Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

(or bringing several disparate threads together into one addled heap)

a typical egg collection

As a kid, growing up in the austere aftermath of WW2, one of my favourite hobbies was ‘bird nesting’ – collecting and displaying eggs. It cost nothing, and in those days was neither illegal nor reprehensible. I was part of a little gang and we’d go to any lengths to acquire new and different eggs; scaling cliffs, trees, barns and churches.

We’d pop a couple of eggs into our trouser pockets before clambering back to ground level – accidents were frequent! Not ones where we were hurt, but ones where the eggs ended up scrambled in our pockets! Occasionally there’d be a rotten egg and the stink was appalling – causing great mirth amongst those of us who were not going to get a parental clip around the ear.

‘Them’s addled!’ we’d say in our, now extinct, Kentish dialect. Addled; as in rotten, gone bad. We also applied the same term to our elders (when out of ear-shot and ear-clipping range) to describe rambling speech or odd behaviour. ‘Them’s addled, them is!’

That said, it brings me nicely to the rather muddled thought processes behind this post.

J and I prefer to wander from place to place by using roads less travelled – backways and trackways, if you will. A couple of weekends ago, we wandered off to Denizli for a soak in a spa and a bit of camel wrestling; we also needed to get away from the constant assault on our equilibrium that is the quarry next to our home.

Anyway, whilst there, we’d spotted a route on our maps that wandered up into the hills heading for (yet another) Baba Dağ – Father Mountain, and a town of the same name. There the road stopped – the town was, quite literally, at the end of the road! There can be no better reason for a visit.

We passed through some amazing, eroded landscape – mountainsides sculpted into strange buttresses and buttes. The forestry authorities were making great efforts to stabilise and rehabilitate the whole area with countless sponsored tree plantings to be seen.

a few of the hundreds of old Ottoman gravestones in Babadağ

The town itself clings to several steep ‘pinnacles’ of rock, with streets winding up and down and around. There was nothing special about the place other than a lot of very fit residents (good air and exercise) who were politely curious and very insistent about plying us with tea. J and I both liked Babadağ, it’s been there for a long time judging by the hundreds of old Ottoman gravestones in the two very large cemeteries; it’s unpretentious and typically Turkish.

Sir Harry Lauder - 'The Laird'

Which brings me to another thread – getting to Babadağ means you have to ‘keep right on to the end of the road’ – a song made famous by Sir Harry Lauder a hundred years ago, this led to one of those flash-backs that seem to happen a lot these days – together with CRAFT moments (‘Can’t Remember A Friggin’ Thing’ or words to that effect).

Nearly fifty years ago I was serving with 1 Para in the Aden Protectorate in what is now Yemen. We were there to cover the withdrawal from this remnant of the empire after 128 years of imperial occupation and were the last British troops to pull out. Anyway, not long after we arrived there, I ‘liberated’ or ‘acquired’ (airborne soldiers never steal anything) a wonderful old wind-up gramophone and a fine selection of single-sided 78rpm records from a nurses’ home. One of the records was Harry Lauder’s ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Road’.

1 Para Assault Pioneer Platoon - Aden 1967

One way or another I ensured that the gramophone stayed with me as I went about my soldiering with my mates. Whenever we came under fire from the duty terrorists of the National Liberation Front, a not infrequent occurrence, it was my job to sprint for the gramophone; get it cranked up and make sure that the voice of Harry Lauder could be heard warbling out over the roof tops of Aden. This never failed to reduce us ‘Toms’ (Tommy Atkins –Tommy) to fits of uncontrollable laughter. It also, no doubt, led to the myth that we Paras were a fearless bunch who laughed in the face of danger.

So, there you have it! Harry Lauder; the end of the road; bird nesting; old gramophones and 78rpm records; end of empire; Baba Dağ; CRAFT moments; flash-backs; rotten eggs. Vague and disparate threads to be sure. Addled? Almost certainly! Meanwhile, there’s no need to be rude; why not just humour me and join in as I relive past glories – go on – click the button! (cue violins)

Babadağ rooftops
one of Babadağ's many mosques
a very fit Babadağ resident

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

16 thoughts on “Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

  1. Exactly my kind of thought processes, Alan – I love it! The addleder, the better.

    I also adore your photo of the Babadağ rooftops. Have you ever thought about selling your photo-artistry?

    1. Ha! Thanks for the vote for the photos – as for selling the stuff, I’m a socialist, been trying to abolish money along with the system for years 😀

  2. I am so glad that you discovered Babadag, and I am more glad to read your words about egg-hunting as a child – they are wonderful. MORE of that, please. I could hear the accent as Cockney rhyming slang (closest I can get in my head to Kentish). What ever happened to your egg collection? On Tuesday, I’m gonna tell my students that they’s addled, for sure.

    …and also, the scene of the gramophone in Aden, whew, leaves shivers and ever-increased understanding about the life and psyche of soldiers! 🙂

    1. Hi, Liz! The old Kentish dialect was more akin to the West Country – very ‘Oohh, aarr, oohh, aarr, me daarlin’!’ My egg collection disappeared when my family moved to Malta in 1956.

  3. Alan,

    Bravo!! Just loved this post and following the winding road of your thoughts. But most of all, the song was great. How did you embed that song in your blog? It was a real treat – thanks.

    senior dogs

    1. Well, thank you – empathy (or is it sympathy?) is much appreciated! As for embedding video, I’ll send you an email. 🙂

  4. Addled Alan has a certain ring to it hmmmm!!!!!!

    Regarding the egg collecting I suppose that means you are a poacher turned gamekeeper 🙂

    1. Smart-arse! Egg collecting, along with stamps and coins was considered perfectly normal and legal (you’re too young to know anything about any of that). I used to keep newts as well, but didn’t turn into Crocodile Dundee!!

  5. Hi really enjoyed your post.
    Good read, I must admit I had never heard of babadag. Actually looks like many of the lovely towns we visited while we were cruising down the Turkish coast aboard our boat last summer. We love quaint towns with narrow streets to explore. As for egg collecting it used to be a great child’s pastime I know I enjoyed. Not very politically correct anymore though I’m afraid. Or in some places illegal times change I suppose.

    Thanks again excellent read.

    1. Hello Lee and welcome to Archers. Babadağ is an OK place – nothing fancy but J and I prefer typical and ordinary. As for the egg collecting, it’s no bad thing that it is outlawed with the bird life and wildlife in general under threat from all the nasty stuff being pumped out in the name of progress.

  6. I just came across this blog, and I have to say, it’s been like a trip through history. I know you yourself call it all addled, but i thought it was great to follow the train of thought from egg collecting to Babadag. I think these random thought processes are intuitive and can give you a great glimpse of someone’s life/experience. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Richard and welcome to Archers. So pleased you enjoyed the post and hope to see you around with other comments.

  7. It’s nice to see when people don’t forget about the classic stuff. If you show a kid these days a cassette tape, they don’t even know what it is or what it’s used for. Gramophones are very cool, retro audio gear and I love the part about the gramophone and the 78 rpm records.

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