazan there are guys whose job it is to walk the streets of Istanbul, and other cities too I imagine, banging on drums to wake anyone who wants to attend the morning prayer. I’d been told about them but only actually heard our local drum beater once, and that was because I was up late drinking with my brother-in-law. If I was a Muslim I’d probably have some explaining to do.
Thankfully I am not really an anything; godbasher perhaps, cynic definitely, agnostic, atheist, hedonistic heathen I would say. (Unfortunately if you Google that last one it brings up sites relating to Wicca, and who doesn’t hate Wiccans.) Needless to say one doesn’t have to be an anything to appreciate that some guy is going around at night banging a drum for the benefit of others, better yet though is the guy who wanders about playing the accordion. These guys may be ten a penny in Paris or Brussels but they aren’t so common here. When I first heard the distant strains of the squeezebox I thought I was experiencing some kind of acid flashback, immediately I began to reminisce about cafes, wine bars and dog-shit encrusted pavements. Accordionists may be a blight on the Parisian landscape but it’s not so bad to hear one here when you are on the fourth floor and can’t be hassled for money, though I was tempted to unload a pocketful of coins on his assistant’s little fingers. I am a bad person.
Similarly, when I was sitting in the garden of Viktor Levi’s in Kadikoy, the outdoor space being akin to what the British would call a beer garden but head and shoulders beyond such a thing, I heard the cawing of a crow and for a moment was transported back to the Cimetiere de Montmartre. Whenever we go to Paris we like to take a stroll through Pere Lachaise or Montmartre Cemetery, you know, somewhere to lift the spirits. Nothing confirms joie de vivre like being surrounded by the dead. One year, not so long ago, we were wandering around on what, coincidentally, was Hallowe’en (Samhain in Gaelic). It was as cold and crisp a day as one could ask for, cloud-free and bright. The cemetery was practically empty as it was early and cold when we were there, but there were crows everywhere cawing aloud and fluttering from perch to perch. There’s a reason that horror movies include these chaps when they are trying to make the audience uneasy. Whenever I think of that cemetery, or that day, I always think of the photograph I took of a fantastic miniature of a church erected as someone’s tomb.
Funny where the mind goes when you allow it to wander.